Nominated by Connan Moody
“Glitter Cat alum Jake King is working on a free training project called GYST, has been heavily involved in the Black coffee community and is just a genuine dude. I am excited to see him grow as a barista and how he pushes the community forward for coffee in the southeast.”
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
Sprudge: What issue in coffee do you care about most?
Jake King: Social equity and the preservation of each culture in the supply chain.
What cause or element in coffee drives you?
I can’t say the flow of personal growth and community that I have found in coffee can be replaced. That drives me to intentionally pursue both.
What issue in coffee do you think is critically overlooked?
Right now we are seeing a transition in the entire service industry to develop a new service platform. Our guests and customers are still there, but now we have to discover a new form of “bar” or “dining room” to engage with them, in a conventional sense and abstract.
What is the quality you like best about coffee?
The balance in complexity and time. Coffee will be there for you right away on the days you just need that kick. On the same level, you can spend an hour of quiet time really dividing into the smallest nuances of dialing in a pour-over. Coffee can always offer both.
Did you experience a life-changing moment of coffee revelation early in your career?
It feels like I’m still early in my career. I think passing that first barista test for Kaldi’s and pulling the best shot I’d dialed in of my few month career at that point, still stands out.
What is your idea of coffee happiness?
My idea of coffee happiness would have to be a clean and safe space for everyone to share their favorite cup of coffee with their friends.
If you could have any job in the coffee industry, what would it be and why?
I would love to continue growing GYST into a platform that helps growth for coffee professionals across the supply chain.
Who are your coffee heroes?
All of my 2020 Glitter Cat instructors. T. Ben and Eric Grimm have been there for me both professionally and as friends. Lem Butler was the first black person I noticed excelling in the specialty coffee industry and I couldn’t have asked for a better level of achievement to look up to. I also can’t leave out Katrina Langhart, in just a year of being trained poorly by me, I watched her become a better barista than any of us.
If you could drink coffee with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I wish I could drink a cup of coffee with my parents. They’re both perfectly healthy and live minutes away, neither of them like coffee. Even though they’ve been incredibly supportive, it would be cool to talk about a specific cup in detail with them and see they enjoy and understand it.
If you didn’t work in coffee what do you think you’d be doing instead?
I would probably jump into the craft beer industry.
Do you have any coffee mentors?
That’ll mostly circle bank to my Glitter Cat instructors, but I can’t leave out Andrew Mccaslin and Mat Foster, Mark Stahlwood, and Sara Frinak (I doubt she’d take credit for anything, but she’s been there from the start.)
What do you wish someone would’ve told you when you were first starting out in coffee?
I wish someone would have told me that I could do nice latte art without getting a big head about it.
Name three coffee apparatuses you couldn’t do without.
Best song to brew coffee to at the moment.
B.S. by Jhenè Aiko. Get with it.
Where do you see yourself in 2040?
Probably working a closing shift at my own cafe with a speakeasy in the basement.
What’s your favorite coffee at the moment?
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you personally and professionally?
Covid 19 has had me out of work since March 15, and more than two months later, I’ve yet to receive any form of promised government support.
Is there any donation fund or resource in your community we can share with our readers?
The Sprudge Twenty Interviews are presented in partnership by Sprudge & Pacific Barista Series. For a complete list of 2020 Sprudge Twenty honorees and a complete interview archive, please visit sprudge.com/twenty.