/files/World-Barista-Championship.KB-teaser2.jpg" alt="2011 US Barista Top 6 - Kevin Bohlin" title="2011 US Barista Top 6 - Kevin Bohlin" align="left" height="213" hspace="5" width="320" />This week has been really busy with sports championships and surprises. The Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA playoff title. The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1972. Lots of sports, indeed. And it made me think about all the underdogs working so hard for something everyone around them assumed is out of their reach.
You may be wondering how this ties into the World Barista Championship. Well, it reminded me of an interview I recently had with Kevin Bohlin, of Ritual Roasters. Kevin has only been in the coffee industry for 2 years and yet, he managed to place in the Top 6 in the US Barista Championship, where Pete Licata ultimately won (who some may argue is another underdog). So it’s only fitting that today we pay Kevin some attention.
Kevin relocated to San Francisco and as a self-described “coffee geek,” he was thrilled to be in the heart of the boutique coffee scene. This passion led him to try his hand behind the bar and within a short time, Ritual turned his enthusiasm into full-blown expertise. Kevin has learned to appreciate coffee and follows his store’s mantra of being fully transparent. That is to say, he strives to maintain the characteristics inherent to the coffee, focusing on seasonal coffees, and upholding freshness no matter what.
/files/World-Barista-Championship.KB-LaPinona2.jpg" alt="Kevin Bohlin at the coffee farm with producer Sebastian Benitez" title="Kevin Bohlin at the coffee farm with producer Sebastian Benitez" align="middle" height="640" vspace="3" width="480" />
Seeking to expand his understanding of the entire coffee process, Kevin initiated a trip to Guatemala and Honduras, where he not only witnessed, but also took part in the coffee-production flow. He was so committed to this experience that he paid for this trip out of his own pocket! Ironically, Kevin wagered a bet with his coffee shop; if he placed in the finals at the USBC, they would have to reimburse him for the trip. Talk about the underdog achieving the impossible…
By the end of his first day on the farm, Kevin had done over 60 cuppings, tasting, testing, experiencing and testing some more. When speaking about this trip, Kevin highlighted the intensity of it all, how it really helped him to connect to the big picture, to see “what you can expect from a farm in the future, playing up the expectations and thinking ahead” as well as really getting a grip on how high the elevation really is. To see what and how it’s really done on the farm became all the more rewarding at the USBC, where he was able to put all the elements of what it takes to grow, produce, and cup coffee at the competition.
/files/US-Barista-Championship-KB.cupping2.jpg" alt="2011 US Barista Championship Top 6 - Kevin Bohlin cupping" title="2011 US Barista Championship Top 6 - Kevin Bohlin cupping" align="middle" height="533" vspace="3" width="800" />
Clearly, this enthusiasm was felt by the judges, leading Kevin to walk away with the gratification of placing in the Top 6 at the competition. Who knows, maybe next year he’ll make it to the top? We’ll all have to tune in and see. Meanwhile, we’d like to extend our thanks to Kevin; we’re really proud of all you were able to accomplish in such a short time!
/files/World-Barista-Championship.KB-LaPinona1.jpg" alt="At the coffee farm - Kevin Bohlin & Sebastian Benitez" title="At the coffee farm - Kevin Bohlin & Sebastian Benitez" align="middle" height="600" width="400" />