For so many reasons we love that our downtown location is just across the street from the oddity and place-of-constant-wonders: Zandbros. From their always delightful window displays to the solid book (and toy) lineup, there's just that certain sense of humor and personality that we love. It's no wonder that one of Downtown Coffea's greatest baristas, Bre Krump, came to us from Zandbros.
"When I started working at Zandbros I came over a few times a day...I really enjoyed the environment at Downtown Coffea. I thought they were super friendly, and I had a weird phase where I just really wanted soy milk with everything. And I didn’t feel judged in any certain way. They just wanted me to enjoy it."
The oldest of six siblings, Bre comes to us from Colton, South Dakota. The only reasonable follow-up question after Bre told me this was, "Wait, what?! Tell me more about having five siblings!"
"It’s pretty awesome." She laughed. "I used to hate it but now I love it. I got to see them grow up and become who they are."
And that's a great entry point in understanding Bre as the friendly presence behind the coffee bar. Not the "used to hate it" part, but the bit about getting to know a person. Seeing a person, a customer, a sibling--whomever--as they are and where they're going.
I could keep trying to reword it, but this idea kept coming through from answer to answer as we talked, so I'll just let Bre speak for herself.
One of the first things I like asking baristas is a two-part question:
1) What is your favorite drink to make for yourself?
2) What is your favorite drink to enjoy after someone else has made it for you?
If these questions provide an interesting response, it's because the answer shows an awareness of that connection that's experienced over coffee.
Bre Krump had a very interesting response: "I love making macchiatos for myself and seeing how the different espressos taste with it. Like yesterday, I tried it with the Chelelektu and it was sooooo good. But if someone else is making a drink for me, I like just straight espresso. It's fun because it lets me get the different palates of other people." She laughed and said, "I like my espresso a little bitter but still tasty, and other people like it just fully sweet."
And there it is. Not that Bre is bitter by any means. But that she sees something more than a drink as what takes place as we hand beverages to customers over the counter.
When I asked her about what it means to be a barista, one of the examples Bre talked about was the importance of getting customers that first cup of coffee for the day.
It's easy to laugh off that moment of mumbled conversation before you get that pick-me-up caffeine to start your day, but as the barista behind the counter, we see this as a part of our job.
Bre framed that moment this way, "A part of it is like that moment in the morning when people come in having not had that first cup for the day. They’re all groggy, and then I get them that coffee… to know I’m helping with that step, that I can make someone's day with a cup of coffee. It’s important."
Another response that explains Bre's focus on the customer--the person--through coffee came in response to this question: "What is the nerdiest thing about you when it comes to coffee?"
After laughing at herself, she said, "I think it’s when a new coffee comes out, I immediately need to make a pourover of it so I know what it is to me, so I can explain it for a customer."
And that's what you'll get when you talk with Bre, or ask what coffee you should try. You'll get a response that looks at the coffee--sure--but does so as a bridge to a much more important conversation.
She put it best when she said, "I think community looks like people supporting one another, regardless of where you’re from or who you are as a person. The love for one another is that support and that key for what community is. You don’t find it very often, but I think downtown Sioux Falls is a great example of that."
If you haven't yet, say hi to Bre Krump. She'll be happy to see you, even in that early morning groggy-phase, because that's one of the greatest parts of the day. To her, that's important.