New Year's Resolutions from the Coffee Community
This year was a good year for coffee. Four Barrel had a growth spurt, partnering first with Josey Baker for the toast joint that stole the city hipsters' collective heart, before opening a new spot in Portola and an education center in town. Equator expanded to Mill Valley, Coffee Cultures opened in the FiDi, the Bay Area Coffee Community was born, and the method of "live roasting" premiered in Berkeley. Coffee superstars opened Linea Caffe, and right now a few exciting projects are coming to the end of Kickstarting their shops open (there's still time to back Andytown and Eureka).
Luigi Di Ruocco The Di Ruocco family, keepers of the Mr. Espresso legacy. The company celebrated 35 years in November.
But that's just a peek. As 2013 winds down, we sought out a handful of folks who help make, drive, shape, and change the Bay Area's coffee scene to find out just what they have in store for themselves and us in 2014. Here's what they had to say.
"To remain open minded yet grounded about trends, maintaining a sense of perspective about what is tried and true, versus what is new."
-Luigi Di Ruocco, Coffee Bar Owner, Mr. Espresso Vice President
"Finding a way to verbally hyphenate apple-cranberry muffin. So people stop thinking they're two muffins."
-Trevor Szewczyk, Café Manager, Local 123
"We want to keep stirring the coffee conversation, internally, and with our customers. We'll start with a controversial (from a processing standpoint) coffee -- India Monsooned Malabar. Also, we will be searching for the ever more elusive Yemeni wild-crafted coffee of good quality."
-Brooke McDonnell, co-founder and Master Roaster at Equator Coffee and Teas
"Learning to tame the ever difficult to steam almond milk. Also, reaching out and connecting with more folks in the coffee community (BACC, etc.)"
-Shane Voight, Barista, Ritual Coffee Roasters
"I want to eliminate any pretension or judgment towards customers. As much as we, as coffee professionals, would like our customers to appreciate espresso and black drip coffee, we need to accept that tastes are subjective, and our job is to serve them. This should permeate our operations from the way we roast (not everything needs to be super light), to the way our managers and owners talk about customer habits and design our menus.
"Also, I want to work to change public perception about coffee. We have a long way to go to convince the general public that coffee is culinary. We should all aspire to a time when you can get a great cup of coffee with a clear supply chain back to origin all over the country. We should aspire to have customers that choose coffee based on origin, season and varietal."
-Jon Frech, Owner, Black Oak Coffee Roasters
"To be more understanding and less judgmental of myself and of others. And learn to be more like Beyoncé."
-Katrina Pagaduan, Lead Barista, Coffee Bar
"My latest project is getting my family to eat healthier consistently. Doesn't sound very exciting but its no small task. Projects for Contraband include finding a reliable source for quality gluten free food, getting our online store running, and getting beans into grocery stores. All easier than changing my family's eating habits."
-Nathan Wyss, Co-owner of Contraband Coffee
"To be able to get my personal life aligned with my work life. At work, I'm super organized and neat and do extra cleaning once or twice a week, and at home, my room is a maze of boxes and laundry."
-Emily Dobies, Manager, Ritual Coffee Container in Hayes Valley
"To make the pilgrimage to Regionals and/or the SCAA expo, to finally finish Uncommon Grounds (I've been making some sort of bizarre installation piece of my copy with random tasting notes and spills). Also, Poetry Slam Nationals is in Oakland this year, and poems have the time limit of a good pour over: three minutes."
-Cat Mungcal, Barista, Equator Coffee and Teas
"To draw more than I brew."
-Chris Vinai, barista, Ritual Coffee Roasters (Hayes Valley)
"Use my VST refractometer more. That thing is seriously helpful for understanding what is going on with a brew. I am not yet at the point where I can correctly guess a TDS or extraction percentage, some people are, and I would like to get there. Also, to understand how different cities brew coffee. Each city has its own little quirks about grind size, preferred TDS (Total Dissolved Solids), cup clarity, etc. and I would like to understand them better."
-Jeremy Kuempel, Founder and President of Blossom Coffee
"Well, my redneck uncle corrected someone last night and said coffee is a fruit not a nut. I don't know what can top that."
-Cody Gordon, Coffee Director, Coffee Cultures.
"To keep studying coffee horticulture, keep an open mind about various brewing ratios and embracing coffees I might not personally like, but that a customer would love."
-Izi Aspera, Coffee Program Director at Monkey Forest Road, Barista at Modern Coffee
"Improving coffee shots and prove it's not a hype. It just needs to be done properly and right. It's not, 'hey, let's just wing it and see!' Each coffee has its parameters to follow. Also, to popularize cascara, check TDS on everything, and make better coffee beer offerings."
-Phillip Ma, Owner, Ma'velous
"Write every day."
-Alex Brown, Barista, Coffee Bar
"Basically, my resolution is to learn to love almond milk. A) It would give us and the cows a well deserved breather (dairy production is really difficult), and B) Califia Farms are the bomb diggity." He including a short love poem, "I resolve to love you, oh milk of almond, yee nutty milk."
-Jon Whalen, Barista, Coffee Cultures
"My first resolution for this New Year is to meet Andytown Coffee Roaster's Kickstarter goal and get open. After that, my resolution is to get the Outer Sunset excited about coffee. And to get in the ocean every day possible."
-Lauren Crabbe, Cofounder of Upcoming Andytown Coffee Roasters