From January 23-25, top baristas from California and Hawaii will converge on Los Angeles to compete at the Western Regional Barista Competition. The winner scores a coveted slot in the Semi-Finals of the 2009 United States Barista Championship. Devin Pedde from Intelligentsia Coffee in Los Angeles is one barista you’ll find competing at Western Regional Barista Competition at downtown L.A.’s Spring Arts Tower.
Josh Lurie: Why did you decide to compete in the WRBC?
Devin Pedde: Competing to me is the opportunity to showcase coffee. Working shifts at a coffee bar doesn’t always allow for in depth conversation about any coffee in particular. I love being able to get to know a coffee extremely well and share that with the judges.
JL: How did you become interested in coffee?
DP: I started drinking coffee when I was about 10. My Dad and Uncle were into drinking “gourmet” coffee and I noticed. What I consider to be specialty coffee has change quite a bit since then, but that was the first time I remember realizing that it was more than just something to drink in the morning. I probably haven’t gone a day without a cup since then.
JL: What’s your first coffee memory?
DP: I remember a particular family Christmas when I was 5 or so. The relatives were all in town and we were having breakfast on Christmas morning and I decided to brew some coffee (unannounced) for the adults. I used some crazy coffee to water ratio that resulted in everyone who drank it either dry heaving or spitting it out. If only that was the last time I’d ruin a cup of coffee.
JL: Do you have an espresso mentor? If so, who are they and what did they teach you?
DP: Kyle Glanville taught me how to make the best cup possible. Stephen Morrissey taught me how to pour. Ryan Willbur taught me how to be fast.
JL: What did you do to prepare for the competition?
DP: Tasting different espressos and getting to know them well is a huge part of it for me. Knowing the ins and outs of your coffee is so important in competition. The signature drink is important of course, but for me it’s always about the coffee itself.
JL: Outside of your coffeehouse, what’s your favorite coffeehouse in the U.S., and what do you like about it?
DP: Kopplin’s Coffee in St. Paul, Minnesota. Really small, really simple shop that does amazing things. I wish there were more places like this. By-the-cup Clover brews, Synesso machine for espresso drinks and an ever changing list of coffees/espresso from many different roasters. I’m from the Twin Cities and I often find myself spending more time at Kopplin’s than I do visiting family.
JL: Other than yourself, who do you think has a good shot at becoming WRBC champ?
DP: My two teammates Ryan Willbur and Nick Griffith are dangerous. These two are polished, experienced and always bring a good show. Also, I’m excited to see my two buddies Jared Truby and Matt Williams from Verve compete. It’s really anyone’s game at this point. There will be blood.
JL: If you didn’t work in the coffee industry, what would you do for a living?
DP: I’m a guitarist and it’s a huge part of my life. I studied music in college and I’d like to think I’d be doing music in some capacity.