It’s a packed house. There are six baristas on ‘stage’ and the tension in the room is palatable. The emcee has just announced the 3rd place finalist and there are two competitors left in the spotlight awaiting their fate.
A moment of silence.
The runner up is announced. There is a knowing glimmer of excitement in the winner’s eyes.
Victory goes to Todd Goldsworthy who is awarded Champion of the South West Regional Brewers Cup. It’s a great moment for Todd. And, for the Los Angeles coffee community.
A few weeks back I sat down to talk with Todd about his career in coffee and how he became the Klatch Coffee Guru. At that time he was in the midst of preparing for the brewers cup. Every Monday leading up to his win, Todd was given an eight ounce and a four ounce bag of coffee that he knew nothing about. On friday he would play with the eight ounces and use the remaining four ounces to brew as if he were competing - usually grabbing a colleague or friend to brew against him. At the time, Todd was telling me how excited he was for a Kenyan Makwa AB coffee that Klatch was about to launch and how he had recently been given a Gino Glass Dripper by the folks at Not Neutral, which he was eager to try out. Not surprisingly, both of these elements played a crucial role in his victory.
Last year, Todd took over as head honcho of the the Los Angeles TNT’s. To those you who don’t know TNT stands for thursday night throwdowns which are latte art competitions designed to bring the local barista community together. With Todd at the helm, our local TNT’s grew immensely, attracting baristas and coffee enthusiasts as well some incredible sponsors eager to get involved. One of Todd’s favorite things about the LA throwdowns is seeing people come out to compete who have never done it before - who are putting themselves out there and trying. In fact, Goldsworthy set up the structure of the competition as a way to encourage newbies to participate; first having competitors pour simple hearts, followed by more challenging tulips and then rosettas. Todd also sees these events as opportunities for baristas to get together and share best practices happening around town in tech, latte art and customer service.
Before Todd became the Klatch coffee guru, head of the Los Angeles TNT’s and SW Brewers Cup Champion, he went to college in San Diego for Media Communications and had his eye on a career in that field. He was secretly working for two different San Diego TV and news stations. He would do production for the night news and would turn around and play the role of producer and writer for the other station’s morning news. On top of his TV two-timing, Todd also had a job slinging coffee at Starbucks. Over time, Goldsworthy noticed how he would dread going to work at the news but look forward to his opportunity to serve coffee and be social at Starbucks. Eventually, he was promoted to supervisor at Starbucks and left one of his news jobs. Todd continued to work his way up the coffee chain, away from the news and towards Los Angeles. By 2009 Todd was a District Manager at Starbucks with 13 shops in the Hollywood area under his watch.
2009 was also the year that Todd had his first major run in with the specialty coffee community. The South West Regional Barista Championship was being hosted that year at Siren Studios in Hollywood. Being that the event was in the neighborhood, he dropped by to check it out. Walking in with curiosity, Goldsowrthy looked a little out of his element. Maria Hill took notice, came up to him and said, “Hi, you look lost.” She took the time to explain everything that goes on at competition.
As it goes in specialty coffee, Todd fell down the rabbit hole. He followed up his competition experience by participating in the inaugural year of Barista Camp, receiving his level 1 Barista Certification and gaining his twitter handle: @BrewMaster800AD. Todd explained that his moniker came from being known as the Brew Master in college. He’d often brew wine in the bathtub, experiment with beer recipes and, of course, coffee. And, 800AD it is the year coffee was supposedly discovered in Ethiopia - when Kaldi’s noticed his goats getting excited after eating coffee cherries.
At camp that first year, Todd also met the talented Heather Perry from Klatch Coffee. Through Heather, Goldsworthy connected with Mike Perry, Klatch’s founder and CEO. Todd recalled how anytime he would be on vacation from his job at Starbucks he would call up Mike and ask, “Are you cupping anything?” While Goldsworthy gained more and more coffee credentials: Level 2 Barista Certification, SCAA Instructor Development Program (IDP), and became an examiner, his relationship with the Klatch family also grew.
In the Summer of 2012 Todd gave notice to Starbucks and was brought on to work with Klatch as Wholesale Account Sales and Account Management. It’s a rigid sounding title that doesn’t suit Todd’s personality, so they decided to pull from his former nickname at Starbucks, 'The Coffee Guy' and call him the 'Klatch Coffee Guru.' From an outsiders perspective, Todd has played an integral role in carving out a name for Klatch in L.A.'s burgeoning coffee scene through his involvement with the TNT's and now with his win at the SW Championship.
One of the many things Todd likes about working with Klatch is having the opportunity to share his ideas and experiment with things. A while back the BrewMaster suggested Klatch try their hand at making a nitro cold brew. Today, you will find two delicious nitro cold brew coffees on tap at Klatch. In fact, they have had such a great response to their cold brew that it is likely to be key element of their plans for expansion.
At home, Todd is busy raising the next generation of Coffee gurus. His two sons, 5 and 7, are learning to brew on a Clever. Todd weighs the coffee, grinds it and heats up the water, but the kids pour the whole thing. Of course, the kids don’t drink the coffee yet, but they still get excited about brewing - especially the 5 year old. In true form, the BrewMaster has also been experimenting with a root beer recipe for them which he willingly admits, "is good but not great."
With a win now behind him, all eyes are on Todd as he prepares for competition at the National Brewers Cup Championship in Seattle this coming April...