We kicked off the first of more events to come with our new partner, George Howell Coffee, a Boston-based micro-roaster and company of coffee legend, George Howell. We were so excited to have Paolo represent the company in our first interactive lecture and catch up with him after to hear more about how he got involved in the coffee world.
What is your first memory of coffee?
Paolo: In the Philippines, I grew up drinking 1 part coffee to 2 parts milk and 4 parts sugar. This is the only suitable beverage to pair with the traditional Filipino breakfast: Fried cured meat or fish, with fried rice and eggs. What a way to wake up, or fall right back asleep!
When did you decide to get more involved in the industry, at a more serious or professional level?
Paolo: I found myself working in coffee by accident: after attempting to win the heart of my local shop's barista with my (lack of) knowledge on coffee, she dared me to work at the shop for a week. I was hooked ever since.
Favorite region to drink from and favorite brew method?
Paolo: The best coffees from Colombia are getting rarer by the season. I'm trying to get my hands on much as I can while I have the means. I've been brewing with the AltoAir quite a bit these days. A bookstore in Greenpoint called Archestratus Books brews by the cup with them and it's phenomenal.
What's one thing you wish more people knew about coffee?
Paolo: I look forward to the day when we as a society can be more cognizant about agriculture, and more respectful of its difficulties. Coffee is an underrated product, but in many ways so is everything else we consume.
What's your favorite part of being the NYC Account Manager?
Paolo: I manage my accounts wearing multiple hats: some days I train the new generation of baristas, others I'm running maintenance on a shop's espresso machine. This type of diversity makes my job constantly exciting.
First coffee shop you worked in or first job involving coffee?
Paolo: I owe my formal start to the industry to a shop in Baltimore called Koffee Therapy. The owner and one of my most respected mentors, Ric Carter, showed me that coffee house invokes a deeper cultural and historical character depending on the colors you choose to give it. If you're in the area, please check it out for a truly remarkable experience.
What's a tip you have for someone new to coffee, or interested in learning more about specialty coffee?
Paolo: Taste everything, and learn to connect the dots.
What are some wholesale accounts in the city where we can find George Howell Coffee?
Manhattan: Sullivan Street Bakery, Box Kite, Hi-Collar, Back40West, Joe Pro Shop. Brooklyn: Reynard, Archestratus Books, Marlow and Sons, Romans, The Blue Stove, Southside Coffee.
Thank you so much to Paolo and our friends at George Howell Coffee for making this lecture event possible!