Runner-up: Casey Palmgren, Astoria Coffee House & Bistro, Astoria

Honorable mention: Holly Snook, Dutch Bros. Coffee, Seaside

Kristy Cross, owner of The Rusty Cup in Astoria, is no stranger to being voted Best Barista in the Columbia-Pacific. In fact, the community has lauded her professional aptitude six years in a row. Nevertheless, Cross doesn’t take the recognition for granted.

“Every time, I’m always so touched by it,” she said. “Every year, I think, ‘I’m not going to win this year,’ but then somebody calls, and I did. I love it.”

Cross worked as a barista while attending the University of Washington in Seattle. Looking for a change of scenery after graduation and desiring to live in a smaller town, Cross saw The Rusty Cup was for sale, made an offer and moved.

“I hadn’t seen it at all,” she added.

She opened the shop in May 2004. Along with her team of three part-time employees and supportive husband, Greg, Cross works to give The Rusty Cup an authentic “hometown feel.”

“If you come in here at any point in time, it’s like one big family,” she said. “We all kind of know each other.”

Her success in achieving that goal is evident. As a handful of customers rotate through the coffee shop on a recent morning, Kristy greets them by name, anticipates many of their drink orders and chats with them about what’s going on in their lives.

When asked about her favorite part of the job, she answers without hesitation: “the people.” Her priorities as a barista are being genuine and thoughtful when interacting with customers and maintaining a consistent quality when preparing food and drinks.

As for her favorite drink to prepare, that would be a dry cappuccino (espresso shots paired with more foam than steamed milk).

“I think there’s a real technique to foaming milk, and I really enjoy that,” she said.

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