Follow by Email

Monday, May 27, 2013

The One with the Podcast

Bottom line, I am a podcast junkie.

True story, I do not believe that we live in a generation of people that read the newspaper, watch the news or read books anymore. I know its tragic, but it's true. If you were to ask 100 people what they spend more of their time doing, watching television, listening to the radio/podcast or reading, the majority will say television.

I am guilty as sin on this note. I love to read, but I find myself so busy that I have even switched to listening to books on tape and adding more and more podcasts to my iPod, just to deal with LA traffic. I get a LOT out of them though, since I spend close to 20 hours per week in a car, might as well listen to something educational, heartwarming or inspiring... right?

Most recently though, I have noticed that there are not a lot of sources for audio media out there in the world of coffee. No one has taken the time or effort to convert some of the amazing texts out there to audio book and the podcasts on coffee that are out there, well they are boring! (Portafilter.net is exempt from this statement, but it's no longer around... so.. ) Not only are they boring, but the information in these said "podcasts" are archaic to say the least, let alone novice. I want something that appeals to the coffee professional of today, something exciting, inspiring, heartwarming and humorous. I want to listen to the conversations we have at expo and regionals, over and over again, but how?

Well, I decided during expo that I would have to take matters in to my own hands! Create a podcast that I would want to listen to and hopefully inspire others to do something similar in their lives. I do not have a whole lot of down time, but hey, what if I cut out 1 hour of television per day? (Yes I am willing to admit I watch and hour of TV per day, you know you do too).. Better yet, what if I ONLY watched television for 3 hours per week! Only 3 show I absolutely adore... or even better only 2 shows I adore and one hour of "research" on the Game Show Network?

So, that was in April and now, it's May, even though I'm HELLA busy and could probably enjoy more television or pick up another book, I decided to try and make this "inner circle" of coffee professionals more accessible to the greater coffee community at large!!

Today I recorded my second podcast. I hope to have at least 4 recorded before I start posting, so they can be posted regularly, like once per week. That's ambitious so, let's say at lead 2 per month!

We have so far covered topics like - Using "standards" in a cafe setting, why we started working in coffee and stay in the industry, and competitions - are they good or bad for the industry! I hope to cover a lot more, including processing, roasting, service, and opinions galore!

But how was I going to make this fun? How was I going to make this entertaining and not just boring? TRIVIA!! I hope that this podcast will evolve into the "wait, wait don't tell me" of coffee, or at least a high bred of that and the jeopardy of coffee! I think my first trivia guests really enjoyed the trivia and everyone is stoked to start listening!

So, my loyal readers, I ask you, please if you have any interest in being on the show, have topics for discussion, or trivia questions.. send them my way to stuffandthingscoffee@gmail.com or follow the podcast on twitter @CoffeeCrosstalk

Although it's a little costly, I am hoping that all of my friends and co-coffee lovers will love the show and some lovely folks will want to help sponsor.. but that is down the line. As of now, I need to give a huge shout out to my roommate, Tobias Renfro, who is (for now) donating his time and studio to mastering and editing the podcast. He is a digital NINJA!!

Thank you for reading and I hope to have you all on the line as we discuss "Stuff and Things; Coffee Crosstalk" and enjoy your tasty bevs... Stay tuned!

Cheers,

ALJ

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The One About Nail Salons

Nail Salons are my happy place.


Much like the cafe is a happy place for many of our customers, I hold my local and all nail salons as a sacred and cherished place in my day. A place I go to make myself feel better, get pretty and have "me" time. 

What the hell does the nail salon have to do with being a barista? Or the coffee house and specialty coffee culture you ask? Well, I'm gonna tell you. . . 

Many of us, if not all of us as coffee professionals, has had a horrific customer experience at a cafe, whether it be the coffee or the customer service, 99% of the time, it's the customer service. With all these posts about the "Bitter Barista" and "How not to be a dick" articles, I thought I would respond with a different type of post. I am not usually the one to post in response to something, but in this case, I can't just turn a blind eye. 

I bring up the Nail Salon, my happy place, my home away from home. If you've ever been to a nail salon, the first thing they do is say "Hi! Honey" or "Hello my friend, what you need today?" Off the bat, a friendly greeting and an inquiry into how they can help you. 

Here is the rest of the interaction: 

"I need a mani pedi"

"Ok honey, you pick color"

I take my time, picking out the color I want, sometimes it takes one minute, sometimes up to 10 minutes depending on my mood and how indecisive I am that day. I choose my color and they are waiting patiently. 

"You go to chair number 4"

I sit in the chair, and they immediately go to work, sometimes on my hands first then move me to work on my feet, but %90 of the time they do both at the same time. Always smiling, asking me a variety of questions, "You work today?", "You have children?", and my favorite "You have boyfriend?", all just to be nice and have a little conversation and if I don't want any small talk, they pick up on it and still are just as polite as could be and any complaints I may have, they are easy to oblige. 

"Oh, there's an air bubbly thing, there in that nail, can you fix it please?" 

"Oh, yes my friend, of course."

Then when they're all done, they put my shoes on for me, take my keys out of my purse so I don't ruin my beautiful nails, they THANK ME, tell me to come back soon and I leave feeling just so amazing. 

This is the type of service that I've now come to expect from the salons. And you know what? No matter what nail salon I walk into, the service is always the same, always impeccable and always leaves me wanting more. 

Now, if that were a cafe, would I get that type of experience? Would I call it my happy place? I am sure baristas make better money than manicurists and don't work half as hard, and believe me, doing MY nails is a craft that is bar none, magical. 

I feel like making coffee is magical and would love for every barista to become more like my nail salon folk, that way I can have more happy places. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Traveling One

Travel: self-propelled movement

The above definition of the word "Travel" is, by far, one of the most eloquent and beautiful expressions of a word I have ever researched.

Travel defines the way I live my life.

A few months ago, I stopped blogging due to getting too busy for this form of "self-propelled movement" in my life. I write to maintain serenity and balance in my day to day living, in the hopes that  something I might write might touch someone else's life for the better.. at least that's the hope. The reality is that I write for selfish reasons ONLY. I want to, it helps me, and propels my life into growth.

With that being said, I would like to share a small, but inspiring conversation I had a few hours ago with a close friend of mine named Allison, but first, let's step back to almost eight months ago. . .

This past January, as some of you may know, I left my job. Not just any job, at the time I thought it was my "dream job", and really, at the time, it was. Below are the highlights of the last eight months:

January - Lost Job, went on a 24 day coffee tour from California to Washington via Toyota Matrix

January - February - Coffee Tour = 40 shops in 14 days in 3 states and numerous cities; made lots of contacts and friends in the coffee industry, posted on Facebook I needed a job, emailed anyone that would listen to me about being desperate to stay in coffee, emailed 113 resumes, handed out in person 32 resumes = received 6 job offers right away, and 10 others within the following 60 days.

February - Returned to Southern California, met a woman opening a new coffee house concept in my area, took the job as the Director of Coffee for a new start up company called Green Bliss Cafe, in Fullerton, CA.

February - March - Helped in opening Green Bliss, set up the first multi-roaster coffee house in Orange County, CA; got offered a job for a 3rd wave in LA that was opening 3 new locations, 2 in OC and 1 in Malibu - took the job, with the agreement I would be able to consult for Green Bliss at the same time.

March - South West Regional Barista Competition in Santa Cruz, CA - hosted by Verve Coffee Roasters -Had the honor and privilege to judge at the comp, placed 2nd in the SWRBC brewers cup competition, got MAD press = a huge amount of MORE press which = MORE CONSULTING GIGS... life gets super busy. Now I am helping to open 3 shops, and consulting for 3 more on the side, and the gigs keep coming in.

April - SCAA Event; Compete in Brewers Cup - didn't place but had an amazing experience in Portland, life altering experience, Green Bliss has it's grand opening and the coffee is amazing, people love it, I feel accomplished and now focus more on the consulting and opening the new shops I'll be managing + retraining all staff for my new company, Cafecito Organico.

May - Consulting has picked up so much, it's moved from the "hustle" category to "need a DBA" category, so I open up Red Sunshine Coffee, my new consulting and training business; while I am still helping out Green Bliss, Cafecito, and the other 3 clients I had at the time.

June - Opening up new accounts left and right, now opening up 5 locations at the same time between Red Sunshine and Cafecito; at this point I have now opened up a few accounts for some well known roasters, one of which being Verve. - Also traveling back and forth from OC to LA and the surrounding areas hosting BGA Member Driven Events, attending IDP's at SCAA to receive my Lead Instructors certificate and hosting, as well as attending more cuppings than ever in my life, I have officially started my introduction into buying green beans from an importer for a roaster, amazing experience = MORE press and being featured in the "On the Line" section of OC Weekly, which is usually reserved for well known chefs in the county. June was a super fun month.

July - Now all of my Red Sunshine clients are open, functioning well, and serving amazing coffee; my most passionate clients being at Candle Light Bakery in Norwalk, CA. . check them out, they're rad guys that just love coffee - I start having a conversation with Verve about a position they're hiring for in SoCal, sales, totally not my thing.. I say I'll keep my ears open and let folks know. - Conversation continues - I travel to Santa Cruz to meet with Verve about an "opportunity" - which I think is something along the lines of some extra cash for referring some wholesale clients to them in the LA area. . . that was three weeks ago.

And over the last 2 weeks .... - Build out is almost done at the OC location for Cafecito, only another 4 weeks BAM! Opening Day! - Hopefully. - Green Bliss is still crushing it in Fullerton, Candle Light rolled out their new coffee program, I signed another training account for Red Sunshine, and I received an offer letter to be the wholesale account manager for every Verve Coffee Roasters account south of Santa Barbara AND Cafecito's Malibu location opened TODAY! Go visit them, there is no other coffee in Malibu, and they are ROCKIN' that bar!

Today - I am going to help Cafecito open their new OC location, set them up for success and am currently working for Verve managing their SoCal wholesale accounts. . . Life is good, very, very good.


Now, I bet you're wondering, "What does this have to do with Allison?". . .

Allison and I had dinner tonight, and she is leaving her current job, has saved some money and is a bit lost, we began to discuss what she's going to do now, a question all of us young adults ask ourselves in our mid - late 20's when we transition from jobs.. "what do I really want to do?" . . and I told her the break down of my life, not just the past eight months or so, but my whole life..

I told her how I have driven cross country 4 times, my tours on the west and east coast, the people I met, the car rides, the cultures of other states, the beauty of our country, the food I ate, the coffee I enjoyed and most importantly, the liberation, independence, freedom and sheer self awareness and truth that comes from traveling alone across the country. . . remember "self-propelled movement".

When I look back at my life, all of my tipping points and paradigm shifts occurred on or around road trips and traveling; simply, getting in the car anne going way. Whether it was a good, bad, rational, impulsive, fear based or even a stupid decision, it was MINE! Without any of those decisions my life would have been stagnant, without motion. I would never had been married, traveled the east coast, been introduced to excellent coffee, or met all of the phenomenal people in my life. Nothing would ever change or move forward in my life. My world is enriched by the experiences I've had traveling all over the country alone.

Allison will be taking off 3 months of her life to make this journey. I am elated for her and overwhelmed with pride for her courage.

You see, without making that trip in January, none of the events that conspired since would have happened. Getting in the car, making the decision to just go out and enjoy my life, experience the unknown, even if it involved fear, I did it, I walked through it.. which set everything else in motion.

But you see, it was me, my decision, my choice to take the leap of faith, to start propelling my life into movement, which created kinetic energy that has manifested into my life as I know it today and my life is really rad. It's experiences like this that confirm what our parents taught us, "work hard, do your best, hard work pays off, do right and right will follow", etc. .

I'll close with this question; "What are you doing to propel movement in your life?"








Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The One At The Event-ish...

"The" Event.

I'll tell you what, SCAA did a great job at marketing this years expo! I mean, simply calling it "The" Event? That's pretty epic and genius. Think about it. What hipster barista doesn't want to go the this!? It is the elite, the cream of the crop, the top of the food chain, well, at least when it comes to coffee.

Then there's me, I feel like a good coffee professional, even a very good one at best, but I want to be.. Excellent, even excellent plus! Never perfect, I always want that room for improvement.

I am truly, truly blessed to be here today, blessed I have do many amazing folks that help me get here, and blessed that I get the opportunity to be a part of this superb community of coffee professionals.

I've had a hell of a time with my coffee for brewers cup, and I'm exhausted, ready for some different coffee in my life.

Cheers - and stay tuned for updates from men, to you, regarding the vent of a lifetime..

Monday, April 9, 2012

The One With Happy Accidents....

Accidents or Fate?

Was this meant to happen? Or, was this an accident? A coincidence of sorts?

How many times have we as adolescents, then teenagers, now young adults, have we asked ourselves these age long questions of why and how things transpire in our lives?

I would like to make this post a "mash-up" of my travel through Santa Cruz on my coffee tour in January, and the recent trip up to the SWRBC (South West Regional Barista Competition).. since it was entirely an accident, or fate, the way this whole journey has been weaved together.

On my "tour", which I've so lovingly referred to my road trip through coffee along the west coast, I had the very brief opportunity to stop in at Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz, CA. I pulled in to SC late one night and was delighted that Verve was open until 11pm, they were polite, friendly and the coffee... well, simple and delicious, just the way I like it.

Fast forward three months, and it was time for the South West Regional Barista Competition, which I had the honor and privelege of  volunteering as a judge for the first time. The event was held at the top of the Ritt building in the downtown area of SC and one and a half blocks down from the Verve location I got to visit on the tour. I also had the amazing experience of competing in the 2nd annual Brewers Cup competition, which is a new addition to the regional competition circuit.

Let me be honest, the one and only reason I decided to compete in the Brewers Cup was because I told someone I was going to, when I was at my previous job. So, when I registered for the event, I was employed, when I was on tour I was still weighing out options for employment!

This is where fate vs. accidents come in.

About 2 or 3 weeks before the competition, I was still unemployed, I had signed on to do some consulting work, but for the most part, I didn't have coffee lined up, transportation, funds, a brewing method, nothing!! I was simply too proud to turn away from the competition, because somewhere on tour, I opened my big ass mouth about what a bad ass I was at brewing, and I would rather go broke, beg, borrow and steal to get to compete rather than bow out. My auntie always tells me, "Girl, you better bury that pride before that pride buries you!".

I was brewing some coffee at a friends house one morning, the same friends that encouraged me and gave me gas money to go on tour, and was showing them how to use their V60, grinder, and scales properly, and in my mind, I was having the debate on which job offer I was going to take, non of which were in my area of Southern California, I was moving to either Portland, Sacramento, or San Fran.. Ani and Jason were helping me with my pro's and con's list of what to do! I was torn and knew in every essence of my being tht this was one of those tipping point moments in life; whatever decision I made, it was going to change my path in life and in a very dramatic way, especially if I was moving hundreds of miles away from my from friends, family, and everything I had built up since my divorce. Was a ready to make that huge of a change again? The only thing I knew for certain, was that I needed to stay in coffee, at whatever cost.

I sat down and allowed Ani to give me a facial (I had a pretty big interview that night with Stumptown; and was really excited I might be able to just move to LA and not to NorCal or out of state). As I sat in that chair, watching "How I met your Mother", waiting for the goo on my face to dry, I scanned craigslist for any opportunity worth pursuing near home, and I saw it... an ad for a new 3rd wave opening up in MY city, a little less than 2 miles from my apartment! I sent over my resume, and right after the goo had been removed I had received a reply back from the company, Cafecito Organico, that already had 2 locations in the LA area, they're 3rd location was coming to Costa Mesa, less than 2 miles from me!

Was it fate or an accident that I happened to look at craigslist that day? I already had job offers, and had checked everyday for a month with no success, what encouraged me to do so that day? Why at the very last possible moment did this place decide to open up, right before I had to make a decision to leave or stay?

Now, I had a coffee company willing to sponsor me to go to the competition, really great coffee, and a plan in place for brewing, with a little help from a lot of friends I met through the tour, all over the west coast.

I showed up at the comp, and was just in awe to be there, no intention of winning, I just needed to make sure that my pride was in tact, that I did what I said I was going to do.

Standing at the top of the Ritt, in Santa Cruz, Ca, on Saturday night of the competition, waiting patiently to hear the finalists called for both brewers and barista competitions, I heard my name,  and just lost it! I ran up to the front of the crowd and was just elated! This was the pat on the back that I needed that said to me "hey, you're really good at brewing coffee!", I had no intention of every placing and now, I was accepting a Skate deck designed with Verve Coffee Roasters logos. At one point, another finalist, Ant from Sightglass looked at me and said "I'm so glad you look like I feel", and when I saw the photo's later, I looked like an excited five year old on Christmas morning, I felt RAD.

Now, because I had no faith in my brewing capabilities, I did not attend the amazing Mad Men themed 50's party Verve hosted that night, and I went back to my hotel room and contemplated what my soundtrack should be, and what the hell I was going to say in the presentation I was expected to give the next morning. I was unprepared, and of course, I had to perform first in the morning. Thank god my road dog for the journey, Neil, had competed before and helped me to prepare for the next morning and helping create my sound track.

Sunday morning, I do a quick run through of my presentation and before I knew it, my time had come to present before the judges.

Half way through my performance, I probably did either the best or worst thing ever for my career and decided it would be a good idea to compare my coffee to my ex-boyfriends, and getting so caught up in the performance, and the laughter I started to drain my coffee ON TOP of my pre-heat water!!!! So all my hard work, preparation (or lack there of) was futile. I had officially fucked up my coffee, it was diluted and now I had one minute to finish, I called time.

Nick Cho, the King of manual brewing complimented me on my performance and I proceeded to clean up my station and run around frantic to try the coffee I had UN-officially ruined! It tasted ok, but diluted and sweet at best. Even though my colleagues were supportive, I really just wanted to jump off the top of the Ritt at that very moment.

I had lunch at my favorite sandwich shop in SC, Erik's Deli, and awaited the results, my plan was to see who won, collect my swag and catch my flight to Vegas to work for the day..

The closing ceremonies came, and I was as restless as  kid in church, I just wanted my embarrassment to be over with. They Verve boys called up all six finalists and started to call the top 3, if I was going to place it was going to be third... it wasn't my name.

This is where it gets surreal... I painted my face with my most graceful losers smile, you know the kind you see on all the nominees at the awards show, and then it happened, they called my name!

I really wished I had a photo of my face, because I literally jumped up from the excitement!!! I walked up accepted my award, and did my best to hold back my tears.

Was the "accidental bypass brewing" supposed to happen? Would I have won if that hadn't happened? Would I have place at all if I had actually drained that water?

The whole scenario was the happiest accident I've ever had in my life. It was like falling in love, winning the big game, and graduating all at the same time.

Now, can I recreate all those happy accidents? Or was this all just fate? Or, was I supposed to place second the whole time?

Well, whatever the reason, I get the honor and opportunity to learn from my mistakes and do it all over again in Nationals in Portland in 9 days...

Wish me luck! or wish me more happy accidents along the way..



Monday, February 27, 2012

The One With The Wild Card...

One of my most favorite lines to say to someone is "Man Mac, you sure are a wild card!", or "Damn, DJ, you're a wild card!"... I say this line to people that I miss judge on the first meeting.

For example, I met my friend DJ a while back, and I had him pinned for a pompous jerk that was living on his parents money, a womanizer and a lazy yuppie. I was dead wrong! This guy has had the same girl for going on five years, is hard working and damn near one of the most down to earth people I've ever met, and I jumped to a conclusion based on a first impression and a stereotype I had run into before in this area. I guess that's why they say to never judge a book by it's cover, right?

I use this example with DJ as an interlude to my visit to my state's capital, Sacramento, California! I knew of only one good shop in city, and that was Temple Coffee! I was ultra excited to visit here because I had met the owner, Sean, at Camp Pull a Shot this past year, and just adored him to no end. Later that week he was to be the first of many to offer me a job, but above all, he was the first person in the industry to truly treat me like a professional, and I'll forever hold a special place in my heart for him and Temple because of that interaction. There is no better feeling than being treated the way he treated me, with respect, dignity, grace, friendship, professionalism and love, I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.



Anyway, my road dog, Chris, and I rolled into Sacramento around 6pm and we high tailed it to Temple! I received a wonderful Panama on the SO, and we left, I had happened to come to town the ONE DAY OF THE YEAR that they were closing early for a company appreciation party! What luck!? But, I had heard of this place called Insight, just about a 1/2 mile away, so Chris and I threw some change in the meeter and headed down to Insight!!!

When we arrived I was overly impressed by what I saw! Being in the coffee industry, I know what to look for in a good shop, and this place had it all, up to and including an in house roaster, piston style lever espresso machine, a wonderful pour over bar and most importantly delicious freakin' coffee!!! Insight was arguably the best brewed coffee I had on the trip! Their El Salvador, Finca de Anconcagua, was well rounded, juicy bodied and simply perfect in every way. Ben was kind enough to send me away with a bag, and all of the fellow baristi I shared it with later in the trip were in agreement about just how simply wonderful that El Sal was! Immaculate, is the word that I would use to describe that coffee, or even more simply, it was divine! Thank you again Ben for my little piece of heaven found in Sac Town!



The more research I did in Sacramento, the more wonderfully delicious coffee I found! There are 4 excellent shops in the small downtown city of Sacramento! Temple (which now has 3 locations!), Insight, Chocolate Fish (which is located inside the city building next to the cafeteria) and Broadacre which apparently is in an old Temple coffee location downtown as well!!!



The Broadacre boys were super rad and were serving up the likes of Stumptown, Intelli and Verve, an impeccably clean and funky shop with an amazing array of artwork from a Long Beach artist who's name escapes me at the moment, that I hold near and dear to my heart!



Chocolate fish, these guys I can not wait to see at the western barista competition! This shop by far had the most amazing staff! Not owners, not management, the staff, the low on the pole baristas, (YES! THEM!), these guys and gals took the home the trophy for the whole trip in the category of customer service!!! AND, not just to me, every person that walked in the door was treated like a king, I am really excited for their shop to grow and for their roaster to refine his craft. The coffee was super good, but I think will a little more time and practice by next year it will be excellent!!! I know, I know, with a name like Chocolate Fish, it's a little uneasy to get coffee their for all you folk with dirty minds, but regardless, stop in and grab a cup, the experience itself is worth the detour!!!



All in all, when Chris and I had first pulled in to Sacramento, I had to admit that I had assumed that this place was going to be the low spot of the trip, but HELL NO!!!! The crew at Chocolate Fish even set us to some of the best damn sandwiches of our lives!!!!! Hit up Dad's if you're ever in Sac, the food is unbelievable and cheap!!!!

I judged Sacramento, before I had ever even visited there, a prime example of contempt prior to investigation! If it hadn't been for my baby brother getting ready to have a baby in April, I am very sure that I would have relocated to Sac Town, drowned in fantastic coffee and gained 60 pounds eating at Dad's everyday!!!

I am always the one that is talking about how I get so irritated that people judge me, my family, my friends, or every Tom, Dick and Harry by the way they look, talk, act, race, color, creed, and religious beliefs, but aren't we all subject to judging others, so we don't have to look at ourselves? How dare I judge and ENTIRE CITY!!!! Sacramento was my wild card of this entire trip.

 Another lesson learned. another truth about myself brought to the surface for me to see, another city to check off the bucket list, and above all another city closer to the boarder of the state!

Although Sacramento may have been the wild card of my trip, my next stop was definitely the full house that won my heart.... Until next time Sacramento, please, from the entirety of my soul, keep making great coffee and I'll keep coming. Cheers!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Long Road One...

The road doesn't just get longer, it narrows.

In my "professional" opinion, especially in coffee, not only is the road to success long, agile, expensive, heartbreaking and romantic all at the same time, but above all, it narrows with time.

As baristas, we all start at the bottom, somehow, somewhere, we get just another job, and whether it's the experience, or the people, or the coffee, we fall in love with the romance that is becoming a barista. Then, like all other professions, we strive for a better job, with a more progressive company, a more stable company, more money, more opportunities for growth, just more, more, more! At some point, the day comes when we wake up and realize that the job we're in isn't enough, we've now reached the glass ceiling, which can mean a variety of things; for example; maybe we've gone from barista to trainer, trainer to shift lead, shift lead to manager, and manager to ... there are endless possibilities in coffee, but what people don't talk about is the business side of things. Folk get crazy behind the almighty dollar, I know, I've been there, I've been the "man", the bad guy, the business guy, the yes man, and I've done well at it. If you do your job well, shouldn't you be the first to get the promotion, the opportunity to learn new things, to grow? In a perfect world, yes, in the business world it seems as though that the mindset is "if it's working don't fix it", etc.

So, what's my point right? Let's say that you're a great barista, great trainer, great manager, and like me, you want to learn all areas of the industry, as a business owner, wouldn't you want to promote that person to green bean sourcing, or roasting, or whatever if they have the passion to learn? Or, are you going to try and keep that person in their current position because they do the work that it would take 2 or 3 people to do and pay less for it? I guess that's up to the owner, and now what do you do as the employee? Do you go else where? Do you just do more and more in hopes for a change? Do you stop doing so well because you resent the decision? I guess that's up to the individual.

When I was growing up, I was told that if you work hard, love what you do, are honest, admit when you're dishonest or wrong, learn from your mistakes, and treat people well and above all take initiative and do more than your peers, that I can do whatever I want to. I still believe this, above it all, above all my dissapointments, above all the hard work and no pay off, I still believe what my mother told me, now, just to find the job to agree to help me do this, that is willing to help me grow, right?

I've thought I had found this before in my life, sometimes, most of the time, I am the one to screw it up, self imposed crisis, misplaced ego and pride, maybe too honest and blunt; and on the other end, I've also been pigeon holed into what I'm "good" at and never moved from that position because perhaps I am doing too good there to move to another position.

Either way, this is what I mean that the road narrows. In coffee, knowledge is never ending, education is never ending, and this is what I absolutely adore about the industry. However, now that I have all of this experience, as a barista, as an educator, as a manager, sales, wholesale training, competing, etc., the next step for me, my hopes for myself are to learn roasting, learn about green bean sourcing, taking trips to origin and continue to manage, educate and compete! Seems logical, right ? Does this mean that I want to be a roaster? NO! I just want to know how to do it! Why that is important to the coffee, what it does to the molecular make up of the bean, how it effects the taste, how to identify defects, and most importantly, how to taste the roast profiles properly, identify opportunities for change, to make the end cup better, not to become a roaster; I just want to know how. I want to go to origin and learn more about the process of growing and harvesting coffee, what micro climates, region, and farming practices do to the bean. I want to learn how to grade, judge, and source green coffee because it's important to how the roasting will be done, and most importantly how to the end result, how the coffee will taste! And etc., etc., etc., !!! It's like an architect that knows how to a contractor and all facets of that industry, not because they want to do the manual labor, but so they know how, they can relate, and therefore, makes them a better architect, right!?

Here's my point. If I am an employer, am I going to take that passion, that drive and help it grow? Or, am I going to go with the sure thing, and keep the barista a barista because I am afraid of them going to the competition? Afraid of them outgrowing my company and looking elsewhere for work? Am I going to offer them more money so I don't have to have turn over and train a replacement? These are all business decisions, not people decisions.

This is how the road narrows. All shops want a passionate, talented, efficient, friendly and hardworking baristas

The road narrows, because I have been told, I am too qualified for a position. The road narrows because the fear of the new employers is that because of all of my assets, I might get offered a job from the competition. The road narrows because they ask, "would you be happy as a __________?", "are you sure this won't be less challenging for you?", etc., etc., etc.,

The road narrows, for people like me, because I don't know when to keep my mouth shut, my experience might be my detriment.

The road narrows, because I continue to believe that if I work hard, if I am passionate about what I do, if I learn from my mistakes, I can do anything I want to, and what I want to do now, is walk the narrowing road to success and smile graciously at the ones that said, "you can't", the ones that said "you won't", and most of all the ones that said, "you're good at this, don't worry about that".

The road is long and narrow, and God damn it, I'll tight rope walk that bitch all the way to where I want to be, even if I'm still learning what that is, but mark my words, I'll be brewing, drinking and serving the entire way ...