If you've been following Bonavita for a while, you may have noticed our resident baristas— Mar and Chris— sharing tips and how-to's for brewing stellar coffee. But who are they really, and how have they collected a wealth of knowledge around brewing coffee?
Mar is on the Digital Marketing team for Bonavita, but is also the co-founder of a stellar coffee roasting company, where they are flipping the script of what specialty Asian coffee looks like. Moreover, as an experienced roaster, competition judge, coffee competitor, mentor, trainer, professional cupper, community activator, and curator of programs for coffee professionals, Mar is nothing short of a multi-talented, multi-hyphenated individual.
Chris' role as Bonavita's Director of Helpfulness is the perfect way to describe their impact on the team — armed with a certification in Advanced Technical Machine Maintenance from the International Coffee and Barista Academy, Chris works on product development and design, coffee brewer certification via the Specialty Coffee Association, product sales, coffee education, as well as facilitating collaborations and community support. This year, Chris was a Sprudge Twenty honoree for their work in founding Getchusomegear, an initiative that has served 600 systemically excluded coffee professionals in the U.S. and Canada via boxes of free coffee gear since 2019.
We turned the questions to our very own Mar and Chris, as they share their coffee journeys and some of their favorite coffee brewing hacks.
Bonavita: Tell us a little bit about your background in coffee. What has your coffee journey looked like?
Mar: My coffee journey started with home brewing and being fairly nerdy about coffee with friends. I have always loved processes and believe heavily in intention and community. When I was working on one of my first design jobs out of school, I was fascinated by the coffee brewer in the office and I realized I wanted to take time to learn more about the coffee industry as a whole. My last day at that job was my first day as a barista. Since then, I dove into learning more about coffee in the craft and social sense and have been grateful to have been a part of many projects, lead various educational initiatives, compete, and now have the pleasure of working with the lovely folks at Bonavita Brands, combining my design brain and my coffee brain! I remember selling the brewers in the first shop I worked in, so having it come full circle is neat.
Chris: I got my first barista gig in 2009. Since then, I bounced around between specialty grocery and coffee. I landed at Bonavita Brands after working at a cafe in Durham for a few years. I never thought I’d work for the company that produced my first gooseneck kettle! @getchusomegear happened sometime in between all that, but that’s a longer story for another time. :)
Bonavita: What ignited your love of coffee?
Mar: My love of coffee started with my mom. She would have a cup of coffee with half and half every single day (still does) and I really loved the smell. Once I was able to start drinking it on my own, I stopped drinking it with cream over time, but the love of coffee continues because there are so many people surrounding me who are passionate about small details to big pictures. At the end of the day, people really drive my love of coffee.
Chris: My family, for sure. The first two things I learned how to “make” as a kid were spaghetti and 8 cups of Luzianne coffee. You remember that brand, right? The one that comes in a bright red bag and is cut with chicory. I remember pulling up a chair to the kitchen counter so I could fill the water reservoir on the coffee maker. I also remember filling the water reservoir with water from the machine’s carafe. My first coffee brewing mistake!
At some point during my childhood, I joined my parents’ daily (necessary) coffee routine. Regardless of what we had going on between us, we’d sit down and hang out every morning before school/work. You should have seen their faces when I brewed 8 cups for them over 20 years later on the Enthusiast, when I told them that I was on the team that helped create it. Definitely a surreal full circle kind of moment. I love them so much.
Bonavita: What does your coffee ritual look like?
Mar: Truthfully, it’s so sporadic these days. I sometimes have a cup of coffee in the morning, but I have been taking time for it in the afternoons at times. In the past two years, I have been trying to approach coffee with a lens of study as well as a hobby, so it’s not always something I do every day. Because I love pour overs so much, it is something that I like to take time and intention to do when I can!
Chris: My partner tends to get up a little earlier than I do, so she brews a big batch of drip for us on the 8 cup. We actually drink half caff first thing in the morning! I switch to espresso in the afternoon, usually. If I have time during lunch, I’ll stop by Everlou or Yonder for a treat. A decaf cappuccino usually happens at around 7-8pm. My routine is pretty dialed in, haha.
Bonavita: And finally, because we couldn't end our chat without picking your brains for more simple tips and tricks, what is your favorite coffee brewing hack?
Mar: A hack that I learned recently in preparation for Brewer’s Cup competition is not wetting filters before brewing. If they imparted a significant taste difference, they would not be able to be used on a national/international stage. I am also super lazy at times and cutting out that step can save some brain cells!
Chris: My favorite coffee hack is to figure out how to brew coffee the way I like it. There are parameters that exist to guide us toward creating the perfect bev, but there are no laws. Experiment: try to brew without a scale! Grab a handful of coffee and throw it into a Clever dripper and brew that way!