Coava Coffee is an upstart on the Portland coffee scene, and Devin Chapman currently manages the Coava brew bar. He’s also an accomplished barista. In February, he outperformed fellow coffee pros from Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming at the Northwest Regional Barista Competition to capture the crown. Chapman recently shared more caffeinated insights, which hint at why he’s been successful.
Was it a given that you’d work with coffee for a living, or did you consider other careers?
This is only my second year in coffee, still not sure where I fit in this world. I love making coffee because I love making coffee for people. So if there’s a career in that sign me up.
Do you have a first coffee memory, good or bad?
My first good coffee memory was enjoying a cup of coffee from Stumptown on Belmont in 2003. I had just moved to Portland and this started my appreciation for well stewarded coffee.
What was your very first day like working behind a coffee bar, and where was it?
My first day behind the bar was at Crema Coffee and Bakery and it was frantic, I felt as if I were in over my head. But it’s like they say “sometimes you eat the bar, sometimes the bar eats you.”
How did the opportunity come about with Coava Coffee?
I was working at Crema and one of the owners of Coava came in for a cup of coffee, he mentioned casually they might be looking for an employee. As soon as my shift was over I rode my bike down to what is now our brew bar and started the conversation. When they opened they offered me a job and I’ve been there ever since.
Would you consider anybody a coffee mentor? If so, what did they teach you that was so valuable?
I have many coffee mentors, my co-workers at Coava especially Sam Purvis. There are so many elements to serving coffee. Matt and Keith taught me to make great coffee but in many ways Sam taught me how to serve it. What Sam taught me was how to create a space to share coffee with people, there is nothing more valuable than that.
Walk me through a typical coffee consumption day for you. What would that be like, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed?
I wake up and ride to work and taste coffee, coffee we’re brewing as espresso, the coffees we have on brew bar. Coffees that have been shared with us from other roasters and coffees other shops in town are serving. I taste a lot of coffee because I enjoy it.
What’s your preferred brewing method at home, and how come?
My preferred brewing method at home is the Aeropress with the disk. I like using the Aeropress because it’s easy.
If you could travel to any city in the world right now, primarily to drink coffee, what would it be and why?
If I could anywhere right now I’d go to Santa Cruz to drink coffee with my friends at Verve and surf all day.
If you could only have one more shot of espresso, and you couldn’t pull the shot, who would pull it for you?
Billy Wilson because it would be nothing short of perfect.