Archives for category: Barista babes Interview

I am so excited to bring you an interview today from the lovely and babely Liz Bishop (Liz has been previously mentioned  here and here). Liz has been making coffee for quite a few years now and fills the role of Head Barista at Just Us! on Barrington st. Liz is just about the most amazing co-worker you could ever hope for! She works hard, doesn’t ever compromise coffee quality for anything else, laughs a lot and always picks great music. Liz also has the rare talent of talking to each and every customer as if she knows them, treating everyone equally as if they are an old friend of hers. Besides being rad to work with and having off the chart customer service skills Liz is also really, really passionate about coffee. She is constantly striving to learn more and I can always expect to hear about something new and exciting relating to coffee when I talk to Liz. She is also so fitted to her role as Head Barista – always keeping us accountable and expecting better things from each of her Baristas each time we step on bar. She also really instils  passion into each Barista and customer she talks too. Besides constantly inspiring me to be better at my own job Liz is always making me super tasty drinks and I can count on drinking amazing ‘spro with her on the daily!

Miss Liz Bishop

1. Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do when you aren’t making coffee?

I like imbibing things, especially coffee. Watching movies is pretty great too, especially while enjoying some tasty bevs. I also study Social Anthropology and Film Studies at the University of King’s College/Dalhousie/NSCADU. Sometimes I knit, play music, bike around town, take pictures, or cuddle with kitties. I also like to hang out with this guy, Ira. (He’s Cool.)

2. How did you get into coffee? Do you remember your first experience with coffee?

Like most Canadians Mr Horton provided my first introduction. blah. My parents weren’t really coffee drinkers so it was all on my own. When Just Us! moved into Wolfville things exploded from there and a few years later I was working there. That was almost seven years ago and the journey has been long but stupendous! I always look forward to new chapters.

3. How long have you been involved? Where have you worked? What is your role now?

After starting with Just Us in 2005 I have been a barista, head barista, assistant manager, interim manager and now I’m back to the position of  head barista. It is my favourite because I get to do what I love and show others how to do the same. I have gained some of my best friends from working on Barrington street and I hope to gain even more.

4. Why do you enjoy being a Barista? Why do you love what you do?

Besides the free tasty bevs and awesome people?  I love to share the experience of coffee with others and my job allows exploration into exponential possibilities of sensation. Coffee is Sexy.

5. What is your favourite drink to make? What about to drink?

Love to make Caps. For myself it depends on the day but nothing beats sinking my teeth into a delicious cap or mac. After taking a trip to California [ to attend camp Pull-A-Shot ] in October I fell in love with juicy pour overs, rich aeropresses, and most recently cascara tea! I always love trying new things.

6. What are you really excited about right now?

Austin Anderson, our director of Coffee at Just Us!, and his roasting team finally have an old/new Gothot up and running. I am excited to taste the results of all their hard work and I am glad to see Just Us! moving in this great direction of craft roasting. But I’m always excited about new things in coffee that it’s hard to pinpoint.

7. Do you have any favourite coffee memories?

Anytime someone makes a capp with just the right balance and texture I shudder with delight. Every time I walk into a cafe I haven’t been to and the baristas welcome me as if I had been coming there for years is an unbeatable sensation.  A recent experience at Pourquoi Pas in Montreal instilled something within me that baristas need to open cafes and if you have the passion you can do it on a shoestring. Oh yeah, the ultimate slew of memories from Camp Pull-A-Shot cannot be topped. It was there that I realized there is so much more to learn, that coffee is more fun than you will ever know and should always be shared. Puck yeah!

8. Any exciting plans for this year? 

Mexico, baby. Just Us! provides opportunities for people to visit one of their main coffee producing co-ops called UCIRI. This will be my first origin trip of many (hopefully). I’m even learning Spanish to help out! I would love to learn more about roasting with Austin and his team down in Grand Pre.

9. Any future plans involving coffee? 

Camp Pull-A-Shot is coming to the east coast this year! I feel disconnected way out here in atlantic Canada even with the wonderful passion and talent we have here already. Building a more diverse community with better opportunities for career barsitas and coffee professionals in the Maritimes would be a dream. A caffeine bike tour of the UK, the eastern states, and parts of Europe maybe. And at some point return to Brazil, when I was there eight years ago I was ignorant about their coffee. I’d like to go back and explore with the knowledge I have now.

10. Anything else to add?

Why don’t restaurants pay more attention to their coffee? In many places I feel it is poorly done and under appreciated. Most baristas are foodies too. Just sayin’.

 Liz hanging on Barrington St.

Thank you so much Liz for doing this interview and always continuing to inspire me!



PS Don’t forget- you could win a bag of coffee! Just check out my last post and leave a comment!


It’s Barista Babes Birthday!
Well – it was the blogs birthday a few weeks ago but I am just getting around to doing a ‘birthday’ post now!

I think this blog has taught me a lot this past year – as cheesy as that may seem.
When I thought about starting this blog it really just came to me and I was certain I wanted to give it a try.
In my life when I have an idea I know right from the get go if it’s a good one or not. Ideas usually come to me quickly, in a flash.
This is great, except that it usually means I am so excited about something in the beginning and  then that excitement usually fades.
I think that this did happen a little bit over here at Barista Babes, but a new year AND a first birthday (aww!) are a perfect time for fresh starts!

So – here is to another year of inspired and exciting blogging, a year of drinking good coffee, expanding my knowledge and vocabulary (and yours!) and always trying to be better at what I do.

To start off  I want to share a couple of links to my favourite posts from over the past year:

Loving what you do  (from last valentines day)

Babely Barista Interview, Marc Comeau (from last March)

I feel so lucky and happy to be involved in coffee and the coffee community in Halifax.
One of the reasons I started this blog was in an attempt to build a little more coffee culture in Halifax. I have no idea if Barista Babes did help in any way but I do know that my own sense of the community defiantly grew a lot.
Most Baristi want to chat about coffee, sometimes you just have to make the first step (something I learned big time this year).
As well most other people (non-baristi) are interested in learning and hearing about coffee if you are passionate and excited (something else I have experienced a lot).

I think as a Barista it’s all about little steps. It’s pretty much impossible to ‘convert’ a large vanilla latte drinker to a pour over drinker in a day. If you are willing to put in time and energy and share your passion with that customer or friend or parent you can make it happen ( or you can just buy them an aeropress and show them how amazing it is – like I did with my parents this Christmas!).

It’s the best feeling when someone tries a pour over or a shot of espresso for the first time and looks at you with that look in their eyes – they love it.

So, in honour of Barista Babes Birthday I am giving away a bag of coffee! You could be the lucky winner of a 12oz bag of Bolivian beans from 49th Parallel Coffee.

All you have to do is comment below and tell me what you love about coffee! Don’t forget to leave your email address so I can contact you!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Zane at Two if By Sea for providing this coffee!

Please note: this give away is only open to those of you living in Canada. I will be drawing a winner at random next Sunday, February 12th.

Cheers for now,


I had the pleasure of working with Karyn from September until a couple weeks ago when she left on a year long trip around the world (Mainly Thailand and  Australia!)!!!!!!!!!!!
Karyn recently graduated from NSCAD and makes beautiful jewellery. She loves coffee and tea and has the knack of being able to chat with any customer! Karyn is super chill and also has the ability to  rock a bar rush like no other.
When working with K-Ron (as I like to call her) you can always count on listening to some good hip-hop, having a dance session and drinking a sweet cappuccino that she is more than happy to make for you! I look forward to working with Karyn again someday (hopefully) and she is really being missed around Just Us! by staff and customers a like!

Photo by Shaun Simpson

1. What do you love about coffee?
I love the smell of coffee, I love how it tastes, and rouses me from unconsciousness and helps me to feel human in the morning. I love the ritual surrounding it just in its simple preparation at home, and getting to stop and savour something in a busy day.

2. Tell me a bit about your coffee background? How did you come to work in cafes? What was your first relationship with coffee?
When I was a teenager in my hometown, which is really small, we had an awesome tea house, and I loved hanging out there, drinking coffee or tea, and listening to my friends play music there, it was kind of a central place for the artsy kids to chill out at. My first cafe job was at Delany’s on Denman in Vancouver, which is right by the beach at English Bay, and I loved my co-workers and the vibe of the place…For the most part, I think independent and small-scale coffeehouses all foster a friendly, relaxed and creative atmosphere, and that’s what I’ve sought out in a job. When you’re at work, and it simultaneously feels like you’re getting paid to hang out with your friends, I think that’s pretty rare in a workplace environment. But I’ve found that consistently working at coffee shops, which is why I keep coming back, even when I think I’m done with serving people and dealing with douchy customers. My first relationship with coffee is pretty standard; I loved the smell of it in the mornings when my parents would brew it, but did it ever just taste like junk when I’d try it. I could choke it down with ridiculous amounts of sugar, but for the most part I didn’t drink it at all….until I was introduced to the magnificence of a single cappuccino, and how it would get me through those long hours in the jewellery studio…. And then I was hired at Just Us. And then I was hooked.

3. Do you think you will continue to work with coffee?
Its been…what….two weeks since my last day at work? I already know I will. I’m so tired of serving people, but heck do I dig the cafe vibe. And you end up meeting so many cool people…. and I’m the only person in my non-cafe group of friends who can give a diatribe on the sexiness of well-made micro foam. And I mean it. That shit is sexy.

4. What’s your favourite drink to drink and to make?
To drink? A real fucking cappuccino, which is unnecessarily hard to find. 2 oz finely pulled espresso, and 4 oz finely steamed milk. That’s all it needs to be baby, so why can’t I find it at 90% of the cafe’s I go. Oh the HUMANITY!
To make? Capps, hands down. Or machiatto’s. But I can’t help but taste it when I make a good capp for someone. I know they’re going to dig it.

5. Your favourite cafe you have ever been to/why/explain it?
I don’t want to come off like a name dropper, but the Grumpy Cafe in New York. It’s really small, they make a capp that you just can’t drink with your eyes open, and there’s no computers allowed. None. It’s like….heaven.

Karyn's last Just Us! Capp!

Thanks for answering my questions, Karyn, and we all wish you well on your adventure!!!!



PS Karyn also has rad dreads and a pretty little cat named Mocha…. awesome!

Marc Comeau

This is the first segment in what will hopefully become a regular feature around here, ‘Babely Barista Interviews’. Today I bring you Marc Comeau, who is from Dartmouth, and is a co-worker of mine from Just Us!.Marc has been around the cafe scene in Halifax for a while now and  got rehired at Just Us! this fall after a quick stint out in Vancouver where he worked at JJ Bean. I chose Marc to be my first interviewee  for a few reasons… Marc is a great barista who always puts a lot of care into his drink making ( and all his other cafe duties), He is genuine and kind with all the customers, He is a babe who has a great sense of style and he is a gem to work with and he is always making everyone laugh and feel loved (all the boys and girls alike have a crush on him), plus he loves coffee and has a lot of passion for what we do, every day, at work! When Marc is on bar you can always rely on him to be calm no mater what is going on, always taking his time on each drink and paying attention to details, his drinks are  always consistent in quality- He always works hard. Marc kindly obliged to answer a few questions for you all and also let me snap a few photos of him in action at approximately 7 o’clock this morning when we opened together! Thanks Marc!

1. Tell me about your first coffee experience:
My first coffee experience, at least that I can remember, is probably taking a sip of my father’s “medium, double milk” in the passenger seat as we left the Tim Horton’s drive-thru. I recall not liking it. “It needs sugar” I thought. My palate has come a long way since then.

2. How did you begin working with coffee? Tell me a little about yourself:
I began working with coffee in 2004, when my good friend, Deanna, offered to put in a good word with her manager at Starbucks. I was in between semesters at the time, pursuing a life as an engineer and just needed a summer job to pay the bills. Never did the thought of working in coffee even cross my mind before Deanna merely mentioned the possibility. I was quite desperate for work at the time and that was my only good lead. So I thought “what the hell?”, I applied, and thanks to Deanna’s referral, I got the job. I had every intention of quitting at the summer’s end, but as it turns out, I fell for the coffee shop atmosphere and became addicted to the social nature of the place. Come September, I decided to stay on staff as a weekend part-timer, as that’s all my school schedule would allow. Several years (and several coffee shops) later, here I am, still serving coffee with the same adoration for the unparalleled social aura found in a neighborhood coffeehouse.

Classic Marc 90 Degree Angle Tamp.


3. Why do you love doing what you do?:
I love getting to interact with so many people everyday. I love the sense of community. Coffee can be prepared & enjoyed in such a wide variety of ways and for that reason, it attracts a wide variety of people; people of all ages, races, and social classes. Different as we are, though, we gather day in, day out, under the same roof because of one, underlying common link: coffee. I love the idea that a cup of coffee (and I use that term generically to encompass everything from brewed coffee to a latte or espresso or mochacchino) has the power to make or break someone’s day. In my job, I am motivated by the sliver of a possibility that my course of actions is having a positive impact on somebody’s day.

4. What is your favorite drink to make? Why? What is your fave drink to drink? Why?

My favorite drink to make is, hands down, a small latte. Both fastidiously prepared basic elements (i.e. espresso and milk) are at play here and, in my mind anyway, in perfect proportion. Between espresso extraction, milk texture, and milk temperature, there is so much room for error, thus making a perfectly crafted latte that much more rewarding. With less milk to mask the harsh punch of a poorly extracted shot of espresso (in comparison to larger lattes) and the absence of sugary add-ons (such as chocolate, as in a Mochaccino), the Barista’s skills are more showcased. This is true of a traditional cappuccino, yes, but then I appreciate the creative freedom involved in the pour, allowed by the “wetter” texture of latte milk. This, along with the slightly longer time frame to work with over a cappuccino pour, makes it easier to pour latte art and just more fun to play around with.


My favorite drink to drink is completely situational. It depends on my mood. It depends on the time day. It even depends on the season (nothing beats an iced latte on a hot summer afternoon). If I had to narrow it down, though…well I still can’t choose just one, go-to beverage, but it would probably be a coin toss between an Americano and, surprise, surprise…a small latte.

5. Do your future plans include anything to do with coffee? What DO you want to do with your life?
What is my true calling? To be perfectly honest (despite the praise I have just given my job), sometimes I feel like the only reason I’m still slingin’ coffee is because I haven’t found the answer to that question yet.

6. What is your favorite music to listen to while working?
Again…completely situational. It can drastically vary depending on my mood. It also depends on the time of day and, again, it even depends on the season (yeah, I dig Christmas music, so what). In the early mornings, I tend to lean more toward non-abrasive, easy-listening options. Classical works very nicely. As the day progresses, sometimes I need to kick it up a notch and put something a little more up-beat to keep me motivated and keep the clock hands moving. I love tackling a rush on bar to the rhythm of a catchy, upbeat playlist. Jazz is perfectly suitable rainy day music (Miles Davis anyone?). My favorite music to listen to at any given time, though, is probably that which others will be able to enjoy with me. That goes for customers and co-workers alike. You gotta read your audience. If the majority of the clientele look like they’re on a field trip from the senior citizen’s home, I won’t be able to truly enjoy any of my favorite hip-hop selections.

Your neighbourhood Babely Barista

Thanks again, Marc, and I hope you all enjoyed this first interview!