Interview: Abe Lampert

Basic information. (Name, age, school, department [or practice], year, occupation, coffee shop you currently work at, how many years.)

 Abe, 29

School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Print-media.

Coffee shop you currently work at and for how many years?

Manager at New Wave Coffee for 3.5 years.

How did you come to work at your coffee shop?  Are you a coffee drinker yourself?  If yes, where does your coffee come from (coffee shop, local roaster, specific country of origin, etc.)?

I got my job by dropping off a resume and having had worked in food service (including various cafes) for many years. I drink coffee daily, but I’m not incredibly particular with concern to its origin. 

How knowledgeable are you about the coffee you brew in your coffee shop?  Of coffee and its trade in general?

Very. As much as my profession requires of me.

Is there a connection (if at all) between your experience with coffee and your artistic practice?

Only insofar as coffee affects my ability to focus on anything in life. 

Do you feel as if there is something that differentiates your coffee/coffee shop from local/national competitors?

Yes and no. My shop is a little more laid back than other Chicago based independent shops, and is certainly different, in obvious ways from say, a Starbucks or Cosi. Ultimately, however, all coffee shops are the same

What do you think is coffee’s role within a social realm?

I have no idea how to answer that. People drink coffee, often together. I will say that even though I work at a coffee shop and spend many hours a day adjusting grinders and attempting to pull high-quality shots of espresso, I think that people who ‘meet for coffee’, or spend nine hours a day hanging out at a coffee shop are out of their minds. People who choose coffee as their point of social interaction need to learn about bars, or better yet public parks. Furthermore, anyone who goes out for coffee on a first date is a fucking lunatic. I watch it happen every day and I can’t imagine a less ideal circumstance to talk to someone for the first time than when you’re both ingesting high amounts of stimulants. And milk. Coffee shop first date = highly nervous and highly flatulent first date. What a bunch of dumb-asses.

Do you think there is a greater dialogue to be had involving coffee production and its consumption?  Coffee culture/consumerism in general?

Sure. But just as much as, literally, any commodity purchased in the United States.

Interview by Eric Lengsouthiphong



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