One of my first memories in New York City was finding out I had no espresso machine to train the staff of the coffee bar I moved here to open (electricity issues of course). Three days into living here I was confounded, and already doubting my decision to leave the good life in Athens. Luckily one of my first professional mentors, Rob Tuttle, was working with me to open the business and kept me sane. He had friends in New York with a training facility and found myself and staff a place to train, free of charge while our equipment was down. I had no idea why these people, who were wholesale competitors with my company back in Georgia, would do such a thing, such that I started to wonder about this industry and this city. It suddenly felt like the right thing, like I fit.
Time and time again, I’ve been surprised by the altruistic efforts of various coffee companies and their clear vision for what really matters. My thoughts aligned with said companies soon after I trained in that lab, understanding the mentality that we’re all in this together, to at least some small degree. Given such small market penetration in the bigger business of Coffee, specialty roasters and retailers often times think of each others as peers rather than strictly competitors. This is one of the biggest things that excites me about what I do every day, I exist in a fantasy world where businesses get along for the most part. We recognize the value in each others operation, and there are not a lot of other fields that can say the same thing. As a business we are trying to put out a great product and we are happy when anyone else does it as well. When I understood this, it seemed as if I had a clean slate and I started over with a new mentality.
I’ve had the great opportunity to be employed by some fantastic companies, enjoying every step of the way. Something that my mother ingrained in me was to learn from everything I do, and I feel like all these places have become a part of who I am as a professional from what they each taught me. When it came time to look for what company to grow with next, it was a short list. I want that same spirit of openness that I found when I first came here, to feel like everything was possible and that I am a part of something that really fits, just like this big city. I want to start fresh.
It didn’t take long for me to reach back into my memory to when that I showed up to the lab in Chelsea, when Katie Carguilo and Meister watch me fumble with the doser on a Robur and attempt to extract espresso within the parameters of moderate drinkability. I still remember the look the face on what was then a very intimidating Katie, when she tasted my beverage. Lets just say it wasn’t a smile.
This same memory is one of the many reasons I’m proud to say that I will be joining them, along with Erin, Tommy, and Jesse, as a member of Counter Culture Coffee’s amazing New York team. I am going to be a part of the very reason I’m excited to work in this business, and with any luck I can provide the same experience for someone else. Perhaps this time when I arrive to the lab I can make the team some coffee worth smiling about.
To introduce a blog seems counterintuitive as a web log seems to be a function of that which it actually notates. I will not attempt to predict the future, but I can say with some certainty, that this blog will try stay largely within the confines of my professional development within the hospitality industry, specifically specialty coffee. The idea has been in my mind for a while, and I miss the long hours spent writing and rewriting from my years attempting to get a proper education. I have a lot of thoughts that would serve well for posterity’s sake, perhaps giving insight to the many young professionals going through similar situations as myself. I look to gain knowledge and ideas through the interaction with you, the reader, but also to give content for those as reference, whether it be a positive or negative example based on their own judgement. To me that means, I’m not telling anyone what to do or not to do, but to explain my own feelings and experience and let people take from it what they will. I guarantee nothing, but I will attempt to be thoughtful and thought provoking, more as a healthy exercise for myself, but if all goes well perhaps someone else can take something away as well.
That hopefully digestible mouthful out of the way, my first entry will serve to be somewhat of a bittersweet farewell the company I have become a part of over the past 8 months, Handsome Coffee Roasters. I love Tyler, Chris, and Mike like they are family, and anyone that knows me understands that is a tremendous amount. I learned so many valuable lessons during my time in both Los Angeles and New York, and met many people at Handsome that will surely be industry cohorts that I’m sure I will continue to see throughout my career. The talent level within the company is astounding and you will see big things out of Handsome Coffee Roasters, both as a company and as a collection of individuals. A testament to the fantastic people that they are, I have heard nothing but positive support from my former coworkers at Handsome and I look forward to drinking coffee from them very soon.
As a person, I have learned to appreciate the valuable relationships that I have formed along my short career. This time with HCR is no different, and I feel especially lucky to have worked for such a great company made strong by all of its individuals. Thank you all so much, for helping me to grow and be not just a better professional, but a better person.