We’re always in search of different industry perspectives and philosophies, so we reached out to some of the people we respect the most to bring you a series of articles addressing the Specialty Coffee industry from all angles.
We’re proud to announce the first of these comes from Noah Namowicz, Director of Sales for Cafe Imports. We asked Noah to pick any topic near and dear to his heart and just go to town...and he did!
So make sure you check back on Monday, or subscribe so you don’t miss it.
Most people in this industry know Noah in some way or another - he’s been incredibly active in the Barista Guild of America teaching classes, giving exams, and even serving on the BGA Executive Council. For those that are new to Mr. Namowicz, we sat down with him for a little chat and asked all the not-so-hard questions so you can get to know him a little better.
Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
What was your first coffee job?
Growing up in Milwaukee I was pretty into the surprisingly crowded specialty coffee scene in high school with companies like Alterra, Anodyne, and Stone Creek. Moving to Minnesota and going to school, I started spending a lot of time at a shop called Kopplins, which was and is a very progressive coffee shop that has nurtured coffee pros like Ryan Wilbur, Andrew Milstead, and our very own Megan Person and Ari Fasanella. I was blown away by this dude rocking two clovers and talking about temperature and extraction. This was totally new to me. I studied entrepreneurship at the University of St Thomas, and after graduating, landed right at Cafe Imports.
What made you fall in love with coffee?
Seeing the culture that shops like Alterra had in Milwaukee showed me that quite literally coffee shops can both shape and reinforce the culture of the area in which they reside. I was so into seeing this physical representation of the culture of Milwaukee, and I realized that these watering holes that gave like minded people an opportunity to interact with one another can make a real difference in shaping strong bonds in a community.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people probably don't know.
Although I had my big time party days, I have been clean and sober for about 10 years now (which makes me feel really old).
Favorite food item?
No question, Tacos.
What's your favorite movie?
STAND BY ME.
What is your favorite city to visit?
Moab Utah or anywhere where that high desert vibe is strong.
Who was your first coffee hero?
I sort of have a weird coffee hero, but my first coffee hero was Kevin Callahan, the graphic designer behind Alterra and now Colectivo. Kevin always seemed to perfectly create a visual for how a specific coffee made you feel. His striking designs and use of color really impact how customers perceive the flavor potential of coffee. I am so into that. Kevin made coffee come alive for me growing up.
What do you do when you're not making coffee?
One thing I learned very early on in coffee is that for me, and my type of personality, I need to have other interests, or else I cannot stop thinking about something. It is basically like a form of disciplined distraction for myself. When I am not doing coffee stuff, I coach and train at our local Crossfit gym, Timberwolf Crossfit, and hang a lot with my lovely wife Megan and our two crazy kids Bryn and Archie.
What are you worst at?
I am TERRIBLE at playing music. I have tried, and my brain just doesn't seem to be wired for it.
Favorite current brew method?
What's in your hopper right now ?
Joe Marrocco just roasted me up some Natural Yirgacheffe Chelchele and I am currently brewing it on a crappy craft services espresso machine in Hawaii...but it is bomb. Both a testament to Joe's ability to roast, and the quality of that coffee (plus a little of my ability to Macgyver a machine).
Whats one piece of advice for someone new to coffee who has aspirations to turn coffee into a career?
Just like with anything in life, showing a little ambition goes a long way in coffee. If you are genuinely into something and are the type of person that looks at things and tries to find ways to improve them, then opportunities will present themselves to you. I found that getting involved volunteering significantly helped me grow as a coffee pro. Places like the BGA, SCAA, RG, and other coffee organizations are amazing places to give freely of yourself, and you probably will be amazed by what comes back your way from that. I am a big fan of the theory that those that are willing to hustle a little bit will never go hungry. As cliche as it is, hard work does pay off if you are clear about what you want long term from the jump.
We'll see you Monday, you won't wanna miss it!