Artist Interview: Barista Varietals

Artist Interviews, ARTlanta, Things To Do Atlanta
photo credit: Mhandy Gerard, IG: @speckles_

Hey there!  I took a little break, but now I’m back with another great artist interview. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a very distinct coffee cup logo posted in the streets all around Atlanta and always wondered what it meant, who designed it, etc. One day while at Octane Coffee in Westside Atlanta, I saw the logo on the wall and asked the baristas for some insight. They told me the brand behind the logo is Barista Varietals.

Finally knowing the name, I found the brand online, reached out and now I have dope interview to share!  Enjoy.

First off, tell me more about the name and brand, “Barista Varietals.”  How did you come up with the name and what’s the meaning behind it?

Barista Varietals started off as a coffee blog then evolved into a lifestyle brand. A few years back, writing a blog, or even reading one, was not on my radar at all. Around that time, I had just finished working at Seattle’s Best Coffee, so I was looking for another barista job at a local, independent shop. I had only been a barista for a few months so I was learning a lot about coffee and the industry. I figured a blog would be a cool way to kind of share my “started from the bottom” story online. It was also an outlet for me to log my growth as a barista. I wanted other “Wannabe-Baristas” out there to learn from my posts and help them along their journey.

Writing for Barista Varietals gave me a chance to learn with my readers and develop a community of new friends and coffee lovers. I got to know more people and hear their interesting stories. This inspired me to do interviews and share them on the blog so that my readers might find similarities or some sort of guidance in their own path. That’s what varietals stand for– the various stories, interests, and passions of fellow baristas and creatives.

At the core, BV is about baristas and coffee folk doing what they love, but also finding their passion (Perfect Cup) and living out their dreams! Barista Varietals is out to build a solid community of industry peers, coffee lovers, mentors, mentees, and people doing dope stuff.

photo credit: Humza Shakir, IG: @humza_shakir

When did you develop your love of coffee?  Are you currently a barista?  

I’ve always had a love for coffee. My parents were regular coffee drinkers and coffee was a part of our morning routine as a family. They made coffee with breakfast while we were getting ready for the day and I used to get me a small cup too.

After Seattle’s Best, I ventured out into the city visiting shops and came across Empire State South. There I met lead barista Jonathan Pascual, now founder and owner of Taproom Coffee, and he graciously answered all of my questions and coffee inquiries while pouring the craziest latte art for other customers. I told him a bit about my story and he advised that I find a local shop to work at to get a true barista experience. He also told me to check out the Counter Culture Coffee cupping at the King Plow Arts Center, which was an awesome learning opportunity. Bumping into Jonathan sparked the beginning of my search for the Perfect Cup.

Currently, I’m not a barista, but as I always say, “Once a barista, always a barista”.

LeeFromEP_Barista_Varietals_4I believe that Atlanta has some great local coffee shops, but what are your thoughts on the city’s coffee scene?  Which shops would you recommend to someone who is new to the city?

Wow! The Atlanta coffee scene is awesome, but I haven’t ventured out to other cities as much as I would like, so I’m a little biased. I also feel like I caught the tail end of the golden years of the Atlanta coffee scene. It seems like now baristas aren’t as connected, going to throw downs or hanging out at different shops as much. Maybe it’s just me… Even still we have tons of new shops popping up like Taproom in Kirkwood, the second Dancing Goats on North Ave, another Condesa on Auburn Ave, Octane’s ATV shop, Land of Thousand HIlls in Atlantic Station, Chrome Yellow Trading Co. off Edgewood Ave in O4W, Spiller Park in Ponce City Market, the second Chattahoochee on the Westside along with Brash Coffee and Revelator Coffee soon to come. It’s like there’s a new shop popping up around every corner along with all the great shops already here.

My home shop will always be Octane on the Westside, but I really can’t choose a best shop– it’s tough. I visit as many shops as I can, but I’m more about getting out in the city and being supportive and not so much a critic. Just recently though, I finally stopped by Hodge Podge Coffee on Moreland and it’s a cool spot! Plenty of room, or should I say rooms, and awesome coffee. Overall though, Atlanta has so much to offer coffee wise and is still very much a blooming community.

Talk to me more about your art and your highly visible logo.  I’ve seen it around Atlanta for years and have always been intrigued by the design.  What’s the inspiration behind it and why did you make coffee a focal point of your art?

Has it been years? Has it really been that long? Wow!

Well the focus is coffee because of my relationship with it, specifically the surrounding culture. People visit coffee shops not only to grab a drink, but also to hang out with like-minded people, network, and share ideas. Basically, that’s what BV’s about.

Yeah, so the BV logo represents the best grind and the purest water meeting in the middle to make this perfect cup. You can apply that concept to anything. For example, a photographer needs the best lighting and lens to work together in order to capture the perfect moment. Or to compose a great song, you need a dope track and lyrics. Really, it’s the multitude of efforts to complete any given task, or master a craft, or whatever…

In a larger sense, the logo represents us all and stands as a reminder that we have a greater purpose in life, to live fully as possible and to enrich each other with our passions.

What are your goals for the Barista Varietals brand?

Good question! I have a plethora of goals for the brand. For now, I’d say to get the new website up and running, along with the launch of our new online store.

At the moment we’re running interviews similar to this one along with editorial pieces and photography. Soon we’ll integrate video, audio, and a podcast. This is only the beginning!

In the interim we want to continue to strengthen the brand, connect like-minded individuals and make a real community. We want to promote self-discovery, inspire people to share their amazingness with others, and keep it going– kind of like Friendship cake.

Do you have any other projects in the works right now?

We’re currently in the process of wrapping up and posting dope interviews with highly motivated individuals who have discovered how to live their dreams and want to share their story with you! Also new BV t-shirts, branded coffee mugs, oak wood coasters, and sticker packs are on the way with more BV paraphernalia in the works!

There’s really so much going on, so much planning, so little time- just stay dialed in to see what’s to come!

Where can people go to find more information about Barista Varietals?

It’s been a long journey so far and it’s still only the beginning. BV has a lot in store to share on our Facebook, Google plus page, Instagram, Twitter, and website.

Go to your local coffee shops and talk to people. That’s where you’ll find BV enthusiasts. Coffee shops and their patrons are typically the type of person we are and you may actually bump into me at one, especially if you’re in Atlanta. Otherwise you can find us at Baristavarietals.com, @baristavarietals on Instagram, Barista Varietals on Facebook and Google+, and @baristav on Twitter.

Please, if you have a story to share, have questions or ideas, want to join the team, or just want to talk, get in touch with us at baristavarietals@gmail.com or 404.913.2146.

Thank you and as always, Stay Dialed In!!

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