September 24, 2010

Big fat phony

Allow me to introduce myself. I am, quite succinctly, I liar. I have sold myself as a knowledgeable barista, a passionate participant in the art and science of cafe culture. And that is wrong.

You see, I work at a Seattle's Best Coffee. Before that, I worked at a Starbucks. And before that, a little campus spot, nestled in a food court. I have never worked outside a corporate environment. My last two stops, I've had an automatic machine, the kind that pulls shots with the push of a button.

I am the fry guy, the sandwich stacker, the anonymous youth completing a string of mundane tasks a chimp could master in a day.

If you believe any of that, I would kindly direct you back to the top of this post. I am a liar. Still, some of what I said is true. The vast majority of my experience is under the Starbucks umbrella (as it owns SBC), that hulking monolith of coffee evil. And yes, I don't grind and tamp my own espresso. I know how, having done it before. But admittedly, I'd be a bit rusty.

So all that being the case, how is it that I can present myself as any kind of an expert? After all, there are any number of coffee connoisseurs out there, more educated than I; and there are better baristi as well.

I suppose the answer to that is this: I am not an expert, nor have a ever tried to present myself as such. I am, first and foremost, a fan. That guy writing the blog about his favorite team doesn't actually take the field on Sundays, after all; yet he has his opinions, his own brand of expertise. I'm like that guy. I am not among the barista elite. Not in Lawrence, certainly not in any context larger than that. Nor is my knowledge of coffee particularly impressive when compared to any number of local roasters, who are tangibly involved at steps of the process I've never even witnessed.

But I know some things, and I think a lot more. And, the internet being what it is, I can present those things on this page. I plan on continuing to do so for quite a while. Maybe one day I will be the most skilled barista in Lawrence -- but probably not. I might also become the area's foremost java expert -- but again, that's unlikely. That's also just fine. I will be as good as I can get, and know as much as my brain will gather. And I will keep writing, because, as far as coffee bloggers located in Lawrence go, I might actually be the best.

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