Two years ago I tried to overcome my disappointment with not qualifying for the semifinals at the United States Barista Championship by going to a local latte art throwdown. I was no more fortunate in the throwdown, but I did make a friend in a fellow competitor. Bethany Hargrove, like myself, was a first-time USBC competitor representing a small coffee company. In the short time since, Hargrove has gone on to become an accomplished latte artist, USBC judge, and, most recently, apprentice roaster at San Francisco’s Wrecking Ball Coffee. I caught up with Bethany to try to find out what it’s like to transition from retail to production and Portland to San Francisco.
First of congratulations on your new job! Tell us about what you’re up to at Wrecking Ball.
Prior to this your career has been focused on the barista side of things. What’s it like to work on the other side of the bar?
You just moved from one coffee Mecca to another. How do Portland and San Francisco stack up to each other?
You’re one of the rare baristas that’s been successful in both barista and latte art competitions. Why do you think there’s so little cross-over?
They’re just such a different vibe. Latte art competition is like rock-paper-scissors– you can watch the other person, and try to figure out what he’s doing so you can counter it, or you can just do your thing and be confident it’ll work out, or not.
Barista competition, on the other hand, is more like a triathlon. You have to train all these different skills and transitions and then put them all together on a specific day. Or maybe it’s more like a play, where you’re the director, producer, and cast, but the script got lost in the rules somewhere and you have to find it.