In this blog series, we offer you a glimpse of our team members behind the scenes and the many unique viewpoints and experiences they bring to our company, our coffee, and the Kaldi’s family.
This month, we sat down with long time team member Phil Moll and asked him to share just a bit of his decade-plus of experience.
You can also watch our video interview with Phil here!
Phil started at Kaldi’s Coffee Kirkwood Cafe in August of 2010. Originally a customer, he fell in love with the ambiance of the café and the whole neighborhood and was hired as a barista. Since then, his passion for continual improvement and willingness to always lend a hand have taken him into every area of the cafés, through all our Saint Louis locations, and even to our cafes in Atlanta.
Through all the changes to Kaldi’s Coffee, the industry upheavals, and the evolution of coffee knowledge over the past decade, Phil has stayed engaged and relevant, and it’s easy to see why. He describes his greatest skill as being focused on finding a way to please guests, which is an area of emphasis that hasn’t changed in all his years. “You’ll have the most wonderful people coming up to you asking for things that aren’t on the menu, and it’s your job to figure out what they really want. Obviously, we make the drinks on our screens, but sometimes it’s much deeper than that, and figuring out how to give the customer the experience they’re hoping for is our goal. Because it’s not just a cup of coffee, it’s someone’s moment that will get them through the rest of their day."
"...it’s not just a cup of coffee, it’s someone’s moment that will get them through the rest of their day."
Even the most professional baristas can suffer from burnout eventually, but Phil’s positivity and philosophy have helped him thrive through the years. His advice to new baristas is to cultivate curiosity and to enjoy acquiring new skills. “Wake up and realize you’re going to have fun. There is a process of learning, there’s a process of enjoyment… it’s something that’s doable and like riding a bike. You have these tools in your hands and you apply them to your day-to-day. There are endless styles and methods to learn, and so many times when you can make someone’s day, by just making a latte. Just that little bit of care about you can make a huge difference.”
When the everyday becomes monotonous and the early excitement of discovery begins to fade, Phil leans into our core values of openness and continual improvement. In his words, “There are times when you’re a barista when you genuinely get stuck. And you think, huh, why isn’t anything clicking right now. My advice is to go back to basics and to look for inspiration. Come back to your work with an open mind, and get ready to go, as if it’s day one. Check in with your fellow baristas too. Ask them for advice, for any new tips they have for workflow, any coffee experiments they’ve been working on, just keep yourself constantly with an attitude that keeps you learning. Check out another café, read a good article on coffee, just reach out to keep yourself in the game.”
"There are... so many times when you can make someone’s day, by just making a latte."
In his own push to constantly improve, Phil found a renewed passion for coffee and focus on guest service while being inspired by the DeMun team, while training as a senior team lead there in 2017. “I’d never met Lupe before, though I’d worked with her sister, Maria, at Kirkwood. But getting to know Lupe, of the Rodriguez sisters, and learning how she worked was so rewarding. Seeing how she thrives and interacts with the guests, and how people come day after day just to say hello to her was so instructive. At DeMun, there is such a focus around coffee quality, which also gave me a big lift at the time.”
When we asked Phil about how he’s applied his advice to the last two years, which have been full of challenges, his determination and positivity come shining through. “It’s been incredibly hard, but family and work family, as well as the need to thrive and press on have kept me going. You have to wake up, put your shoes on, and see where the road takes you. I’m here, and in it for the long haul, so let’s take the ride.”
You have to wake up, put your shoes on, and see where the road takes you.
On His Favorite Cafe
From Kaldi’s to Kaldi’s, it’s tough for me to pick a favorite, but as far as layouts go, the Chesterfield café’s design is one of my favorites. There’s a wonderful conference room, a huge back of house that now runs commissary out of the bakery, it’s always busy, and it’s been wonderful to see how it’s thrived over the years. It’s such a cohesive atmosphere for business, conversation, pleasure, for getting out and enjoying your day, or pausing during shopping, it’s just a perfect spot.
Phil's Favorite Memory at Kaldi’s:
When I went down to help the cafes in Atlanta, I really had an amazing trip. I got to impart a lot of my knowledge and learn a lot at the same time. The cafes there needed an extra hand, and I’m always willing to help however I can.
Phil's advice for new baristas:
Wake up and realize you’re going to have fun.
His Favorite café drink:
I love a Gibraltar. It’s cool enough to drink immediately, you can still taste the espresso, but you get the milk’s sweetness too.
I’ve tasted a lot of coffee over the past few years, but my favorite coffee is the 3thiopia; it’s been consistently fruity, and full of all the notes I love and I enjoy the balance of fruit and the depth of the chocolate notes.
Nashville. It wraps up my love of music, coffee, and tea, all in one city.
Best tasting note he's had:
I tasted blueberries in our Espresso 700 and it was undeniable, phenomenal, I was dialing in and it was the best tasting note I’d ever experience.
|Learn more about how Phil and other baristas dial in 700: “Chasing Quality: A Walk Through Espresso QC”
I love the superfood bowl. It fills you up, you hit all the food groups and protein.