Archives for category: coffee

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!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

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

Advertisements

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,

-Ceilidh

I still love coffee and I am still here!
I have been working as the Manager at my cafe now since May and it is busy.
I still have conversations about coffee all the time and drink coffee and think about coffee related things and then say to myself “I need to blog about that” but then I am tired.
I know – How am I tried with all this coffee consumption, you may wonder, but it is possible!
So – In an effort to cling on to my last hopes that anyone still reads my blog or thinks I care about it at all I am making you a little round-up of coffee things I have been excited about lately.
Here we go…

1. Parlour coffee and their tumblr.  I love looking at the photos on there!

2. Two if By Seas new location in Halifax! And the new website, which you can view here!

3.My new tamper from Reg Barber, thanks to Anna, who I have mentioned here and here. THANKS ANNA!!!! I would really recommend to any Baristi to try out as many tamps as you can and see what you like!! I realized that I really prefer a flat bottom tamper as opposed to a c-flat tamper! Who knew! I haven’t really done any research into what is “better”, this is just my personal preference! I find it more comfortable for some reason and way easier to have a consistent tamp. It’s all the little things that count… (incase you are interested this is the one I have!)

4. The new Ritual Kaliluni Peaberry from Kenya! Holy cow! Today Dan and I went to Two If By Sea to enjoy a Birthday espresso or two (Yay! It’s my Birthday!) and Zane asked us to try some of this truly amazing coffee they just got in! It tastes like Red Raspberry leaf tea and Oolong and its super juicy and refreshing!!!!! Go try it!

Coffee & Me.

5. Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Analog Espresso that Emma (who is a Barista at the Smiling Goat!) gave me for my Birthday. Dan made us stove-top espresso with it this morning and it was delish and SO chocolaty (anything chocolate is good in my books). I also love the shout out to Baristi on the bag, ” Full-bodied and well-rounded, this blend produces consistently sweet and chocolaty espressos that are a joy for the barista to calibrate and integrate perfectly with milk”. Yeah!!!

In other news, I am thinking about making some changes around the blog (one of the reasons for the long absence…  I have been doing a lot of thinking!) so you can look out for that in hopefully the next couple weeks!! I am glad to be back and feeling extra excited about coffee!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

I’ll admit… I haven’t actually drank that much Java Blend coffee since  I have lived in Halifax. It mostly had to do with the fact that when we first moved here we lived in the South End and it was pretty much just a convenience thing, I hate to admit it. Now I live in the North End (Awesome!) and Java Blend is almost my next door neighbour. I still haven’t physically got there a lot more but they are defiantly way more on my radar and I have been indulging in Java Blend a bit more frequently than before. Tonight while perusing their website I can across something AWESOME (forgive me if I am, like, the last person in Halifax to know about this)!
Java Blend is now offering seasonal bike delivery of their  coffees (to certain parts of Halifax).  I love this. Not only do I think it is adorable, but I think it is SMART too! I love smart stuff. It’s sustainable, it’s good for the employees and it’s just…. Awesome!

If you want to know all about it you can find out here.
This just gives me one more reason to love Halifax!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

Recently my bff Anna moved to Toronto. This was a pretty sad affair for me, as you can imagine.
But, now she works in a pretty rad cafe called Te Aro and sends me awesome things in the mail like delicious coffees.
Recently she sent me a 1/4 lb of a Colombian (roasted by Te-Aro) that is the Cup Of Excellence 2011 winner. It cost me $20.oo (I actually haven’t paid her back yet…. Hey! That’s what friends are for!) when all the shipping and handling from there to here was said and done. It’s kinda a lot of money for ANYONE to spend on coffee….But it’s good, really good! I tried it as a pour over and am planning to share the rest with Dan tomorrow morning in the French Press… the rest of it has been shared with my coffee loving co-workers!
I am including a little chart from Te Aro on the tasting notes, as they can say it all way more eloquently then I ever could…

"The coffee" (I felt like you needed to see how small the bag is!!!)

Here’s the thing though. For me there are tonnes of coffees that are at a normal price point that I can get right here in Halifax, and they  are great! I love drinking the single origins from Just Us! I LOVE all of the Phil & Sebastian from Two If By Sea,  I love grabbing a bag of  49th Parallel from Steve-O-Reno’s (also, Have you checked out there website recently?!), And that I can get Intelligentsia at the Smiling Goat. PLUS we have amazing coffee being roasted right here in our own back yards (pretty much) at places like Java Blend. So as nice as it is to have a little experiment with coffee so expensive that actually drinking it is kinda scary, it will definitely stay that way for me, an experiment (….’Cause it could get pretty addictive and expensive if I don’t give myself these rules right now)!
Thanks to Anna (and Te Aro) for making to possible for me to taste this amazing coffee!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

It’s Labour Day which kind of means that summer is over!?
Thankfully, In the past month I feel like Dan and I crammed a lot of summer in!
We went to two weddings, visited my home town, visited Nelson BC and also Toronto- where Dan is from.
We spent a lot of time on the beach, in the sun, preparing yards for weddings, drinking and eating a lot, and  spending time with our family!

I also had a couple coffee  experiences too!
Unfortunatly in Toronto we only had the chance to visit 1 coffee shop- I know, it’s silly but thats just how it worked out this time, but I did get to share a lot of coffee with both mine and Dan’s family’s which was deffinatly a highlight of my trip.
In Nelson at my brothers house we would make about 6 press pots of coffee each morning- Yep, 6! There were a lot of us around to drink it and it seemed like each time someone woke up and made it to
the kitchen the kettle would go on the stove and the coffee would be ground. As usual this topped my list of favourite things to do in the morning.

In Toronto while visiting Dan’s family we also drank some pretty deliscious coffee. Dan’s dad, Joe,  was making us stove-top espresso lattes with hand frothed milk.
I know it isn’t the same as having an espresso drink made by a barista but having someone make you a great cup of coffee that you can enjoy at home, in the back yard with friends in the sun and not be paying anything for it is great. It is it’s own separate category compared to seeking out the best of the best espresso in cafes. And I love it! Drinking these lattes was one of my favourite parts of visiting Dan’s family!

Joe's Home-made Latte

As I said before- the only cafe that Dan and I made it into while we were in Toronto was Dark Horse on Spadina Ave.
It was actually a great experience. First of all- it was beautiful in there. Second the baristi were listening to Cat Stevens- which is one of my favourite artists to listen to while I’m at work makin’ coffee. Third the two Baristi working were SO NICE- It was awesome and it is such an important part of the experience. They gave us a good deal on the drinks we ordered,  they were talkative and just genuinely NICE. If anyone who works for Dark Horse reads this, Cheers on finding awesome employees!!! I ordered a single macchiato and a single espresso and Dan ordered a double macchiato. They were pretty delicious, nothing out of this world, but good. Worth checking out! The food also looked amazing but we didn’t try anything as we were saving room for dinner (The Black Hoof Cocktail bar and Pizzeria Libretto!).

Dan at Dark Horse

Now that I am back in Halifax and summer is slowing down I plan to be around this blog a bit more often.
Cheers for now!

-Ceilidh

Four days of our recent vacation were spent in the lovely Vancouver, BC, with Dan’s brother  Nick and his partner Cristina- I was nervous to spend time in such a big city (Halifax is small!) but turns out, I actually kinda loved it (it also helps that Nick and Cristina are rad!). I had a huge list of coffee shops I wanted to visit that I had compiled with lots of help from my friend Marc, I didn’t make it to them all but here is a list of the places I did make it to and what I thought about them.

Day One:

Caffe Artigiano–  This place was a little weird for my taste- it seemed super fancy but commercial. They had a huge menu of drinks that I had never heard of on top of your standards. The cashier gal was a little snarky but it was a busy spot and that’s what happens when you are on cash sometimes. The Barista defiantly knew what was up and made us 3 beautiful macchiatos (one for me, Dan and Nick). It says on the website that the baristas here are ‘…award winning baristas specialize in coffee art, creating a unique rosetta, tulip or heart atop of each cappuccino and latte served…’. They had some interesting info posted near the espresso machine about how the machine is specially designed for Vancouver and the water there (or something… I actually can’t remember but at the time it was interesting and now I can’t find anything on the website about this!!!), or they used special water that they brought from somewhere else?! Who knows! The espresso tasted very, very citrusy- The most citrus tasting coffee I have ever had. I didn’t love it but I am glad I got stop in and try it as it was unlike any espresso I had ever tasted!

Day Two:

Kafka’s– I had heard great things about Kafka’s before going here and it did not disappoint- I had the best cappuccino ever here!! I loved it there and I am really sad we didn’t go back again as we had planned on. I truly recommend this place- The baristi were friendly and were eager to talk about coffee when I told them I was visiting from NS. It turned out the Barista who had made our drinks is from Cape Breton! Nice looking place, awesome espresso, they do pour overs and siphons, have a super simple menu and yummy baked goods, locally made art on the walls and Baristi who clearly love what they do. They also specialize in tea! What more could you want???

Day Three:

Elysian Coffee– Elysian, Elysian… You stole my heart. I loved this spot. First- it is small and intimate, which is always great. We went here on a nice sunny day (only the second day I had worn short sleeves outside so far this spring) and we sat on the patio and  sipped our Cappuccinos. The Baristas here were really sweet and they were all super babely and dressed oh-so-well which is always a bonus. The guy who made my drink actually happened to be from NS too! Awesome! And they new of a few of the coffee shops in Halifax (Just Us! and TIBS). He also remade my drink because he wasn’t satisfied with (I think) his art on the first one, which is great.  They serve Intelligentsia here and have sparkling water on tap! AMAZING. Seriously- Amazing. I now dream of having this in my own cafe one day. I was also sad I didn’t make it back here again but, a girl can only drink so much coffee! They also used a Synesso espresso machine which I have  a big place for in my heart… they are a dream to work on.

Bump & Grind– We had the best Macchiatos here. The experience wasn’t as memorable as Elysian (the sun! the cute people!) or Kafkas (the massive tables! The guy working on his art in the corner!) but my Macchiato was seriously good. The guy working got what he was doing  and was very calm and quiet in a really nice sort of way. I also picked up a copy of 33 Cups Of  Coffee here which I am pretty excited about (but have yet to use it!!!). The also had a perfect bar to stand up and enjoy your drinks at… I thought it was a nice addition for those who are having something like an espresso and are not going to sit down. I will defiantly be going back here next time I am in Van.

Day Four:

JJ Bean– I was pretty stoked to try out JJ Bean, I had tried a few of there coffees before (some one I work with had brought some back from Van a few months ago) and was pretty struck by it. Dan and I both ordered Cappuccinos (surprise, surprise!) which were made pretty effciantly considering how busy it was in there. I loved the aesthetic here (it was the commercial and E 6th Ave. location) lots of wood and open space, great windows and a cute looking patio. We also grabbed a bag of single origin coffee (The Boquete Classico from Chiriqui, Panama. Tasting Notes- Creamy, Sweet, Concord grape & Almond). You get a free espresso when you buy a bag of coffee so that was a nice bonus (we are JUST getting around to drinking this coffee now… I’ll let you know how it is!) All in all JJ did not dissapoint and had everything it takes to make a cafe awesome. The staff were great too!

Prado– I think I could have loved Prado…. The interior was beautiful, white walls, wood, metal, a black bathroom (what IS it with black bathrooms these days…. Elysian had black bathrooms too, and a few other places we ate at while we were on the west coast. Anyways, I love this trend!), huge windows, babely baristas, a white espresso machine that was a beaut! But, the service kinda got me… the girls working there just weren’t that nice. I forgot to tip so after my drink  (macchiato) I went back up to tip and I wasn’t acknowledged at all by either of the girls who were standing right in front of me…. There was no line up, nothing, they were just talking. Maybe I am too sensitive but customer service is so important to me and can make or break my experience. After that I didn’t even bother looking to see what kind of beans they used….. Sorry Prado! Our drinks were totally good and I clearly liked the ambiance, Plus there was a really cute dog waiting for it’s owner outside… I would give it a try again in hopes that I would receive better customer service!

Our coffee experience in Vancouver was GREAT…. It has really inspired me in so many ways and opened my eyes up a lot to what some of the best cafes are up too. The coffee culture out here on the East coast is just starting to take off it seems and I am so excited to see where it is going to go!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

Hello, hello!! I am back, I am back!!!

I must apologize for the long absence I have left you all with.
A few things have been happening lately… the first was that I went on vacation for two whole weeks with Dan. We went to the west coast and visited my brother and his partner in Nelson, BC and got to witness the birth of our newest nephew. Then we  went and spent some time in Vancouver visiting Dan’s brother and his partner. All my favourite things happened on this trip; We ate a lot of good food, found great coffee in both Nelson and Van, drank lots of wine, spent time with family and dear friends who are like family, I bought a pair of awesome shoes (that are kind of killing my feet….), and got to experience a lot of love upon meeting the newest addition to our fam (I am a big fan of love)!
But, we forgot to bring our camera battery changer with us and got about 1 photo of our whole trip. It’s pretty sad actually. I did get my amazing friend Marnie to snap some photos of my new fave coffee spot in Nelson which I will be featuring on here later today…. And we also brought back lots of coffee to drink!!!! Below is some post trip photo proof ( I also decided it’s time to show my face on here)!

JJ Bean, Oso Negro, Intelligentsia!

The other exciting thing that happened recently, in my work life, is that I got a promotion! I moved to the Barrington location of Just Us! and I am the Assistant Team Lead, which has been great so far and is keeping me busy!

So here I am, back and with lots of posts up my sleeves, and I am feeling more and more inspired everyday! We are having a barista jam tonight at Just us! and I promise to remember to take my camera and snap some photos to share!

Cheers,
-Ceilidh

PS One other awesome thing that happened on our trip- we converted Dan’s bro to be a macchiato drinker!!!!!!

Mmm!

A couple nights ago I had to go back to work at Just Us! from 9 until late to prepare the store for the final reno’s (which are happening right now!). I normally don’t drink coffee at night unless I’ve just ate a really big meal or at a restaurant or something but Dan had tried the Phil & Sebastian that morning and told me I had to try it. Since I was going to be up late anyways it seemed like a good idea to indulge. So we decided to make some home-style cappuccinos using a stove top espresso maker and a manual milk frother. Anyways- they turned out so delicious. The coffee is truly wonderful with a lot of good things going on….. I am defiantly not the best person to describe the taste but will try to work out some kind of description and let you know!

Such a cute little mug!

Dan and I have a really great selection of hand made mugs which makes drinking anything better. You can see a couple of our favourites in these photos! These two were both made locally and are really, really beautiful.

Dan!

 

Dan and I also had the chance to hit up Two if By Sea early Saturday morning when we were on our way out of Halifax for the night. We finally got to try some of there other croissants – other than the plain one. We grabbed a chocolate and an almond and we both enjoyed them a lot more than the plain one! They were a pretty yummy and decadent treat.

We have been having very good coffee times lately!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

 

I love working with coffee.

I love thinking about the process of how it is grown and prepared- before it even gets to the roaster, and really wish to see the process one day.
I love that there is an art to roasting the beans- and plan to learn more about this.
But what I really love is making coffee for someone.
Dosing your grids, getting grinds on your hands, hand tamping, making sure its all done right, having flow when you’re making drinks, pulling that shot, watching it pour- making sure it’s perfect. Taking an extra moment to just watch it pour into a cup (seriously it can be mesmerizing!) and to actually have a moment with that shot of espresso. And then your milk….. It’s a whole other things. But when it all comes together perfectly and it looks beautiful it is so satisfying! And then someone tells you it’s a beautiful drink and you know its true. And you know part of the reason it is so beautiful is because you loved making it. I know this may all sound silly- like I am talking about someone and not something but its true. Loving what you do is so important and when you love what you do love comes back to you.
I was just having this conversation with a couple co-workers the other day. We were out for Sushi and talking about how sometimes we feel silly being adults who have degrees or are married or  do other ‘grown-up things’ and we still choose to work in a cafe. But it really doesn’t matter if someone thinks it is silly or feels bad for us (“Oh! Poor Ceilidh- Stuck working in a cafe! She must hate it here….”) because we love it.

Working in a cafe can be HARD work. You are dealing with customers, in a tight space, working quickly with many team members, dealing with a lot of things at once. It is loud, it is stupidly hot in the summer, the floors get slippery, customers get annoyed with you and with each other, you drink too much coffee and not enough water (and then you eat chocolate), you’re calling out that forgotten drink over and over again, you’re running up and down stairs, you are listening to someone tell you why they love your coffee so much and trying to have a real conversation with them,your milk and chai syrup and drip coffee and cups all run out at once and during a rush, the debit machine goes down…….. and then you wake up and do it again. Your back hurts, your feet hurt.

But I love making a beautiful cup of coffee.
And I love my co-workers and even through all those things mentioned above you still laugh and listen to really good music and find time to dance and make jokes and high five each other and make up silly drink names and slap each others bums and say really nice genuine things to each other and take a moment to enjoy a sip of coffee. Really enjoy it- savour it even. And even when you want to cry because you’re so tired these things make it so worth it.

When you love what you do you’re happy. And when you are happy and loving what you are doing has a quality to it that can not be put into words.

Cheers,

-Ceilidh