That’s my older sister Jaime on the left. This photo was taken in Boulder, Colorado, where she lives and where I visit as often as I can. When I was ten, Jaime was going to college. Those eight, nearly nine, years used to seem so significant. Think of all the differences between a fourth grader and a college freshmen. I watched my older sister experience life eight years before me. Everything she did seemed like a lifetime away. We were never at an age where we could be concerned with the same thing. At the same rate, as something was becoming new to me, Jaime was moving on, learning something different, changing the way she thought about it. Foods I had grown up eating, Jaime was now telling me were “bad” for me. Products I was putting on my face or body, were now harmful and damaging. I remember thinking she was crazy. Thinking, when she was my age, she ate these foods, she used these products! It’s true what they say, sometimes you just have to figure things out for yourself, learn through experience.
Now in my 20s, those eight years have shifted. We’ve caught up to them, as I knew we would. When I was little I used to play this game where I’d say, when I’m 20, you’ll be 28. When I’m 27, you’ll be 35. I knew someday we’d be closer in age. I didn’t know just how right she’d turn out to be.
I asked Jaime, who has been working in coffee shops for over 12 years, to answer some questions for my lovely readers. Because sometimes it’s nice to learn things through experience, but often, it’s better to just listen to my big sister:
When did you start working as a barista?
I was 19 and needed a part time job while I was in college.
That’s a long ass time. You must have seen so many things change over 10 years. What’s the most significant change you’ve experienced in terms of coffee and what you look for in a cup compared to how you used to view coffee?
Just like everything else these days, I feel it’s extremely important for the beans to be organic, as well as fair trade. The farmers who grow the coffee receive fair wages, good working conditions, and social and community opportunities. As for the cup of coffee, it must be strong, and bursting with flavor.
How do you prepare your coffee each morning when you’re home? Take us through the process.
I make a French press in my new stainless steel 16 oz. Press.
Here’s the basic process:
1. Boil filtered water
2. Pour some boiled water into the empty French press to heat it up, as well as some into your empty mug.
3. Measure out approx. 2 tbs of beans per cup (8oz.) of water. I use about 4-5 tbs of beans for my 16oz. Press. I like it strong! Use fresh beans not preground coffee, it’s sooo much better! Even Michael (our brother) agrees!
4. Grind beans in either a burr grinder (expensive) or just a pepper grinder (what I’ve used for years), not too fine or the grinds will go through the mesh filter, and not too course so there are chuncks of bean, but somewhere in the middle.
5. Pour out heated water from press and add grinds. Fill partway with boiling water and stir with a chopstick, especially if it’s glass (metal can cause microcracks on glass). Pour up to spout, stir again, and lightly place top on and let steep about 4 mins. (depends on how strong you like it).
6. Press coffee.
7. Empty coffee mug, which is now heated, and pour in coffee, enjoy!
How do you take your coffee?
Black, double 8oz. Americano
How can I use my French Press to froth milk?
Clean out the press after you’ve made your coffee. Pour in milk, and simply press up and down until the milk has frothed.
What are the things you notice when you try a new coffee that helps you decipher between the great and the crappy?
The body and rich flavor… also, I watch the Barista pull a shot to see if they have a clue as to what they’re doing. If it’s a beautiful, caramel-like swirling shot that’s at least 30 seconds, it could be awesome.
What are some obvious things to look for when purchasing beans? i.e. Fair Trade, Organic, Origin, etc.
Yes organic fair trade are great, as well as locally roasted and whole bean.
Speaking of which, do you think that there is one place of origin that produces better coffee than all others?
I love Peru at the moment.
What type of French Press do you use? Why?
Stainless steel — it stays hot and even I can’t break it!
Do you have a favorite brand right now? Where can we find it?
We (the coffee shop she works at) use Conscious Coffee (www.consciouscoffees.com), they only use beans, from all over the world, that are in season, like any other crop. But, whatever you can find with those above mentioned criteria. They’re an investment.
What are some great tools for people who want to learn more about coffee?
Read Scott Rao’s books “Everything But Espresso” and “The Professional Barista’s Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea”.
Thank you Jaime, I love you!
Readers: How do you take your coffee? Have you ever used a French Press? I’d love to hear about your personal love for coffee or if you never even drink it, below.
If you have any other questions for Jaime, just leave comment below and she’ll happily get back to you as soon as she can.Pin It