Barista Interview: Devin Chapman of Coava Coffee Roasters

It’s competition season again and what a better way to start it than with a new Competition – The Brewers Cup Competition. This month’s barista is the winner of the NW regional competition, Devin Chapman from Coava Coffee Roasters.

One main focus on coffee has been educating customers in an approachable way. Manual brewing offers this. Devin tells us about the competition and future of brewing bars for cafes and coffee enthusiasts.

barista-Feb-2011-Devin-Chapman-c-Tonx-300x224When did you start drinking coffee?

Shortly after I moved to Portland, OR in 2003, I had a cup of coffee at Stumptown and was immediately intrigued by it, and have been drinking coffee regularly ever since. Because of this, I will always credit Stumptown with my invitation to and fascination with fine coffees,

How did you get into the industry?

At the beginning of 2010 I was looking for a change in careers and talked with a friend who was connected with several cafe owners in Portland. He was able to land me a job at a busy cafe that happened to carry Coava’s coffee, and it was through working there that I became connected with Coava. When they opened their retail space in July they offered me a job and I happily took it.

Interestingly enough, this friend who helped me make the initial connection is now my co-worker, training buddy, competition partner and overall inspiration: Sam Purvis. Funny how things work out.

How long have you been in the industry?

Officially, since April of 2010.

Congratulations on winning the first Brewers Cup. Tell us what the Brewers Cup Competition is.

Thanks! The Brewers Cup is a new competition by the SCAA designed to present coffee by showcasing manual brewing methods.

Tell us about the competition

In round one, competitors are all given the same coffee and have 7 minutes to brew 3 separate cups using a method of their choice. This is 100% judged on taste by 3 Q-rated judges. Out of all the participants, 6 are selected for the finals.

For the finals, competitors use their coffee of choice and have ten minutes to brew and present three cups of coffee, one to each judge. This round is scored 70% based on taste and 30% based on customer service, an accurate description of the aroma and flavor of the coffee, and an overall impression. (Luckily, Keith, one of the owners of Coava, was headed up for the finals and was able to bring coffee for me to use for this round. It was all very spontaneous.)

For more information about all the technical rules of the brewers cup, go here.

What brewing method and coffees did you use and why?

For the first round, I used the KONE in three different brewing systems: the KONE Funnel, a “double funnel” slow-drip method and the “traditional” KONE/chemex hand-pour. Each of these methods feature the KONE and produce a very different cup: one particularly sweet, one clean and one balanced. I wanted to show how dextrous the KONE could be depending on the water-delivery method.

For the finals, however, I decided to use the traditional KONE/Chemex method with a Honduras coffee we call Benjamin Miranda, (named after the producer.) I chose this method for several reasons. First, I wanted to offer the judges the experience all of our customers have at our brew-bar, and second, I wanted to showcase how the KONE can produce a cup of coffee that is clean, balanced and delicious.

When is the US Brewers Competition?

The US Brewers Cup will take place during the USBC in Houston. I believe the winner of that will go on to compete on the international level in the Netherlands in June.

Why is a brew bar important for customers?

More than anything else it gives customers an approachable way to learn about the wonderful world of specialty coffee. Whether you’re explaining the processing method or the varietal or the reason a coffee is called what it is or the flavor profiles… as a barista, it’s a really great platform to gently and tactfully inform people about what we love the most about coffee. Plus, it provides an opportunity to present a cup of coffee in a manner that is of the utmost quality, reflective of what we are looking for in the coffee itself. For instance, at Coava we work really hard to source and roast the best coffees we can get our hands on… so why wouldn’t we put forth the same amount of effort to brew and serve this coffee in a way that best showcases this quality?

Where do you see this type of brewing focus going?

I think we will see manual brew-bars become more normal in cafe settings as customers’ knowledge and experience of specialty coffee continues to spread. Customers won’t just come in for a “fix,” but they will come in with the expectation of their minds and palates being expanded, which is the same expectation that excites me the most as a barista. Having the the opportunity to share this with customers is something really special and I think will happen more and more as more people are awakened to how big the world of coffee really is.

Photo Credit: Tonx
QOTD– What are your main brewing methods? Do you think you’ll do manual brewing more now?

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Jennifer has been in the coffee industry since 2003. She started Daily Demitasse to educate and share her experience with other passionate coffee enthusiasts, from a Barista, Cafe Manager, shop Owner and freelancer perspective. When she's not working or blogging, you can find her at Transpire Life.

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3 Replies to “Barista Interview: Devin Chapman of Coava Coffee Roasters”

  1. Great article. It was nice to see one of our baristas featured. Since working for Electric Beanz, Larz has worked hard to develop his latte art skills. He is really very creative. He experiments all of the time pouring different designs. He has created dragons, bunnies, tulips, rosettas; it is always fun to see what he comes up with.

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