Humans of coffee: Dylan Botha

Who is Dylan Botha?

This is probably the hardest question to answer. At 31 years of age I am yet to discover who I am. Each day is an exploration and learning experience of who I currently am. I can, however, tell you that I am a recovering addict with 18 months of sobriety behind me and a lifetime ahead of me. But I do not let this define me in the man I am & strive to be. 

I am a Durban boy through & through, although I did live in Cape Town for a year or so. I now live in a one bedroom apartment on Florida Road with my wife & 3 cats. We are not wealthy in money but rich in community – our home is almost always full with family and/or friends. I am very dedicated to my work so when at home I cherish the time I have with my close community of people.

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What is your best childhood memory?

I have many fond childhood memories. But if I had to pick one it would be one of time spent with my father while he worked.

When I was a child he owned a wholesale meat supply company, supplying a few of the restaurants in the area and I would accompany him on his deliveries. My first & fondest memories of a restaurant were through the back door of the kitchen. From that time I think it was forever ingrained in me that I would be in the hospitality industry. Although I must admit my path along the way between then & now did see many a different career “hiccups”, if you will.

If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

Other than a few bad tattoo choices, I wouldn’t change much. A lot of who I am today is because of the choices I’ve made. Good & bad, it has all been as it was meant to be.

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What do you feel most proud of?

The day I married my amazing wife Shannon Botha is hands down one of the proudest days of my life.

If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?

  1. A pair of my Vans – it’s rare that you’ll find me barefoot. I’m weird that way.
  2. My phone – I’m way too attached to that thing. I think I may have a problem.
  3. My wedding ring – this needs no explanation.

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What do you want your tombstone to say?

I have a stupid irrational fear of waking up and realizing I’ve been buried alive underground. So I will be cremated. And on my urn it will say:

Recommended brewing method – Dose, 16g…

What is Noble Coffee?

Noble is a passion project, one that has evolved many a times & continues to evolve. It was born from the inspiration of an Espresso bar in Australia called Bunker Coffee. The drive behind Noble has always been COFFEE, COMMUNITY & LIFESTYLE. Community has been the back bone of this brand & it has afforded me opportunity to meet the most amazing people.

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What’s your favorite kind of coffee, brew method or coffee origin?

I am a sucker for a good Burundi from Long Miles & I enjoy my coffee in just about every method. In the mornings (at home) I’ll brew a French Press for myself & my wife. At work it’s normally a Flat White or Pour Over. When out at a café a Cortado.

In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

2018 has been a manic year & with that I was afforded the opportunity to open a new café (Prodigy Coffee) in Umhlanga (Durban) with my good friends Craig & Kristi Smith from Ground Coffee House in Hilton. You can find me here most days. If I’m out & about we will probably cross paths at Love Coffee (Florida Road) or Skyline (Gordon Road).

What does a perfect day look like?

I am fanatic about our beautiful country. A day traveling, exploring & camping with friends, family and, of course, coffee is just about as good as it gets for me.

Photography by Shannon Botha

Humans of coffee: Grindstone Runaways

Who is Grindstone Runaways?

We are a traveling couple – Lyndsay Zinn & David Gonçalves, who sold it all back home in South Africa (just over a year ago) to explore the world in search of amazing coffee and incredible cafes. No matter where we are in the world, we aim to find the best, as well as experience all the local coffee in that country. We love nothing more than sitting at a cafe, meeting new people and sipping away on new coffee flavours and unique variations.

We freelance as designers / web developers to keep this dream alive, and are currently working on some photography to start capturing all the the amazing creations and local coffees we experience.

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What is your favourite childhood memory?

Lyndz:

There are so many – which I guess is a good thing, right? But, if I really have to choose one it would be getting to travel with my family every few years to experience the happiest place on earth – Walt Disney World in Florida, USA. We used to visit during the Christmas season and the memories that were made with them can never be forgotten. Even as child just getting to the airport, walking on to that plane and knowing where we were about to go created so much joy and excitement. Probably the reason why I adore travelling!

Dave:

Eating. Every great memory I have as a child involves eating something delicious. I have a pretty big family and our Sundays were spent devouring massive roast lunches and sharing crazy (and sometimes inappropriate) stories while stuffing our faces with really tasty food. After a hefty lunch we would all enjoy a cuppa’ coffee or tea with mom’s weekly homemade cake or her new dessert creation. Good times.

If you could have a do-over in life, what would you do differently?

I think for both of us it would have been to get more involved in food and coffee from a younger age. We would both have loved to have gone to culinary school. Instead we both studied graphic design but, even though we still both love design, coffee and food are definitely our passions.

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What do you feel most proud of?

The fact that we took the leap and quit our jobs to pursue something that we love is what we are most proud of. It is really difficult to leave something that you are comfortable in and it took us some time to pluck up the courage to sell everything we own, quit our jobs and detach ourselves from the stability and get on a plane to drink coffee in cafes in all the countries we have dreamed about visiting.

If you could keep only 3 possessions, what would they be and why?

Dave:

  1. My guitar & Ukulele – music is another passion of mine.
  2. My camera – the more I get into it more I love it.
  3. Our portable pour over coffee maker – that ones self explanatory

Lyndz:

Since we have sold almost all of our possessions, this is a toughie… but let’s go with:

  1. My watch – The first gift that David ever gave to me.
  2. My hair dryer – Hate wet hair ☺
  3. My passport – Need it to travel

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What do you want your tombstone to say?

Dave:

“Here lies David Goncalves born 1982 died 2082.”

Lyndz:

Filtered coffee, not people.

Made love, not war.

Created. Contributed. Inspired.

+ a date that is FAR into the future

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What is @Grindstonerunaways

We are a duo who want to travel while focusing on finding the most amazing coffee shops and tasting the best coffee the world has to offer. At the same time, helping cafes get recognition for the good work they do. We also want to teach the average Joe about coffee and how great it is. The more we learn, the more we want to give back.

What is your favourite kind of coffee?

Dave: I love a Cortado, but I’m a sucker for a Double Espresso too.

Lyndz: A Flattie or a caramel & nutty-noted Pour Over (no milk or sugar)

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In which coffee shop are we likely to bump into you?

Well, that could be anywhere. We are trying to visit as many as we can while we can, so have a look out for us anyway.

What does a perfect day look like to you?

Coffee. Breakfast. Cook. Visit a new place. Coffee. Visit another new place. Wine & Dinner. A caffeinated nightcap. An episode of FRIENDS. Bed.

Follow the duo’s journey on facebook, youtube and instagram

Humans of coffee: Panos Chasapis

Who is  Panos  Chasapis?

He is a storyteller. He likes to tell stories (mainly fantastic).

He was born in Greece, lived in Switzerland for several years and today he writes you from Amsterdam where he lives.

He teaches his students to be in good contact with their feelings and to express themselves through painting, singing, playing, talking clearly and without shame.

Sometimes he fantasizes being «super Rufus» who eliminates fascism and drugs from the world by replacing fascists & drug dealers with manilas and coffee trees. Oh, what a beautiful world!

What is your favorite childhood memory?

For no bizarre reason, all my beautiful childhood memories are connected mainly with fragrances and plants. I remember every detail of the following scene.

I am hardly 9 years old.

It is summer, midday, just outside Nafplio (the most beautiful city in Greece!). The sea is dark blue and very rough… the wind blows hard and there is a scent of salt and reeds. My godfather has already made his famous American coffee and we have it along with some orange cake, together. We are on the veranda of his house away from the other adults. It’s the day my father’s summer holiday will officially begin. We expect him to come. He used to work a lot and he rarely spent his holidays with us. I stared at the iron gates looking out for his car to appear. My godfather poured coffee into our white cups and his pipe smoke mixed with the coffee smell. I loved his tobacco smell especially when it was fresh and wet inside his leather brown pouch and the words COLUMBUS  OHIO USA written on it. This pouch triggered my first interest in visiting America. I still remember my father’s grey Mercedes Benz… a model of 68, with brown leather seats and a gear lever on the steering wheel… going up the dusty garden road and stopping under the orange trees. I remember running to hug him. I remember him stretching/opening his arms and calling my name. His embrace always smelt basil. Because he always cut a small sprout of basil  from a pot near him and put it in his shirt pocket. That basil scent that came  from my father’s hug… the smell of the coffee and the smoke from my godfather’s pipe… and the smell of the sea at noon… Is everything that later defined my adult life, I guess… and my relationship with coffee.

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If you could have a do-over in life, what would you do differently?

I would like not to have daydreamed all the time, but to have acted more. I would like to have stopped thinking about dreams and targets and started planning and executing without fear and laziness. Immediately. Do you think it’s not too late for me to change?

What do you feel most proud of?

For many years I didn’t know what “being proud of something” meant. I had given this phrase a very selfish dimension and I avoided it. Today, I enjoy the notion of “self-centered” without any personal complex, I dare say that I am proud  of starting  psychotherapy eleven years ago and giving myself the opportunity of knowing me, understanding me, and probably accepting  me. Yes. I think I can flaunt it. Without this therapy I would never have learnt to love me. Therefore, I am proud of being able to love and hug.

If you could keep only 3 possessions, what would they be and why?

Very spontaneously: my half marathon sport shoes because I love good food and I have to burn it, the “little life” by Hanya Yanagihara  (a hymn to friendship and love)  and my camera to photograph coffees , flowers… and little birds.

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What do you want your tombstone to say?

“Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker… Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way ” (lyrics from my favorite “Moon River” Music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer) Yes I know… I am so retro…

What is @rufus_airlines?

@rufus_airlines & rufusailines.com (blog under construction) is a meeting platform. A place where photographers & poets , florists & musicians, experts of coffee and sweets, writers & instagrammers,  politicians & models we will meet. It is a dream which will take time work and patience to become true . A small globe which will host small birds searching for a shelter of inspiration and creativity.

What is your favorite kind of coffee?

When I’m home I prefer an Americano (new addiction: beans from Nicaragua, region Nueva Segovia) while definitely a cortado or espresso is always the best solution when I meet my friends in town. One day I want to learn to drink my coffee like the Italians: nattily, delightfully and with gratitude.

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In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

In Buvette, in New York, with my latte… and waffle sunny-side egg, bacon & gruyère and an imaginary conversation with my favorite New Yorkers: Woody Allen, Francoise Mouly and Sarah Jessica Parker.

In my favorite Fragments in Paris with a cappuccino , a luscious iced lemon cake & the first insta story of the day.

In the Scandinavian Embassy in Amsterdam, 3 minutes’ walk from my place, with filter coffee and a porridge and all my  instagram birds around .

What does a perfect day look like?

I believe that every day could be perfect… but the following one would be magical: In Serifos island in Greece, one day in September, at 7 in the morning. A double Greek coffee, with milk and honey, on a marble table, at a balcony overlooking the Aegean sea. I am tasting the first sip of the coffee. On the radio, the voice of Meryl Streep announces that President Trump has resigned and has decided to move to Mexico and become a barista. Marine Le Pen leaves Paris and opens a café in her beloved Algeria. President Putin opens a gay bar with drag shows called “the rosy babushka”, in Chechnya, while the Jihadists color their own beards gold and decide to rebuild Aleppo in Syria right from the start, in order to make it the cultural capital of the planet. John Lennon and Chet Baker smiles happily at me from the nearby balcony. It is an incredible, unbelievable day!

There are better ways to spend your time

As I sit here typing this I know I’m delaying the inevitable, soul destroying truth. I know that as soon as I publish this I need to hop in my car, sit in Monday morning traffic and head to my job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But after seeing this photo essay I know you’ll agree with me that there are better ways to spend your time.

Like most friends I make these days, I met Alex Strohl on instagram. And here comes probably the important compliment you can pay anyone these days: he has a beautiful feed. What stood out for me (obviously) is a little adventure he and La Marzocco took. I’ll let Alex give us a quick insight and then I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The whole idea was a bit silly at first when we were planning it. But as the first thick, heavy, shots came out of the Mini and the first rays of sun illuminated the valley we knew we were onto something rather good. The inspiring part is that it wasn’t that hard to put pull of. The big thing was finding the generator to run the machine on which we borrowed from a motorcycle store in town. The rest was smooth sailing, besides maybe driving the old Land Rover Series IIa up the mountain pass, it took a little while and we thought we were going to miss first light. The evening before we loaded up the car with the gear in the car, had a short night of sleep and by 4am we were leaving the house headed to the mountains!

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Alex Strohl is a Madrid born, French adventure and outdoor photographer based in Whitefish, Montana. Ranked as one of the ‘Top 100 photographers on the web‘, his work has been featured in Forbes, Vanity Fair and Gentleman’s Journal. Join 2 million other fans by following his instagram.

 

Humans of coffee: Michael Steward Mentoor

Who is Michael Steward Mentoor?

I am a 23 y/o, living in Cape Town, South Africa, who is just starting to get a grip on life – or I like to think I am. From a supercar enthusiast who pursued a career in engineering with the dream of being on the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team, to now being a theologian (and loving it) I feel like the last 5 years have had its fair share of confusion and misguided endeavors!

I just finished my undergrad studies as well as being a youth pastor for a couple of years. I’m using 2018 to work on personal projects but also to just breathe. The plan is to do my masters next year, but maybe I’m just saying this because my graduation was a few weeks ago and I felt really inspired by seeing other people getting their PhDs!

I always try to pursue a broader understanding, a more accurate perspective of pretty much everything. To better know the bigger picture is to better know how to deal with small picture things. I’m very much an introvert. My faith is the center of who I am – my character and choices all root from it. I believe life at its core is sacred because of it having a Heavenly designer.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

I can’t really single out one memory, and nothing seems to stand out thinking back. But there was this one vacation back in the day – I think 2006 or something – where we as a family went to Port Elizabeth that I hold very dear. It was nothing amazing, but it was perfect. It was the first time I feel I was old enough to take a step back, see, and understand the beauty of family when everyone just appreciates the other being there and not being afraid to show it.

If you could have a do-over in life, what would you do differently?

Honestly, I would change so many things if I had the chance! I would love to tell a younger me to stand up for himself! To say no, to not let my insecurities and fear of other people’s opinions dictate my life as it did. And definitely to be more selective and frank with the people I allow in my life!

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What do you feel most proud of?

So many things! But I feel all of them fall under the category of when I stepped outside of my comfort zone and braved through whatever stood in front of me.

If you could keep only 3 possessions, what would they be and why?

My camera! Photography is a recent passion and I love everything about it! My passport! Going to Italy end of September and can’t miss it! Also, if you know of any coffee spots?!My car! Spontaneous drives are the reason for my sanity.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

I’ve never given this any thought. Honestly, I don’t really care.

Maybe a segment from Romans 8:38-39? “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow…”

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What is To be Christian?

To be Christian (@to_be_christian) is where I share parts of my Christian story. It’s about what it means for me to be a Christian. It joins the substance of theology with the uniqueness of my walk with Christ. It started out as a blog 3 years ago while I was studying, but with that now finished I’m working on making it more Instagram-based, and hopefully YouTube later on in the year.

What is your favorite kind of coffee?

Give me my Chemex and CoffeeSock and I’ll be content!

In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

Terbodore Coffee Roasters in Franschhoek! I first fell in love with Terbodore a few years ago at their previous location which to me felt like a safe haven! Had my first flat white there and they have the best mocha in the business! Other than Terbodore, I often visit Deluxe Coffeeworks! They have a branch close to the theology faculty in Stellenbosch where I often got my fix in between classes! Their Quad shot was a frequent meal replacement!

What does a perfect day look like?

Waking up early to get a mocha and pour over as soon as Terbodore opens! Or sleeping late and brewing a fresh cup from the Chemex when I eventually wake up, followed by a cheese omelette!

I’d then drive the Chapman’s Peak road from Simon’s Town all the way to Sea Point with my camera! Lunch at the Silo hotel, trip up Table Mountain, gelato at the waterfront!

The evening would consist of a hike up the Franschhoek Mountains brewing a fresh cup as the sun goes down. And then taking a picture of it to put on Insta! Obviously!

Humans of coffee: Heidi Richter

Who is Heidi Richter?

In a nutshell,  a Canadian West coast dweller who thrives living as close to nature as possible with her husband, 3 year old son and a quirky French Bulldog.

I am a deeply creative individual with a love of whole, nourishing foods, organic gardening, simple living and photography. I hold a great respect for nature and do my best to honour it every day through small, thoughtful choices; I have chosen to eat a vegan diet for about 12 years and it continues to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Ironically,  I also have a very nerdy side that loves computers and can watch Star Wars (the original trilogy) or Lord of the Rings on repeat.  My dream home is a Hobbit hole, but I am quite content with our current house… for now, I suppose.

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What is your favorite childhood memory?

There are too many to list, but one that jumps out would be my very first visit to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  I was about ten at the time and the island was a very different place than it is today. Spending time exploring and soaking up the West coast generated a spark that lead to a deep love of this immensely beautiful place I now call home.

If you could have a do-over in life, what would you do differently?

Perhaps many things, yet also nothing at all… happiness has found me here along with good challenges.

However, if I could give my younger self some hints, I would suggest taking less “advice” from others (well-intentioned or otherwise) and encourage the following of my heart with the utmost trust and appreciation for its guidance.

Also, I would have taken up photography much earlier on… to think of the collection of lenses I could have by now!

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What do you feel most proud of?

Completing my open water scuba certification; it was an experience like none other to date. The course was physically and mentally demanding, but so rewarding when I was 60 feet down and looking up at an ‘ocean sky’ above…it was the epitome of breathtaking (I think there’s a pun in there) and utterly surreal!

If you could keep only 3 possessions, what would they be and why?

That’s difficult. My husband is an avid woodworker and has crafted many one-of-a-kind pieces I’d never want to part with. If I had to pick, I would choose my health, my hand-carved engagement ring and my DSLR camera and 35mm lens (I hope that would count as one thing).

What do you want your tombstone to say? 

“I didn’t ask for a tombstone, guys”.

Just kidding. Honestly, I love the idea of having my ashes planted alongside a tree…that’s my belief in a life after death.

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What is “The Simple Green”?

An award nominated food blog inspired by a love for plant-based recipes, food photography, writing, organic gardening and simple living. I often call it my “recipe catalogue/diary”. It’s such a labour of love and marries so many of my creative passions in one place. My goal is to gently inspire others to make small shifts towards a more thoughtful and, perhaps, more nourishing way of life.

What is your favorite kind of coffee?

When the mood hits,  I prefer a manual drip dark roast with cinnamon or reishi mushroom brewed with the grinds.  My coffee usually comes with a sundry of extracts, herbs or spices; I love to experiment with flavours. Naturally, during the hotter months, it’s a cold brew… I love the patience involved with steeping the grinds for so long and the thicker, sweeter profile it creates.

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In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

Not many because I tend to enjoy coffee at home. Plus, our city doesn’t have much to choose from.

Whenever possible, I support the local shops here and Bocca Cafe in the Old City Quarter is definitely a favourite when we’re in the area. Victoria, a much larger city down island, has a fair share of great spots, many of which I still have to visit.

What does a perfect day look like?

I love Fall, so it would certainly take place in early Autumn with an overcast sky, but no rain (a rare occurrence as we live in a rainforest). We’d be heading out for a hike with my camera in tow, then back inside to warm up with a hot drink, followed by planning out the evening meal. Any day spent with family,  homemade food and our son’s laughter is a perfect day for me.

Humans of coffee: Andrew Sinclair

Who is Andrew Sinclair?

I’m Andrew and I run Mad Lab Coffee in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. I have insomnia but I don’t lose sleep over it. I’ve been a touring musician (like every other coffee person it seems), a 5 year Tesla Motors employee (Elon is my homeboy), and at one point in my life a Dean Martin impersonator for cruise ships (photos exist but I will never share them. I was an ugly Dean Martin). My life is vibrant like the ugly shirts I wear that my wife hates.

What is your favorite childhood memory? 

So I actually grew up in a 40 piece banjo band in Houston Texas called the Jubilee Banjo Band. I know, random. There was a day that me and my buddy were hired out for a gig, and we ended up playing at ZZ Tops ranch for their Christmas party. We played music with the guys and talked all night about music, gear, and life stories. I was 16 at the time so it was really a rad experience to meet a hero very randomly.

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If you could have a do-over in life, what would you do differently? 

I’d actually do two things differently. One is I wish I would have never picked up a cigarette. Thats why our new sample packs say “a better addiction” on the back. It’s a hard habit to kick. Second is I wish I would’ve listened to my mentors and people with experience in coffee more. Most young baristas start coffee with a chip on their shoulder and I was that pretentious barista for years. I wish I would’ve humbled myself by listening more. In this industry its the most important thing you can do. Shut up, stop thinking about how you’re right, and listen.

What do you feel most proud of?

Usually when people talk about what they’re “proud of” they talk about what success they have had in a monetary or notoriety aspect. Success for me isn’t in what you’ve accomplished, its by how far you’ve come from where you were. I’m proud of how far I have come from my past and how far Mad Lab has come in such a short time. I’m proud of the support I have from my wonderful little family (which is definitely what I’m most
proud of). I’m proud of my journey.

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If you could keep only 3 possessions, what would they be and why? 

My 1922 Bacon and Day 4 string banjo, my Stetson, and my Ikawa sample roaster. Each has a unique story in my life.

My 1922 Bacon and Day banjo is a story I like to keep to myself. Lots of emotion around that for me. But its a reminder that you have to learn how to love yourself before you can love others.

My Stetson was given to me by a loyal customer here in DTLA that I served for years. It’s a reminder to me about what it means to be in the service industry. If you take care of others, those people tend to take care of you.

My Ikawa made me better at my craft. It really helped me understand what I was doing in roasting. In such a competitive city like Los Angeles, not too many people are mentors to others who just want to learn how to be better. Its a reminder to me that I will help anyone who asks for help. I grew up watching Mr. Rogers and I remember him saying “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

What do you want your tombstone to say? 

“He loved people a whole lot more, instead of a whole lot less”.

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What is Mad Lab Coffee? 

My passion project is Mad Lab Coffee. I’m able to freely create, curate, and discover coffee inside of what we do. Its exciting to be able to create without censorship or rules. I’ve played by the rules of “specialty coffee” and took the time to really understand those rules. Because to break all the rules you have to understand all the rules.

I think that’s one of the main obstacles holding our industry back. Stupid rules. There’s a barista here in LA who was fired because she was pouring latte art left handed. Yes. True story. Those rules piss me off and theres no rationale for them.

So I try my best to be the change I want to see in the world of coffee in that aspect. I collect data at every turn and conduct as much research around it as I can. If theres a number, figure, or chemical analysis we can perform on the coffees that Mad Lab carries, I find that data and compile it. That’s what makes it a passion project. I’m passionate about finding hard data that grows our knowledge of coffee and enlightens us to keep creating and curating.

What is your favorite kind of coffee? 

My favorite origin right now is India. There are a lot of great coffees coming out of India that people aren’t jumping on because its not your typical source for amazing coffees. People are afraid to buy coffees that they don’t see other roasters using. Everyone tends to source the same. Everyone wants to be safe and ritualistic. I like risk and spontaneity.

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In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

You’ll see me regularly at the San Julian Cognescenti coffee location in Downtown LA. CoffeeHall in Chinatown. No Ghost Bears (formerly Coffee Colab) in Downtown LA, and Dinosaur Coffee in Silverlake.

What does a perfect day look like?

Waking up after 8am. Then taking the family for a walk in Downtown. Of course we’re grabbing some pancakes at the Pantry. Then heading to the roastery to sample roast coffees. Move onto cupping and compiling data on coffees. Then getting nerdy by turning on our Sanremo Opera and pressure profiling our coffees to taste. Start winding down by sitting down to read the news over a solid batch brew. After that a beer at Ham and Eggs in Downtown LA. Then ending the night back home for a long walk with the dogs, then sitting with my family over a nice dinner.