The food and travel guide The Southern Weekend dropped by last week to find out what Beerspresso is all about, and to ask how we help people connect over coffee and beer. This might be one of the best videos we've had featuring Taproom!
Jonathan got interviewed by Ryan Lane for his "Life Gets Hairy" podcast. If you've got a good chunk of time, give it a listen. They talk coffee, small business, adoption, and life: https://www.lifegetshairy.com/podcast/2018/1/21/episode-24-jonathan-pascual
November is National Adoption Month. This doesn't really have anything to do with coffee, but it has everything to do with this specific coffee shop owner.
Pictured above are my four precious kids. My wife and I are typically over-sharers, and I hope my kids forgive me one day for plastering their pictures all over Instagram and Facebook. It's not that my wife and I crave attention and public affirmation but, rather, we're always super excited to share the individual moments that bring us joy - and that often centers hugely around our family and kids. We also know that even the "look" of our family is a kind of lesson to us as a society: Connection, love, family... those things are defined and established by way more than the color of your skin or what family situation you're born into. We dub ourselves a "rainbow family", with me being Filipino, my wife is white American, and we have our mixed kids and our African-born kids. So I know that we can't help but stand out with our unique look... and I know that with that, we have opportunity to share our story and be advocates for adoption and for rethinking what truly makes a family.
The short story: My wife and I adopted twin girls from Uganda in 2012. During the long months when we fumbled through the process of learning how to be a family together, I also started the journey of becoming a coffee shop owner. We went from 1 kid to 4 in the span of 13 months. The business was my 5th baby.
The long story? Catch me in the shop sometime and just ask me in person.
Taproom has grown up with my kids. Check out the Instagram feed and you'll notice the occasional cameo of a little Pascual. I keep family and business separate for the most part (with healthy work-life balance) but those worlds do intersect and interact in many ways. One of our customers who comes in every day regularly jokes about her daily habit: "Gotta help put Jonathan's kids through college." And that's kinda true... because I'm the sole owner of the company, you buy a cup of coffee and my kids benefit from it.
One of the big struggles my wife and I had in the adoption process was that we didn't actually know anyone who had previously adopted. At the time, none of our close friends or family had any experience with adoption. So, part of this post is to let you know: You know someone. If you're considering adopting, or if you've recently adopted, or if you even just want to explore that whole world for the first time... reach out and we can chat.
According to AdoptUSKids, there are approximately 400,000 kids in the US foster care system, with about 100,000 of those kids waiting to be adopted. Worldwide, UNICEF estimated in that in 2015 there were 140 million orphans worldwide. It's hard to wrap your mind around those kinds of numbers... every year there are about 20,000 domestic infant adoptions, about 50,000 adoptions from within the U.S. foster system, and about 5,000 international adoptions by Americans (see references here and here).
I don't have a ton of practical action points for you. Really I just wanted to be another voice joining the chorus to raise awareness about adoption. From experience I know that one of the biggest hangups in getting involved is just starting the conversation. So consider it started for you. A bunch of kids out there need families. There are lots of ways to get involved, from being a voice raising awareness, to supporting adoptive families, to the very possible scenario of you taking in one of those kids and being a forever home.
Wherever you find yourself in the process, please feel free to contact me or pull me aside in person to chat. We can share a cup of coffee and talk adoption.
Thanks for being a part of this journey with me.
We're super excited that the new location for our partnering roaster East Pole Coffee Co. is now open!!! They had their soft launch this morning, and will be doing a grand opening next week. Check them out Monday-Friday 7am-3pm and Saturday-Sunday 8am-2pm. The store is located in the Armour Yards development, where ASW Distillery and SweetWater Brewery are located.
Jared Karr, one of the owners of East Pole, was a Taproom barista on day one back in April 2014. Now at the helm of arguably the best new specialty coffee roasting company in Atlanta, Jared and his team will use their new roastery location to keep churning out the core coffee offerings at Taproom, and their new bar is where our crew will get hands-on barista training!
While we often hire experienced baristas and quickly take all new staff through the Taproom ways of brewing and presenting great coffee, we simply aren't set up for an in-depth, hands-on coffee training program like what we previously got through Counter Culture Coffee. Now, with East Pole's new location, they intentionally shut down their bar to regular service every afternoon, so that our staff and other accounts get the chance to receive individualized barista training. Specific training sessions will cover coffee brewing science, manual pourover technique, bar flow management, espresso technique, palate development, customer service and more.
And for Taproom staff, I've always incentivized professional development - whenever our baristas complete the East Pole training program and pass a practical exam behind our own bar, they'll receive a permanent wage increase. Better training means more consistent quality and experience for you when you come into Taproom!
If you've had a cup of coffee at Taproom, you've taken sips out of a vintage Fire-King coffee mug. So what's the whole deal with those things?
I have to give sole credit of the idea to David Lamont, previously with Counter Culture Coffee and now with La Marzocco. (Fun fact: we also have David to thank for coining the term "Beerspresso".) Maybe ten years ago, David introduced me to this fun line of serveware that many people can recognize from their grandparents' kitchens. He said off-handedly at some point that it would be cool to have a coffee bar that served regular coffee out of them.
Anchor Hocking (the glassware company) produced a line of serveware called Fire-King, from the '40s through the '70s. They had mugs, bowls, plates and other dishware in the collection, and are often distinctive for the white "milk glass" that they're made out of (think Pyrex). We've used and sold all styles of Fire-King mugs, but have settled mostly on the stackable ones, with a preference for the Kimberly Diamond design.
I doubt that these mugs were ever intended for high-volume coffee shop use. They chip and crack as easy as any other glassware. They're not super easy to find, even in antique stores, and I've only ever found one at a Goodwill. We get all ours from eBay, and it's only affordable because we bid on the huge 30-piece lots that no one else wants.
So why do we use them if they're a lot of trouble to find and we constantly have to replace them? Well... they're fun to drink out of. We're proud of the coffee we serve, and it makes sense to have the quality and uniqueness of the beverage matched by that of the vessel it gets served in. If you go to Grandma's house and she hands you one of these mugs, you get a smile on your face and you just feel... special. That's the kind of experience we're going for at Taproom.
On your next visit, ask for a regular ol' drip coffee or a manual pourover brewed to order - by default, either one is always served in a Fire-King mug. We don't publicly advertise it much, but at any time you could also purchase any of our mugs if you want to take one home for good. We've actually unknowingly sold some rare pieces that are worth $50-$100 each!
And if you're clearing out Grandma's storage and happen upon a jackpot collection of these mugs and need someone to take them off your hands, let us know!
I've been a barista for a little over ten years now. That's ten years of the same motions, day after day: pulling, pushing, twisting, standing, squatting, lifting, shaking. In addition to building up a virtual immunity to liquid burns, I know that I've probably submitted myself to an elevated risk of repetitive motion injury.
Lots of baristas can probably empathize with me when I confess: My wrist hurts. I'm behind the espresso machine a lot less nowadays (thanks to my incredible crew), but whenever I pull 8 hours behind the bar, I feel the pain, numbness, or throbbing in my right wrist almost immediately, and usually some time after that for at least the next few days.
I've toyed around with ergonomics. I've changed body positioning with tamping, locking in portafilters, etc. I've read articles and watched videos, paid attention to my movements and done stretches. But through it all I haven't been able to shake the recurring pain.
There have been articles about this issue for baristas, reported by Sprudge, Fresh Cup, even the New York Post. Most people who investigate barista injury point out that the act of tamping is probably one of the key culprits, so some companies have tried to be innovative in tamper design to try to reduce the likelihood of tamping-related strain and injury. Last year we purchased a first-edition PUSH tamper, which quickly became my go-to tamping device. But even though my motions and wrist felt better overall, I'd still have nagging pain every now and then.
After a recent conversation with some of my staff, I realized almost every one of us experienced wrist pain, but we just didn't talk about it a lot. So when the Puqpress started being distributed in the United States, I contemplated investing in one for the sake of barista health.
We got our Puqpress yesterday. It's only been less than 24 hours, but I have to admit I'm super pleased with it so far. The machine tamps the coffee grounds quickly, evenly, and without any significant wrist/arm movement needed. The true test will come over the next few months to see if wrist pain gets better or stays the same. Either way, one added benefit to the Puqpress is that our overall espresso consistency is improved - tamping variance is less of a factor in producing great-tasting shots of espresso.
We've adjusted our hours slightly to accommodate earlier morning coffee runs!
Monday - Thursday: 6:30AM - 10:00PM
Friday: 6:30AM - 9:00PM
Saturday: 7:30AM - 9:00PM
Sunday: 7:30AM - 8:00PM
We recently rolled out can-on-demand options for our non-alcoholic Taproom draft products. The 32-ounce "crowlers" (can growlers) are available any time, and are filled and sealed when you come in and order them. Here are some FAQ's about the products:
- What products are available in crowlers?
- Only Flash, Beerspresso, and Hopsintea are available in take-away cans. Flash is our flash-brewed nitro iced coffee, Beerspresso is iced coffee brewed with malt and hops, and Hopsintea is an herbal iced tea infused with hops. All three nitro products are non-alcoholic and are Taproom creations. We are not legally permitted to use our canner for any alcoholic products.
- Are the products carbonated?
- No. We use a 100% nitrogen gas infusion in our Taproom draft products, to give a velvety mouthfeel and thick foamy head, without the metallic bite that comes with CO2.
- How long does a crowler last?
- The cans should be treated like growlers, which are not intended to be shelf-stable more than a day or so. The draft liquid has been exposed to oxygen and is not canned like typical nitro beers, so the nitro gas infusion will dissipate over time, even in the can. Beerspresso (because it's basically the IPA of cold coffee beverages) will not be an ideal experience after 24 hours, but Flash and Hopsintea can still be tasty and refreshing after a few days, just with less nitro mouthfeel.
- Why don't you offer smaller cans?
- The large-format cans are meant to be shared. If you would like a single serving, you can simply order a drink as usual from our bar and enjoy it in our cafe or take it away in a plastic cup. The 32-ounce crowlers give you an excuse to spread the love! (...or it gives you 3 or so servings if you'll be stuck at the office all day)
- What's the deal with the 3-pack carrier?
- You can mix and match any 3 cans for a discounted price, and they'll come with the snap-top carrier. The 3-pack is great for bringing to a party or gathering in lieu of (or in addition to) bringing a bottle of wine or a pack of beer.
- Can I buy Taproom cans anywhere else?
- At this time, our canned products are available for purchase only at Taproom.
- Can I bring in my own container to fill?
- Definitely! We can fill any size container with our non-alcoholic draft products. In a few weeks we will have our own branded, refillable MiiR growlers for purchase.
As of today - Monday, March 20th - Taproom is officially transitioning our coffee roaster partnership.
For nine years I’ve served Counter Culture Coffee in shops that I’ve operated. They have always been an incredible partner and they continue to lead the specialty coffee industry in many ways, not least of which are quality and transparency. The local team has consistently delivered on support and a commitment to help Taproom grow throughout its first three years.
I am forever grateful to long-term relationships I’ve had with David LaMont (now with La Marzocco), Ben Helfen (who moved away from ATL last year) and Emily Davis (our connections span experiences with four different coffee companies), as well other professional/personal crossover relationships with the rest of the CCC team (Park, Dustin, Anthony, Sara). We’ve all shared laughs and tears, many conversations over cups of coffee and glasses of beer, and we even won a bowling championship together. My memorable association with Counter Culture has been a joyful picture of what the greater coffee community has to offer in providing positive space for lives to rub off on each other. Thanks, friends.
With that solid partnership as part of our unchangeable history, I am excited to announce that Taproom will enter into a new chapter of this journey, now partnering with East Pole Coffee Co.
East Pole has been roasting coffee in Atlanta since 2015. One of the founders is Jared Karr, who previously worked as a barista at Taproom. He was here painting ceilings prior to opening day and worked until he left in 2015 to grow East Pole full-time.
East Pole will soon be opening a full-scale coffee bar in the Armour Yards area of North Midtown where they will be showcasing their San Franciscan 25lb. roaster and offering a unique set-up for the Atlanta community. The public roastery and coffee bar will double as a training facility/workshop for wholesale customers like us.
In celebration of this new partnership, we’re hosting a kickoff party on Thursday, March 30th, from 7-9 PM. We’ll have food, drinks, giveaways, and an overall good ol' time with Taproom and East Pole owners, friends and family.
In addition to a core offering of East Pole Coffee Co., we will be featuring a rotating selection of guest roasters whose coffees will be available on our manual pourover menu and retail coffee shelves. For the next couple weeks we’ll still have some awesome Counter Culture Coffee in the lineup, and then our next guest roaster to be featured will be Panther Coffee out of Miami.
So come on in and try out a cup of something you haven’t had before, or take a bag of coffee beans home. As always, one of my favorite parts about owning Taproom is the constant opportunity to pause and sit down to talk with customers and friends. So if you see me around and want to chat, just pull up a chair and tell me what’s on your mind!
Just for kicks, I thought I'd get the Taproom crew to film a series of coffee-related behind-the-back trick shots and string them together in a fun video. My original inspiration was this guy.
Yes, all the shots are real, and most of them took just a few times to pull off. We originally posted the video to Instagram and Facebook on August 14th and thought it'd be great to issue a #baristoss challenge to our barista friends across the nation and around the world.
If you only found out about Taproom from this video, we're a coffee and beer bar in Atlanta, GA. Poke around our website and you can get a good sense of who we are!
In the course of three weeks we had over 48,000 views of the video! Only two videos were posted by others as responses, and those are re-posted below. We'll keep updating this page with other #baristoss videos if any of you feel like putting together a fun clip for us!
First #baristoss response video got posted from Ten Drops Coffee in Plainfield, IL:
And another post from Decatur's Dancing Goats: