A year and a half after it opened in the West Loop, Counter Culture Coffee remains a bit of an open secret on the coffee scene. Many local baristas have trained at the Raleigh, North Carolina-based company's Chicago Training Center, and many customers have had their coffee horizons expanded there, but its profile as a roaster and supplier remains lower than other Chicago coffee icons. This weekend's news should help a little: Counter Culture dominated the Southeast Regional Barista Championship this past weekend in Atlanta. Barista Lemuel Butler won first place for the fourth time using Counter Culture's Kenya Thiriku. According to this site:
Mr. Butler has a long history of inventive signature drinks with clever names - this year’s drink was called “The Illusionist”, and included pistachio cream, shots of Thiriku espresso, and a hibiscu tea with lemon zest that Mr. Butler steeped live on stage. The end result was a drink that yielded “hidden” chocolate and cranberry notes - an illusion that gave the drink its name.
Butler, a customer service representative at Counter Culture in Durham, goes on to the US Barista Championship in Boston. Butler wasn't the only one to place using Counter Culture Coffee, either— sixth place in the same competition went to Travis Beckett of Peregrine Espresso, who used Counter Culture Coffee, and sales rep Jonathan Bonchak won the Brewers Cup using Counter Culture's Haru coffee from Ethiopia, and will go on to Boston as well. Sounds like a good day to check out what they're doing on Ada Street.