Katie Carguilo is a seasoned coffee professional who has won barista competitions, been all over the television, toured the world, and graced the cover of magazines. Carguilo took home the 2012 United States Barista Championship belt and has helped helm our friends and partners at Counter Culture Coffee in New York City for the last seven years. News has just come out that Carguilo will be taking on a new position within Counter Culture’s impending westward expansion as the company’s West Coast Quality Analyst.

What’s a West Coast Quality Analyst? Tim Hill (CCC Coffee Buyer/Quality Manager) explains (emphasis ours):

[The West Coast Quality Analyst is] a role between buying green coffee and cupping for quality control. As a new core member of the coffee department, Katie [Carguilo] will be working with the roasting and coffee departments to help to build Counter Culture’s single-origin offerings and year-round products. Additionally, Katie will be running Counter Culture’s West Coast coffee quality laboratory.


Sprudge Editor Zachary Carlsen sat down with Katie Carguilo–a former coffee coworker of his in the mid-2000s–for this candid and frankly stoked interview. She was reached by phone from New York.

News just broke that your heading up QC for CCC at the new digs in the Bay Area! Congratulations!

Thank you!

Can you tell us how you first started working with CCC way back when you were pulling Toscano in DC?

I was slinging espresso and bossing around the kids at murky coffee with you in DC during college. After graduation and a year of full-time managing, Counter Culture took a chance on me, putting me in charge of providing on the ground training and support for their growing number of customers in NYC.

When did you move to CCC in NYC for the NYCCCC?

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So much has changed since those days–what was it like then and how is the environment and culture at CCC NYC now?

So much indeed has changed! When I started, it was just me and a sales guy (who left soon after) working out of a little red suitcase. Back in 2007, we had no NY training center, so I would drag that little red suitcase full of cupping and training supplies all around town, bringing Counter Culture to the people and getting them excited about coffee!

Eventually we grew to a team of three and moved into our own training closet in the Flatiron District, finally having a dedicated space for labs and cuppings. Now we are a team of 7 working out of the best training lab ever. I’d say the biggest difference between 7 years ago and now is that there’s more recognition out there for who Counter Culture is and what we do, and people “get it” easier. I’ve changed too. Fundamentally, I’m still all about what I was excited about 7 years ago: quality coffee and quality service, but I’ve come a long way from that girl with a little red suitcase and a dream.

Seems fair to say that you helped create and nurture the whole New York situation–are you ready to do it all over again in San Francisco?

I’m certainly excited to share any helpful experiences I’ve had with the support team out west, but this role is going to be different than what I had been doing in NYC. I’ll be coming at growth from a different angle: sample roasting, selecting, roast profiling and ensuring that our West Coast coffee offerings are stellar and reflect the flavors/style of coffee that Counter Culture loves and that people in that market want to drink.

In terms of position, seems like the one you’re taking on is a dream job. What’s it gonna be like? What’s your advice to those who wanna be like you one day?

It’s the dreamiest. I’m not sure what it will be like. I know I’ll be working closely with our Durham-based coffee department: Tim Hill, Kim Elena Ionescu, and Hannah Poppish, to make sure that we are calibrated in what we like and what we put out there, even if each roastery is offering different things.

My advice is always be curious and never be lazy. I personally look to Yoko Ono for guidance and inspiration, so please allow me to share some of my favorite gems from her Twitter page (if you follow me @katiecarguilo, I’m sure you’ve seen some of these as RTs before):

“Climb up a ladder to reach the sky. Try ladders of different heights. See if the sky looks any closer from a higher ladder.”

“Imagine a dolphin dancing in the sky. Let it dance with joy. Think of yourself at the bottom of the ocean watching.”

“You see a chair as it is. But when you burn the chair, you suddenly realize that the chair in your head did not burn or disappear.”

Is the West Coast the best coast?


What food will you miss most in NYC?

PIZZA. P-I-Z-Z-A. Luigi’s, Roberta’s, Franny’s, Ben’s, My Little, John’s, the Papa John’s that delivers down the street from my house. Yes. Thankfully I’ve started to hone my home pizza technique and Una Pizza Napoletana moved to SF, so with that alone I’m saved. Also, I’m also going to miss my coworkers.

What are you looking forward to the most about living in the Bay Area? Alcatraz? The Golden Gate Bridge? House of Prime Rib?

The weather, the people (hi guys!), the way it smells, getting to know new radio stations (actually hearing Tupac on the radio), burritos, ferries, Una Pizza Napoletana, the fog, fresh West Coast oysters at Swan Oyster Depot, cable cars, Li Po lounge, Oakland, the House of Air.



Follow Katie Carguilo on Twitter @katiecarguilo.

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