The Man Behind The Bar


Christin Rodriguez, Contributing Writer

Often times, as coffee shop customers, one can forget that there’s a person behind the bar working hard to make and serve quality coffee. However, as you get to know your barista you might come to find there’s more to the eye. They might even be one of your peers.

Matt Whipple is a senior at William Paterson studying Communications with a focus in media studies and a minor in critical and professional writing. He’s also a talented barista at the prestigious shop Box Kite Coffee on the Upper West Side.

Whipple got his start at Whole foods where he worked in the specialty department. It was mostly dedicated to coffee and cheese. His interest was sparked after his manager gifted him a chemex, which is used to make pour overs or in layman’s terms individual hand brewed cups of coffee.

Whipple immersed himself in coffee culture asking questions and trying different types of roasts and beans that were available to him at Whole Foods. His quest for knowledge and experience led him to a coffee shop in Hoboken.

Whipple’s love and knowledge for coffee grew, and although he’s only been in the industry for a two years, his goals seem to be edging toward the coffee industry. For right now, he says “I want to just keep learning more until I’m the best barista I can be.”

It’s not an easy profession. Whipple says “people don’t realize sometimes, when they go into a coffee shop, the amount of work that goes into it. Sometimes they see us relaxed, kind of enjoying ourselves, but there’s a lot of, not only physical work, but mental and emotional work that goes into conversing with people and just trying to make them happy and give you a tip.”
While Whipple is without a doubt artsy, he’s also intelligent, dedicated, and open-minded, qualities that might not come to mind when thinking of your local barista.

Whipple also discussed the long term possibility of running a coffee program dedicated to educating people about coffee in all its capacities.

While Whipple has found what he wants to pursue in life, there are many of those who haven’t and are eager to discover that ever so elusive spark.

Whipple commented “Your major doesn’t always have to define your passion. To be quite honest, I don’t think I’m going to work in the field I majored in, but there’s a lot to learn in college in general aside from your major courses and stuff. Taking communications courses really helped me just learn how to be professional and talk to people and I see that gives me an edge on other people I work side by side with.”

Whipple’s passion for coffee should inspire those William Paterson students who haven’t found theirs to hold on tight and keep searching. Stepping into Whole Foods, Whipple didn’t think he’d find the love he now has for specialty coffee. Sometimes the best things are those that don’t come to us right away.