Devin Chapman has an extraordinary resume. He started his career in coffee as the first employee at Coava, then moved to Verve, and then La Colombe. All three of those roasters have been featured by Angels’ Cup and we love working with them. Perhaps even more impressive, however, is the fact that Devin began competing after only 6 months on the job at Coava. His list of accomplishments include:
– 5th Place, United States Barista Championship Finals, 2015
– Northwest Regional Barista Champion, 2013
– 4th Place, United States Barista Championship Finals, 2012
– Northwest Regional Barista Champion, 2012
– Northwest Regional Brewers Cup Champion, 2012
– United States Barista Championship Semi-finalist, 2011
– Northwest Regional Brewers Cup Champion, 2011
Now Devin is working for Tartine Bakery, known for their exception breads, and launching a coffee roasting operation within Tartine called the Coffee Manufactory. In this interview we chat about all the things Devin has learned as his career has progressed, what coffee competitions like the Barista Championship mean to average coffee consumers, and what makes Tartine and the Coffee Manufactory special.
I think coming in as the solo employee amongst the owners also meant that as they started to get pulled away to focus on other things, as roasting volumes went up, it opens up opportunities for me to step into more responsibility at an accelerate rate. Based on my personality, that was challenge for me to get as good, as knowledgable, as dialed in as possible, as quickly as I could. The first 6 months at Coava was this very intense incubation period for me to learn as much as I could with almost any resource at my fingertips.
One of the most brilliant things about the coffee industry at large is that for those of us that are obsessive learners, there’s infinite opportunities to keep growing, to keep learning, keep discovering new things. And that’s so exciting. It gets me out of bed in the morning to be quite honest. Competition definitely taps into that, but I would say that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that there’s an immense amount of growth opportunities. And the hard and humble work of thoroughly owning every thing you say and do really stimulates me.
The #1 word that I use to describe what it’s like to taste Tartine bread is that it is “alive”. There’s tartness from the fermentation of the dough, this incredibly gooey texture, it’s sweet and the way that the taste experience from start to finish, especially if you get it when it’s hot. One of the best meal I had last year was a hot loaf of Tartine bread in Dolores park and just like ripping off hunks of it and just eating plain bread. Cause it’s crispy and crunchy and soft and chewy.
As our customer base is informed and educated, and as they fall in love the same way that a lot of coffee professionals have, the value of coffee in their mind continues to go up and up and up. Maybe 2 years ago people would have been reluctant to spend $12 for 12oz of coffee, and now maybe they’re excited to spend $18. All of this is funneling toward having more people think that coffee is more valuable than they think it is today. To me that’s what everything connects to. If people look at coffee and see it as more valuable, it means there’s willing to give more money and that goes back to farmers. And that improves the quality of life for people around the world that really need it. A lot of coffee professionals truly connect with that. But man, I think about how much we’re learning now and how much we’ll know in 20 years, while still pushing ourselves to learn and grow. It’s going to be an amazing journey.