Five Questions with TED





This past week, almost forty Barista Guild members from around the world joined forces at the TED conference in Long Beach. Their goal: to engage some of the world's leading thinkers with some of the world's tastiest coffees. In the spirit of TED, we wanted to pick the brains of some of these baristas with our Five Questions column. Here are a few of their responses with a couple bonus TED-related questions. A big thank you to all the baristas who came together to make coffee and tea at TED such a smashing success!



Name: Alexandra LittleJohn
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Shop/Company: Verve Coffee Roasters
Years as a Barista: 13

1. Why did you join the BGA & what keeps you involved?
I joined the BGA to start working on my certifications, meet other baristas that are as passionate as I am about coffee and to legitimize making coffee for a living! If it's a guild, it's a real job, right?

I stay involved because I believe in the mission of the BGA and I want to help it grow. BGA membership and volunteer work with other coffee people is rewarding on a level that is, bar none, magical.

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect about being a barista and why?
The most fulfilling aspect about being a barista, for me, is converting coffee drinkers to better quality coffee and collaborating, as well as learning from my peers. Making coffee is just life now and I believe I work in the best industry in the world.

3. If you could impart one insight to a fledgling coffee lover, what would you share?
Drink with purpose and intention; what I mean by that is learn about where your coffee is from, when it was roasted, who roasted it and why it's special. There are no stupid questions and tasting coffee should be fun, explorative and satisfying. Have fun with it!

4. What is your go-to coffee brewing method at work? How about at home?
I work with our wholesale accounts and I fine a variety of ALL brew methods with them, so it's super entertaining and challenging! All of my accounts keep me on my toes, because I have to be up to date on how to brew well on anything that gets thrown my way. Recently, at home I've really been loving the Aeropress (with Able Disk), Clever and the Wood Neck!

5. What music gets your gears going on bar?
When I work bar I love 80's hair bands and classic rock! That music gets everyone in line singing along and in a good mood, especially Journey and AC/DC!

TED 1. What are you looking forward to at TED?
I was looking forward to working with the some of the best baristas in the world and serving coffee to our generations greatest minds! It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I just couldn't pass it up!

TED 2. What is your all-time favorite TED Talk?
It's a tie, for sure. First, would be Courtney Martin: Reinventing Feminism. Second, Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders. I relate SO much to the above two TED talks, that I can't just choose one, they are both inspiring and, in my opinion, are important topics, especially in the specialty coffee world. Recently, I fell in love with Jill Bolte Taylor's: Stroke of Insight. Crazy! AND, I got to pour many brains in her capps' while at TED, she was just floored! That was incredible.



Name: Camila Ramos
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Shop/Company: Panther Coffee
Years as a Barista: 3

1. Why did you join the BGA & what keeps you involved?
Community! It's like having industry cousins throughout the world.

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect about being a barista and why?
Working in a constantly evolving, forward thinking industry. It's exciting to be amongst a curious community with an insatiable need to improve in every detail of our work.

3. If you could impart one insight to a fledgling coffee lover, what would you share?
Drink what you find to be delicious; it's okay to have different preferences.

4. What is your go-to coffee brewing method at work? How about at home?
Chemex for two - I love sharing a brew with friends. There's something special about multiple people experiencing the same flavors at once. I don't brew at home! I'm too spoiled by the luxury of scales and hot water towers at work.

5. What music gets your gears going on bar?
Anything DJ Hall Call plays. That's Ryan's DJ name and he's going to kill me if he reads that.

TED 1. What are you looking forward to at TED?
Talking about forward thinking coffee with forward thinking people.

TED 2. What is your all-time favorite TED Talk?
Jack Andraka, a fifteen year old who discovered an accurate, inexpensive test for pancreatic cancer.



Name: Miguel Vicuña
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Shop/Company: Metropolis Coffee Lohi
Years as a Barista: 10

1. Why did you join the BGA & what keeps you involved?
Joining the BGA was at the time, one of the few outlets to meet and talk with other Baristas about promoting specialty coffee. It's a great starting off point for baristas to turn their love of coffee into a career. Now, with on going education, certifications, more solidified promotion of specialty coffee and what we do as baristas that career dream is more attainable and I want keep helping out as much as possible anyway I can.

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect about being a barista and why?
The connection one can make with a stranger over time, over a cup of coffee.

3. If you could impart one insight to a fledgling coffee lover, what would you share?
Volunteer as much as you can. Say yes as much as possible. Keep an open mind.

4. What is your go-to coffee brewing method at work? How about at home?
At work I usually gravitate to Chemex but been messing around with the Aeropress. At home I like making shots with the Mypressi.

5. What music gets your gears going on bar?
I like getting the Led out, I'm probably the worst person for this question. Usually anything in the 90's and I mean anything.

TED 1. What are you looking forward to at TED?
Being at TED surrounded by so many influential people from around the world is pretty exciting but I think working bar with some awesome baristas takes the cake.

TED 2. What is your all-time favorite TED Talk?
Amanda Palmer: The art of asking.... All I can say is check it out.

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