A few weeks ago, the Coffee Club was excited to host our second event with Café Grumpy, featuring their Green Coffee Buyer, Cheryl Kingan. Attendees were not only able to hear about the history and growth of Café Grumpy, from their first shop in Brooklyn to their expansion and own roastery, but also about the origins of coffee itself, across the world. Cheryl gave insight and personality to the inner workings of the coffee world and the process of how coffee really makes its way across the world--from seed to cup. We were able to catch up with Cheryl and hear about her personal experience in the industry and what it entails to be a Green Coffee Buyer.
What is your first memory of coffee?
Cheryl: I grew up in New Jersey, so of course I drank a lot of diner coffee... aka cream and sugar with a splash of coffee. It wasn't until I moved to the city in 2005 that I really had access to great coffee, or even knew what that meant. I'd credit Gimme! coffee with my first amazing coffee experiences -- I mostly drank small americanos and macchiatos, and was so impressed with the taste that I never needed to add anything.
When did you decide to get involved at a professional, more serious level in the industry?
Cheryl: When I joined the Cafe Grumpy team as a barista in 2006, I really fell in love with coffee. I never realized espresso could taste like candy, or that you could make so many people happy just by making their coffee every day. There is so much to learn and there are so many great people in the industry. When I went to origin for the first time (Nicaragua in 2008) it really changed my perspective on coffee, and I was completely hooked.
Favorite region to visit and buy coffee from?
Cheryl: It's really hard to choose one favorite. All the coffees we buy have a special place in my heart and I love each country for different reasons. If I had to pick one through, I'd say I really love to visit and buy from Guatemala. There is a lot of unique regional diversity and a lot of active indigenous culture throughout the country, which I find fascinating.
One thing you wish more people knew about coffee?
Cheryl: As drip coffee cools, it gets sweeter and the flavors continue to develop. Give it a change to cool down before adding milk and sugar. Conversely, if you're drinking espresso, enjoy it quickly in a ceramic cup (without milk or sugar)! It really does taste better that way and giving yourself that personal 2-minute experience before commuting can be one of the best parts of your day.
Favorite part of being a coffee buyer?
Cheryl: All the people I've met and formed friendships with around the US and all over the coffee world.
First coffee shop you worked in, or first job involving coffee?
Cheryl: Chocolate Bar in the West Village. It was a Gimme! account.
What's a tip you have for someone new to specialty coffee or interested in learning more about coffee?
Cheryl: Don't be afraid to ask questions, especially to your baristas. The coffee community is a pretty amazing group of people who are incredibly passionate about what they do/we do and we love to share our knowledge and love of coffee!
Thank you so much, again, to the Cafe Grumpy team and to Cheryl for helping this event be success!