From January 23-25, Intelligentsia and SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) are hosting the Western Regional Barista Competition at downtown L.A.’s Spring Arts Tower. Top baristas from California and Hawaii vie for a coveted slot in the Semi-Finals of the United States Barista Championship.
Last year in Berkeley, Chris Baca from Ritual Coffee Roasters won the WRBC crown and finalist Kyle Glanville ended up becoming the eventual United States Barista Champion. This year, Baca is MC’ing and Glanville isn’t competing, since he’s working to open Intelligentsia Venice. However, 2008 WRBC finalists Nick Griffith and Ryan Willbur from Intelligentsia will compete again, as will their co-worker Devin Pedde, who placed 7th at last year’s WRBC and 15th at Nationals. No word yet from former national barista champ Heather Perry of the Coffee Klatch in San Dimas, who’s out of the country.
Three Nuova Simonelli espresso machines are dedicated for competition, and a fourth machine will host different California coffee roasters, who dispense free espresso shots in hour shifts. So far, it looks like Intelligentsia, Verve Coffee Roasters (Santa Cruz) and Ritual Coffee Roasters (San Francisco) will pull shots. Bodum will provide coffee roasters with French presses and their version of the Chemex to showcase single origin varietals, emphasizing “cafe hecho a mano” or coffee made by hand.
Lisa Olin and Elizabeth Belkind from Cake Monkey bakery will staff a booth, selling Yo-Hos, Cakewiches, Pop Pies and Li’l Merri’s. Expect a Saturday night reception at the Spring Arts Tower and a Sunday night reception at Intelligentsia’s Sunset Junction coffeehouse, with DJs from Stones Throw Records. Free admission.