Aaron grew up as a your normal Irish kid surrounded by tea. As he put it: tea out of the bottle. However, Aaron didn’t really have a taste or an interest in tea or coffee. His go to drinks were: milk and water. As his association with coffee increased, he gradually became interested in the coffee industry.
A bit of background about Aaron, he went to college to become a computer software engineer. He love(d)s working with computers. He does plan to go back and learn about computer software engineering. However, he missed the interaction with people.
You become like those you spend time with on a day to day basis. People tend to drink a lot of coffee when they work late at night. Aaron had his first coffee while working the graveyard shift at Cork Airport. Well, he had a coffee mocha. He liked the coffee mocha because it was sweet enough that it hid the bitterness of the coffee. Aaron toke a variety of restaurant related jobs while working at Cork Airport.
You need to keep developing yourself to progress. When universities an colleges were open, Aaron took a variety of courses related to the hospitality industry particularly related to food and health. As a result of his initiative, Armark hired him as head chef and supervisor. He worked with them for about 6 years. The company evolved and was broken up into smaller businesses.
Aaron, then learned to become a barista. Now, at the time, Aaron still didn’t like coffee. Fortunately, he met a few people that introduced the world of coffee to him. Most of the cafe’s at the airport didn’t specialize in coffee. However, Badger and Dodo was supplying coffee to the cafe that Aaron worked at the time. As a result, Elia dropped into the shop semi-regularly. Elia’s enthusiasm and in depth expertise gradually won Aaron’s heart and love for coffee.
At the moment, due to lock down, Aaron is taking a few online courses regarding coffee. He’s taking a course about advanced espresso extraction using a TDS. The TDS helps the barista find that sweet spot of making a sweet and slightly bitter coffee. You taste the coffee. Then put a few drops into the TDS and the reading lets you know how close you are to that desired sweet spot.
One thing that you get about Aaron is how much he likes to listen and share his knowledge with customers. You get the impression that anyone that walks into his shop is a long term friend of his. He knows each person’s order and what the person has been up to recently. Essentially, he creates a space where people just open up and share whatever is on his/her mind.
One thing that struck me was how he keeps to himself. For the most part, he does his job and goes home. He mentioned that he doesn’t really know many of the other baristas in the city, and Cork is a small city. He notices how everyone sort of knows everyone. While working with Ria, everyone knew who she was. Everyone respected her in depth knowledge about coffee. Various other baristas would drop in and say, “hello” or have a quick chat. Where as Aaron, likes to do his own thing and spend time developing himself.
When asked about what to see or do in Cork, he was determined to give something a bit out of the norm. His answer didn’t really surprise me. He encouraged people to get out of Cork city and explore the countryside. Spend time enjoying the scenery and the county. He encourages people to visit Kerry and Kinsale. When you are in the city, spend time with the people. You will find that it is easy to make friends here. If see a person twice, you are basically friends.