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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Hey Barista: Find a respite from the daily grind at Presta Coffee

    Sydney Richardson

    Presta Coffee barista Jacque Brackeen pours a cold brew pour over on Tuesday, April 26. Presta Coffee offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of campus life.

    Tucson is home to cute, quirky little coffee shops that have been favorites to locals for years. But, there’s one coffee shop you might have missed on your way to work or school. Presta Coffee Roasters is disguised in a detailed and well-designed building that could pass as a fancy office building or studio. Located on North First Avenue and East Alturas Street, this unique place has been roasting beans from all over the world and serving locals for three and a half years. I walked into this shop mesmerized by the detailed windows, patio and coffee bar. I talked to barista Jacque Brackeen about Presta Coffee and what they’re about.

    Daily Wildcat: How long have you been working here?

    Jacque Brackeen: Pretty much since we have opened, so about three and a half years. 

    So this is a pretty unique place. Why should people come here?

    Well, lots of reasons. [The] biggest reason being that we really highlight and showcase beans. Education is huge, as you can see (they were showing customers new beans). We’ve been doing classes and cuppings and tastings since 10 a.m. This happens regularly every Tuesday, as well as sometimes we do other brewing classes. One of our biggest goals is not to promote our coffee shop, but to promote the coffee scene, so people can know and become aware that specialty coffee is important and why where your money goes is important as well. So the past two weeks, we focused on two countries and talked about political strife and social strife and what coffee means to their industry.

    As a barista, what’s your favorite drink to make?

    I love cold brew. It’s absolutely one of my favorites. I love doing an iced pour over, and that’s the Japanese method of making iced coffee. So instead of a regular pour over, you split the water weight between iced and hot water and there’s a series of chemical things that happen; but essentially, the molecules slow down once they hit that ice, so you’re preserving that flavor but without diluting it.

    This place is beautiful. How important is aesthetic?

    As with any business, what you present is what people can expect from you. But especially here, our owner was a graphic designer before he got into the coffee world and he was very good at it, but there was one thing he missed, which was social interaction. So I think it’s really cool that it [has] come through this business, that design forward is very important to us. Again, going back to awareness, making people in Tucson realize that there are bigger things in coffee and coffee is growing and it’s a community and you can become a part of it.

    During our interview, employees and regulars were listening in on a phone call with a business partner in Costa Rica.

    We’re actually talking to the farmer, Nela, from Costa Rica that harvest picked and processed all of these coffees. So she actually sent them to us from Costa Rica. We roasted them and she wanted to hear some feedback.

    So what kind of music do you usually play?

    It depends on the barista working. We’re all pretty big fans of R&B, so anything we can sing along to; but we also love classic boy band favorites and ’80s pop.

    You guys are in a pretty random spot, so, does anything weird happen here?

    Surprisingly, not as much. When we were looking at this building, that was definitely a concern of mine. But thankfully, we’re far enough away from the street that people don’t really know what the building is, so we haven’t had any instances. But it has been cool because aside from being sketched out by the neighborhood, I think this neighborhood has been long since forgotten. There [are] so many people that come from this neighborhood or others that say, “we’re dying for something different in this neighborhood.”

    Do you have any regulars?

    We do. We’re starting to build them. It kind of took a while I think because of our location, because people are driving on First Avenue to get to work, but we’re starting to get more people. These Tuesday cuppings have been able to do more and more stuff because a lot of the same people are coming, so we have to do fresh new stuff for them. But we do get a lot of walk-ins, people who just Yelp or Google “coffee” in the area and say, “I never knew this place existed.”

    Are the Tuesday cuppings for anybody?

    Yeah, it’s free. We start at 10 [a.m.] so you might want to show up a minute or two before. I always give the low down and tell you exactly how it goes down, so it’s never that you need to know anything before [you] come. It’s pretty easy. We’re laid back and we just want to have fun and drink coffee.

    Next time you’re on the hunt for a place that loves coffee as much as you do, Presta Coffee Roasters is the place to be.

    Read: Hey, Barista: Alex Potter from Sparkroot shares her favorite (and weirdest) barista moments

    Read: Hey, Barista!: Coffee meets science at Cartel Coffee Lab

    Follow Mariel Bustamante on Twitter

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