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A Quick Bite with the people who start your day at the coffee shop
Baristas are well-trained and passionate about serving coffee
This story is part of a special series.

Vivian Goodman
Amanda Eckertson is also a student at Lakeland Community College. She plans to be a graphic designer.
Courtesy of Zachary Duvall
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What do you know about the person who makes that first cup of coffee to start your day?

The average coffee shop barista keeps a low profile. But coffee connoisseurs know their worth.

Today on Quick Bites we get to know a couple of baristas who love everything about coffee.

A passion for making the perfect cup

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Good baristas are well-trained, very quick and,  above all, accommodating.  One of the best is a fixture of Akron’s trendy Highland Square neighborhood.Michael Hamilton has worked at  Angel Falls Coffee Company for almost seven years. 

"This is the first job I got right out of high school and started here. I haven’t left.”

He enjoys the community that forms at the coffee shop,  ”And the fact that every day my job is slightly different, but generally somewhat the same as well.

He knows most of  the customers by name. “I know a lot more people’s drinks than their names. There are quite a few people I know what they want when their cars pull up.”

In South Euclid at the Phoenix Coffee Shop on a recent Saturday morning, Amanda Eckertson is proud to be called a barista.

Technique and timing is key when it comes to knowing the right grind, pulling the perfect espresso shot, milk texturing and pouring, and steaming the milk.

Amanda’s careful not to steam too long or she says the half-and-half will taste burnt in one of her specialties: the maple bacon latte.

The new drink doesn’t have Amanda’s name on it, but late one night, just before closing, she served as it's inspiration.

 “My friend and co-worker Mike Danner was working with me. He’s probably one of the more talented baristas as far as latte art goes. He’s been in some competitions, and he asked me if I would like a latte. And I said sure I’m like, ‘Would you mind trying to make a bacon latte? We experimented with that. It actually worked.”

Amanda had another idea. She’s from Chardon and grew up with Richard’s Famous Maple Syrup.

 “So I tried adding the maple because at first it was just brown sugar and bacon. That was good but with the local maple syrup it like really, it just works.”

The bacon is partially-cooked and re-heated, not fried. Maple Bacon latte comes in only the 8- or 12-ounce size , and it’s so rich it’s hard to finish even the 12-ounce cup. But you can also get it with soy or skim milk.

Amanda  has a final question for Quick Bites.

 “ Did you like the drink? I loved it. OK. That was really what I wanted to hear, so, I’m glad.”

And that’s this week’s Quick Bite. Join us next week for kale chips and granola at a Lakewood producer of raw foods.

Related Links & Resources
A poem for a barista

Phoenix Coffee in South Euclid's website

Angel Falls on Facebook

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