To be a professional. Nothing more. That is why I initially moved to Los Angeles and jumped on this crazy train that has been Intelligentsia LA. It’s something that I initially made the decision to do in Minneapolis, somewhere between throwing away the idea of producing records for a living and falling further in love with plain, ol’ coffee.
However, certain factors held me back. Money was constantly tight… tight enough that I still am clenching my teeth to the fact that I sold both of my acoustic guitars… just to pay rent. Bar hours were few and far between in a cafe that offered an average of 16.8 working hours per week per employee. Oh, and we were never busy. I mean, I thought we were busy… It felt busy at times… but we weren’t busy. At least, as Intelligentsia defines busy. Seeing a slow point in the day at Intelli Broadway will make you rethink even opening your own cafe. It’s mind blowing.
Anyway, when arriving in Los Angeles, I was determined to do this right. But I must say, after reading some more ‘Kitchen Confidential’ by Anthony Bourdain, I am realizing where I, as a professional, am lacking.
We have a short two weeks left of “pre-game” and training before this monstrosity opens up (PS. August 7th is official for the opening of our new cafe!). I am seeing, finally, how my attitude needs to change. How my approach to every work day needs to be different. Maybe most importantly, how I need to handle my time away from work. That maybe taking a day to just read isn’t such a bad thing…
I’ve also begun to recognize the need for better balance in my life. This past weekend, I managed to pull out the old recording rack and play around some. It sparked the creative side in me that had been laying dormant since I arrived in California. Walking into work today I felt more determined to be focused and aware during our training.
I guess my realizations are part of just waking up and growing up… But they come at no better time. I feel privileged to be in the circumstances I am in. To be in a place with a team of such competent people. Never before have I not worried about someone on our staff. We are all very different, with vastly different backgrounds, world views, style, and experience… but through the past 6 weeks have begun to understand one another. To see the weaknesses we posses and to appreciate and exploit the strengths we share. This coffee bar really is going to be something amazing.
As you can see, I’m still trying to find the perfect setup for the blog. I’m fairly happy with this one, but who knows… If anyone has any ideas out there as to how I can make this blog both awesome looking and legible in the best ways possible, your advice would be appreciated.
This last week or so, Jenny, Stephen’s girlfriend, has been here hanging out with us. So, over the weekend, we spent some time chillin on the beach, shopping, walking around Silverlake, eating gelatto, and simply relaxing. It’s be lovely to say the least.
The coffee bar is looking amazing. One thing is for certain now… we will be open for the Sunset Junction Street Festival. Which mean, quickly after opening, we’ll be dealing with crowds like most owners only dream about… and I mean that in the most literal way possible.
Much thanks and appreciation needs to go out to this guy! To understand Jim Karr you have to take part Thomas Edison and mix it with part Merlin and you get the kind of tech-genius that he is. Jim and Nick Barnett have been in the store for almost a week now installing the mighty Cirqua system that will make our espresso so tasty! Much appreciation dudes!
Well, readers… I leave you with this… Which just happened Saturday, care of Too-Sweet… that man who also painted the wall outside the roasting works….
Just to update you kids out there… I did fail my exam. I managed an 833 of 1235 possible points. Only one of our staff members actually passed… that would be Deanna Mustard, with a score of 957. The test really was hard. There was a lot of content, and when I retake it and pass, I will be proud of what I have learned. The retake will be a modified version to be taken in a week. From there, we’ll see where we all go… The crazy part is our only barista apprentice, Devin Pedde, scored higher than I, and a few of our Baristas did… Congrats kid! Anyway, we’ll see what comes around next time… at least I passed the censory!
Madness has been happening lately. For instance, I just passed my triangulation test for the Intelligentsia Los Angeles Barista Certification. Five sets of three cups sat on the table. One cup in each set was different. We’ve been doing this a lot lately, but with coffees we know. This was with new crop coffees. Stuff most of us were yet to taste. I did, however, successfully guess 4 of the 5 cups. The rockstar of the day was Jules Manoogian who nailed all 5. The test was part two of the massive seasoning we are all going through this week.
It all started yesterday with a written exam, which, we are all waiting for our results on. The test was 100 questions long. It took me about 2 hours to complete and when I was finished I felt more drained than I ever did in college. The first page looked simple, matching column A to column B. A was 8 of the coffees we are currently offering and have been cupping for the past few weeks. B was the altitude, soil, and region of where that coffee comes from. Thank you Geoff for writing such detailed nods and making this relatively simple.
The following pages were a series of short answer questions, ranging from customer situations to simple answers about protocol. For instance, one the questions was, “A customer comes in who tells you they regularly drink flavored french roast and they are looking to buy a pound of coffee. What coffee would you advise them to buy and why?” Other questions touched on home brewing methods, how to handle questions on Fair Trade, Organic Certified, Shade Grown, and so on.
Then came a multiple choice/true or false section… This is where I think I may have suffered the most, as many of the numbers were very close together and I may have confused a couple things… Oh, well.
Post that section, the test author, Stephen Morrissey, decided to drop a couple bombs to wrap the thing up… Questions like, explain one of the major decaffeination processes in as much detail as possible and name a company who does such. The other great one was explain, as much as you can, as to how coffee is ‘wet processed.’ Followed by name three other processing methods and share what is different about each one…
Well, it’s lunch, so I’m gonna run to the Super King for something delicious. Hopefully, we’ll hear soon whether we passed or not. The only redeeming factor is that if we did fail, we do get to retake the test in a week or so… but seriously, I would prefer not to have to do anything like that again… at least, not for a good while, or with a pen and paper… typing is so much easier… Peace kids.
I figured it was time to finally update and move the blog to something a bit more detailed. This marks the beginning of a new era for this blog. I will no longer be the only contributor to The Ghost World. New Intelligentsia Barista Apprentice, Devin Pedde, will be bringing in his fresh perspective. So, look forward to hearing more from him in this adventure.
It’s the fourth of July and why I am working on this blog and not barbecuing is a mystery. I’m sure the real holiday will start soon for me, once this is wrapped up…