Small World Coffee

Small World Barista Reunions: Where Are They Now?

By Jacqui | Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 6:43 pm


We’ve hired and trained thousands of baristas in our 19 years in business.  From the moment that each one dons their red apron and steps behind our counter, they become part of our Small World Family.  It’s not hard to recognize the camaraderie amongst the crew – they enjoy working together and come to care deeply about one another.  Our customers become a part of this family, too, after seeing familiar faces behind the counter each day.  This sense of community is something we’re grateful for, and it is what makes our cafe thrive!

After many years, we’ve watched our worldlings grow, and we’ve said goodbye to so many as they’ve left to pursue life in ‘the big world’ outside of the cafe.  It’s a proud but bittersweet moment!   With Princeton Reunions and Graduation just around the corner, we thought we’d embrace the spirit and check in with a few of our former worldlings.  It’s time to reminisce, and to find out what these familiar faces have been up to since they hung up their red aprons!

Emelyne - Alumni Barista

EMELYNE
Years at SWC: 6.5
What inspired you to apply for a job at SWC?
I’d been living in Princeton for the past 4 or so years, and had been a customer when I was in high school.  It seemed like a cool place to work, I’ve always loved coffee, and I seriously needed a job!

What was Small World like when you first started?
Busy, intimidating, and everyone that worked there spoke some foreign coffee language that I couldn’t understand.  Triple-Double-Latte-What? Also, the café was a bit smaller, and this was also before they added a second espresso machine and register up front.  And of course, there was only one Small World at the time.

What was one of the most rewarding experiences you ever had working at SWC?
I had the opportunity to go to seattle for a week of intensive espresso training lead by David Schomer of Vivace.  The amazing Tuc was my coffee school buddy, and we got to learn some really fun stuff and bring it back to SWC with us.  Such an honor!

What was your favorite drink to make? And to drink?
To make: a single cappuccino – simple, classic, elegant.  To drink? Double Milky Shot all the way.

What was one of your favorite funny moments from SWC?

Shooting the Barista Calendar at the café after hours was truly memorable and hilarious, and all kinds of raunchy.

What are you up to, these days?
Well at this moment I’m traveling through Ireland.  Beautiful country, terrible coffee!  But back in NYC, I’ve stayed in the coffee world, and I work for Joe as the director of HR, and as a Coffee Educator.  We now have nine locations, come check us out!

What lessons from your worldling days have stayed with you or remained relevant in your life?
My passion for the coffee industry was ignited at small world, and I’ll never forget where I came from and what I learned at my first coffee job.  SWC taught me how to interact with people, both cowokers and customers, and I definitely apply those lessons when I’m working as a barista at the Grand Central Terminal Joe, which has a similar insane energy to SW that I absolutely thrive on.  I think more than anything, working at small world taught me that a job can be fun.  I’d seriously never thought I could work so hard and have fun at the same time.  Cheesy, I know, but I’m in the romantic Irish countryside at the moment and feeling sentimental.  Thanks to SWC, I will never stick with a job if it isn’t fun, and for now, that means sticking with coffee in the big apple.

Nicos - Alumni Barista
NICOS

Years at SWC: 10
What inspired you to apply for a job at SWC?

I had walked out mid-shift at my previous job at the local Pier One, which I hated, obviously.  Because I had a couple years of barista experience under my belt, it seemed that the most efficient means of me gaining immediate employment would be for me to apply to a coffee shop.  Romantic, right? After finding out what they paid hourly, my eyes popped out of my head, and I had to figure out where I was going to get a set of longhorns to put on the front of my Lumina.

How long did you work at Small World?
Ten glorious years.

What was one of the most rewarding experiences you ever had working at SWC?
Easy, meeting my present life partner, the incomparable Kristin Apple.

What was your biggest challenge?
Being on reg.  I’ve always naturally been terrified of speaking to strangers.  Now, as a more secure adult, this manifests itself in a mean spirited, taciturn demeanor.  But years ago, I would be really nervous.  And remembering all the details of each drink?  Forget it.

What was your favorite drink to make? And to drink?
I liked the challenge and reward of making iced caps, even if there was a high potential for milk waste.  As for myself, a nice slow brew with a shot or two thrown in is hard to say no to.

What did you do after you left SWC?

Followed my girlfriend from the leafy climes of Princeton to the hostile environs of Philadelphia, where I took a vastly inferior job at a substandard fast-casual restaurant.  By far the worst job ever.

What are you up to, these days?

Just finished my first year of law school, at what is currently known as Rutgers-Camden.  I’m seeking to do something which best utilizes my strengths.

What lessons from your worldling days have stayed with you or remained relevant in your life?

Everything, really.  Really being prepared to work my tail off, punctuality, thinking on my feet, getting along with others, snaking a three-way sink.  Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.  Working at Small World was one of the best experiences of my life, and I think the lessons I learned there will stay with me forever.

Jordan - Alumni Barista

JORDAN
Years at SWC: 6
What was Small World like when you first started?

When I first applied we had a food side.
Crunch was there, he had blue hair.
The coffee was strong and my hair was so long!
I learned the Cimbali with many a folly,
but there was Tuc to make sure it all stuck (in my head).


What was one of the most rewarding experiences you ever had working at SWC?

Definitely the most rewarding thing during my time at SWC was the support I received from the coffee community during my fundraiser for my trip to Peru.  Everyone was so generous and supportive whether or not they knew me! I miss the love I felt then and in general at the cafe.

What was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was stepping up to the plate to teach other worldlings after my short reign as ‘new guy’ wore off. Working at small world teaches one patience under pressure as well as several other traits that I’m glad to have learned. A worldling wears many hats, and they are not all ‘one size fits all.’  In other words, it’s not an easy job!

What was one of your favorite funny moments from SWC?
Funny moment – when I won the Cap-Off as a C1 in 2005. Pretty funny, eh?

What are you up to, these days?

Right now I’m sitting on a balcony in Cagayan de oro, Philippines.  I’m here doing volunteer work – building houses for the people whose homes were destroyed in the typhoon last fall.  I’ve been here a few weeks, and am staying here until May 24th.

What lessons from your worldling days have stayed with you or remained relevant in your life?
Working behind that counter gave me confidence that helps me through each day.  I am better at talking to people and can create a positive experience through conversation.  Work at SWC also taught me the beauty and importance of efficiency.  Efficiency provides endurance which has helped me in my work here in the Philippines – good technique swinging a pick axe or a hammer will allow me to work for longer without tiring. Efficiency also reduces waste, provides faster results, and often adds an element of grace.  People appreciate these things, believe me.

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