Community Spotlight · Stumptown Coffee, Los Angeles, CA
Kathie Hilberg got her start in the world of specialty coffee in February of 2011, shortly after graduating from college. “Jobs were hard to come by because of the recession, but I finally got a job at a little café in Bend, Oregon,” she says.
The shop introduced her to the world of coffee, and she quickly became interested in learning more. A friend working for a local roasting company encouraged her to apply for a barista position there, which led to her next opportunity. “That’s where I really got my feet wet and decided that coffee was what I wanted to do long-term,” she says.
For Kathie, the biggest draw was the precision and discovery in specialty coffee. “Even the slightest change to an aspect of coffee, at many points in the supply chain, can have a noticeable impact on the coffee,” she says. “And I loved experiencing and learning about those differences. I would also say that is probably still my favorite part about coffee.”
Fast forward to the present day, and Kathie’s coffee career is multidimensional—and still full of discovery. She is a U.S. Barista Championship judge (and former barista competitor), and the current vice chair of the Barista Guild Leadership Council.
Beyond those responsibilities, Kathie attends to her full-time gig as lead educator for Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Los Angeles. “My job mostly consists of doing barista training for our wholesale customers in L.A. and the Southwest,” she says. While the pandemic led Kathie to work as a barista at Stumptown’s L.A. café as well as completing her training duties, she has since transitioned back to full-time training. “I am able to do some in-person training (taking many safety precautions), while continuing to offer virtual classes over Zoom,” she says.
As a veteran behind the bar, Kathie’s experience with Barista Series products dates back to 2013. “I remember thinking how much easier they were to work with than anything I had used before, and was excited to see a company that saw the benefit in having a product that steamed well so that baristas could make the best drinks possible for our customers who chose milk alternatives.”
Kathie says that she thinks Barista Series’ consistency is one aspect that continues to differentiate the product. “I can count on every shipment of the products we use to be the same every time, which makes it reliably delicious and easy to work with,” she says. “I also love that the latte art on the cartons is made with the product inside that carton; I point it out all the time when discussing milk alternative options with our customers to assure them that it’s easy to work with.”