I’ve worked at Coffee Labs Roasters at two times in my life as a roaster, and as a barista with a break of about 6 years in between. I had many jobs before my first years working here, and I had a lot in between too, about 18 in total. Since coming back here about 8 months ago, I have come to the conclusion that this is the best job I have ever had, for many reasons. The best of those reasons is I get to deal with people on a day-to-day basis. The phrase “customer service” has kind of a negative connotation these days for some reason. Like “oh you work in customer service, how do you deal with the customers?!” I don’t believe in that at all. The best jobs I have ever had are the ones where I’ve dealt with the best customers.
Doug is in the red shirt, cupping back in 2008.
Well before I ever worked at Coffee Labs, my first paid job was at a coat check on 9thstreet and 1st avenue. It was a grand ol’ time. I felt like I was the host and loved working with the people/customers. At that first job I was able to earn enough money to afford my first guitar. After that I worked as a camp counselor at the ripe old age of 13 and did so for about 5 or 6 summers. After that in my 20s I had some office gigs where I had to sit in a cubicle and do data entry all day long. Camp counseling, even though working with 5 year olds is a hell of a lot harder than working with Microsoft Excel, was a much better experience. I got to work with some of the most engaging people you can spend your day with, 5 and 6 year olds. Talk about difficult customers. Doing those office jobs there was nowhere near enough human interaction for me.
Playing guitar on main street
Several years later I was a volunteer EMT for about 3 years, and a lieutenant in the Sleepy Hollow volunteer fire department. If you’ve ever worked a customer service job, you know that a customer having a bad day is not easy to deal with. In those volunteer emergency service jobs everyone is having a very bad day. But still, at this point in my life I had realized that I wanted to be around people and in jobs that require customer service no matter how difficult they are to deal with. From then on I sought out only jobs that required customer service and dealing with people. I worked as a manager at a grocery store, as a cashier at a liquor store, and as a pizza delivery guy. I also had jobs in a lot of kitchens, which were my favorite because I learned that I love to cook, but unfortunately most of them were closed kitchens so I had no access to the people. Here’s where the whole Coffee Labs is an awesome job thing comes in.
Doug and Mike at Origin in Costa Rica
Roasting and barista work are the best work I have ever done. There are few things that I find are more fun than roasting coffee. Being a barista is a close second. Like I said I love making and serving food, but also engaging with people. All people. Actual roasting is what really helps connect me with the global community of coffee. The farmers and workers we collaborate with are the ones who are really creating the potential for a coffee, so it’s the roaster’s job to uncover it. Our product makes me proud, not simply because it is delicious, but because sustainable coffee holds the key to reversing so much of the damage that has been done to coffee growing regions throughout history. In this industry we have the opportunity to reforest and recharge the planet, while redistributing wealth. I am so pumped to be involved in this that I walk all the way to work everyday, almost 1,000 feet. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.