Meet The BX Barista
Born-and-bred Bronxite Joseph Gonzalez is Bronx proud, to say the least. Despite working the Manhattan coffeescape, he calls himself “The BX Barista.”
Gonzalez’s first break came while working at a New York City–based coffee chain. “I was there for about a year and was able to put my hand in a little bit of everything,” he says, quickly climbing the corporate coffee ladder from barista to head roaster to general manager.
“I learned how to roast my own coffee,” he says proudly. “I had a 10-pound roaster; we did small batches. I had anywhere from 10 to 12 different coffees at my disposal,” he says. “It was amazing. I spent one summer just living in that roastery; you could catch me there at midnight. It was like therapy.”
Dedicated to continuing his coffee education, he spends his days off taking coffee culture classes, participating in cuppings and recently became a Specialty Coffee Association of America certified barista. The BX Barista can be found working at coffee shops throughout New York City creating competition-worthy latte art.
Favorite thing about being a barista?
Two things, one is sharing, and two is putting a smile on peoples faces. It gets to the point where if I see you walking up the block, I can have your drink made by the time you walk in the door.
What’s your coffee order?
Espresso. A shot of espresso says a lot; it’s easy to make drip coffee or a batch brew. Iced coffee and cold brews are easy to make, but an espresso you gotta know what you’re doing. It takes 30 seconds to make an espresso; you have 30 seconds to mess it up.
Do coffees of different origin taste different?
Yes! Coffees from different countries are what truly make the world go around. Africa, these tend to be more on the fruity side (think strawberry and blueberry) sweet and very smooth. South American origins tend to be sweet as well but more like a dried raisin, not as bright in flavor as African and will have more of a robust body with a nutty, chocolate finish.
What’s the difference between a light roast and dark roast?
There are different types of roasters the most used style is a rotating cylinder, so all the beans are roasted uniformly. Light roast means that it was cooked the shortest amount of time (the sugars in the bean are released as it heats up breaking through the cell wall which is what give it its color. The longer it cooks, the darker the roast.
What makes a good cup of coffee?
I get asked this question all the time. “Joe—what is the secret to a good cup of coffee?” And always stop for a minute, "Ok are you listening, the secret to a good cup of coffee, make it however you like it, whether it’s black coffee or coffee with about 70 percent milk. It's truly all about your personal preference. But also to answer your question without getting too coffee geeky a good cup of coffee is one that is both a touch sour and a touch bitter.
Is there anything you love more than coffee?
There is only one thing I love talking about more than coffee, and it’s my munchkins. Nayise, 14 and Jonah, 9 my blessings and true motivation. I couldn't have asked for a better pair of kids My son has been ice skating since he was 4 and been playing hockey since 5. We go on Thursdays to world Ice Arena in Flushing so he can get extra practice on his stick handling and skating. Nayise decided this summer that she was going to be a neurosurgeon. She’s already started accumulating hours with the Mentoring in Medicine program and her school's community health ambassador program. Her Mother and I sat down with her and explained that if she really wants this then now is the time to start. Her work ethic inspires me. I truly am the luckiest man in the world—what more could I ask for.