Jose Lopez Lazaro: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #17

Supported By Barista Hustle
Coffee Insurrection
Go to content

Jose Lopez Lazaro: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #17

Coffee Insurrection
Published by Tanya in Coffee Insurrection Hero · 6 August 2021
Tags: JoseLopezLazaroNKORA_CoffeeLondonInterview
1.   Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.

My name is Jose (Josh) Lopez, born and raised in the south of Spain. I’m currently working at , Barnet branch as the head of coffee and barista. My job consists of contacting roasters and farmers to decide what is the best option to have as a guest each time at the shop, set standards, maintenance of the equipment and creating recipes as well as training the staff so the quality of the produce is top.

2. When and why did coffee become important to you?

Coffee has always been a part of my life, as wherever I’ve worked, I had to use a coffee machine. But I discovered specialty coffee when I first started on my first barista role here in London. I discovered how coffee can change someone’s day for better or for worse… How beautiful a simple delicious cup of coffee can be with the precise work and dedication and obviously, passion.

3. Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?

Actually I don’t know if it was the first or not… but I do remember that my mom used to make moka pot for herself all the time and as a child I used to love the aroma of the coffee at all the stages of the brew… since the bag was opened to when it was brewing on the stove… So when I moved out, one of my first purchases for my flat, was this lovely tiny moka pot… and curious as I am, I read about how to proper brew one, and so I did. The whole smell covered all the air in the house and transformed that house into my new home. That was the very first time coffee made me happy in every way. And so I continued that path with intentions of making everyone feel the same way when they enter a coffee shop and have a first sip of that beautiful thing that is coffee.

4. What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?

Everything. Literally there is not a single thing I don’t like about my job. When I come in and get the shop ready, is like a ritual to me. I put on my music, lights are off, is just me… Dialing in, the smell of coffee and the pastries, I pour one or two coffees and practice my latte art a bit more, drink a coffee just on my own with my music… and then, the excitement of waiting for people to come in maybe even for the first time and discover their favorite coffee spot and have a nice conversation with people that is counting on me and my team to start their day the right way. What’s not to love?

5. What’s your favorite brewing method and why?

Easy one! Aeropress. How versatile it is, the many possibilities, flavors, recipes, all the fun you can have with an Aeropress you can’t have it with any other method. It is cheap, easy to use, easy to clean and just fun. Have had several chats with Aeropress lovers including my beloved Wendelien van Bunnik (2019 World Aeropress Champion) and they just make me fall in love with it even more every time.

6. Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?

For me this is like asking someone if they love their dad or their mom more… Can’t quite put my finger on it! Although, I’d say I’ve had some really good ones… This amazing Costa Rican, La Pastora Natural, Carlos Montero from PLOT, An incredible super tasty Colombian from Saint Espresso that had incredible super unusual aromas and taste and also love a nice flat white made with Pelicano Coffee Roasters at Brighton made with their amazing house espresso. But again, can’t put my finger on just one.

               Specialty Coffee Shop

7. Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?

Well, to be honest, I’m one of those who don’t think coffee origin will determinate flavor as much as process or even roasting will… It is true that some origins like Ethiopia and Costa Rica as well as Peru tend to be included on my list of coffees I’ve drank and loved… But I wouldn’t buy a coffee based on the origin. What I can say is that I tend to like central or south American coffees…

8. Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).

I would surely say . They are so incredibly good at what they do. Also, Colombian Coffee Company have some of the most amazing Colombian beans there are. But mainly, what I would recommend, is to go to independent roasters. Ask them about what they do and give them a try. We all know big roasters and we know they’re good, but there are amazing people doing amazing things and they all will make your day better with a good coffee and a good chat.

9. What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?

I’ve been in hospitality for over a decade and in coffee for almost 4, and I’d say the most important thing I’ve learnt is that there’s always new things to learn and to be modest with what you think you know. Doesn’t matter how good you are and how much you know or how talented you can be… Even the most unexperienced baby barista can show you something you didn’t know. Sometimes you have to open your eyes and ears and shut your mouth, because learning is a non-stop process we all go through 24/7 and is not about who is right or wrong, but about sharing information and learning from each others.

10. How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?

Mainly I think the loss of some shop has been massive, even getting to the point of closing in some of them… Myself, I had 4 different jobs in 2020 due to Covid19 and it’s been the hardest time of my life, as it probably has been for many other people… But I managed to overcome and came out of that misery stronger than ever, as many businesses have. I think for many people and shop owners and staff it has been times to do long thinking and to develop projects that they did not have time or reason to work on. Now with the no-seating thing and the no-traveling, many people have been “forced” to discover local cafes and they have started to appreciate what good coffee really means and tastes like. I think we need to stay positive and see the bright side of things as difficult as it can be sometimes, and if we have been able to overcome this, there isn’t many things we won’t be able to do now!

11. How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?

This question could take me ages to answer… but I’ll try to sum up. I think specialty coffee has already evolved and grown massively in the past 3 or 4 years. So many new specialty coffee shops, roasteries, processes and even a recently discovered chance of harvesting a different type of beans – the Stenophylla variety. VERY EXCITING. Specialty coffee will become the new ‘modern cuisine’, being the trend for people who what to experiment new flavors and sensations through drinking different types of origins, roasts, varieties, processes of the good old coffee. Even some diets only allow you to drink coffee only if it’s specialty. In 10 years, specialty coffee will be at the same level than Starbucks and Costa are now, I even dare to say that big commodity coffee chains will start using high quality coffee in a few years time from now.

12. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Well, this is where I can get all egocentric and megalomaniac. I have been working hard and I still do, trying to learn at least a new thing every day and practicing what I already know when I get the chance. I would love to at least have my own shop / roastery. I would love to have written a book about coffee and I would love to have the certainty that I’ve helped people to follow the same path I did, have inspired people and last and most important, being able to look back 10 years and being able to say “I did it”.

13. Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?

I can only say go for it. Do it. This is the best job in the world if you truly are passionate. Living the dream is not about having money in the bank, the best equipment, a luxurious workplace… sometimes is about sitting in a stock room eating quickly a packed lunch cause “you’re saving up for a new pouring kettle” and watching a Hoffmann’s video on YouTube on how to brew the perfect batch brew. Living the dream can be anything, as long as you are passionate about what you do. So, do it. And something I’ve learnt in the many years I’ve work on this… is that the most important thing in the world, is to go home knowing that you’ve done a really good fucking job...

Nkora Coffee

Back to content