The number of really silly moustaches in Portland increased ten-fold last week as the Specialty Coffee Association of America's annual "Event" and the U.S. Barista Championships
came to town.
While sweaty salespeople and momtrepreneurs flogged labeling equipment and smoothie mixes at the SCAA expo, the cool kids were in the "activities hall," sucking up free wifi (comically sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts) and cheering on their well groomed peers (almost exclusively white men in between the ages of 25 and 35) as they battled it out in the U.S. Barista Championships and Brewers Cup.
Portland's great white hope came in the form of Coava Coffee
's Devin Chapman, the northwest regional champion
and the only Rose City representative to make it through to the final round on Sunday.
Coava Coffee's Devin Chapman
Chapman performed a 15-minute routine to "Holocene" by Bon Iver, sporting a natty industrial apron, working with a coffee he described as "delicate, smooth, graceful, lovely." After serving the requisite espressos and cappuccinos, Chapman presented the judges with his signature piece: a flight of three drinks—one espresso, one brewed in a Hario V60 and one in a Chemex using Coava's Kone filter. The espresso was served with smoked salt and syrup, while one of the other drinks (it was really difficult to see from the bleachers) was mixed with wildflower honey.
The performance was enthusiastically received by a sizeable home town crowd, dressed in Timbers and Blazers garb, blowing vuvuzelas, chanting Chapman's name and cheering, "What a professional!"
Despite the home court advantage, Chapman placed fourth in the competition. First place went to Katie Carguilo from Counter Culture in New York, whose signature drink was
espresso with jasmine green tea, lemon juice, a nectarine, soda water and white vinegar, served in a champagne flute. Intelligentsia's Charles Babinski (Los Angeles) and Verve Coffee Roaster's Chris Baca (Santa Cruz) took second and third, respectively. The Brewers Cup (which focuses on brewed coffee rather than espresso) went to Andy Sprenger from Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis, MD.