What other coffee jobs have you had?
Director of Operations at Time Bandits LLC (the parent company for Halfwit Coffee Roasters, the Wormhole Coffee, and Fritz Pastry), Chicago, Illinois
Coffee Bar Manager at Frank Restaurant, Austin, Texas
Barista at Caffe Streets, Chicago, Illinois
Barista Trainer at the Brothers K / Other Brother Coffee, Evanston, Illinois
Barista at the Willow House Coffee, Phoenix, Arizona (RIP)
In addition, I’ve bussed tables, washed dishes, served, expedited in kitchens, and dabbled in bartending. Working in restaurants has been pivotal in shaping my understanding of what customer service can and should mean. I think we as coffee professionals can glean a lot from a full-service mentality. It takes talent to prepare food and to make great drinks, but it’s a skill on a whole other level to create an amazing experience with a meal or a beverage.
What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?
The world can be a big, bad place, but coffee makes it sweeter and smaller. I love being part of a global community of farmers, producers, processors, buyers, roasters, agronomists, cuppers, retailers, and the occasional casual caffeine addict.
Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?
Ideally? I’d like to be living in a world where service-industry professionals, farmers, and producers can learn a decent, living wage. In this world, everybody has access to affordable health care and nutritious food and clean water, and we’ve stopped polluting the planet because we all fly to work on the backs of our pegacorns.
Realistically, I’ll be working to save the world with math and science and eternal optimism. And drinking great coffee.
Who and what inspires you?
In no particular order:
• Nancy Scheper-Hughes
• Paul Farmer
• My mom. Duh.
• Breakfast tacos
• Lunch and dinner tacos
• This uncompromising belief I have that we can and should repair the gaping gender imbalance and subsequent discrepancy in earnings between farm workers and farm owners in producing regions
• This other uncompromising belief I have that we can and should repair the gaping gender imbalance and subsequent discrepancy in earnings between retail workers and cafe owners/coffee roasters/buyers in the U.S.
• My cats, Squash and Ruby
What are you drinking right now?
Honey Orchid Dan Cong from Kilogram Tea—it’s phe-nom-nom-nom-enal! Delectably aromatic, floral, nectar-like. It’s the kind of tea that makes you blush, it just tickles every little bit of you.
Crazy coffee experiences you’d like to share?
I’m not sure if this counts but…
During my first Big Central Regional Barista Competition, I spilled a shot of espresso all over a judge (it was Mallory Roth from Askinosie; she was an absolute doll about it). When I worked at Caffe Streets, a coworker and I were lifting a huge cambro full of sipping chocolate into the refrigerator and somehow I wound up covered from head to toe in chocolate. That sounds a lot more fun that it actually was in real life. Spilling things is kind of my legacy.