Best Barista

Eric Schaefer

How many baristas can say they actually roasted the French roast being sipped by their customers? In St. Louis, Eric Schaefer of the Central West End branch of Northwest Coffee Roasters might be the only one. Three days a week Schaefer tends to the shop's antique German roasting machine, feeding batches of green coffee beans into the cooker and listening carefully for the telltale cracking of a perfectly roasted batch. The other two days, he steps behind the bar and turns those beautifully blackened blends into espresso and coffee. Short of moving to Costa Rica to pick the beans himself, Schaefer does just about everything a barista can do to provide customers the perfect pour.

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