America's Best Espresso Competition

Coffee Fest Presents:

America's Best Espresso Competition

Coffee Fest welcomes you to America's Best Espresso Competition. We are confident that you will find this to be an exciting and unique addition to the lineup of professional competitions produced by Coffee Fest.

America's Best Espresso Competition is the tri-annual vehicle that will determine and acknowledge the three best coffee roasters in North America. Every other year, the top four from each of the previous six competitions will come together for the Grand Championship where America’s Best Espresso National Champion will be crowned. The 2019 National Championship will take place at Coffee Fest Indianapolis. All coffee roasters in the U.S. and Canada may apply to compete. The competition is broken into three regions that will compete once per year. 

Indianapolis nationals BRACKET 

nyc brackeT - FINAL RESULTS 


APPLY to judge HERE

Prize Money:

  • 1st Place - $2,000
  • 2nd Place - $1,000
  • 3rd Place - $500


America’s Best Espresso Competition venue provides competitors with two Nuova Simonelli Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Vol. 2 group espresso machines as well as Mahlkonig K30 and Nuova Simonelli Mythos Basic espresso grinders. The Nuova Simonelli Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Vol. 2 machine will be at standard height; any adjustments to the entire machine or each individual head can be easily made via the Black Eagle’s TFT display.  On Friday, competitors are invited to the competition venue at their scheduled time between 12:00pm to 5:00pm to test drive the machines and become familiar with the competition venue.

Competing roasters are welcome and encouraged to bring their own espresso grinder and tamper for use during their competition time. All of the demitasse cups are provided for the competition and are courtesy of Coffee Fest Exhibitor Hall of Fame Member, Espresso Supply.

Once seeded within the tournament, each roaster will be scheduled for their Saturday opening round competition time and match-up. Roasters will have 10 minutes on Saturday and Sunday to prepare three espresso shots that will be submitted to the judging table of three carefully selected judges. Competitors will go head-to-head in a winner move on, loser goes home tournament competition. The competition will continue in this fashion all the way down to the sweet 16 on Saturday. The final four and championship final will take place on Sunday.

Prior to the competition, judges culled carefully and then calibrated by Best Espresso Competition Calibration Sponsor, Café Imports.

Prize Money:

  • 1st Place - $2,000
  • 2nd Place - $1,000
  • 3rd Place - $500

breakdown of regions

The Set-Up:

Each of the two stations are equiped with:

  • 1 Nuova Simonelli Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Vol. 2 Group Espresso Machine
  • 1 Mahlkonig Grinder & 1 Nuova Simonelli Grinder
  • 1 Tamper
  • 1 Knock Box
  • Bar towels
  • Shot Glasses (for test-drive)
  • Demitasse

*Competitors are encouraged to bring your own tamper and grinder

  • The Nuova Simonelli Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Vol. 2 machine will be at standard height; any adjustments to the entire machine or each individual head can be easily made via the Black Eagle’s TFT display
  • Everything else must remain unchanged
  • The espresso bar equipment is only to be used during competition time. At no point is anyone allowed to use the equipment after test-drive Friday or the competition for any reason outside of explicit permission given by Coffee Fest staff

Test-Drive :

  • Competitors are permitted and encouraged to participate in Test-Drive Pratice the day before the competition begins. Competitors will be given a scheduled time to test drive the machines and become familiar with the competition venue. The support person can assist during test-drive.

The Competition:

On Deck:

  • Be aware of your scheduled competition time and make sure you are in the competition area at least 10 minutes before you are scheduled to start.
  • If you are not present during your competition time the Emcee will call your name twice. After this, you are disqualified and will not be eligible to continue in the competition.

At The Start

  • Wait until the last competitor is done cleaning and has collected their gear
  • Competitors are required to start with empty demitasse and may not practice on the equipment prior to the start of the comp time
  • The two competitor’s will have a total of 10 minutes to pull their shots and submit their three espresso’s.


  • When you have finished you must walk you drink over to the judges table for scoring
  • Upon return to you station you are responsible to clean the bar well and collect your gear from the station
  • Wait in the wings for the judges verbal scoring


1 Point per Category:

  • Mouth Appeal
  • Complexity
  • After Taste

Suspension or Disqualification:

Coffee Fest America’s Best Espresso Competition takes competitor disqualification and or suspension very seriously and will not arrive upon a disqualification and or suspension decision lightly.

Cause For Disqualification:

  • No show.
  • Abusive language toward other competitors, judges or staff.
  • Taunting and/or berating your opponent during their competition time.
  • Entering the other competitors space while they are on their competition time
  • Using the espresso equipment for any reason outside of you competition time and clean-up.
  • Any form of sabotage to the equipment, grinder, etc.
  • Entering the judges table space for any reason during the judging process after reasonable warning(s)
  • Failure to appear at two competitions after competitor application accepted and competitor assigned spot on bracket that has been posted and circulated.

Grading Criteria:

  1. Flavor Complexity/Balance
  2. Mouthfeel & Appeal/Body
  3. Aftertaste/Session

The competition is designed to evaluate a roaster's coffee and in particular the roaster's single origin or espresso blend.

Additional Grading Criteria

InterEsted in Becoming a Judge?

Are you a coffee professional active in the industry? We’d be honored to have you come judge America’s Best Espresso competitions (ABE.)  A maximum of nine judges will be selected. Judges MUST be at the ABE Competition Venue at 3:30pm on Friday for the judges’ orientation meeting and then for the entire competition Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Applicants selected to judge the live competition that fulfill all judging obligations and are present for every match Saturday and Sunday will receive $100 compensation within 14 days following the competition.

The competition is designed to evaluate a roaster's coffee which may be single origin or espresso blend.

Judging Criteria
1) Flavor Complexity/Balance
2) Mouthfeel & Appeal/Body
3) Aftertaste/Session

applY Here


  • Augies Coffee - Los Angeles, August 2018
  • Loyal Coffee - Denver,  June 2018
  • Little Amps Coffee Roasters- Baltimore, March 2018
  • Black Oak Coffee Roasters - Portland, October 2017
  • Pilcrow Coffee - Chicago, June 2017
  • Sump Coffee - Nashville, March 2017 - NATIONAL CHAMPION
  • Klatch Coffee - Anaheim, October 2016
  • Ipsento - Dallas, June 2016
  • Red Rooster Coffee Roaster - New York, March 2016
  • Anchorhead Coffee - Portland, October 2015
  • Sump Coffee - Chicago, June 2015
  • Copper Horse Coffee Roasters - Atlanta, February 2015
  • Sunergos Coffee - Portland, October 2014 - NATIONAL CHAMPION
  • Sump Coffee - St. Louis, June 2014
  • Ceremony Coffee Roasters - New York, March 2014
  • Tony's Coffee - Seattle, October 2013
  • Sunergos Coffee - Chicago, June 2013
  • Ceremony Coffee Roasters - New York, March 2013
  • Blue Star Coffee Roasters - Seattle, October 2012

America's Best Espresso Sponsors:

ci_logo_whitebg.jpg mahlkonig-abe.jpg roast-abe.jpg nuova-abe.jpg


The top 4 winners shown below from each of the past 6 Coffee Fest America’s Best Espresso competitions have qualified to compete for the 2017-2018 America’s Best Espresso Grand Championship taking place at Coffee Fest Indianapolis 2019.

New York: March 2019

  1. Counter Culture Coffee
  2. Optimistic Cafe
  3. Oceana Coffee

Los Angeles: August 2018

  1. Augie's Coffee
  2. Vashon Coffee Company
  3. Bangarang
  4. Black Oak Coffee Roasters

Denver: June 2018

  1. Loyal Coffee
  2. CodaCoffee
  3. Lion Head Coffee
  4. Dragonfly Coffee Roasters

Baltimore: March 2018

  1. Little Amps Coffee Roasters
  2. Elixr Coffee Roasters
  3. Open Seas Coffee 
  4. Coronation COffee

Portland: October 2017

  1. Black Oak Coffee Roasters
  2. Common Room Roasters
  3. Augie's Coffee
  4. Bluebeard Coffee Roasters

Chicago: June 2017

  1. Pilcrow Coffee
  2. Windmill Coffee
  3. Crimson Cup
  4. Dr. Bean's Coffee


  • 1st Place - $2,000
  • 2nd Place - $1,000
  • 3rd Place - $500

What Portafilter baskets are available? The machine will be set-up with 20 gram ridgeless VST. You are also welcome to bring your own basket to use.

Temperature?  The temperature is programmable to whatever you would prefer, and you can play with the temperature while you practice.  Default is 200.1 F.

Pump Pressure?  Pump Pressure is set to 9bars and cannot be changed.

Pre-infusion?  The Black Eagle uses a soft-infusion system that slowly ramps up the brew pressure to 9 bars over approximately one second.

Dose Programming?  Dose programming is not enabled.  You must manually start and stop each drink.

What Grinders are Available?  There will be communal Mythos Clima Pros and Mahlkonig K30 available.  You can bring in your own grinder.

Shot Timers/Scales?  The Gravametric Black Eagle has built in scales and each group will have a shot times and weight read out.

When is Test Drive? Practice times are emailed to you two weeks prior to the event. If you have any time conflicts, please let us know before your time is scheduled.

Who is Judging? Industry professionals apply online and are carefully selected by Coffee Fest.


Coffee Fest Los Angeles 2018

America's Best Espresso Competition

Application Deadline: Closed

APPLication closed


Coffee Fest New York 2019

America's Best Espresso Competition

Application Deadline: January 13, 2019

APPLication closed


Coffee Fest Indy 2019

America's Best Espresso Competition


Java Jacket

Bronze Sponsor

Café Imports

Venue Sponsor

Roast Magazine

Silver Sponsor

Nuova Simonelli

Platinum Sponsor


Bronze Sponsor

Your Brand Cafe

Venue Sponsor

Design & Layout Services

Bronze Sponsor

Fresh Cup

Gold Sponsor

Quills Coffee

Venue Sponsor

Maya Tea

Venue Sponsor

Perfect Daily Grind

Media Sponsor

Cafe Kreyol

Venue Sponsor


Gold Sponsor

Theta Ridge Coffee

Venue Sponsor

Barista 22

Bronze Sponsor

Monin Gourmet Flavorings

Venue Sponsor

Klatch Coffee

Venue Sponsor

Dillanos Coffee Roasters

Platinum Sponsor

Pacific Foods

Gold Sponsor


Venue Sponsor

Keys to the Shop Podcast

Venue Sponsor

Klean Kanteen

Venue Sponsor