Meet Your Barista Series: Nicci
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 Nicci, Dark Heart's warm soul, vegetable enthusiast, and vibrant wanderer.
1. WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THE COFFEE INDUSTRY? HOW DID YOU BECOME A BARISTA?
From coffee-soaked girl scout cookies, to now training my palate, your girl has come a long way in the coffee world. But really, my actual coffee career started right after I moved to CO, which was the goal I set for myself when moving. I was in the restaurant industry for a bit, which I still love, but something was drawing me to coffee instead. So, I tackled my interest at full speed. I applied everywhere until I got my foot in the door. Now that I am here, I see just how endless the possibilities of growing in this industry are, and I don’t see myself getting bored for a long time.
2. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT DARK HEART AND WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GROW WITH THE DARK HEART FAMILY?
Ever since I was a young teen, I have had a love for the simple and healthy. I became a vegetarian and started cooking my own meals, focusing on pure and delicious ingredients. That mindset created the love and passion I have for specialty coffee. When coffee is grown well, roasted to its specific profile, and brewed with intention, one doesn’t need cream or sugar. Just pure delicious bean juice. So that being said, I started seeking those shops out. The ones that encompass the idea of quality and integrity. Which of course, led me to Dark Heart.
3. WHAT MAKES DARK HEART SPECIAL?
SO MUCH! I SCREAM IT TO THE WORLD ALL THE TIME!!! I am absolutely in love and in awe of what Justin and Allison encompass here at Dark Heart. The more I talk with the owners, the more I learn about their desire to continuously challenge themselves and grow in this world. I’ve had amazing opportunities to talk to managers of other shops, and I always come back appreciating what we’re doing here at Dark Heart more and more.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DARK HEART SPECIALTY DELIGHT TO MAKE, AND WHY?
I love making cortados, which so happens to be what I love drinking, as well. To me, it’s the perfect milk to espresso ratio. A small 4 oz cup full of intense richness, and ye,t smooth creamy dairy goodness. Simple and delicious. As for making them, that comes down to the milk steaming, temp, and latte art. There are a couple of tricks one needs to know that differentiates them from an 8-12 oz latte. Once one knows those tips and tricks, and manages a good pour with beautiful latte art, you feel really good about yourself.
5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH A BABY BARISTA?
Don’t feel intimidated! Cafés can feel like an intense bubble of pretentious, almost cliquey people. And while I can’t speak for other baristas and shops, know that at Dark Heart, we are not. Seasoned baristas want to share in the baby barista’s journey, curiosities, and questions!
6. WHEN YOU'RE NOT AT DARK HEART, WHAT IS NICCI USUALLY UP TO?
Oh boy, what am I not up to! I have too many projects going on to count. On my days off, I’ll lie in bed for much too long, just trying to plan my day and organize/ prioritize my time toward projects. Recently, I just got back from a month-long camping trip. During said trip, I missed out on so much time creating in the kitchen! Which I thought about constantly. Now that I am back, a cookbook has been open on my kitchen counter and on a new page, at least four times a week.
7. TELL US ABOUT YOUR PASSION FOR VEGETABLES.
I grew up in the Midwest where folks are devoted to that midwestern diet. And sometime, along my teen years, I was unhappy with this diet. For me, my mind, body, and soul did not feel nurtured. So, I dove into nutritional books and decided to become a vegetarian. Which then led to more creativity in the kitchen and my love toward the veggies. ALSO, fermentation! I was introduced to the beauty of fermentation a couple of years ago, but am just now diving into that rabbit hole for reals, and it’s blowing my mind!! The delicious unique flavors and the health benefits- it’s all so cool and intriguing to me.
8. WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL GOALS AND DREAMS?
I have two 5-year goals.
One is to go work on a farm somewhere new and exciting. I was in contact with a farm around Vancouver Island that was teaching ancient seed preservation – how cool, right! Covid has put a pause on that one for right now, but I do hope to get out there soon. If not that farm specifically, then any other one. I just want to get my hands dirty and learn some secrets of the land.
The second is to become fluent in Spanish. I’ve had this goal for a while now, and for the longest time, I questioned my ability. Thanks to a couple of tricks learned, I have noticed a confidence and desire growing more and more. I just need to make the leap and move to South America for a month or two.
9. WHICH LIBRARY BOOK ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? DO YOU DIG IT, AND IF SO, WHY?
I’m currently reading two pieces of fiction, which is so unheard-of for me; I’m mostly all about the essay collections or nonfiction writing. Your girl loves to learn, but I recently remembered how exciting it feels to get lost amongst a story! The two are called “The Power” by Naomi Alderman, and “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix. I’m notorious for giving too much information away, so I’ll leave the details to Google. But I will say, out of the two, I highly recommend “The Power.”
10. WHY ARE YOU WONDERFUL? (YES, PLEASE ANSWER IT, BECAUSE YOU ARE!)
When it comes to the confidence and acceptance that I hold for myself, my genuine nature and curious mind shine through. That’s what formed the Nicci I am today. No time for fakery over here because I’m too busy connecting with others or exploring the things that interest me.
11. LEAVE US WITH A QUOTE THAT SPEAKS TO YOUR HEART.
“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.” -Mary Oliver