If you were at the Big Western Barista Championship in Los Angeles last weekend you probably saw a couple of guys wandering around with a pretty serious video camera. Those guys are director Rock Baijnauth and cinematographer Roger Singh who have been busy gathering footage of some of our favorite local coffee professionals. I had the opportunity to connect with Rock and Roger on their very last day of filming as they captured Truman Severson cupping coffees at Theorum (a Coffee-Cocktail Bar at Portola Coffee Lab). Today they are Launching their Kickstarter Campaign to raise money and awareness for their film - do check it out!
In honor of their campaign launch, Rock took the time to answer a few questions:
tLBCC: Can you give me a brief synopsis of the film?
Rock Baijnauth: Drip follows 3 charismatic young Baristas who battle through personal hardships on their way to competing in the 2013 National Barista Championships.
tLBCC: What made you decide to make a documentary about coffee/ people in coffee?
Rock Baijnauth: We had no idea Barista competitions even existed until about a year ago. It’s a fascinating subculture that no one would have ever imagined and it’s filled with characters that you couldn’t write. Making it a perfect focus for a documentary film.
tLBCC: How long have you been working on the film?
Rock Baijnauth: We’ve been working on this film for over a year now. We followed these baristas from the regional competition in Santa Cruz, then to Boston for the US championships, we have footage from the world championships in Australia and then finally came back this year to reconnect with our main characters and see where they were a year later.
tLBCC: Who does your documentary follow?
Rock Baijnauth: The film focuses on Truman Severson and Ryan Redden who are both kinda coffee geniuses and also Charles Babinski who is pretty much barista royalty around these parts. That said, we’re trying to focus on the barista subculture in a holistic way, so there are tons of supporting interviews from a bunch of other baristas and coffee experts alike.
tLBCC: How did you connect with Truman?
Rock Baijnauth: I saw Truman compete in the South West Regionals last year in Santa Cruz. He did this highly scientific thing where he used a distiller to gather what he referred to as “the essence of coffee”, it was an amazing performance. I knew he was someone i had to interview.
tLBCC: What do you like about working with Truman?
Rock Baijnauth: He’s one of the most intelligent and well spoken people I’ve met in the past year. He talks about coffee with such passion and is one of those guys that spits in the face of mediocrity—someone who seems to always be demanding perfection from himself... oh and his hair.
tLBCC: What is your favorite part about working with people in coffee?
Rock Baijnauth: I like working with people who are passionate... passionate about anything really. These people happen to be passionate and geek out over coffee and it’s a beautiful thing to witness.
tLBCC: What are you most excited to share with your audience?
Rock Baijnauth: People tend to look at barista’s as someone who merely serves you a drink but I wanted to show that there was a real artistry behind it all. Real craftsmanship and I wanted to show that these people’s lives are as rich and full and complex as the drinks they serve.
tLBCC: What do you see happening to the coffee scene in Los Angeles?
Rock Baijnauth: It’s become like wine. People are treating coffee more as an artisan thing. You can go to any third wave, independently owned coffee shop now and hear someone talk about what they are smelling and tasting when they put a cup of coffee to their lips and that’s pretty dope.
tLBCC: What are your goals for the film?
Rock Baijnauth: I’m aiming for a 70 minute cut of the film in the next few months then hoping to tackle the festival route. There’s already been some interest overseas just based on the trailer and some raw footage, but we’ll have more to say about that once the film is complete.
tLBCC: Do you have a favorite shop in Los Angeles?
Rock Baijnauth: My favourite place, you probably won’t find on any lists, as it often gets over looked -- it’s the Republic of Pie and they pull a great cappuccino. The atmosphere is just what I want a coffee shop to be -- warm and welcoming without a hint of pretension.
tLBCC: What is your favorite way to drink coffee?
Rock Baijnauth: I had this Yama Cold Brew Ugandan Coffee at a place called 10 Speed Coffee in Calabasas. It tasted like a port wine and just blew me away... also the buzz lasted for hours.