Discovering Coffee - A Barista's Tale

Discovering Coffee - A Barista's Tale

By Nick Cortina, Barista at Bard Coffee

On a day around 18 months ago, I strolled into unfamiliar territory - a locally owned coffee shop, Bard Coffee in Portland Maine.  Due to an injury,  my usual routine of exercise, food, and sleep had to be refigured, so I decided to try studying at a coffee shop.

I drank coffee daily, but spent very little time in all the wonderful local shops that everyone talked about around town. I chose Bard because a professor of mine raved about it, and it was close to my apartment. Walking in I was struck with a strong fragrance of coffee, and the shop was bustling with customers. After finding my seat, I timidly walked up to the register to order my typical large black coffee. The friendly barista who introduced themself as Adelle proceeded to explain to me I had options.

With a quick point to a board with “Pour Over Coffee” written on it, my options were laid out. I had a choice between multiple beans with varying roast levels, varietal of bean, processing methods, and these crazy things called tasting notes. At first I thought it was kind of a ridiculous, a little too hipster for my taste, but one coffee had pineapple in the notes and I decided to order that. From there I witnessed my first pour over. Adelle ground the beans fresh, added them to the dripper, and by hand created my first real cup of coffee.

At first sip of this cup, which I remember to this day as the Bertillo El Cielito from Honduras, coffee was never the same again. My virgin palette was graced with a silky smooth body followed by a sweet citrus and lingering pineapple finish. I immediately was addicted and drank multiple more cups, selecting different options off the pour over menu. I was under the impression that coffee was coffee, some more bitter than others, but this paradigm was drastically changed on my first day at Bard.

I visited Bard regularly. The baristas were always willing to answer any questions I had about the brewing, roasting, or processing of each option. Within two weeks I started working there. Eighteen months later, and just getting ready to start my first shifts serving espresso drinks, my palate and overall knowledge of coffee has slowly grown. I still feel as if I am just beginning my journey into the vast world of coffee. There is much left for me on this coffee journey, but I can say I am truly grateful to have walked into Bard that day. I have made many friends and survived through many all night cramming sessions with a much more delicious beverage keeping me awake.

For now, I’ll continue trying to perfect my pour overs, balance my shot,  and present a perfectly centered heart in Bard’s traditional cappuccino. All I can say is thank you Bard, I look forward to more.


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