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What I Do: Nora Brady of Blueprint Coffee

September 8th 10:09am, 2014



In four short years, Nora Brady, 24, has gone from working as a barista at Kaldi’s to co-owning Blueprint Coffee, one of the top cafes (and roasters) in town, and taking sixth place nationally at this year’s U.S. Barista Championship finals. Here, Brady gives us the full scoop on why she loves the daily grind of the coffee world.

What intrigues you about coffee?
That it comes from the earth. We can alter a few things about it, and science plays a huge part in it, but really, it’s an organic product.

What was it like to compete at the U.S. Barista Championship?
It was my third year competing. You work hard all year and go through intense training. (The) finals were really surprising. I felt more confident this year than I ever had, but I had a lot of things go wrong.

What went wrong?
Before your 15-minute presentation, you have 15 minutes to set up. We bring all of the equipment we’re using. When I was wheeling my cart out, I had my milk for my cappuccinos on top of the cart. I hit a bump and all of the milk spilled throughout my cart on everything. You bring extras of everything, so I had to run across the room and grab all the stuff that I needed. I thought for sure that I was toast. But they called my name. I advanced to the (next) round.

You have to make a signature coffee drink as part of the competition. What was yours?
I macerated raw beets (to make) a beet syrup. A little bit of Meyer lemon for balance. Four shots of Victor Milano espresso, but I chilled the espresso and skimmed the crema off of it – it basically pulls all the bitterness off the coffee. The whole drink was cold. I charged with an iSi charger. So it was this “espressoda” – effervescent, super creamy. It was like drinking velvet.

What’s the trendiest order at Blueprint right now?
Cortado. They look awesome and they are the perfect ratio (of coffee to milk).

What coffee trend do you predict is on the horizon?
Coffee cocktails. Not alcoholic, but coffee cocktails. I think the industry is super interested in using coffee as “the strong” and diversifying our offerings. We’re about to roll out a new cocktail menu all designed around the specific coffee.

What’s the weirdest order you receive?
I always think it’s weird when someone wants an iced cappuccino, but they want you to steam the milk and pour the whole drink over ice.

Most annoying order?
A flat white. It’s an Australian-European drink that’s essentially just a wet latte, so no froth, and it’s a weird size – like an 8-ounce drink. People come in and they want a flat white, but they all want it different. Nobody really knows what they’re ordering. They just heard about it.

What do you order?
Brewed coffee and a shot of espresso.

How many coffee makers do you have at home?
I’m trying to visualize the shelf. Probably 10 or 12.

Which one is your favorite?
Chemex, hands down. It’s a single vessel and easy to clean.
How much coffee a day do you drink?
A 12-ounce cup in the morning. You taste the espresso throughout the shift – that’s a lot of espresso. And I make myself an espresso to go home because I’ve got a lot of stuff to do.

-photo by Ashley Gieseking


By Ligaya Figueras

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