When we launched Barista Spotlight last month, we asked you to nominate some of your favourite baristas who deserve to be celebrated. This initiative was born out of the need to give baristas a platform to share their stories and recognize their hard work. Our aim is to amplify the voices of marginalized baristas including but not limited to Black and Indigenous people, LGBTQ+, as well as Persons with Disabilities.
We received an overwhelming response to feature a certain individual who is known for always going above and beyond for his customers, never making a bad drink, and being a 10-out-of-10 sweetheart. For the month of August, we shine the light on Tim DeVries from Nordstrom Ebar.
Tell us the story of how your relationship with specialty coffee began.
I’ve always enjoyed coffee, I started drinking it in high school, but once I graduated I learned I loved it. I spent more hours than I can count at my favourite café in Belleville, The Brake Room. It was one of my first experiences with great beans and great baristas. Since then I had wanted to be a barista and I applied to as many barista jobs as I could to no avail, that is until I moved to Ottawa. I’ve since been employed at Nordstrom EBar and there’s not a day I wake up and dread going to work. I’ve really honed my latte art skills but always looking for new techniques and designs to try. My managers and coworkers have been so supportive and honestly my biggest cheerleaders when it comes to my growth as a barista.
There’s an older gentleman who comes into the café pretty frequently and he always orders the same thing, double red-eye in the dark, and every time I see him walk in I’m already grinding the espresso and getting his cup ready for him. But recently with COVID-19 and not being able to have seating in the café I hadn’t seen him in a while, but one day he walked through and we both got incredibly excited to see each other and we chatted about how much we have missed each other’s kindness as well as presence, it’s a great connection and I look forward to him coming back every day once it’s possible!
What coffee topics do you wish were explored further and discussed more often in the coffee community?
I feel like we could always talk more about the environmental impact that the coffee industry has. For example the amount of water it takes to not only grow the coffee but what goes into all the components in a cup of coffee or a latte, considering there are so many people who don’t have access to clean drinking water. We can always do our best to try to find new and innovative ways to reduce water waste and our carbon footprint as an industry.
What are some of the goals you would like to achieve this year?
My own goal would be to continue to educate myself, as I've only been working in the industry for about a year now, and I feel like I've barely dipped my toes. I'd like to be able to identify what region a coffee has come from based on taste and smell. I also plan on learning more about the growing/preparation process. With that knowledge I love to educate others, whether it's guests at the café, or friends and family, or other coworkers. I think that's not only an attainable personal goal but a goal I can continuously expand on.
What's your go-to music playlist when you're on bar?
Unfortunately my café has a set playlist, however my go-to for when I'm brewing at home, or if they let me choose the music for the day would definitely be a Lo-Fi playlist! I find the music to be so relaxing and enjoyable. Plus it reminds me of my favourite café and all the time I used to spend there!
Is there a charity or organization you would like to highlight?
The only real answer right now is to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Donate to charities seeking justice for Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain. If you’re unable to donate, education is just as good, educate yourself, your friends and your family.
Please let us know if there are any additional stories you would like to share!
Being a barista has been so great for my mental health, I’ve worked plenty of retail and service jobs but none of them have brought me joy quite the way this industry has. I get to do three things I love every day, create art, create delicious drinks and learn.