I love coffee. I drink lots of it.
All the time. People who know me, know I love coffee. And here in Downtown Los Angeles, I'm not alone in cultivating and consuming this daily brew. Some of the best artisanal coffee shops are here and they amply pull the richest, creamiest, joyous java I have ever taken since I've first started to drink coffee back in University days at those collegiate cafés.
One of the best in Downtown is "Demitasse" located in Little Tokyo. I've been a "regular" there since their inception couple of years of ago. The owner, Bobby, a serious coffeehead talked me out of drinking decaf for good. And he is serious about coffee and the coffee culture he creates at Demitasse with assistance from the best coffee team in the City. Gatlin, the nicest guy ever, you can't miss him, he's the tallest person usually in the shop. Frank, the most courteous and professional, he will refill your dog's water bowl outside when it runs low. And then there's Dave, aka Dose, he has a tattoo of an espresso tamping tool on his forearm. Talk about commitment to coffee. He's a former musician/singer and he's found a new passion, coffee, and that brings us to the Big Western Coffee Championship held this morning at a studio warehouse near the famous Sixth Street Bridge.
In these pics, you see Dave competing, pulling his shots of espresso and expressing his coffee knowledge as well as playing the part of a well rounded barista. A barista is not just a coffee server, but a craftsmen/artist/connector who is an ambassador of coffee, who can explain the terrain from where the beans originate to the nuances of roasting and who experiments with what would be best paired with a particular coffee. Because now, coffee is no longer a stand alone drink or a cup of joe served with your basic breakfast, coffee is served with ice cream, with chocolate, with crushed mint leaves. Coffee is a meal. It's the main course, no longer an after thought.
Back at the competition, the announcer names Dave as he steps away from the espresso machine, after serving the judges. The MC asks him who he is and where he's from. Dave is quick to acknowledge Bobby the owner of Demitasse who sits in first row with fellow baristas and "regulars". It's a proud moment for all them. And it is a moment like all great moments, like a great cup of coffee, it gives you a great moment from that first sip to the last.
- Debbie Kim