America’s foremost steel town has built a legacy on top of its industrial bones, well appointed by coffee, arts and civic pride in western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh-based barista Jorge Amador is playing a role in this, holding up the city’s specialty coffee scene. In this interview, Jorge outlines his background in the industry and outlines what’s in store for his career, and Pittsburgh.
When did you start your career in coffee and how did you come across the industry?
I started my career as a barista four years ago, in Honduras, where I am from. I took different courses about coffee back then, and I’m still taking courses and classes, watching videos, and reading blogs like yours. I can summarize my encounter with the industry as fun, but also full of knowledge and passion, those two things are what have brought me to Pittsburgh. I passed from coffee lover to barista and from barista to making a podcast about coffee thanks to the people who trusted me from the beginning. I have invested passion, love, and time into this beautiful profession. I currently have SCA Sensory Skills Foundation and I am taking the SCA Barista intermediate course.
What's the status of specialty coffee in Pittsburgh?
It is very different than what I'm used to, but that's okay because that makes it a challenge, you know; there are so many good places to have good coffee, specialty coffee. But like in any other place or country there are also people who don’t have knowledge of specialty coffee, and we have a lot of work to do, like teaching, but first of all brings the specialty coffee experience to each cup, to each mouth, you know; the same experience that I fell in love with, that captivated me four years ago. My colleagues at the coffee shop where I work, and other baristas in town, are doing it.
What types of people are suited to working in coffee?
The people that have passion for coffee, passion for customer service, people that have love for learning and for teaching. Crazy people! in the good way. I really think that anyone can do whatever put their mind too, you just need to be focused and always search for good sources. I always say, to be a barista you need to have an artist soul, because the barista is a professional at making coffee drinks and any type of drinks, but to be an artist, you need to leave your soul and heart in each drink that you make, and that part can only be performed by an artist.
If someone is new to coffee and looking to start out, what would you recommend they start with?
First of all, have an open mind and be open to the critics especially the good ones. Be passionate, keep learning because “’nothing is written in stone” you always can learn something new, and when we talk about coffee you need to keep yourself updated with the new knowledge about this industry.
Are there some central blog posts or websites that you go to gain more knowledge, develop further skills?
Yes, there are! The official pages of the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association), I always watch videos from James Hoffman in his YouTube Channel and also I have some friends that I made these years, friends that enjoy to share they knowledge and I always go to they when I have doubts about coffee.
What's next for your career? What's on the horizon and what goals do you have for the coming three years?
For the next three years I want to finish all the courses from SCA, and be an AST (Authorized SCA Trainer), also I want to compete in the WAC (World AeroPress Championship), drink a lot of coffee and visit different coffee shops around the world. I also want to learn and teach from my microphone on my podcast “coffeetalks con Jorge M. Amador” or in a classroom coffeeshop, wherever I'm working.