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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Kean Coffee Roasts and Judges Hawaii’s Top Coffee Competition for 2012

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Martin picking coffee at Rusty’s Ka’u Farm, Big Island, Hawaii

Due to our reputation as exacting, skilled artisan coffee roasters, Kean Coffee was chosen by the Hawaiian Coffee Association to roast this year’s finalists for the statewide competition of Hawaii’s Best Coffees. Hawaii grows the only coffee produced in the USA. Coffee grows on all the five major islands in the state. Each year they hold a statewide competition to judge the best coffees of the year. This year over 150 coffees were submitted for the competition. They were all judged by an internal Hawaiian judging panel to determine the top 45 finalists. The last round of judging that determines the best of the best is held here in California at the headquarters of the Specialty Coffee Association of American in Long Beach (SCAA).

Kean Coffee was honored to be asked to roast the coffee for this very important competition. This is a huge honor, and a huge responsibility. Imagine the scope of the responsibility that was placed in our hands with this: these coffees are the fruit of years of toil by the farmers who produced them. It is their livelihoods and reputation that are at stake here. We humbly respect that and are confident that have done them justice.

The ultimate responsibility of roasting these coffees was taken on by our head roaster, Ted Vautrinot. Ted apprenticed under our Master Roaster, Martin Diedrich, who originally learned the craft in his teens back in the 1970’s under the tutelage of his father, Carl Diedrich, and has become known as a respected top coffee roasting expert worldwide. Martin’s brother Steve builds the world renowned Diedrich Coffee roasting machines with which Kean Coffee roasts. So a long heritage of coffee roasting expertise went into the roasting of these precious coffees.

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Jerry and Ted earlier this year cupping for Rainforest Alliance competition at SCAA headquarters

And as if roasting the coffees wasn’t enough of an honor, two of Kean Coffee’s roasters, Ted Vautrinot and Jerry Folwell, are also serving on the committee of judges for this competition. Many of you have recently read about our head roaster Ted and his trips to Panama and Costa Rica to judge those countries best coffee of the year competitions. Jerry Folwell may be less known to you, but Jerry has worked with Martin as a roaster for nearly 19 years now, since the early years of Diedrich Coffee. He brings many years of passion and experience to the table as both a veteran roaster and coffee cupper.

The Hawaiian Coffee Competition was held May 22 and 23, 2012. The judging protocol is the same rigorous standard as in the “Cup of Excellence” and other international coffee competitions. It is always double blind and with very demanding precision.

The last two years, Lorie Obra’s farm, Rusty’s in Ka’u on the Big Island of Hawaii has won first place in this competition. This is the popular Hawaiian coffee we have been carrying at Kean Coffee for the last several years, and the farm Martin recently visited on his trip to Hawaii. We will see who comes out on top this year.

Kean Coffee is proud of our capable team and honored to participate in these prestigious coffee events.