Latte Art

Crosby Martin Spills the Tea (and Coffee!) About Working at Ukirk Tallahassee’s Finest: Calvin’s

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Crosby Martin, a barista from the underground coffee shop, Calvin’s Coffee House. Although it is his first time working here, Crosby was more than happy to speak about his experiences as a barista and his attachment to the business.

Her Campus (HC): For someone who may not know what Calvin's is, please tell us more about the business and how it started?

Crosby Martin (CM): Calvin’s is a coffee house in the basement of the UKirk Presbyterian Church on the corner of Park Ave and Copeland, right across from the Dunkin’ Donuts. The lounge of Calvin’s used to be some sort of hang out/gaming room, but one year, they started selling coffee in the basement. Thus, Calvin’s was born!

HC: Is there an overall message that you guys want to get across?

CM: “Love People, Love Coffee” is our slogan, and I think that it shows in every interaction we have with our customers.

HC: Do you guys like to reach out to the community? If so, how?

CM: We used to have open mic nights in our lounge pre-COVID. Last fall semester, Calvin’s hosted an open mic night with the Pride Student Union, which inspired me to apply to be a barista here! Hopefully, we will be able to resume them next semester.

HC: What does this business specialize in? Do you have any signature drinks? 

CM: We specialize in coffee and espresso! You can order a latte, cortado, espresso shot, macchiato, cappuccino, drip, cold brew, lemonade or tea. We used to always have muffins and homemade pastries, but COVID has put a damper on those because of our reduced number of customers. We have a new signature drink every month. Last month, it was the Honey I’m Home latte, which had honey, vanilla, cinnamon and whipped cream. This month, we have the Sad Ghoul Hours latte, which is made with white chocolate and caramel sauce.

HC: How is Calvin's different from your typical coffee store?

CM: For starters, we are in the basement of a church. Since we have been slow, we’ve been able to talk and form relationships with our regulars. It is harder to hear people through masks and plexiglass due to COVID-19, but we make it work! I also think that we have a lot more fun than baristas at chain stores like Starbucks or Dunkin’ because we’re a pretty close-knit group.

barista preparing coffee cappuccino Photo by Jakub Kapusnak from Foodies Feed

HC: What pushed you to start working at Calvin's?

CM: I could go really deep into my conservative-Christian-school-religious-trauma background, but I’ll just say that the Pride Student Union open mic event was what inspired me to apply. Seeing a Christian affiliated organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community really made me feel at home here.

HC: What do you love the most about being a barista?

CM: I love my coworkers! I’ve never worked with such fun and loving people. Free drinks are cool and all, but my friends at Calvin’s make this job wonderful.

HC: What's your favorite drink that you like to stir up for yourself?

CM: My body is sensitive to caffeine, so I stick with an iced chai oat milk latte. Sometimes, if I really want the coffee flavor, I’ll replace the shot of espresso with about ¼ cup of drip coffee. That way, I still get the coffee flavor without getting the jitters.

HC: For beginners like me, what drink do you recommend trying?

CM: If you’re a coffee person, it’s hard to go wrong with our lattes, especially our signature ones. Our hazelnut syrup makes drinks taste like ice cream, and our oat milk is my favorite alternative milk.

HC: Do you have any funny memories associated with working here?

CM: Last semester, our shifts overlapped because we had a lot more customers. One of my coworkers and I would bring in potatoes, onions, eggs, toast and other breakfast foods to cook when our shift was slow. This semester, we don’t have overlapping shifts, so we hang out after she closes up. We push the couches away from the walls and make the lounge into a loop for us to roller skate around for an hour or two every week. About a month ago, we had a Harvest Moon party and a few weeks ago, we went on a camping trip to a nearby state park. We’re always planning our next get together.

Love is Love mural art Photo by Yoav Hornung from Unsplash

HC: How are you and your team handling business with COVID-19?

CM: Things are a lot slower and quieter around here, but that’s okay. We are trying to keep things as safe and distanced as possible, so we only have outdoor seating for now. We also only serve drinks in to-go cups and have the lounge couches blocked off. It’s sad to see it so empty, but we all know that it’s what’s best for the health and safety of our customers, baristas and community.

If you want a new place to hang out with your friends, while also drinking delicious coffee, feel free to check out Calvin’s and see how they work to build their craft!

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