This blog series will shine a spotlight on some of the special Kaldi’s Coffee team members behind our coffee and food. Without our team of coffee-loving, people-loving people, Kaldi’s Coffee wouldn’t be Kaldi’s Coffee!
This week, we’re talking to Kiersten, a longtime Kaldi’s Coffee team member who has been a barista, a cafe general manager at several cafes, and is now on our Sales Team at our St. Louis Roastery.
How long have you been working at Kaldi’s Coffee?
It’ll be 8 years this August! I started as a barista at Kayaks*, then went to Crescent as a senior team lead, then Kirkwood. Then before going to DeMun, I went down to Atlanta to the first Kaldi’s Coffee down there, and helped out for three months total. Then I got to be a GM for the first time at Farrell! Then at Kayak’s and then at Kirkwood.
*Editor’s Note: now known as Kaldi’s at Skinker!
So what’s kept you at Kaldi’s Coffee for this long? Especially going from one cafe to another, and then transitioning to the Roastery--what’s been the anchor for you?
Actually, from the start, I always wanted to go on an origin trip--and I finally did! I wanted to go where the coffee was from and see where it was grown. And I finally got to go to Rwanda, and it was amazing! I met some extraordinary people on that trip, and some of which we keep in touch over social media.
What sort of opportunities have you embraced while at Kaldi’s Coffee?
Visiting Rwanda on an origins trip! I know I’m saying it a lot, but it really was a huge goal for me, and so fulfilling. I also loved getting the opportunity to go to Hawaii to visit our sister company Honolulu Coffee and see their Kona coffee farm. I like that Kaldi’s Coffee isn’t super tiny but also not huge at all, so there’s lots of room to explore and grow and try new things.
Let’s get this contractually obligated double question out of the way: what’s your favorite drink to enjoy, and what’s your favorite drink to make at our cafe?
To enjoy...it’d have to be an oat milk cappuccino. So creamy, has an almost baked good type of richness to it. And I love to spruce it up with an SO Espresso! Favorite drink to make...I think a Gibraltar, which is also called a cortado. I love the complexity of it: it’s so challenging to get the temperature exactly right, and it can’t be too foamy...it used to be one of the hardest things for me to learn when I first started out as a barista, and still I enjoy the challenge!
(See our blog all about Gibraltar coffee, "Introducing the Gibraltar")
If you could add one new menu item at a Kaldi’s Coffee, what would it be?
Pasta dish of some sort. I love pasta. Everybody loves pasta! Or the Impossible burger. Not even as a burger, you can just crumble it and put it in the different bowls we have or whatnot. It’s such a great vegetarian option.
What’s the thing you miss the most about working at the cafes, now that you’re at the Roastery?
Our team. I just love getting to know our team members, they’re like best friends and family. I’ve enjoyed my time training people and watching them grow, seeing their development. And then they go on and teach so many people too, you know, so it’s like a trickle down. It just feels really good at the end of the day.
What do you do outside of work? What do you do for fun?
I like to go antiquing! It’s a hobby I’ve been into since moving to St. Louis, and now I even sell some vintage and antique finds on Etsy. I also love going on float trips and just enjoying the outdoors, and traveling to new places.
Where have you traveled?
I’ve traveled to France (probably my fav), England, Costa Rica, and of course, I got to go on an origin trip with Kaldi’s Coffee to Rwanda!
Choose your Brew / Drink / Pass: Chemex, Kalita, and French Press.
Brew: Chemex. I love the time it takes, how it makes enough coffee to share with people. Drink: Kalita. It gives more body than the Chemex, more pronounced darker fruits (especially with naturals!). Pass: French Press. Sorry not sorry!
Do you prefer Washed coffees or Natural process coffees? Or something else? And why?
I like both? It really depends on my mood. Although I guess I’m usually more into the naturals with the fruitiness and the acidity. Natural coffees are more exciting. But a Washed coffee is also always a safe bet. I like to blend them too.
So a lot of folks at the Roastery and beyond might know you from the latte art competitions you’ve helped organize and host at our cafes, especially at Kayak’s, now Kaldi’s on Skinker. Why are latte art competitions a thing, and why do you enjoy them?
It’s so much fun. The rules can vary wherever you go, but I like it when it’s competitive but fun. It’s good to bring the community together and have the adrenaline rush. I will say though, it can be a waste of coffee and milk, so I like it when we have some people there who we can give out drinks to, so it’s not wasted. It’s also a great opportunity to raise funds, sometimes. Like, if someone in the community is in trouble and needs some help, it’s a great place to get everyone to help out, when it’s for a good cause. My favorite competitions are for signature beverages though, where we can be creative with our drinks, and explore different new flavors.
If you could speak one animal language, what would it be?
An elephant! They live so long, I’m sure they have a lot to say.
What would you like to tell our cafe guests?
I would recommend always getting a beverage to have at the cafe, whenever possible. Especially an espresso beverage. Ceramic just really helps for trying new drinks in ways that a to-go cup doesn’t. And talk to the barista! Even if you love a flavored latte, there might be something else that’ll work for you, and we can help figure out what you do/don’t like and what works better.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our interview with Kiersten. Stay tuned to our blog for more interviews with the team members behind your favorite beverages and cafe experiences, and of course, more exciting coffee knowledge and brewing tips!
- Pursuing Perfection: Barista Training at Kaldi's Coffee | Kaldi's Coffee Blog
- How Should You Feel at a Kaldi's Coffee Cafe? | Kaldi's Coffee Blog
- Rwanda Sholi 2021 | Kaldi's Coffee Blog