The big news from this past awesome weekend in Tacoma, Wash., is that two amazing baristas from the itty-bitty boutique roaster, Coava—based in Portland, Ore.—took top honors in both the Northwest Regional Barista Competition—Mr. Sam Purvis—and the first-ever Regional Brewers Cup—Devin Chapman. Way to go, Coava!
It was a pretty killer weekend. With the recent change to the regional structure, which narrowed from United States regional breakdown to six regions as opposed to the 10 it had broken into in the past, the Northwest was stacked with more talented competitors than ever before. After the finalists were announced on Saturday afternoon, someone asked me if I was surprised at who made the finals, and I said no, not at all, but that there were probably 18 (of 33 total) of the competitors that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see make it to the finals. That’s what a high caliber event this was.
After that big bomb was dropped, everyone hustled off to a totally bitchen party hosted by Joshua Boyt at his brand new and totally slammin new cafe in Tacoma called Metronome. I highly recommend a visit next time you find yourself in Tacoma. It’s beautiful!
Sunday proved an especially intense day. The way the new Brewers Cup works—and note that it will take place at every Regional in the U.S. in 2011, with the Regional champs traveling to Houston to compete on a national level, after which the U.S. champ will travel to the Netherlands in June to compete on the international level—is that baristas compete with the same coffee in a preliminary round, using whatever brew method they want, and serving three separately brewed coffees to a panel of three Q-Grader judges. The five baristas who make it to the finals are then allowed to put together a formal presentation and use their own coffee. On Sunday, things kicked of with the first Brewers Cup finalist performing for the whole crowd, followed by the first competitor in the NW Regional Barista Competition, followed by the second competitor in the Brewers Cup, and so on. It was kind of cool, as it gave the judges of both competitions ample time to discuss scoring between competitors. It still has a lot of kinks to be worked out, but it’s an interesting addition to our competition schedule.
And late in the afternoon, all competitors—brewers and baristas—had taken the stage, and we all—the hundreds gathered in Tacoma (great job hosting this, Dillanos Coffee!)—waited eagerly for the announcement of the winners. Here’s how the top three in each competition ranked in the end:
Northwest Regional Barista Competition:
1st place: Sam Purvis, Coava Coffee, Portland, Oregon
2nd place: Ryan Willbur, Stumptown Coffee, Portland, Oregon
3rd place: Laila Ghambari, Stumptown Coffee, Seattle, Washington
Northwest Brewers Cup Competition:
1st place: Devin Chapman, Coava Coffee, Portland, Oregon
2nd place: Mark Pfaff, Victrola Coffee, Seattle, Washington
3rd place: Will Frith, Batdorf & Bronson, Olympia, Washington
Here are some snapshots from the weekend… if you’d like to see more, please visit Barista Magazine’s Facebook Page!
NEXT UP: The Southeast Regional Barista Competition, hosted by Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters and Everything Coffee & Tea, in Atlanta, Georgia, Feb. 11–13. Go HERE for more details!