Meet the Barista: Ten Questions with GARRETT O’CONNOR

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Garrett O’Connor

This is an ongoing series in which you will get to know a little bit more about the fine young men and women who prepare your coffee at Kean Coffee through a set of random interview questions. Garrett O’Connor has been part of the team at Kean Coffee Newport for a little under a year. Garrett loves working with people and honing his craft as a barista. He is multi-talented, multi-faceted, and witty. If he doesn’t pursue a career as a stand-up comic, he will certainly entertain those around him despite it. Garrett can always be counted on for a smile. That’s why we love Garrett!

KC:  What do you like best about being a barista?

GO: The cute girls that come in. Also when I manage to make a really good latte art and people take pictures of it.

KC:  What is your favorite coffee drink?

GO: Italian cappuccino, Napoli style

KC:  What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday (when you have the day off)?

GO: Sleep, or go to an Anaheim Ducks game..

KC: What was your favorite toy as a child?

GO: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

KC:  What is a fun fact that most people do not know about you?

GO: I like to sing in the shower.

KC: What was your favorite Halloween costume ever?

GO: Going as myself when I went to a uniformed private school. I thought it was a clever exploit.

KC: What was your least favorite costume ever?

GO: There are no bad costumes when you get free candy.

KC:  Who was your idol when you were a kid, and why?

GO: Martin Diedrich, pretty self-explanatory. He still is my idol.

KC:  If you had to enter a cooking contest and prepare your best entrée or dessert to impress the judges, what would you make?

GO: Lemon glazed seared halibut with garlic risotto and Bananas Foster (I make the best!)

KC: What was your favorite movie of all time, and why?

GO: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s pretty epic.

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KC: Thanks Garrett!

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Meet the Barista: Eight Questions with MEGAN HERRERA

This is an ongoing series in which you will get to know a little bit more about the fine young men and women who prepare your coffee at Kean Coffee through a series of random interview questions. Megan Herrera has been a valuable part of our Kean Tustin team for over two years. Megan’s love for basketball helps her shine as a barista as she applies her multi-tasking, fast-paced, high energy maneuvers on the court to our fast-paced coffeehouse environment. At Kean Coffee just as on the court, Megan is small but mighty. That’s why we love Megan! 

Megan Herrera of Kean Tustin

KC:  What do you like best about being a barista?

MH: Making the perfect drink for the customers and making them happy, knowing I’m doing my best.  

KC:  What is your favorite coffee drink?

MH: Caffe Napoli

KC:  What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday (when you have the day off)?

MH: Play video games, play basketball.

KC: What was your favorite toy as a child?

MH: My Woody doll from Toy Story.

KC:  What is a fun fact that most people do not know about you?

MH: I want to become a vampire.

KC: What were your favorite and least favorite Halloween costumes ever?

MH: Favorite: Max from “Where the Wild Things Are”. Least favorite: I was a baby.

KC: Name one of your personal skills or traits that you are most proud of.

MH: My humor. I’m the funniest person around. Really.

KC:  Who was your idol when you were a kid, and why?

MH: Kobe Bryant because I wanted to be as good as him at basketball.

KC: Thanks Megan!

Recognize this guy? Meet Dwayne Carroll!

At Kean Coffee we love our regulars – our guests who come in so frequently and regularly, sometimes spanning many years, that we learn their names and they learn ours, often becoming good friends with our staff members. We value their input and enjoy learning more about them and hearing their stories. Meet Dwayne Carroll, a beloved regular at Kean Newport and Tustin! 

Dwayne chillaxin’ at Newport with the pooch

My first cup of Martin’s coffee was when the Diedrich Coffee opened at Marguerite Pkwy and Crown Valley in Mission Viejo. I was there on opening day. I remember the first manager – a very nice lady, however I can’t remember her name. This shop was always a meeting place for the neighborhood, and always full of young people from Saddleback college being so nearby, always a happening place.

When I heard that Martin would be opening Kean Coffee, I felt it was a blessing even if it meant driving all the way to Newport Beach. Then when the people of Tustin where able to talk Martin into taking over the original Diedrich location on Newport Ave. and he opened a second Kean Coffee there, it was even closer for me, as I live in Mission Viejo. I was thrilled.

I go to Kean Coffee about five times a week, either location. Both are excellent for coffee, and a great staff that promote the quality product. As for me black coffee is my favorite. The best thing about Kean is the coffee, and having met so great people. Our dog is always treated well, with water bowls and tie down rings so you can go in and place an order. The other great experience was meeting my very best friend at Diedrich Coffee when he was going to Saddleback College as a student. Then when he graduated from there he went to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo for two years. Then on to UCI in Irvine to get his Masters. Now he works for Oracle, a success story. When he is in town we now take a drive to Kean Coffee, like old times.

Dwayne Carroll – Mission Viejo, California

Are you a Kean Coffee regular? If you would like to tell us your story and be featured in a future blog post, please let us know by emailing blog@keancoffee.com! 

Meet the Barista: Eight Questions with MANUEL RODRIGUEZ

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Manny Rodriguez- out standing in his field

This is an ongoing series in which you will get to know a little bit more about the fine young men and women who prepare your coffee at Kean Coffee through a set of random interview questions. Manuel “Manny” Rodriguez has been with Kean Coffee for two years, as a barista in our Newport coffeehouse. In addition to being an awesome barista, Manny is a high achieving college student who aspires to become a teacher. Whatever he is doing, Manny works hard and always strives for excellence, while at the same time keeping a great attitude. That’s why we love Manny!

KC:  What do you like best about being a barista?

MR: The best thing about being a Kean barista is crafting every single drink from scratch using world class ingredients to make drinks of great quality and taste our customers can experience.

KC:  What is your favorite coffee drink?

MR: Turkish latte is my favorite drink with no doubt. I love the taste of espresso, cane syrup and cardamom in the same drink.

KC:  What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday (when you have the day off)?

MR: It has been a while since I had a Saturday off. However, on a typical Saturday afternoon I go to the gym, read my Bible, and watch sports among other things.

KC:  If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go?

MR: If I could travel to any place in the world I would go Egypt.  Egypt’s history of pharaohs and archeology have always fascinated me.

KC:  What is a fun fact that most people do not know about you?

MR: Most people do not know I have a great sense of humor.

KC:  Name one of your personal traits or skills that you are most proud of.

MR: I am a good listener.

KC:  Who was your idol when you were a kid, and why?

MR: My idol has always been my grandmother. She raised me and taught me values such as respect, kindness and selflessness just to mention a few.

KC:  If you had to enter a cooking contest and prepare your best entrée or dessert to impress the judges, what would you make?

MR: To impress the judges I would make chocolate-covered marshmallows topped with shredded coconut.

KC: Thanks Manny!

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Latte art by Manny of Kean Coffee

Meet the Barista: Eight Questions with RAMONE VALERIO

This is an ongoing series in which you will get to know a little bit more about the fine young men and women who prepare your coffee at Kean Coffee through a series of random interview questions. Ramone Valerio has been a barista at Kean Coffee Tustin for close to two years. Aside from being an awesome barista, Ramone is also a talented musician, and an extremely creative and all around great guy. When he isn’t making amazing coffee drinks for our guests, Ramone can also be found playing music with his fellow musicians in the coffeehouse. A true Renaissance man. That’s why we love Ramone!

Ramone Valerio

KC:  What is your favorite coffee drink?

RV: Caffe Napoli or a “Napiato” (macchiato with a little white chocolate and hazelnut).

KC: What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday, (assuming you have the day off)?

RV: Playing shows/concerts, jamming with the band (I, of Helix).

KC:  If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go?

RV: England/U.K., and Canada

KC:  What is a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

RV: I like to draw and also enjoy video editing.

KC:  Who was your favorite band/musician in high school?

RV: Between the Buried and Me

KC:  What were your most favorite and least favorite Halloween costumes ever?

RV: Favorite was when I dressed as Luigi from Mario Brothers. Least favorite, John Travolta from Pulp Fiction.

KC: Which of your personal traits or skills are you most proud of?

RV: Playing bass for almost 10 years, writing music, making CD’s/albums.

KC:   Who was your idol when you were a kid, and why?

RV: Jackie Chan, because I wanted to Kung fu around the world.

KC: Thanks Ramone!

Ramone’s famous macchiato art tree

One Year Anniversary of Kean Coffee Tustin – by Karen Varese Diedrich

Kean Coffee Tustin

March 23rd marked the one year anniversary since opening the doors of our second Kean Coffee at 13681 Newport Ave, Suite 14, Tustin, CA. The opening of our Tustin store was not so much a new venture as it was a return to our roots, as this was the exact location where Martin opened his first full-scale Diedrich Coffee coffeehouse many years ago, which had become a popular hangout in the community. With coffee roasted fresh onsite in a roaster built by Diedrich Manufacturing, the company created by Martin’s brother Stephan who went into the roaster building side of the coffee business, Diedrich Coffee became a local institution.

New Tustin Kean Coffee

After control of Diedrich Coffee was taken over by an ambitious investor, the entire Diedrich Coffee chain was sold to Starbucks, and Starbucks opened in the Tustin location sometime after we had gotten our new start with Kean Coffee in our original Newport Beach location. In September of 2008, Starbucks announced the closure of the old Diedrich location after @ one year in business, and we immediately received numerous calls, letters and emails from old customers and community members asking if we would please return to the Tustin location. With Kean Coffee  thriving in Newport Beach  since December of 2005 and no immediate plans to open a second location at that point, Martin could not pass up the opportunity to be back on his old stomping grounds and return to the welcome of the Tustin community. This particular location held many fond memories for Martin, the Diedrich family, and the many wonderful folks who had worked and played there. So the planning and designing began.

We completely stripped out the Starbucks buildout and started anew

As we had done with our first “baby” in Newport Beach, Martin and I combed antique shops, fabric swatches, studied color palettes, pondered lighting, flooring, etc. in an effort to create an environment that would be beautiful and rich, yet warm, inviting and personal, reflecting our personal tastes and aesthetics at this time in history. After considering various options, we again could not resist including a gorgeous Fortuny  lamp imported from Venice, Italy, having fallen in love with these lamps on a trip to Venice in 1995,  like those we utilized in in our Newport Beach coffeehouse. It became the centerpiece of our lighting in Tustin.

Silk Fortuny lamp at Tustin Kean Coffee

 Martin envisioned a floor of stone and wood, and sourced a French limestone to combine with a rustic American hickory to create an interesting pattern and texture. Our antique American art deco condiment stand was borrowed from our Newport Coffeehouse,  while Newport received our new aquisition, an antique Chinese sideboard we had discovered in our latest antiquing forays. The iron building stars that adorn our counter fronts, historic architectural elements, were very hard to find, but with persistence Martin located a company back East from which we aquired some.

Kean and his little cousin Julian hanging out during pre-opening days

We fell in love with a rustic antique Himalayan bench,  I found some well-loved wood-carved wingback chairs that were begging to be re-upholstered and loved anew, and we found a delicious green marble at the marble yards for our Tustin countertops, among other ecclectic elements that ended up in our final coffeehouse environment. Martin combed through many old photos he had taken on his trips to coffee origin and selected some of his favorites to hang on the walls behind the coffee bar.

Metal sculpture artist Molly Varese with her work

We wanted some sculptural elements in the coffeehouse, so decided to commission my sister-in-law, artist Molly Varese to create a unique metal sculpture as a backdrop to our fantastic  bench. We loved the look and feel of the finished effect, but after “road-testing” the space between the bench and espresso bar, decided that for safety reasons the sculpture should be relocated to the spot it occupies outside on our  back seating patio today.

The first days and weeks of opening Kean Coffee Tustin were not so much a “grand opening” as they were a reunion and a homecoming, with many old friends coming to welcome us, and even a number of past Diedrich Coffee staff who re-joined to launch the new evolution of Martin’s coffeehouse vision. Jerry Folwell, who had been our roaster in the Tustin Diedrich Coffee location for years, even came back to roast on weekends on the latest model of Stephan’s incredible coffee roaster, which this time was located in the front window of the coffeehouse.

Latte art by Paul in Tustin

 The newly trained staff headed by manager Paul Valdez was eager and excited, and the air crackled with enthusiasm. In accordance with Kean Coffee’s “next evolution” in coffee excellence, Tustin baristas worked hard in the first few weeks to hone their espresso shot pulling and latte art skills, assisted by some of our by then expert baristi from our Newport Beach coffeehouse. After a bit of a learning curve, a healthy “competition” began to develop as Tustin baristi worked hard to achieve the Newport standards that had been established.

Kean Tustin: 13681 Newport Ave, Ste 14, Tustin, CA

At this writing, it seems hard to believe that one year has already passed since opening the doors of Kean Coffee Tustin, and just a few months longer than that since we launched into the flurry of unexpected, yet exciting activity that led to that day. In honor of our anniverary, we wish to deeply thank from the bottom of our hearts all of those who “wished” us into returning home, offered support and loyalty, and have filled our Tustin coffeehouse with life, love and warmth for the past 12-months and counting. We also wish to thank our incredible Tustin staff who have infused the coffeehouse with their energy and provided a welcoming space for our guests. We look forward to many more wonderful years ahead at Kean Coffee Tustin!