Forced to eat boxed food every night, Rachel Philibert grew up hating her parents’ cooking. To fill that childhood desire for good food, Rachel has taken to finding the best coffee and food that she can create.

250 word description:
Twenty-seven-year old Rachel moved to NYC from Florida four years ago and lives in Brooklyn. Her love for cooking and tasting delicious things stems from her childhood experience of having to eat food she wasn’t fond of.

Her parents cooked a lot of Hamburger Helper meals, especially spaghetti and meatball, and Rachel hated it.

Her first attempt at cooking was a cake she baked for her mother on Mother’ Day when she was in elementary school. It didn’t turn out so well. She recalls she tried to make cream cheese frosting but it wasn’t mixed well. “We all tried to eat it a little bit but I think we all decided it was a valiant effort but wasn’t delicious,” she said.

Rachel is passionate about good food and coffee and has an interest in the connection between taste and the memories it evokes. She believes it’s that interest that drives the joy she gets out of cooking and making great coffee.

She has been working at Blue Bottle Coffee for about three years. The chain has eight stores in NYC and several on the West Coast. With new stores opening in Park Slope this month, Rachel has been spending a lot of time training new baristas in the art of making coffee.

For The Love of Taste: What drives a coffee specialist


*Ambient sound*

Rachel: Should I make chocolate cream pie or chocolate brownie cookies?
Brandon (roommate): Whatever you think I love the most
Rachel: *Laughs*

00:07 I was always kind of interested in taste and flavor and I always really liked cooking because my parents were awful at it so I hated eating their food (laughs)… I remember I was in elementary school and I was like “ok mom, I know you hate cooking it’s clear, it’s obvious. So let me take care of it for you.”

00:35 I just wanted to taste good things, I didn’t want to eat garbage, there was no point to that. I want to enjoy what I’m eating.

00:43 So when I was young I really got into cooking and I always kinda played with the idea of maybe being a chef but I never really pursued that.

00:52 I think I just kinda stumbled upon this like world of coffee that satisfied that, that need for learning and for tasting and for like experiencing things that are great and good and delicious.

*Ambient sound*
Rachel: So, what do you think? Good right?
Brandon (roommate): Yea

01:06 I get to teach baristas how to make coffee.

01:11 We kinda teach them a couple of different skills on like what to look for when they are analyzing a coffee. Is there acidity, is it intense? What does it remind you of?
01:25 Is it like lemon or is it kind of like a green apple. So, these kind of like ways that we can help guide them.

*Ambient sound*
Rachel to Blue Bottle Coffee barista Christian: Well, you just took a sip, so what are you experiencing right now? Is there anything lingering at all or is kind of just gone.

Christian: It’s gone

Rachel: Kinda gone. Perfect. Nice job…

01:44 People are focusing more also these days less on quality of coffee itself and more about just, just being hospitable in coffee shops and having better customer service too ‘cause coffee shops have kind of a bad rep in New York for being full of snobs and I think a lot of people are trying to shed that image [laughs].

2:05 When you order a coffee I grind the coffee right then and there for you specifically, and I’m pouring hot water over the coffee for your very own cup. That kind of that level of intimacy that’s there, it really ties like human emotion and experience to the coffee

2:26 That’s kind of why I took to coffee so much is because it like filled me and made me feel whole and happy and good.

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Barista magazine

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