Barista Magazine

DEC 2018 - JAN 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

Issue link: https://baristamagazine.epubxp.com/i/1056305

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Barista Magazine: Let's start with the coffee situation in your house growing up—are there any strong recollections of the preparation and habits you saw as a kid? Tom Owen: I remember my folks having those rectangular cans of fl avored instant coffee, General Foods International Café brand, like orange-fl avored cappuccino and such. It had fancy cursive on the label. This was before whole-bean coffee was a common sight. But those cans were very memorable, and the fact they drank something I shouldn't drink was, of course, something I noted. So anyway my mom made coffee by grinding up whole beans in a whirly-basher grinder, a Braun I'm sure, then pouring it through a plastic Melitta fi lter into a Mason jar that she coiled with jute string so she could handle it. I think this is now called "pourover" (LOL). She was pretty intense about coffee, and I remember "confronting" her once because I thought she was "addicted" to coffee. I don't know what that was like from her perspective, but I imagine her trying not to laugh as she assured me she was OK. BMag: What were your jobs in coffee up until you started Sweet Maria's? TO: My fi rst job as a "barista" (a word I never heard uttered) was in about 1984 at Yolati, a wacky shop [in La Jolla] with frozen yogurt, gelato, and a two-group espresso machine with coffee from—I think— Coffee Bean International. Oily, espresso coffee. There and later at Pannikin [another local coffee shop which roasted coffee in-house], it was so rudimentary, and the machines were so poorly maintained, that if we got a slight ring of crema around the rim of the glass, we felt we had done well. I always thought I was doing people a favor by packing as Mutambu, Burundi. "The Warby Parker phase, with a timeless t-shirt from Target," says Tom of this photo. "I have worn that shirt for, like, 10 years on trips." Java Sunda, Ethiopia. "Sometimes I get to hang out with the cool people," Tom says. "Teen Vespa club at the coast in Pandangaran." La Plata, Huila, Colombia. "Coff ee travel needs to look all tough and diffi cult," Tom advises. "Find rustic elements. Get dirty, grow whiskers if you can." Sawana, Guji zone, Ethiopia. "Genuinely and thoroughly haggard like only a true oldster can be," Tom notes. "Kids, don't fake this look." 102 barista magazine

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