Six friends claim the top six spots at regional barista competition

Six friends claim the top six spots at regional barista competition »Play Video
KATU photo.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland can claim some new bragging rights.

Nearly three months ago, six Portland friends headed up to Tacoma for a tense, nerve-wracking contest. They stunned their competitors and emerged victorious at the Northwest Regional Barista Competition.

"It’s more than just latte art," said Laila Ghambari, who took second place. "It’s about conveying quality coffee to these judges."

Ghambari is the lone woman in this close clique, who between the six of them, work at four different Portland coffee shops. She was joined at the competition by Marty Lopes, Colin Schneider, Tyler Stevens, Sam Purvis, and Devin Chapman. Chapman won the competition. But they can all be proud. In a contest with baristas from six different states, these six friends took the top six spots.

"We get to showcase what we get to do in this industry," says Lopes. "It’s so much fun."

It was Chapman’s first time competing.

"I definitely felt like a weed among the trees," he said. "That day is such a blur because I had a lot of different things going on. I was doing whatever I needed to do to stay focused on what I needed to get done."

They all agree Portland’s coffee industry is the best in the country.

"A lot of pioneer work has been done in Portland," said Chapman. "It’s fun to feel like we’re on the cutting edge of something because I think a lot of people around the country think Portland is not in different ways."

They know most people automatically think of Seattle as the coffee capitol of the world. That’s why this victory, in Seattle’s backyard, feels so good.

"I don’t like anything about Seattle," said Chapman. "So being able to go to Tacoma and bring home all the silverware is pretty nice."

The national barista championship will be held April 19-22, right here in Portland. Five of them will try their hand at that competition.