Photo by: Taylor Gonzales
In April 2022, Julien Langevin became the 2022 US Cup Tasters Champion at the US Coffee Championships in Boston. Inspired by that big win, he began training for the 2022 World Cup Tasters Championship with long-time SCA educator Jeremy Rävar, Director of Operations at Coffee By Design, and Travis Spear, Head Roaster at Coffee By Design, where Julien works as a Production Roaster. We caught up with Julien recently to learn more about his background, his experience in Boston, and why he loves the Moccamaster.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a 25-year-old painter and coffee professional who used coffee work, specifically barista work, to support myself through achieving my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Portland, Maine. After discovering and becoming enamored with the national community, science, and global societal impact of coffee I decided to pursue it as a career. Along with the coffee and art communities, I also identify with and am supported by the neurodivergent and transgender communities that I am part of. I find that connecting over shared experience is one of the richest and most valuable aspects of the life we live. I value hard work, passion, and discipline, but also self-care and forgiveness. I have a lot to learn in both life and coffee but am very much looking forward to expanding my knowledge indefinitely with both.
What was it like going to Boston, winning the US Cup Tasters Championship, and now training for the World Tasters Championship in Milan, Italy?
When I finally did make it to Boston in Spring 2022, I was so genuinely excited to just be at an SCA event again. I found the national coffee community through volunteering and judging the barista competition specifically and was so excited to see friends that lived all over the country. When it came to competing, I felt good every time I moved on and was fine with finishing as a quarter finalist, semifinalist, etc. Making it to finals was a dream - and winning blew my mind. We are planning for Milan in a very specific way, and I have a good team behind me at Coffee By Design helping me through it, as well as generous sponsors like Moccamaster that will help with standardization and quality of the brewed coffees we are practicing with. Consistency is key I’m learning, and so is having a solid team behind you.
Which Moccamaster brewer is your favorite and why?
I really like the KBGT Model. I admire the replication of pour over methods such as a bloom and pulsing, incorporated into a very accessible batch brew form. I like that with this model specifically, all you have to do is press a button and it takes care of the science for you. I find with a lot of batch brewers it’s difficult to get an even extraction of all the grounds, but with Moccamaster I have not noticed this issue. I can attribute that to the precise engineering of water temperature and pulse application as well as the conical basket shape. I also like the auto drip stop feature of the KBGT for safety and convenience and the thermal carafe allows you to enjoy the perfect brew throughout the morning at an ideal temperature.
What are your favorite aspects of the Moccamaster?
I’m a big (beginner) coffee science nerd and accessibility person. In my opinion, the Moccamaster, in its ingenuity, is very advanced - yet from a consumer side, extremely accessible as a batch brewer. I really enjoy batch brew, and when it is done really well, I can prefer [the Moccamaster] over a pour over method, even. I like aspects of the Moccamaster that value the quality of the coffee it is producing, yet do not forgo accessibility for the consumer. I also think that visually it looks very interesting, and I love the aesthetic design.
What is your favorite thing about coffee?
I like that coffee is a global industry that has a visible and traceable supply chain. Although the history of coffee cultivation is deeply tied to the ways western civilization commodifies aspects of cultures that are not its own, I think there is a lot of important work being done to acknowledge this as well as respect and identify coffee as a product that touches many hands through its life, beginning most importantly with those at origin. I love this industry for its people, and I’m so grateful that every day I get to wake up and do what I love surrounded by people I love, knowing that I am part of the amazing journey these incredibly important beans take every day. It means a lot.
Light, medium, or dark roast?
I started out as a strict dark roast-only consumer, but I’ve broadened my horizons. I drink it all! I’m especially surprised and delighted when I taste a blend that comprises different roast levels that tastes harmonious.
Arabica or Robusta?
I haven’t tried enough Robusta to gather a real opinion on one versus the other, but the Robusta I have tried has been very interesting and delicious. I’m excited to see where companies like Nguyen Coffee Supply lead our industry and how we can utilize this species further in specialty worldwide.
Where does the best coffee in the world come from?
Every coffee producing country is doing amazing work in my opinion. I recently tried coffee from the Philippines for the first time and drank a 12 oz bag in under a week! I think you can find delicious coffee all over, and it’s good for different reasons.
Who is your biggest or favorite coffee influencer?
This is a difficult question! There are a lot of people I look up to in this industry that have a wide range of followings, but Veronica and Eric Grimm of Glitter Cat and Ghost Town Oats have been long-time idols of mine for the work they do for marginalized communities within our national coffee community. As a queer trans man it is important for me to see representation of my identity, and both of these people have made it clear that queer and trans, people of color, economically diverse and mentally ill people have a place in coffee, and I think that’s really cool and important.
What advice would you give to someone who was interested in pursuing a coffee career?
I’d just say that it’s important to be okay with where you’re at, but to always keep planning for what’s next. Develop goals, think of positions you could see yourself in, and don’t lose sight of that. Don’t give up - this industry is vast, and there is definitely a special place for you here.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about coffee?
I think the biggest thing I run into is the “coffee snob” fear. A lot of people think because I work in specialty coffee and am into tasting that I don’t drink things like dark roast or frozen flavored coffee, but that’s not true! I think all types of coffee, and ultimately what makes “good” coffee “good” on a consumer level is what the consumer likes to taste. Every individual that drinks coffee drinks good coffee, if it tastes good to them, I think.
Is there ever a reason to drink decaf?
Yes, definitely - approaching a nine- or ten-hour day in the roastery and I want a late afternoon cortado after my first four cups. I choose decaf a couple times a week, at least.
Follow Julien on Instagram: @julientheperson
Visit Coffee By Design: https://www.coffeebydesign.com/
Learn more about US Coffee Championships: https://uscoffeechampionships.org/
Learn more about World Cup Tasters Championship: http://www.worldcuptasters.org/