On Sunday, March 18, 2018, Little Amps Coffee Roasters’ Rwanda Cyato was named America’s Best Espresso at Coffee Fest in Baltimore, Md. after edging out Philadelphia’s Elixir Coffee. The competition included 24 different roasters from the eastern states and provinces in the United States and Canada.
“We were proud to compete alongside a lot of great companies that we look up to,” says Little Amps Wholesale Manager Peter Leonard. “We work really hard in our stores and with our wholesale partners to make our coffee taste as best as we can, and winning this weekend was a nice affirmation of that work.”
Coffee Fest, which was founded in 1992, is a tri-annual gathering of top coffee and tea professionals from around North America. Each trade show hosts a few competitions, including America’s Best Espresso, where coffee roasting companies go head to head serving the coffee of their choice as espresso to three judges.
Little Amps Barista Dalton Rhone presented judges with a fully washed coffee from Rwanda, boasting a grapefruit acidity, tart berry sweetness, and a pleasant floral finish. Sourced by Oakland, CA importer Coffee Shrub, this coffee comes to Little Amps from the Cyato washing station located in the Nyamasheke region of Rwanda.
“I was drawn to our Cyato offering because it was just so clean and interesting and I’m glad the judges liked it as much as I did,” explains Rhone.
Rhone used a few tools to increase extraction and flavor of his espresso, including a shaker to break up any clumps and a distribution tool to get an even extraction.
“It’s cool to think about everyone who was a part of getting this espresso to competition,” says Rhone, “from the Fidele family that owns the washing station in Rwanda, to my coworkers: James Pearson, who roasted the beans, and Kate Gibboney, Nashali Irizarry, and Peter Leonard, who helped me dial it in.”
Little Amps was founded in Harrisburg, Pa. by owner Aaron Carlson in 2010, with the first retail location opening in 2011. Since then, it has grown to include two shops, one kiosk, a production warehouse, and over 30 wholesale accounts across the country, from Geneva, N.Y. to Austin, Texas.
In 2019, Little Amps will compete in Coffee Fest’s Grand Championship against the winners from the Central and Western States and Provinces. The winner will be crowned America’s Best Espresso National Champion.