This week, the CHS Crow made the rounds at three Pike/Pine roasters and met a neighbor wholly devoted to the written word, a techie-turned-coffee-pro in town for an industry expo and a proudly-non-trad biochem major who puts an existentialist spin on things. Say hi.
Curricular: BA, English; Master’s, Library and Information Science Extracurricular: reading, writing Has lived on the Hill: 9 years Moved here: from Richland, Wash., via the Bay Area, for school.
I _______?, therefore I am.
I read. Reading saves me. It’s just something that I love to do, and it takes my mind off of my own problems, I think. And also, reading helps me solve my own problems — it gives me a lot of perspective, and lets me learn about other people and other places.
Are they back in Richland?
No, they’re all in California. My brother’s actually living in the house that I grew up in, raising his kids. It’s funny seeing — I mean my childhood room became a guest room, so I get to stay in it whenever we go visit. And then in the bathroom, my dad used to mark our height as we were growing up, so we still see that. My name’s still there for, like– “Alyssa, 1989,” and then same thing with my sister and brother. And then my sister is living in a house like five minutes away. I don’t know if I’m going to go back and live in the same area — hahaha; maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen.
What’s your take on living in Capitol Hill?
I really like it. It’s where I work, it’s where I went to school. I still see old friends from all the different things that I’ve done … thinking about leaving is kind of hard.
What’s one of the greatest moments from your life in recent years?
My fiance and I have what I think is a good engagement story. … It was like this cool double-proposal that neither of us was really expecting.
Day job: Head Roaster at Luna Gourmet Coffee & Tea Company Is in town for: The Specialty Coffee Association of America expo Visiting from: Denver Has also lived in: South Florida, Wisconsin and Oklahoma City
What inspired you to get in to the coffee industry?
Got sick of computers — coffee was more fun. Gives you a little bit of wiggle room to be creative, and just have a good time. Plus I drink coffee daily. It just kind of made sense.
When did your love affair with fine coffee start out?
Probably like everyone, you know, started out with whatever was around. Just like you do when you’re young and drinking beer and start out with some cheap beer, then find yourself drinking some good micro craft beers now. But it was probably about 15 years ago, when a friend opened up a coffee shop. And I would just hang out in there and drink free coffee, and then it kind of just branched off from there.
Life would be meaningless without ________ ?
… what do you mean?
Interaction with other souls.
… how does that look for you?
I think, really, life is — it doesn’t matter where you are, without other people, other souls, it’s kind of pointless. You know, I’ve traveled around quite a bit, kind of lost people, stuff like that. But, without good friends, family around, everything’s kind of meaningless.
… who are the souls in your life?
Family. My wife, my daughter, friends, brothers.
What is the most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard?
My daughter singing — whatever she sings, it’s just beautiful. She’s two. I think it’s more an emotional thing that’s just tied to it, you know. — the noise itself, if I wasn’t attached to her the way I was attached, it would probably be meaningless. Other than that, I’d say waves crashing — the sound of the ocean.
Curricular: biochemistry major Day job: has worked as barista, cafe designer and teacher for at-risk and underprivileged youth Plans to work in: scientific research Lives in: Seattle From: Seattle Lived for a while in: Chicago
Hm … what do you mean?
Well life is whatever you make of it, right? I mean, it doesn’t really have meaning useless you put meaning on it — that’s been my philosophy, I suppose.
How do you feel about your path as a “non-traditional student?”
Oh it’s great. I think school’s — for me it’s the best decision, it’s the best goal I’ve ever given myself, and the best thing I’ve ever done for me. And I feel that way about it because it’s my choice — versus, I think, a lot of 18 year-olds who are just getting out of high school, who don’t feel that way about school. They feel like it’s mandatory. I did all the things that I wanted to do already, which were: explore the parts of life that I found interesting. I didn’t really have a lot of long-term goals, but I explored travel, explored relationships, explored art and music, all those things. I guess I didn’t really like exhaust those things, but I got to the point where I started thinking about more than what I wanted to do for the next five years — more like what I want to do for the next, for the rest of my life. And one of the things I’ve always felt is that science is really important … And discovery and information and knowledge and passing that on is really important to me, so I thought, ‘Fine, I guess I’ll go do that.’
What’s something that draws you to science?
The nice thing about science is that somebody else always has a different perspective than you do. … So, say, there’s a study published in my field of biochemistry, but there’s somebody out there who has an engineering degree — they’re probably going to see that information in a completely different light and want to use it completely differently, and will probably do something really great. That inspires me a lot.
How’d you land on biochem?
I really like problems and puzzle solving. And so biochemistry’s really good for that. A lot of what you’re doing when you’re researching is asking questions and figuring out why things work, and that’s really fun. It never gets old, because there’s always some kind of new question to explore. And it’s usually pretty useful.