jake easton | we are all eventualities of life | #itsahousecup
To Jake Easton coffee is everything. He exists in every part of the complex chain to bring exceptional coffee. From working with coffee farmers, importing green beans, roasting coffee, setting roast profiles, tasting roasts for quality (cupping), creating blends, training roasters, training cupping, designing spaces, consulting on design, historical relevancies for café’s, training barista’s, sourcing barista’s, training café owners, making coffee in every form, buying machines, installing machines, repairing machines, selling smalls, choosing all types of cups, helping friends to learn more, taste coffees from around the world, share thoughts on coffee with others, give away knowledge on the “secrets” of coffee, writing articles on coffee and the industry, chirping on twitter and photographing anything coffee related. He is the founder of Tribe Coffee and will be creating our very own house blend.
What does living mean to you?
Living is a choice. How, where, when, with whom, are all eventualities of life. But somewhere in the primordial goop called existence that spark that makes you “YOU” …you chose to exist. Call it that critical moment when the zygote split or before when the happy powerful sperm made its way through the egg wall or when the egg wall accepted the sperm within…those were choices your genetic heritage made. And its that inner fight to exist, not give up and, to survive which gives proof that life made the right choice with all of us. There are so many examples of life carrying on to choose through any and all adversity, just look at: Shackleton, Muir, Shaka, the “first people” San, Sho, Basarwa, Kung, who survived European culling, Native Americans surviving the old west pogroms, the jewish, the Muslim peoples, the faithless, the rich, the poor…all of us. It, life, is all about survival…all about choice. And living is, for me, about choosing to live and living every moment.
What were your first impressions of it’s a house?
Let me say this first…as a coffee industry person I try to review a number of design based sites for my work and am always looking at café design and restaurant design to find clues and keys for the trends that are in my industry. I look at café’s from a different perspective I try to see the eventuality of a site and the potentiality of a site mixed with the current and historical representation for that site.
So what were my first impressions of “It’s a house”…this the first example of found art and architecture mimicking modern luxury and pulling it off with a style that is subtle playful and all the while being new, useful and not filled with a sense of its own “look how cool I am”.
I like the ring of recycled wood chandelier filled with L.E.D. lights, teased with white paint, which hangs over the bar as you walk into it’s a house. It mirrors the One & Only at the V&A (five streets beneath “it’s a house”) with its glass ring chandelier, ring of upright lamps and, ring of high level alcohols…but it’s a house did it for far less than the Billion Rand budget at the V&A.
I like more than this small point…after visiting Café Malongo in Paris’s 6eme St-Germain, I saw the use of raw wood and coloured screens like expressions of Parisian exhibitionism blended with the South African private space…the screens to hide one rented work space from another and still retain the youthful playfulness of summer shades and sunlight. I enjoyed the sound room and the tattoo/piercing space as examples of collaborative imagination and expression made experiential (sound and visual both muted by distance and through glass).
I find the sofa space and the hidden/visible smokers lounge the two most refreshing concepts for a Cape Town fixated in long wooden tables and hippie cushions.
But each space has to make room for the trend that must accompany its creation; and, as far as “it’s a house” is concerned, there is room for many a trend creation.
Who invented the babalas buster? Describe the effects.
it made my brain happy and sent tingles up my spine without causing any seriously adverse side effects. It was codified once I leapt into the coffee world on my own: four single shots of espresso, two heaping doses of chocolate and, topped with micro-textured milk. It’ll wake your arse up!
Tell us about the 4 blends (1A 3C 5B and 1X) you have created & the journey you will be taking our tastebuds on.
Tell us about last years World Barista Championships. What surprised you?
Last year’s World Barista Championships was a true eye opener for me as with Wayne Oberholzer there I’d assumed SA would place at worst in the top twenty and at best in the top five. Wayne is no “showman”, he’s a coffee geek through and through. He loves the stuff and is skillful enough to be inventive and curious when it comes to coffee. So it was a HUGE surprise when I learned he’d tanked in the first round… Bloody impossible if you asked me.
It seems your vocation is to eradicate bad coffee from South Africa, why do you think people still drink shit coffee?
People drink the coffee they are most familiar with…it’s not that they think their coffee is “shit” but that they know of no other alternative to their coffee. That “we” coffee industry freaks are there to tell them that their coffee sucks is rude and wrong. That by doing a chemical analysis of the most commonly consumed soluble coffee compared to the least most interesting micro roasted coffee we find that there are literally hundreds more flavinoids and aromatics in the micro-roasted coffee. So do they know when their coffee sucks, NO. Once they taste good coffee, do they know that they’re no longer able to drink bad coffee without acknowledging the difference, YES.
Latte Art is another interesting way a barista can reveal creativity. What have you noticed with this trend. What can you create?
Latte Art is fun and interesting. I think it gives barista’s a chance to delve into a different reality and a different way of simply making a great cup of coffee. This trend of latte art was made mainstream by David Schomer in 1991 when his staff first made a heart and then made a leaf by copying the Italians from northern Italy. It was the combination of these two to make “other” designs in the subsequent years that makes Latte Art so interesting. If we look back and see that its really 20 years old and we’re only at the stage we find ourselves, I’d say there’s a lot more to do and learn. As for my skill set…I’m ok.
Do you have any favorite blends or origins?
I think all coffee can be fantastic. It depends on who roasts and how they roast the beans. But in general I am fiend for new single origin coffee’s which I haven’t tasted. I think the fact that one farm can produce hugely different coffee’s from different elevations and separate harvests is incredibly exciting and unique. I really like coffee’s from Indonesia for their spicy warm morning yummy flavours. I thoroughly enjoy coffee from Rwanda. I find the red wine and chocolate flavours from Colombia and Nicaragua to be simply amazing.
What’s your most popular drink?
Tequila. Favourite coffee drink, a Macchiato – 30ml single shot with 30ml to 50ml micro-textured milk.
What do you think about Starbucks? How have they affected the coffee industry in America? What would happen if they ever came to SA?
I dislike Starbucks. I think they have propagated kak coffee worldwide. Their method of roasting and the removal of barista’s (as they use only bean to cup machines) are two negatives on top of a world of positive coffee. I find that the simple fact that they roast possibly 40,000 tons of coffee a month for a world on the verge of losing the coffee plant altogether disgusting. But that’s my opinion and we’re all entitled to polarizing views. And, Starbucks/Charbucks did try to come to South Africa, Larry Lipschits from The Supergroup Investments bought the rights to import the franchise…it cost so much and Saffa’s were so unwilling to pay for the “rights” to buy 45R latte’s so Starbucks is not in the country. Wohoo!!!!
Be sure to come on down to #itsatextile This Thursday the 31st of Jan to try 4 samples (1A 3C 5B and 1X) and vote for which you think should be our “house coffee” #itsahousecup