Barista Snapshot: Cort Kern aka Barista Maniac
Who: Cort Kern, Professional Barista/Consultant
Where: Head Barista, Christ Church Of Oak Brook
What is a coffee consultant?
Someone who steps in to guide and restructure a current or new coffee shop. I provide training at a professional level to increase sales and run an effective business custom tailored for each shop owner.
What was the first coffee drink you remember tasting? Did you like it?
It was an Americano. I wasn't sure I'd like it, but to be honest with you I just saw The Talented Mr. Ripley in the theatre that day and loved the song Americano. So it inspired me to order it. The barista behind the counter was singing the song without knowing I just saw the film.
What kind of coffee do you drink at home?
A black cup of coffee, no cream, no sugar. I use many different brewing methods at home including Chemex, Hario V60 dripper, Bodum siphon, AeroPress and Bunn Trifecta. I'm glad to have these at my disposal in the morning.
What kind of coffee do you drink at work, if different?
At work in the morning, I enjoy making myself a Cortado. Yes! Yes! Yes! My name is Cort. Many people at the church probably think I named the drink after me ... I wish.
If you could teach people one thing about coffee, what would it be?
There are still quite a handful of people out there using drip coffee brewers. My first pour over coffee brewer was the Clever coffee dripper. I thought it was a unique way of brewing and it's not very complicated. I'd gladly teach anyone how to use the Clever dripper effectively and by doing so it might open them up to try other delicious brewing options.
What’s cool about your local coffee scene?
The suburbs of Chicago are getting much better about coffee. There are some tiny hole-in-the wall places nearby, but the real meat and potatoes is in the city. I love Caffe Streets and Gaslight Coffee Roasters. So many independent markets are beginning to carry single origin coffees and fantastic cold brew options as well. I find it quite unique that I have the opportunity to serve professional espresso drinks at a church on Sundays.
As a barista, what are your thoughts on coffee skills versus customer service skills?
If you live in the suburbs, you need to do both to the best of your ability. But in Chicago I've dealt with nasty service and still had the most amazing cup. Personally, I like quality and great service and I try to share that philosophy as a coffee consultant.
Do you ever judge people by the drink they order?
Not at all. To each his own.
Whose espresso shots are better than yours?
On a Rancilio Epoca and a Faema X1 Granditalia Auto Steam, I got my dad beat. But at home his craft coffee and drink-making skills surpass mine. He finds it amazing what I can do with coffee and espresso these days though.
You can find Cort in his free time blogging about coffee and posting impressions on his website at www.baristamaniac.com and Twitter @BaristaManiacphotos by Ethan Paulson's Photography