Kyle Glanville’s domination of the 2008 USBC has launched him on a jet plane to Copenhagen, Denmark this week, where he’ll compete against Stephen Morrissey, who he has trained with, to depose James Hoffmann, who Stephen has trained with, as the World Barista Champion. Wait, what? My head is spinning! Let’s see what Kyle, who works for Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea in Los Angeles, has to say about, you know. coffee and stuff.

What is coffee culture like in LA?
Coffee? Culture? Actually, there’s a few really good shops within the immediate vicinity of our shop. La Mill is about a mile away, as is Choke which is a motorcycle shop / espresso bar. Its really cool because the culture is starting from scratch and the focus really seems to be on the

When you win the WBC, are you going to keep up on your blog more?
When I win? Pffft! Blog? Oh yeah, I stare at that thing from time to time. I dunno. Maybe. Someday I’d like to be famous like Tonx or James Hoffmann.

What was your USBC experience like this year? Did you feel lonely out there with so few of your Intelligentsia colleagues also in the competition?
Ha! I can tell you competing this year felt really nice. Not only did I feel like I had arrived with the Intelli crew, but with the whole west coast crew as well. I think I realized at the USBC that I’ve somehow managed to plant myself in a group of people who are all truly exceptional at what they do, from Mike Phillips to Nick Griffith to Chris Baca etc etc etc. All these people are wonderful examples of the modern young coffee professional and everything good this movement can represent.

It was also really nice to practice with a team of folks this year. We would get together in the lab and just rip each other apart, it was fantastic. We were all told several times “your drink sucks”, which is exactly what we all needed.

I had a long conversation today with a single-origin espresso detractor (“Single-origin espressos are like the roaster’s given up!” were I believe this person’s words.) You used a single-origin espresso from Finca Matalapa in El Salvador to compete, and win, the USBC. Defend your choice.
That might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Whether we want to accept it or not, the most progressive coffee companies (and the ones who are producing the most delicious coffees in my opinion) are featuring farms more and more because it is the work that happens at the farm that determines how good the coffee will be. Every year more great coffee is
produced that stands on its own.

I say this as someone who is responsible for maintaining a very well known espresso blend. I know what it takes to get either to taste excellent and its no easier to make an SO sing as an espresso than it is to create an excellent blend.

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at that.


What would you change about barista competitions if you could?
Ummmm, I don’t know. The competition is a very specific format. I guess I would love it if we could serve our drinks two by two and set temperature of our machines as well as baskets. I think the sig drink shouldn’t necessarily feature espresso. I also think the sig drink shouldn’t necessarily have to be a beverage.

What would you change about the current movement in coffee if you could? Either globally or locally?
To sum up what could otherwise turn into a ten page dissertation, I wish that we could combine all the muscle of our tiny niche of the coffee industry to fearlessly defend true quality and everything it takes to achieve it. We are all too willing to compromise, and that’s usually because
of a deep cynicism about what our customers actually want or whether the consumer can actually tell the difference between mediocre coffee and great

Does your family understand coffee and your role in it?
Ummmmm, no. Maybe. I still find bags of coffee in the freezer at my mom’s house every christmas, and its usually the coffee I gave her the Christmas before.

Only in Minneapolis did I become aware that there was a feeling of difference between Intelli LA and Chicago. What, if anything, do you feel these differences are, and what do you like or dislike about what that divide might represent?
Well, we are definitely separated geographically. I think we could benefit from the opportunity to come together more often. But I definitely feel that the Chicago crew is as much my family as the LA crew is, we just only see each other on special occasions.

It’s going to be fun to goose Stephen Morrissey backstage, isn’t it?
Stephen and I have the kind of romance that the outside world couldn’t possibly understand.

Can I come to Copenhagen as your official photographer, (representing Chicago, Intelli, America, Freedom, etc.)?
Okay! But, freedom isn’t free. There’s a hefty fee.

3 Responses to “twitchy interview no. 4: kyle glanville”

  1. meister

    Whatta guy!

  2. flyingthud

    That intro makes it sound as if no one else is competing, just Kyle and I.

    God I hate this blog

  3. caroline

    Go Kyle and Single Origin Espresso!

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