Archives for category: Just Us!

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!

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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

We received our newest single origin coffees last week at Just Us!. We now have 4 in total, an Ethiopian Harar (delicious darker roast), a Peruvian called Twelve Apostles (named after the 12 farmers who work at the co-operative, its a medium-light roast), the two newer ones are Crocodile Island a medium roast whose beans are from East Timor, and the Sierra Nevada which is a Colombian and a lighter roast (which is also my new favourite)!

The new single origins.

 

The pour over area.

If you come in to try our single origin coffees they will be prepared via the pour over method, which I think is the easiest way to brew a seriously good cup of coffee. It can also be a really simple way to get into coffee more, even just your appreciation for coffee. I really recommend trying a pour over, If made correctly  I guarantee that it will taste so much better then regular drip coffee. And, you’ll love it!

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!!!!!!

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!!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

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.

Beautiful!

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!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

I apologize for the quietness around here the last week.

All the renovations are done at Just Us! and it has taken all week to get back in the swing of things. The behind the counter set up is all new and it felt like starting a new job with all the same co-workers, we ran into each other a lot and still haven’t found a few important things like our gift cards ( where are they? Nobody knows!). It has been more disorienting that I had even imagined. Hopefully I will snap some photos of the new set up soon- but it is the last thing on my mind when I am at work! We also had some friends visit all weekend which kept me really busy and now it’s March believe it or not!! I feel a new burst of energy that is probably due to the feeling of spring that is in the air!

Anyways, rest assured, I have some really delightful posts lined up that I will be featuring in the next few days, featuring some seriously babely baristas!

Also- If you happen to be a Barista reading Barista Babes, please comment and tell me where you are reading from! I am looking for Barista Babes all over the place to feature on here!

Cheers and I’ll be back soon!

-Ceilidh

PS I think that little chart above is adorable!

The reno’s are finally (almost) finished at Just Us!. It has defiantly been a stressful few days… weeks even!  Today was our first day working in the new space and it was really quite disorienting. We did the best we could!

We do have some really great new equipment though. Mainly the Simonelli Aurelia espresso machine. We received 3 (THREE!!!!!) , 3 group head machines for our cafe. We have 2 upstairs and one in our training space in the basement. They are beauts! You can see them here. I only pulled a few shots on the Aurelia today and made a few drinks but it was amazing. We have been in a state of turbulence with our espresso machines ( they just kept falling apart!!!!! ) for literally months so this new equipment is so welcome- and we will all be treating this new stuff with a lot of respect.

I am also really excited that our new espresso machine came with a blind (or naked) portafilter. Which looks like this:

As well as your standard normal portafilter. Which looks like this:

 

I got really excited about having the option to use either portafilter…. There is just something so much more beautiful about the naked portafilter. If you ever notice a Barista using one ask if you can watch your shot pour!!!! Magic!!! Or- If you haven’t had the chance to use one- find one and be mesmerized! Also- check out the flicker where the above to photos came from for some more awesome coffee related shots!!

I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things at work and make some kick ass espresso for everyone!!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

Dan (My Husband) and I took a little trip over to Dartmouth yesterday to hit up Two If By Sea. Dan had never been there before so it was time! Dan has been converted to drinking capps and machiatos exclusively now when we go out for coffee ( I am so proud of him!) and he is on coffee detail pretty much every morning at our place. He also has a awesome pallet due in part to him being an aspiring cook (Going to culinary school and working as a cook AND doing most of the cooking at home!), and can pick out a good shot of espresso vs. a bad shot of espresso and also just knows what he LIKES his coffee to taste like. So, I was curious to get his opinion on the coffee, food and ambiance at Two If By Sea. Dan really loved it. And we both loved our capps and we both love how it feels in there. I won’t lie though- I am not a fan of the croissants! They are just not for me- BUT I am not here to critique. This is just mine ( and Dans…) personal opinion. Anyways we had a great day, my Birthday was on Sunday so we just kept on celebrating – right on into Monday. It was super cold and brisk out so the cafe wasn’t very full- which is nice. One of my favourite things to do is go and get a coffee with Dan.

I also grabbed a bag of Phil & Sebastian Coffee I have yet to try but I am quite excited based on the packaging( I am a sucker for good packaging!) and a brief read of their website. We still have some 49th Parallel on the go that we have been enjoying every morning- It is the Organic Espresso and it has a mild taste when brewed with a french press, I enjoy it but it didn’t strike me as incredible right off the bat, I think I will try both in the siphon this week or stove top espresso and see how that tastes!

Also- The cafe I work at, Just Us! is undergoing a major expansion next week! We are getting incredible new equipment too! And the walls will be painted! And we will have a new counter! It is all very exciting and a long time coming! I will be sure to update you with all the beautiful details as soon as I can!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

www.sandrajuto.blogspot.com

http://www.sandrajuto.blogspot.com, one of my favourite blogs, Sandra is often going for Fika, a Swedish word that roughly means 'coffee break'.

 

I started working with coffee almost a year ago. Really, not very long ago. But, my love for coffee developed quite a while before I actually started making it for other people and getting paid to do so.

I am from rural Nova Scotia- a small town with a Robins Donuts being the hot spot for picking up your morning cup of coffee. My family -from the beginning- was an exception to this small town mindset. My parents have always loved coffee- I can remember , from a very young age, waking up to the sound of coffee being freshly ground or the smell of coffee brewing either in a press pot, stove top espresso or your good old electric coffee maker. My parents have also always drank ‘good coffee’ – one story my parents have told me is that my dad had actually driven for an hour in a snow storm to purchase their blend of choice. They still to this day always make a special stop to get there 5 LB bag of french roast from Java Blend here in halifax when they are in the city ( a 2 hour drive from my home town).

The first thing I assoicate with coffee is my family- and my family is my number one love in my life – coffee comes in at a close second place and this association is part of the reason why.

I remember the first time I went into a coffee shop to grab a coffee- It was a soy latte (something don’t drink now) in the little mountain town of Nelson, BC, at my (still) favourite cafe of Oso Negro, a memory ingrained into me. A little more than 3 years later and I was hired at Bridgehead in Ottawa, ON, the Bank st. and Gilmour st. location as a Braista- a job that I had always admired and didn’t think I could do.

My training was incredible- intensive, one on one with 1 amazing coffee expert and one amazing Barista. I quickly fell in love with coffee and all the processes involved in creating the ‘perfect cup’. Unfortunatly I only worked at Bridgehead for a few months before moving to Nova Scotia- upon arriving in my home province I knew I would work at a cafe in my new city of Halifax. I was quickly hired at Just Us! cafe, on Spring Garden road and quickly fell in love (again) with my job.

I am not claiming to be an amazing Barista or to know everything about coffee, the industry or even my own place of employment. Honestly- I feel like I am just busting into an incredible world of coffee. Learning more all the time and, I simply have a huge love for coffee and would love to bring about a better sense of coffee culture here on the east coast.

All the Baristi I know are total babes (hence the name of this blog) and I hope that is blog becomes a community for not only the babely baristi I know but also any person who loves coffee and wants to know more!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh