Coava Sweeps Northwest Barista Comp and Brewers Cup!

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!

Gianni from Nuova Simonelli (right) congratulates the 2011 Northwest Regional Barista Champion, Sam Purvis of Coava Coffee in Portland!

Devin Chapman (second from left) of Coava Coffee in Portland, Ore., reacts to hearing his name announced as the Northwest Regional Brewers Cup Champion.

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 the announcement of the six finalists on Saturday afternoon, the happy finalists gathered for a photo. They are, from left to right: Sarah Dooley of Espresso Parts; Robbie Britt from Espresso Parts; Ryan Willbur from Stumptown; Laila Ghambari from Stumptown; Tyler Stevens from BARISTA; and Sam Purvis from Coava Coffee.

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!

The amazing Marcus Boni (left) of the SCAA ran the competitions this weekend seamlessly—duh, like he always does. And Anna, right, of Dillanos, organized the whole weekend. Between the two of them, and also Joshua from Dillanos, it's no wonder the weekend was such a success.

This is the crowd on Saturday—it was even busier on Sunday for the finals! Wonderful turnout. Just goes to show that Regional Barista Competitions can absolutely make it and be successful as stand-alone events.

This is Noah from Cafe Imports, which, for the first time ever, is inviting all the Regioanl Barista Competitions winners (as well as the USBC and WBC winners) on a trip to Brazil this July to visit coffee farms. Cafe Imports has committed to do an origin trip for barista competition winners for the next three years—it's an unprecidented gesture from an importing company exemplifying the faith they have in these barista professionals making coffee into a lifelong career. Thank you, Cafe Imports!

Your Northwest Regional Barista Competition finalists upon hearing they'd made the finals. Great job, all y'all!

The days of simple signature drinks are in the past, it would seem, from the looks of the sig drinks in the Northwest Regional. Here is a snapshot of Laila Ghalmbari's three-part sig drink, which incorporates Aeropressed coffee, siphon brewed coffee and espresso, along with different textures of juice and cream to bring out the nuances of the one coffee she used: El Injerto from Guatemala. Her performance was SO impressive.

The top three in the Brewers Cup: from left to right, Will in 3rd; Devin in 1st; and Mark is 2nd.

The finalists of the Northwest Regional, who set the Regional bar pretty durn high. From left to right: Robbie of Espresso Parts; Laila of Stumptown; Ryan of Stumptown; Tyler of BARISTA; Sarah of Espresso Parts; and Sam of Coava.

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!

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.