High Test: Fuel for the Future of Specialty Coffee
By Jessica Steffy, Square One Coffee
When I embarked on my journey down the Specialty Coffee Rabbit Hole ten years ago, I knew far less than I do now. But I was young and eager, so I worked hard to catch up and learn everything I could about the industry. Despite the steep learning curve, one of the most important things I’ve come to realize is this: Our industry is filled with selfless, creative, inspiring people.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the many day-to-day unglamorous details of working in coffee (“The men’s room toilet is clogged…again.”), but building relationships with some of these industry gems has inspired me countless times. Just when I can feel my proverbial gas tank running on fumes, I interact with some of our industry’s finest, and I’m energized and ready for anything. In this series, I’ll introduce you to some of these inspiring people.
One of those people is Joe Marrocco.
Joe, who works at Cafe Imports, is a husband, a father, a teacher, a student, atradesman, an outdoorsman, a chef (though, he won't admit it), and a fast friend.
My first encounter with Joe was from a distance when he was a barista competitor. Thankfully, I've had the privilege of getting to know him more in the last few years as we both judged barista competitions. Whether he’s judging or acting as master of ceremonies for a competition, teaching a class at Expo or Barista Camp (and he’s definitely one of my favorite teachers), shredding the dance floor, or filming amazing videos with his team at Cafe Imports (stop everything and see here), he’s always passionate and inspiring. Joe is not afraid to ask tough questions or challenge the way we do things, and he does so in the most humble, respectful way possible.
He’s more than meets the mustache.
I recently asked Joe who inspires him.
"Charles Babinski and Kyle Glanville.
I get asked fairly regularly to give my opinion on where specialty coffee is going. Many consider the current hyper-focused quality niche of specialty coffee to be the "Third Wave". Within that framework the question of, "what will the fourth wave be" is begged.
If there is to be a fourth wave, G&B and Go Get Em Tiger are moving into it. When the wisdom of extremely sharp focus on quality meets a grace of thoughtful and empathetic service, there is something effusive that happens. Like in fusion, two particles combine, and from that recipe they not only create something new in and of themselves, but also give off light and energy. I feel this same phenomenon happens when controlling preparation and lavish service come together.
The culinary world has been pushing the limits in both of these areas for a really long time. Melding culinary arts into coffee beverage crafting is gaining momentum. Kyle and Charles are spearheading a lot of this creative expression within specialty coffee. Their outward focus is not toward acquiring more fame within specialty coffee, however, but toward smiles on the customers’ faces who are in their community. Blooming where planted while inspiring a global community of entrepreneurial coffee professionals is quite innovative, and Charles and Kyle are doing just that."
Kudos and thank you, Joe, Charles, and Kyle, for continuing to innovate and inspire us!