Georgia’s capital has played a central role in U.S. civil and labor history, and is on the eve of making a reputation for itself in specialty coffee. Barista and coffee trainer Connan Moody is at the heart of this, running Academy Coffee ATL after spending time studying and carving out his career in coffee from New York. In this interview, Connan outlines his views of specialty coffee in Atlanta, provides advice for baristas looking to try out the industry and gives a hint of what’s to come!

When did you start your career in coffee and how did you come across the industry?
I started out taking a seasonal job about a decade ago making pour-overs for an architecture firm. After that I needed to work while going to school and ended up making sandwiches in a coffee shop in Brooklyn. After about a month of that I asked to be trained on espresso and it was the catalyst that ignited my love for the industry.

What's the status of specialty coffee in Atlanta?
Specialty coffee in Atlanta is on the starting blocks and waiting to boom. There have been a good few specialty shops that started just a few months/years before the pandemic and have primed the way for explosive growth in the industry. There is more and more interest being seen in the industry and if we can manage to commit to a sustainable and responsible community for all, we will definitely be seen as a coffee city.

What types of people are suited to working in coffee?
EVERYONE! The coffee industry is the most welcoming and supportive industry on the planet. All types of people are fit for the industry and can be excellent additions to the community. There are so many positions in the industry beyond barista, owner, or roaster. Anyone can find a passion in coffee.

If someone is new to coffee and looking to start out, what would you recommend they start with?
I would usually recommend just trying everything! Taste things you like and things you might not and get exposure to all of the coffee industry items to better immerse yourself

Are there some central blog posts or websites that you go to gain more knowledge, develop further skills?
There are the big ones such as Sprudge, Barista Mag, and Fresh Cup as far as publications go. YouTube channels of James Hoffman, Lance Hedrick and others are a great resource as well.

What's next for your career? What's on the horizon and what goals do you have for the coming three years?
I am in the midst of opening our new location in the Virginia Highlands District of Atlanta and it is going well. Currently I am in the process of seeking investment and planning for two more concepts. The first is a collaborative roasting space and training center through my venture Gyst Coffee Training. It will be a way for us to amplify the coffee community and grant access and approachability for career development in coffee. The second is a high level coffee and cocktail bar focusing on excellent preparation and innovation in coffee and cocktails.

Find Connan on Instagram at @gyst_connan, and at