I've never had coffee. Yes, you read that right. It seems like a drink that people can't get enough. You can't look anywhere on campus without seeing someone holding a coffee in their hand. I figured there must be some reason as to why this beverage has so much popularity, so I decided to talk with Ohio based coffee expert Austin Childress.

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Quillen | RoastyCoffee.com

Childress is the Director of Education for Carabello Coffee and is a regularly featured expert on Roasty. Childress also manages an experimental coffee slow bar called Analog. Childress has  top level of certification through the Specialty Coffee Association, has judged at regional barista competitions, was a Starbucks barista champion in Southern California and developed & taught the Starbucks Coffee Master Program.  

Here is what Childress had to share about his love for coffee and his secret to brewing the perfect cup of coffee. 

Austin Childress Interview

1. What is your earliest memory of coffee? How did you grow fond of this drink?

I can’t point back to one specific memory of coffee as my earliest because it was always around as long as I can remember. I grew fond of the drink because of how I saw my parents’ love for it. My parents drank it routinely in the morning & afternoon every day. Those moments made me fond of the ritual & the aromas that came with it, but what made me want to be a part of this culture of coffee was how I saw my parents display hospitality through coffee.

They were always inviting people over for coffee & spending time making sure the cup tasted just right so that their guests would feel special & seen. That’s how I knew I wanted to be part of this community where hospitality is shown, connection is cultivated, & coffee is cherished.

2. What do you do as the Director of Education at Carabello Coffee?

My role as Director of Education has many facets & involves me in every part of the business. In short, I get to help others grow in their skills & knowledge within coffee & hospitality. I create, develop, & monitor all of the training & educational curriculum for our internal staff & wholesale clients. I also then implement or oversee the training & educational sessions. This looks like the onboarding of a new staff member or wholesale client and taking them “from seed to cup” to develop their understanding of where coffee comes from and then the practical side of training them on an espresso machine.

I also do ongoing education with staff to support their growth as coffee professionals as we cover topics that range from solving equations for brewed cup quality to understanding the science of fermentation and its effects on flavor.

3. What do you think it is about coffee that people have come to know and love?

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Quillen | RoastyCoffee.com

Coffee is one of the most flavorfully complex beverages we consume. Flavor has the ability to remind us of a place we once were, a moment shared, a favorite thing. I believe that most of us have a memory of someone or someplace that is dear that is associated with coffee & that flavor is able to take us there again and again & experience new things each time.

4. What led you to get involved in the Starbucks Coffee Master Program?

I was tasked with running & developing the program for a time with a partner in our Area in Southern California. I can certainly speak to why I was passionate about getting into that role. I consistently observed that there was not much coffee knowledge on the staffs that worked in-store, and that knowledge certainly didn’t go further than what was in the Starbucks training books.

My goal was to help expand the understanding of what coffee is & what it can be through introducing more of the world of specialty coffee into Starbucks stores.

5. What is the most underrated Starbucks (or other coffee shop) drink?

One of my favorite drinks to get at Starbucks is a Double Short Flat White - this is a great balance of coffee flavor from the espresso & sweetness from the steamed milk. My other favorite is to get a great brew of filter coffee & savor the flavors of a black cup of coffee. Black coffee is what I drink the vast majority of the time.

6. I've never had coffee before, but if I was looking to start, what would you recommend for a coffee newbie?

I would recommend going to your local coffee shop & trying several different things to see what you prefer! Some people start out with black coffee & others start with a sweet latte. If you would prefer to get some information before you walk into a shop stop by RoastyCoffee.com as they have tons of videos and articles answering questions about coffee.

7. Any tips on how to brew the perfect cup of coffee?

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Quillen | RoastyCoffee.com

I always say that the best coffee is the coffee that you like - whether that be a dark roast, a super sweet iced latte, or anything in between. But I would say that measuring your water & coffee each time you make your pour over or pot of coffee or measuring your syrup & milk each time you make your drink is the best way to get repeatable success on your favorite coffee drink.