In the highest regarded competition for coffee connoisseurs, the United States Barista Championship, Cole McBride is a two-time finalist, placing second and fourth the last two years. Yet, the director of hospitality at Downtown coffee spot PublicUs isn’t just known for his technique in presenting innovative coffee beverages; his knowledge base in all facets of the industry makes him a true expert. (For starters, get him talking on the topic of water filtration.)
He’s also garnered other notable successes in the competition world, such as winning the 2014 Coffee Fest Latte Art World Championship with his four-layer tulip design. In October, he and the PublicUs team were recognized as America’s Best Coffee House in the western region by Coffee Fest, an industry trade show.
Heading Out West
At 18, McBride, along with a good friend, decided to move from his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, with the desire to go as far west as possible. The guys made it to Idaho before McBride’s car was totaled. One bus ride to Seattle later, he found himself working the first job he landed—at a coffee shop. “That first year, I didn’t actually love coffee that much,” he says. “But what I really, really enjoyed was the service aspect.”
Bitten by the Bug
His Seattle résumé includes places such as Espresso Vivace—“at the time it was considered one of the best coffee shops in the country, if not the world”—and Stumptown, eventually becoming director of education and sales for an equipment retailer, Visions Espresso.
McBride moved to Las Vegas in 2014, and, despite being relatively new to the city, takes his role of local seriously and is grateful to be a part of its burgeoning coffee scene. “We’re hoping that the local community will gather around us and be proud of the fact that we’re representing Las Vegas in a way it’s never been represented before.”