Meet Your Barista: Reiley
Our Meet Your Barista series will introduce our incredible humans who make Dark Heart extra special. Enjoy their stories, coffee magic, goals, and awesomeness. Get it, get it, get it. And get inspired!
So, without further adieu, meet the wildly passionate Reiley, Dark Heart’s Lead Barista:
1. WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THE COFFEE INDUSTRY?
Initially, I wanted a job as a teenager that was ‘cool’ and had more morning hours than my previous job. I liked coffee in a very loose sense, where it was my way to wake up in the morning and be a seventeen year-old adult. The service and personable environment that surrounds coffee was an added bonus for me, but not what I initially expected when I first got into it.
2. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT DARK HEART AND WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GROW WITH THE DARK HEART FAMILY?
When Dark Heart first opened, I remember I had just got my license and a car. My mom actually found out about their opening before me and said that I should go try it out because it “looks very you,” which meant the aesthetic fit mine. I was becoming more curious about coffee in general, but had no idea there were waves, let alone differences, in the quality of coffee.
I vividly remember walking in with my backpack, looking at the smaller menu, and ordering an americano because it sounded the most thrilling to me, despite not knowing what it was. I got it and looked down to see a black cup of coffee. I was so embarrassed at the idea of walking up and putting cream and sugar in my coffee like I do at home. So I mustered up my strength, took a sip, and my life literally changed after that. I was astonished that the coffee by itself was amazing and did not need anything added to it. It was the first time I truly enjoyed a black cup of coffee. This immediately sparked my interest in coffee and Dark Heart specifically. I quickly became the teenager that budgeted money specifically for her weekly indulgences at a specialty coffee shop.
3. WHAT MAKES DARK HEART UNIQUE?
A lot of people, I think, would love to say the vibe or aesthetic makes the cafe unique. Which is fair and maybe true, but I don’t think this is what makes people come back. Dark Heart has the approachableness of a small, local coffee shop, but the expectations and quality of a high-end restaurant. I knew this as a customer, but as an employee, it is only more clear how much every detail matters to Dark Heart. From the invitation at the door and the interaction at the register, to the beautifully crafted drink and never-wobbly tables in an engaging and stunning atmosphere, what makes Dark Heart unique is the fact that details do actually matter to us.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DARK HEART DELIGHT TO MAKE, AND WHY?
I love making pour overs for people. This is mainly a nostalgic thing for me, because personally, this was my hard conversion to specialty coffee, since I ordered these regularly. In addition, the personal touch a pour over has is almost unmatched. I weigh, grind, and brew a singular batch of coffee for one person, who chooses the coffee to begin with. How is that not whimsical and charming?
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DARK HEART RITUAL TO SIP, AND WHY?
I really have grown to enjoy espresso. Espresso was something that always daunted me even well into my veteran black coffee drinking time. I had always known it to be harsh, bitter, ashy, and something that was supposed to be cut with milk and syrup. But day one training at Dark Heart changed my mind about that instantly. Espresso soon became this beautiful, small, complex, and sometimes creatively challenging cup of coffee that is almost overlooked when it is served alone. Dark Heart really has changed my mind about coffee and what it should be.
6. WHAT SPECIALTY COFFEE MAGIC DO YOU USUALLY RECOMMEND TO A FIRST TIME DARK HEART VISITOR?
Well my immediate question back is: What do you like to drink? We have so many great options and what is amazing about our menu is that it is almost designed to push people out of their bubble, especially if they are not used to specialty coffee. If you’re coming from a regular coffee shop, grab yourself a honey latte or mocha. If you’re coming from a little bit of knowledge about the specialty coffee world, then I’d love to make you a cortado with our single origin espresso.
7. WHAT ARE YOUR COFFEE GOALS?
My goals change constantly; whatever is getting me excited is usually the path that leads to my goals. Currently my goals are teaching home brewing classes and roasting. Day to day, my goals are always to serve the best coffee, but in the grander scheme, I would love to teach classes and learn a bit about how to roast coffee for the cafe.
8. WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL GOALS, OUTSIDE OF DARK HEART? (YEAH, LIFE STUFF.)
I’m currently a student, so my goal in that realm of life is to graduate (obviously) with a double major in journalism and photography. Even grander than that, I want to travel around the world as a photojournalist for any publication that inspires me. When I was nine years old, that was National Geographic, and boy that would still be such a dream job, but honestly the coffee magazine ‘Standart’ has been an intriguing option for me recently.
9. WHEN YOU'RE NOT AT DARK HEART, WHAT IS REILEY USUALLY UP TO?
If you ask me spontaneously, I’ll probably say that on my days off, I’m getting my life together. I think I unintentionally created this euphemism to essentially mean I’m planning. I’m planning my week, day, life, goals, reorganizing my productivity systems, and reflecting on all of the above. It sounds boring, but this has become a hobby of mine. Otherwise, my more exciting things are hiking, reading, exercising, drinking coffee, photographing, and doing anything that is creative. While photography is my main thing, I deeply love drawing and painting.
10. WHY ARE YOU AWESOME? (YES, YOU HAVE TO ANSWER BECAUSE YOU ARE WAY AWESOME!)
This is a weird question because I have a weird answer to it. Truthfully, I love the fact that I am goal-oriented. It can become a bit extreme of course, and I often bite off a lot more than I can chew, but it has become more than an achievement for me. Creating goals for myself is a sincere method of introspection for me; I often figure out a lot about myself when I am doing my weekly review or my favorite week-long reset at the start of each year. I learn a lot about myself and the people I surround myself with, and often, I try to figure out how I can flourish and help those around me flourish as well.
We love you, Reiley!