Jessica Rufo is the proprieter of Dottie's Coffee Lounge in Pittsfield, MA. She's awfully nice. She's engaged to Matt Lamb. What else? Well, she's a huge part of a huge coffee culture up in the NE. Did I mention she's awfully nice?
1. Is a Pittsfield like a Pittsburgh? How is it like it, and unlike it?
That is a super question. As far as ghostly industrial towns go, I'd say yes the Burgh and the Field are similar. I like to think that The Berkshires are a little more scenic and beautiful than good ol' Pittsburgh. Although, I do recall the evening drive into Pittsburgh from the airport being quite nice. Pittsfield is burgeoning and revitalizing into what I like to think of as The Brooklyn of The Berkshires. SInce Dottie's has opened (August 2007) 11 new businesses have opened downtown on North Street. Were turning this community around, one storefront at a time.
2. What's the most amazing band you've ever seen live?
When I was in college in Boston I went to a fundraiser for an artist community called ArtRages. I was a journalism student doing an "event" piece for class. At this outrageous party a band that had just named itself The Dresden Dolls played for what I think may have been the first time. I cried. I thought it was amazing. Their connection was so powerful it was like watching a sex show with 200 people.
3. You have one opportunity to make one drink for Bono. What would it be?
That's easy, an iced decaf non fat cappuccino. Im sure that's just what he'd want!
4. Why are you a BGA member?
5. SO Espresso or Blend?
Depends on where I am, but mostly Espresso. I just went to L.A and had so many great espresso experiences. Lamill. Urth Cafe. Intelligentsia. I was truly impressed and maybe even jealous. At home I exclusively use Chemex. O yah, Chemex is from Pittsfield. Did you know that?
*10 Minutes to submit a Brew for the Three Judges.
*Scored Anonymously based on Aroma, Taste, Body and Balance.
We've seen two successful battles, and the third promises to get even better. Special guest judges for this month are Tony Riffel, Octane Coffee's coffee boss, and Chef Jonathan St. Hilaire, from bakeshop Atlanta, a local acclaimed patisserie. Octane's one of the best coffee shops in the country, and Tony Riffel knows good coffee, so if you're gonna battle, bring your A game.
More details, check out the event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=140037196022195&ref=ts
BGA Member: $0
SCAA Member: $10
Non Member: $20
Presented by: Ric Rhinehart
Who should attend this course: Baristas (all experience levels), retailers, & multi-faceted coffee professionals.
Course Description: "Great food, lousy service", the old saw goes. In reality, this is a description of a business doomed to fail. So what is great service, and how do we provide it to our customers? What specific customer service issues are most relevant to baristas and to the coffee industry? This one-hour session is dedicated to identifying, discussing, and equipping attendees with strategies for providing excellent customer service in the coffee industry.
Attendees can expect to complete the course with a improved skills in:
· How to develop a service oriented culture in the workplace
· Customer perspectives and how they should shape business interactions
· How to internalize service and solidify positive behavior patterns that elevate a customer’s experience
Invest in success by enrolling in this certification course today:
This Five Questions post features Atlanta barista, and BGA Executive Council member, Ben Helfen from Octane Coffee. Ben's helped organize and make the Thursday Night Throwdowns more popular around the country. He's an amazing coffee professional, who's always trying to learn more about the craft. He's married to an awesome lady Brooke, who creates really cool cup sleeves from recycled plastics. http://soshesews.com/ Here's his five questions.
1. Cage match: Hockey and Soccer. Who comes out on top?
Well, that's a tough one. I love my Atlanta Thrashers (hockey) and go to as many home games as I can. But over the past few years, I think football (yes, I'm one of those guys that calls soccer "football") has taken the number one spot in my heart. On a global scale I think people are way more passionate about football than hockey. Also, I have a tattoo of the football club I support (Arsenal F.C.) and have yet to get a Thrashers tattoo...
2. Why are you a BGA Member and member of the BGA's Executive Council?
The Specialty Coffee industry has been really good to me in the short time I've been involved with it, and I want to be able to spread the goodness as much as I can to others by giving back. Being a part of the BGA and being on the Executive Council is one of the ways I can give back to the industry that I love.
3. What's the most important lesson you've ever learned in coffee?
No matter how amazing your coffee is, no matter how awesome the equipment you have, no matter how skilled your baristas are, it all means nothing if your customer service isn't of the highest level. Customers will choose mediocre coffee with great customer service over great coffee with bad customer service 9 times out of 10.
4. What was your biggest failure in life, and how have you taken what you learned and grown from it?
My biggest failure is not being more aggressive in pursuing my dreams. I'm still learning how to not give up on what I want in life. I'm getting there, but there's room for improvement.
5. Favorite album thus far this year?
Top 5 in order: (1) Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus (2) Crazy for You by Best Coast (3) Teen Dream by Beach House (4) Crystal Castles by Crystal Castles (5) Body Talk Pt. 1 by Robyn
This Five Questions features long time BGA member and supporter, and one of the founding members of the original Barista Guild. She's one of the most knowledgable coffee professionals in the business, and someone I've respected on many levels for many years. She's worked for some of the bigger coffee companies, and now roasts in both Vermont and ONC (our nation's capitol.) She's been in the coffee industry for more than 20 years, was a founding member of the World Barista Championship Board, and knows where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed. She's a real treasure to the coffee industry as a whole, and in her personal life is dating Sir Nick Cho.
Here ya go:
1. You were a part of the original BGA. What did you see for it then, and what do you see it as now?
Back when we began thinking about it, we wanted to borrow some ideas from the Roasters Guild (I was serving on the RG Exec Council at the time) but also tweek them a bit. We knew that baristas would have a hard time affording a hefty membership fee, or go to a retreat, so we devised a plan for regional chapters. With regional chapters, baristas could get together and pull shots together and learn together. We were sure this stuff would happen with or without the BGA, but we wanted the BGA to be a catalyst whenever possible. All this was going on as the USBC was getting started, and the competition regions became the chapters for BGA. We wanted a community that went beyond the competitions, though. I mean, not every single barista feels the need to compete. Now I see evidence that those chapters are really doing things...like with SCAA Skill Building Workshops throughout the country.
2. What's your favorite coffee of all time?
My "awakening" happened around 1990-91 when I was learning how to roast, and my boss gave me some Costa Rica La Minita and told me it was expensive and I'd better not screw it up. So I roasted it just to the first pops of second crack and I lost my mind when I tasted it. At the time few farms were working this hard to create specialty coffee, and it was the first really high scoring coffee I'd ever tasted. I can't say I have a favorite of all time, but on a deserted island? ...some perfectly prepared, high quality Guatemala would probably be my choice.
3. Do you love the taste of espresso?
I really do...and the smell of a clean coffee off the tryer after first crack.
4. What does community mean to you, in terms of coffee?
I think we all have room to help each other get better, and sometimes that means we are competitive and show how good we can be. The specialty coffee trade is unique in that we share so much and talk about "community". For baristas and roasters, though, being part of a community has made us all better.
5. It's really cool to see amazing women like yourself roasting great coffee in a mostly male dominated field. What are ways we could encourage more women in roasting or baristas?
I actually see a bunch of lady roasters going strong. Women in the states have it fairly easy-or at least, pretty fair. But we have to make a point of being seen doing our coffee jobs! Why? Because in producing countries I still see very few women cuppers, which I will openly declare totally ridiculous. So if you're an American or European woman in coffee, don't sit back and say that you don't need to make a point about your gender. Maybe you're not into gender politics, but don't forget women in other places need to see us doing our thing so they can be inspired.
Got another Five Questions post for ya. This one's from Logan Potts. A barista with Bongo Java in Nashville, he's really immersed himself in the industry, exemplifying what the BGA is all about. He paid for himself to go out to the Anaheim Expo, took classes, and volunteered, and is incredibly active in heading up the Nashville Coffee Society.
1. Why are you a BGA member?
Having the BGA as a resource for learning is immeasurably important giving merit to our trade, I can be a part of pushing the bar higher. Oh and I've made lots of BGA friends too.
2. What does community mean to you in regards to coffee?
Name one other industry where yearly farmers, executives and minimum wage baristas can come together regardless of age, sex, race or creed to celebrate the work of their hands and eachother. Without coffee community I don't think specialty coffee would be where it is today.
3. You live in Nashville. You make coffee drinks for lots of people other people would know. Who's the coolest person you've ever made coffee for, and what did they get? I made Ke$ha an iced latte last week, but who cares. Still waiting to free pour "Will you marry me?" into Taylor Swift's latte next time she's in Fido, I'll get back to you with her answer.
4. What's your goals for yourself in the coffee industry long term?
a. Be as involved as possible from seed to cup. b. Don't get caught up in the coffee industry, just make great coffee and love on great people. c. Work for one of the big 5 specialty coffee companies. d. Have the words "Director of" in front of my name by day and mop the floors at night.
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
I really hope in 10 years I'm into my 5th year as a business owner as wide eyed and humbled by coffee as I was the day I discovered this was my life.
5. Who's the person that's had the biggest impact on your coffee career, and how?
Thus far Jason Dominy has (and no he didn't pay me to say that) through his love of coffee community and strive to make the best cup possible. Through his reaching out to a growing barista and affirmation that a coffee career is a real thing has made all the difference.
This week's Five Questions features the USBC competitor that not only rocked the sweetest apron, but had the best smile. Mike Marquard rocks it out with Kaldi's Coffee in St. Louis, MO. He's a great competitor, trainer, and Dad. He's a great ambassador for the Barista Guild, as he works to make great coffee and espresso culture a priority to baristas all over the Midwest. He was the 2010 Midwest Barista Champ.
1. What’s your favorite method for brewing coffee?
v60 – isn’t that so cliché?
2. What’s your favorite movie, and why?
Back to the Future 2, hover boards and unsatisfied climax
3. Why are you a BGA member?
I’m a BGA member so that I can shape the future of coffee and have a voice when I see things going in a bizarre direction.
4. If you could compete against any barista in a competition, who’d you most be scared of, and why?
I think I’d be most afraid of Heather Perry. Those Robur skills are mad.
5. What’s your current dosage for espresso?
19.434567 grams, see answer 3 for why.
KALDI'S SUMMER JAM 2010
Saturday, July 24th
This one day jam will focus on how to use, influence, and grow business through single origin coffees. Special guests include Chris Davidson from Atlas Coffee Importers, Bob Garver, owner of Wicked Joe's Coffee and WBC certified judge and USBC certified head judge, as well as Dan Streetman, a USBC certified head judge from Dallis Coffee in Queens, NY.
Classes will focus on brewing methods, objective tasting, single origin espresso, origin visits, and a round-table discussion with our special guests. Registration and the jam schedule are now available.
The Summer Jam will be hosted at the Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Plant and Barista Education Center, 700 St. Bernard's Lane, St. Louis, MO 63110.
Joe Marrocco is Mike Marquard's bearded sidekick at Kaldi's Coffee in St. Louis. He's a great supporter of the Barista Guild, helped create the Midwest BGA Official Fan List. He's also a family guy, with two little ones running around.
1. If you could only roast one coffee for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I love Helsar De Zarcero from Costa Rica. It is so balanced. I can find a new attribute every day. It varies so much between roast levels, but never badly. Just a really solid coffee.
2. Ultimate Cage Fight between you and Mike Marquard. Who comes out on top?
Ok. (I'm long winded: warning) At this point, due to Mike's rigorous biking and running regiment and my sub-par level of physical activity, if it went more than a round or two, Mike. So, I'd have to hit him hard and fast. Give me a few months for training and I think I would handle him.
3. Coffee out the portafilter spout or out the manual brewer?
Manual Brewer. Brewing out of spouts is just too much pressure. :)
4. Best coffee you've had that wasn't a Kaldi's coffee?
The coffee I took to the USBC this year is my favorite. FAF Brazil from the Hamilton Brothers at Canaan Farm. But we roasted it. Just yesterday I had an amazing V60 pour of PT's Ethiopia Ardi Natural Process poured at The Coffee Ethic in Springfield, Missouri by Jacque. Rocked. My. Face. Off. Best pour over I've had in a cafe setting.
5. You enjoy all things culinary. What's your favorite meal?
Keep it simple. Fresh greens wilted with a bit of a nice rendering of bacon, vinegar and fresh sauteed garlic. A really nice cut of steak grilled to perfection; does not have to be a filet. A skirt steak would due fantastically. Baked pears glazed with my dad's homemade maple syrup, spices and topped deep fried balsamic infused vidalia onions. My mom's made from scratch cheesecake. Fresh berries. This isn't going to be published, is it? (Yes. Yes, it is. :-) )