Thea

In the lead up to This Coffee Thing #1, we've sent out a brief survey to our presenters and panelists. Thea Heilbron started making coffee in New Mexico and now manages Cafe Grumpy’s 20th St. location. She’s one of the organizers of This Coffee Thing and, after hearing her talk about customer service while we were planning our Can’t Live Without ‘Em panel, we realized that she absolutely had to be on it.

Who are one or two coffee heroes of yours?
The two influential people that I admire most in the coffee community are some of my favorites; I get to work and hang out with Cheryl Kingan (green coffee buyer, Cafe Grumpy) and Carrollann Oberhansly (wholesale barista trainer, Cafe Grumpy).  They both keep me regularly informed and questioning practices surrounding all things coffee, and also give information to any interested party in a very approachable way.  I am in a constant state of learning because of these two badass coffee professionals, plus they're just plain amazing on every level.

What musician most makes music most like the way you make coffee?
I think it really depends on the type of brew method, but I'm going to go with The Breeders because even though they wail on those power chords (like making high volume espresso drinks), there's an overall sweetness to their voices and solos (which equates to the taste and overall aesthetic of the drink).

What's your favorite horror movie?
I love horror movies! I'm super into all movies by Rob Zombie, I think he's a really underappreciated horror filmmaker.  His music selection for particular sequences is perfect and he makes the audience empathize with the bad guys which is no easy feat. I just watched American Psycho again, also a great film. I'll never be able to see Elijah Wood in the same way because of that movie Maniac, he is perpetually terrifying.    

What scares you most about coffee?
There are a few things that scare me about coffee, typically it revolves around wrangling all the variables that go in to each beverage.  Also I think a lot about the importance of highlighting our coffee to its highest potential in order to honor the producers and the amount of careful selection that goes in to each crop. As a manager my goal is to keep baristas connected to the changing technology, the source, and to appreciate the people that make it possible for us to play with high quality coffee in this awesome city.  

Cam

In the lead up to This Coffee Thing #1, we've sent out a brief survey to our presenters and panelists. Cameron Testerman manages the 100 Wall Street location of Gregorys Coffee where he's turned a somewhat awkwardly shaped little store into a busy, customer-pleasing FiDi coffee emporium. He likes scary movies.

Who are one or two coffee heroes of yours?
The obvious answer for me is Gregory Zamfotis, owner of Gregorys. Forming a shop that focuses on offering quality as well as customer service and fast service I think is super admirable and not achievable by all shops. Also, whenever I used to work in Williamsburg I would get this super cheap coffee at this deli called Joes. After just going in two times, he knew my order, my name and what time I came in every morning. Though the coffee wasn’t the best, the excellent customer service is something I aim for with my team. 

What musician most makes music most like the way you make coffee?
Probs Gwen Stefani. Upbeat, highly produced, something you can hang out to. Energetic! 

What's your favorite horror movie?
The Strangers. It's got your typical masked villains but never tells you why they are creepin' on these people. Super eerie old farm house and Liv Tyler chain smoking and being the cutest little scream queen. 

What scares you most about coffee?
The amount of information there is to know! There's so much stuff you can research and find out. Managing a shop, I have employees ask me questions all day and sometimes I'm just like "UHHHHHH" and then we google what we are trying to figure out or reach out to someone we think would know and figure it out together. I'm always encouraging staff to keep learning cuz there's always going to be that one day one customer has all these super specific coffee questions and it’s super rewarding to be able to answer every one of them with ease. 

Eddie

In the lead up to This Coffee Thing #1, we've sent out a brief survey to our presenters and panelists. Eddie Cedeño is the owner of (and often barista at) Bushwick’s Strangeways Coffee, which he opened on St. Nicholas Avenue over 2 years ago. Besides making some of the best espresso in New York, Strangeways occasionally puts out what are very likely the dopest t-shirts in all of coffee. We’re excited to have Eddie on our hospitality panel.

Who are one or two coffee heroes of yours?
James Hoffman. His unwavering passion for seeking out new techniques was very inspirational to a young gun. 

What musician most makes music most like the way you make coffee?
Discharge. Because, well, D-Beat 4ever. Decontrol all day. Honorable mention to Ol' Dirty Bastard, cause there ain't no father to our style. 

What's your favorite horror movie?
Favorite horror movie.... Hmmm. Does Evil Dead count? Groovy. 

What scares you most about coffee?
The corporations mannnn. They're like buying up all our indies. Oh and this whole global climate change thing. Bummer man. 

Amanda

In the lead up to This Coffee Thing #1, we've sent out a brief survey to our presenters and panelists. We're pleased as punch to have Amanda Whitt on our hospitality panel. You might know Amanda from the years she spent making awesome coffee at various awesome coffee shops. Or you might recognize her from her more current and more boozy roles: behind the bar at Double Buzz (one of the finest things - coffee or otherwise - currently in New York) and The Up & Up. We've managed to snag Amanda weeks before she leaves for five months of continued awesomeness in Costa Rica and we're sure glad we did.

photo: Bailey Arnold

photo: Bailey Arnold

Who are one or two coffee heroes of yours?
Obviously Peter Giuliano, mostly because taking Coffee Origins from him back when he worked at Counter Culture was a turning point in my understanding of what coffee was and what a career in coffee could look like. And anyone who works at an Airport Starbucks, maintaining a friendly and cool demeanor through all the weird orders and abuse they get from salty travelers... and they keep me caffeinated when I can't even string together a sensible sentence.  

What musician most makes music most like the way you make coffee?
I HOPE that I make coffee like Brian Eno, that I'm a coffee person's coffee person, with hits for the masses and plenty of beautifully successful proteges, a signature style and a wide scope of abilities and genres. If not, then I'd love to be the Nikki Minaj of coffee; confusing, divisive, talented, brilliant & sexi.

What's your favorite horror movie?
I'm really sensitive to jump-scares, so I suck at watching horror movies... Treehouse of Horror is about as hardcore as I can handle.  

What scares you most about coffee?
I worry that there isn't enough living-wage jobs in coffee to sustain those that want to stay in long-term, but may not have outside support or be willing to work 50+ hour weeks to do so. Whether being a barista is your long-term goal, or a stepping stone towards another goal, it should still pay a decent wage. This will require cafes to take a hard look at how they invest, build and grow, especially in places like New York where real-estate and small business fees and fines can be such a large factor. I'm also scared of the homogenous image of the craft-coffee barista, as sometimes it feels like there are cafes where I have never been served coffee from anyone who wasn't a cis-white-male. I'm scared that the fact that nobody has stopped playing Radiohead might be part of a government conspiracy. I'm scared of leaky to go cups, the health department, global warming and Roya, I'm scared of a lot of things because our industry is growing so fast but I think I'll stop now.  



EV

In the lead up to This Coffee Thing #1, we've sent out a brief survey to our presenters and panelists. We're very excited to have Erika Vonie scheduled to kickoff TCT with a lecture about Climate Change, a topic which, if you saw her compete in this last barista competition cycle, you know Erika is really quite engaging in speaking about. In addition to being a decorated barista competitor, Erika runs the education department at Variety Coffee.

Who are one or two coffee heroes of yours?
I look up to every woman in a position of power in this industry, but when I listen to Kim Elena Ionescu and Trish Rothgeb speak, I am consistently bowled over by their intelligence and experience. It's humbling to listen to their depths of knowledge. I hope to be as badass as they are at some point in my life.  

What musician most makes music most like the way you make coffee?
Definitely Prince. Freaky, weird, plays by his own rules, unapologetic and hyper sexual in an almost off-putting way, but is always in total control. 

What's your favorite horror movie?
I HATE horror movies. My idea of being entertained is not to live in fear of being spooked for two hours. That being said, Alien and Aliens are near-perfect and I will watch them until my heart stops like a chest-burster is ripping through my chest. And Ripley is a personal hero of mine.

What scares you most about coffee?
It disappearing. Just wait to hear my lecture- the available regions for growing coffee are shrinking and there's a decent amount of evidence suggesting that great-tasting coffee might disappear in our lifetimes. But there's hope that it won't. But it's still really scary.

 

Justin

In the lead up to This Coffee Thing #1, we've sent out a brief survey to our presenters and panelists. First up is Justin Rodriguez, who will be co-presenting the Solubility: Trends in Roasting lecture. Justin co-owns and roasts for Luft Coffee while also working as a barista at Box Kite. We are delighted to have him presenting at TCT#1 despite his views on horror movies.

Who are one or two coffee heroes of yours?
James Hoffman because of the seemingly endless amount of energy he applies to learning more about coffee, how thorough and thoughtful he is in how he goes about it, and how dedicated he is to sharing his findings. 

What musician most makes music most like the way you make coffee?
Frank Ocean

What's your favorite horror movie?
Horror films are my least favorite films.

What scares you most about coffee?
Running out. Seriously.