Say hello to David!
At Adda Coffee & Tea House, we are honored to have such an amazing, humble, and talented team of baristas behind the bars making your drinks every day. We couldn’t ask for a better group of people and we know you love them too. With all the changes this year has brought, the one thing we all miss most is being able to chat with you all and get to know all of our Adda guests. Building relationships with our communities is one of the best parts of our job! So to find a way to bridge the gap that COVID-19 has grown between us, we decided to spotlight some of our awesome baristas! Read on, learn a little about the awesome people making your drinks, and say hello next time you see them!
Our first barista feature, David Day, is one of our newest additions to the Adda family, and trust us when we say there are few people in this city that know and appreciate coffee as much as David does. Usually found concocting unique syrups every week at Garfield for no other reason than to have some fun experimenting, David is always keeping it interesting at Adda. Ask him your coffee questions or chat him up about music, his chill and pleasant demeanor is sure to make your Adda experience that much better.
Read on to learn a little more about David and be sure to say hi when you see him!
So how long have you been in Pittsburgh?
David: "I have been in Pittsburgh for almost 4 years and 2 months. I moved here from Washington D.C. because I got married to my wonderful wife Alexa. She is a native Pittsburgher."
How long have you been in the coffee game?
D: "That’s only been close to 3 years now."
What did you do before coffee?
D: "Before coffee, I was a voice engineer at a company called Third Generation. They do business phone systems. I specialized in phone systems and worked over the internet."
What an interesting change. You’re so into coffee, though, what made you switch?
D: "Being a voice engineer is hard work, and nowadays they don’t allow you to become part of the union. So there’s not that much of a pull to stay in it unless you have a high paying job, and I wanted to do something different that was less stressful. I basically worked 24/7; even when I was on vacation, they called me. I’ve always had a love for coffee, but I never actually pursued it. When I was here and was thinking about doing a career change, I thought about revisiting the idea. And I saw the documentary film “Barista” and they were talking about the coffee competitions, which I instantly thought was the most awesome thing. I didn’t realize they actually had competitions for it. I did a lot of research into it and I thought, “Okay, I think I actually want to do this,” and that’s where Koffee Row popped up."
Very cool, so tell me about Koffee Row.
D: "Koffee Row started originally as me reselling other people’s beans. I had a collection of beans that I thought were really nice, either for drip, latte, whatever. And I was selling with a subscription. Then my wife wanted to do something and it morphed into something with resin art. Then after a while, I also had a desire to make clothing, so I added coffee-themed clothing to it. The tee shirt side sold more than the coffee, so at that point I decided to drop the whole coffee subscription idea and just keep that. I was actually selling at vendor shows in Pittsburgh and in Ohio for a while. It started to slow up when I became a barista because I was thinking I wanted to start my own cafe, but I had no real world experience. So I went from home barista to Starbucks barista, to La Prima barista, and now Adda barista. Entering the third wave and specialty world!”
David is now doing an online program with the Special Coffee Association to get certified to be a special coffee barista, which he says is like “going to college” for coffee.
“My hope for this is that it actually turns into me teaching special coffee stuff and certifying other people. That was one thing I noticed when thinking about starting my own cafe in Pittsburgh is to get certified, you have to drive to another state. It’s not close at all. So having somebody here who can certify on an SCA level would be very helpful since we have so many small cafes that are third wave or specialty coffee.”
What are your favorite kind of drinks to make, both on your own and here?
D: “On my own, I have to say it would be a cappuccino and a cortado, which I know is very cliche for a barista to say that. Here, I really like making the espresso. I say this because, unlike [other shops] I didn’t have too much control over the espresso. I could adjust it there, but it was pretty much minimal-based. But here, since I’m the only barista, I control the flavor entirely. And using what I learned from Evan about how the espresso should taste, and the coffee knowledge I have, I can build upon that and start doing things like post- and pre-infusion to alter the flavors to make it more sweet, a little bit more sour, and have that perfect balance of sweet, sour, and bitter. So if you have it as espresso, americano, or even a milk-based drink, it will still taste good and won’t be too overpowering on one side of the flavor notes.”
You make so many fun, different, experimental drinks, what’s your favorite thing that you’ve made so far?
D: “It’s gonna sound like I’m a drunk, but I like whisky! I say this because there’s a roaster in Ohio that makes this roasted whisky coffee that is so good. The key is he uses very old whisky barrels so it has that aged quality to it. So I made this new type of drink with it. It’s a macchiato but you use Nepali peppers with it. You chop up the peppers, put it in the bottom of the cup, and you pull a shot over top of it. As you’re drinking it with the milk, the peppers give off more and more of the spice, but since it’s asian peppers, the spice is different than american peppers. The spice is actually in the back of your throat which is almost like whisky. So when you’re drinking it, it’s almost like you’re drinking a flavorful whisky shot.”
That’s just one of the many experiments David has successfully done. There’s mixologists for bartending, does label count for baristas too? Maybe soon we’ll do a “What’s David Up To?” segment!
Stay tuned for more barista spotlights on A Sip of Adda!