On Converting People To Craft Coffee With Top Hat Espresso Catering Founder & Green Street Coffee Barista Tim Pearson

Are you getting any of the brighter notes out in these drinks? Is that possible?

I’ve been recently using a lot of Ethiopian, single origin, which is a lighter roast, natural process coffee, so I think you’re gonna get a little bit more brighter notes in lattes and cappuccinos but especially people who get straight espresso are going to tell a big difference between a double shot of single origin natural process Ethopian-it’s gonna have bright sweetness, honey, blueberry notes to it, as opposed to your everyday shot which is totally different.

Are you having conversations with these people who have these eye opening moments? As a barista, that’s one of the highlights of our jobs. To get excited about people who get excited about coffee. At the events, when it happens, and there’s time for it, it comes natural for me. I love to educate people and indulge peoples’ curiosities about why things are good about coffee and what makes them good and so there are times when there is not a line of 50 people where I can talk to people about the coffee and where it comes from and how it’s made.

Could you give an example?

I think one of the biggest things is having people come up who don’t even drink coffee. It’s interesting. It’s free. People are more exploratory when there’s a free bar. Even someone who’s not a coffee drinker may branch out and say, you know I never drank coffee but…it always take me aback. I’m like, you never had a latte before?! It’s exciting to introduce it to people who don’t like coffee or haven’t really experienced it or expanded their horizons before and make them a drink and have them actually enjoy it. People who haven’t had lattes or cappuccinos before and get really excited about it.

What are some responses you’ve had?

People will always ask where the coffee comes from. It kind of starts the conversation: well, this is locally roasted in South Philadelphia. And then you keep talking to them beyond that. It comes from Ethiopia. I’ve had conversations with people about processes and production at the farm level. And even telling people the simple fact that coffee grows inside a cherry. People might not even know that. I’ve had those discussions with people.

How does that relate to what you do here [at Green Street] on every shift? How do you deal with customers who come in and feel a bit intimidated when they look up at the board? How do you guide them in and make them feel comfortable?

Well, there’s nothing better than actually having the time. It’s great when it’s slow and someone comes in and they’re not pushy with their views either–which is big because some people just come in and they’re like I want a dark roast. And you try talking to them and they’re not receptive. When you have people who are receptive and willing to learn, it can become a really long conversation starting with origin, to explaining the care that goes into specialty coffee from production to the cup. From farm to cup. And explaining why light roasting coffee preserves the flavors that have been maintained throughout a long process. Specialty coffee allows people to embrace light roasted coffee in a different way. People can have misperceptions when it comes to coffee. To get people on the right page as far as the vocabulary, to explain why we do things the way we do and why it makes the coffee experience better can be a very long conversation but the customer can come out very enlightened and feeling like they learned something that can change the way they drink coffee.

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