Journeying into Coffee


November 3, 2017

How my journey began.

The other day I was picking up some things from Target - now, I love target, their staff, and their affordable one-stop-shop goodness, not to mention good design - and as I was checking out, the sales clerk asked me in a slow and steady pace with the enunciation of a preschool teacher, “DO YOU WANT CART? CART?.” Now, I know I’m probably one of the most Japanese looking locals you’ll meet, and I know we’re in Kailua, which is becoming Waikiki the II, and I’m definitely guilty of doing this exact same thing, but do I really look that FOB-touristy-asian?

Yeah, she was right haha. But it doesn’t feel great to be called out for it. And well, that’s basically the way my relationship with coffee started. I had all these surfacey preconceived notions to how coffee was, but in truth I didn’t know anything. I was a 5-sugar, coffee with my cream, frappuccino loving kid. Coffee definitely didn’t taste like anything I wanted to drink without all that sugar. It was for workers and students who needed energy to get to work or study late nights. It wasn’t until I started working at ChadLou’s that I was introduced to the world of specialty coffee and my ideas about it changed.

I didn’t realize coffee could taste like blueberries and honey, or have a chocolatey body without adding a drop of syrup to it. I began to learn about how the environment around a coffee’s origin will affect the profiles that come out of it. I began to learn about the long and amazing process and string of hands that each coffee bean passes through, from the farmer’s to the barista’s and everyone in between, and how each one works in this large collaborative movement to make amazing coffee. And I began to learn the joy of not just drinking coffee for myself, but also the joy from those I was serving it to. That I wasn’t just making coffee, but many times making someone’s day.

hosting a cupping
getting learned
one of my first times roasting with a good buddy

Where it's taken me.

With all my experience as a barista, manager, roaster, and now content creator at ChadLou’s, as well as getting to visit places like Australia, and visiting other specialty coffee shops, I began to see how different and special coffee could be in flavor and experience--it’s almost endless!

an illustration of my journey with coffee

The world of specialty coffee is vast and expansive and I’ll never reach a place where I can say that there’s nothing left to learn. But I hope that as I continue my journey with coffee I can share what I have learned, learn something along the way from the experts and co-coffee enthusiasts, and maybe speak to some fellow “5-sugar, coffee with my cream, frappuccino loving” folks out there. Thanks for reading!

Paul Iseri
Coffee-lover, Graphic Designer, Barista

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