In addition to competing for Equator Coffees & Teas at the 2013 United States Barista Championship, Devorah Freudiger volunteered at the Barista Nation Satellite Cafe, part of the SCAA Event. Dang, Devorah, that’s a lot of work! We sat down with her to find out how it all went with a game of 5 Questions.
1. You worked at the Barista Nation Satellite Cafe! Can you tell us how it went? Any surprises? Cool visitors?
Well, I had the pleasure of working at the Satellite café on Thursday, so there were a lot of folks there for the Medical Technology Conference as well as the usual SCAA folks. This was neat in two ways. The first was, to me Technology = Robots. So I kept asking them about robot doctors, and they were surprisingly good sports about it – I guess there WERE some cool robotics being showcased. I started calling the attendees of that conference my Robot Friends. I have always wanted robot friends.
The other cool thing about serving my Robot Friends is that they had no idea about anything having to do with coffee! If Techonology = Robots to me, Coffee = Dunkin’ [Donuts] to them! I had a good time serving great espresso to people involved with the SCAA – it’s always a pleasure to exceed expectations of someone who knows what they want – but it’s a different type of joy to give someone their first great cup of coffee. Having a shift while the other conference was still going on allowed me to do this. Because we just had coffee and milk (and no sugar!), it was easy to talk about options to people who just knew the Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts menus. I served most of them cappuccinos (after explaining what that was) and it was great to have to explain again that REALLY, it’s just milk and coffee, because they had no idea that JUST milk and coffee could be sweet and delicious. I think we hooked a lot of new consumers and opened up their minds to what coffee can be at its best.
Because the coffee was free and accessible, these Medical Technology Robot Friends were able to try something new without being intimidated. I even got to coach some them about ordering, because they wanted to go out for a similar experience at their regular coffee spots. (A small, wet, not too hot cappuccino at Dunkin’s will get ya close, but obviously, as I made sure to mention, it’s worth seeking out the independents.) I was able to recommend cafes in Boston where just ordering a cappuccino will get you something amazing, so that felt great. I hope the Medical Technology Conference Attendees got a taste of our world and keep coming back.
2. You’ve worked with Barista Nation for some time. What keeps you comin’ back?
Have you met Anastasia and Brian? They are like the nicest people in the word! I’d do anything for them. But really, the concept of Barista Nation lines up with everything I find inspiring in the coffee industry. “No Barista Left Behind” sums it up perfectly. I’m a big believer and supporter of Barista Guild certifications and classes through the SCAA, and I have been lucky enough to participate in many throughout my time in coffee. But the reality of these types of accredited courses is that they can be prohibitive in both the cost in location to many working baristas. I’m at a point now in my career where my employer supports me financially in my professional growth, but there have been many times in the past I have wanted to take a class or attend an industry event and I either couldn’t afford it or get the time off bar needed to attend. Barista Nation is accessible, free, only one day, and jam packed full of learning opportunities and networking – and it travels all around the world. For many baristas, it’s the first community event they’ve ever attended. I think events like Barista Nation connect aspiring coffee professionals with job opportunities, guidance for further self-education, potential mentors, and give them a sense of community. They are key to ensuring that the next generation of baristas are innovative and positive.
3. You’re familiar with the Stella DCL. What’s cool about it?
Having independent boilers for each group head that are easily programmable makes experimenting with temperature of extraction easy. This is fun, and often something baristas haven’t thought about or been in control of before working on the Stella.
4. You competed. You volunteered. You worked all week long. How do you do it?
Lots of coffee! Lol. Seriously though, this event is something we all work towards and look forward to all year. Even though you can’t possibly do everything, you have to try. Yes, it’s exhausting being on your feet from 7 am to 11 pm. Yes, competition is emotionally draining. But the collective energy alone is enough to keep me going. Being around so many inspiring, hardworking, passionate people is the best motivator for me. Also, the coffee.
5. Thanks for your time today, and for your dedication, commitment, professionalism, and grace. Where will we see you next?
I’m a little focused on being in Marin right now, we are opening up a retail store in Mill Valley (Mt Tam Junction). That’s my newest project. I’ll let you know when you all can come visit us at Proof Lab! Other than that I love being out in the world doing tastings and events, because giving away coffee is my favorite thing to do! Probably why I don’t own a business. Check out the Equator Facebook page to see where I’m serving up samples of coffee. I’m very involved in the Bay Area Coffee Community, so where ever there is a BACC event, I’ll be there. I’m also looking forward to Barista Camp, I’ll be at the one in the fall in California.