At home with Devin Chapman
It’s hard to know whether Devin Chapman chose coffee, or if coffee chose him.
There’s no denying he’s dedicated to his craft. But there’s a thread of right-place-right-time throughout Devin’s story that warrants wondering about the universe’s role in his rapid rise in such a crowded industry. Winning his first barista competition less than a year into working with coffee confuses things even further.
What’s not confusing is that Mr. Chapman is extraordinarily passionate about coffee and exceptionally skilled at making it. He’s the only individual to win both the regional Barista and Brewer’s Cup in the same year, a feat which had never been done before and hasn't’ been done since.
What started as interest in cafe culture and making coffee in his dorm turned into a vocational opportunity when Devin left work at a non-profit for Crema Coffee & Bakery in SE Portland. It was there that he connected with one of the owners of then-nascent coffee shop Coava, and within several months, he made the move over to the now-famous destination cafe. From learning the nuances of pourover to research and development on the Able Kone filter, working at Coava allowed Devin to rub shoulders and pull shots with some of the city’s finest. “I didn’t understand how deep the rabbit hole went,” says Devin. “From product to supply chain, potential for impact, it’s endless.”
Instead of intimidating him, the depth simply fueled the fire. Always the type to lean fully into his pursuits, Mr. Chapman figured entering a competition was the best way to dive in head first. His debut regional event, he placed 10th. And then, less than a year into his experience as a professional barista, he won the Brewer’s Cup. Shortly thereafter, he made it to national semi-finals.
Outside of his competitive aspirations (the World Barista Championship being his next goal), Mr. Chapman has been busy transforming coffee programs for a number of notable roasters and retailers along the west coast. He built out three new cafes for LA-based Verve Coffee Roasters, ran sales for La Colombe, and has recently relocated to San Francisco to birth an in-house coffee program for famous Bay Area bakery Tartine.
So we wondered: when he’s not building new programs and retail shops alike, does Mr. Chapman ever have a chance to sit back and simply enjoy a good cup of joe?
It turns out that he does. But his routine at home is a bit different than while at the cafe. “As someone who makes coffee for a living, sometimes you lose touch with being able to enjoy coffee,” says Devin. “And while I particularly love manual pourover, sometimes the convenience and consistency you get with automatic is exactly what I’m looking for, especially with a machine like Ratio. It takes a little of the romance out of the hands-on process, but I’m okay with that. I’m not thinking about methodology. It removes my existence as a barista, and just lets me enjoy my coffee.”
As coffee connoisseurs, we understand. With manual pourover, you’re introducing 10-15 variables: where the water comes from, the temperature, the way you pour. And sometimes it’s simply too much; the everyday person doesn’t want to worry about all these variables (and at 6am, when the kids are running amok, we don’t either).
“Using the Ratio is rad because it limits things,” explains Devin. “You’re really only dealing with coffee, particle size, type of water, and cleanliness of the brew. That’s brilliant, because it creates an invitation for you to dig into tasting coffee. You have fewer variables (courser grind or finer grind, more water or less water) and you can actually taste the difference because you know everything else is under control. And then it’s also great for those that just want to drink great coffee every day. It’s a win-win.”
If we were betting men, we’d say banking on Devin’s future is a win-win as well. Whether he’s competing in the WBC (it’s only a matter of time), starting a new coffee program, or you find yourself across the counter from him as he crafts you a cup of the good stuff (you should be so lucky), Mr. Chapman has the talent, the passion, and the creative spirit to deliver. We’re looking forward to watching him continue to do so for years to come.