You may have seen her contribution at places like Harold’s Cabin on the Peninsula or Lodi Coffee in North Charleston, but Brianna Berry, aka Talk Coffee To Me, knows a thing or two about coffee.
Berry specializes in coffee consulting and education with Talk Coffee to Me, a consulting business that helps emerging coffee shops with everything from barista training to operating equipment to menu development.
Coffee is more than just a cup you drink every morning (or night, for night owls). There is a huge chain of events required to get to the end product of your morning swings. It’s a process that Berry loved during a trip to Honduras in 2010 where she studied coffee from its origins – from the cultivation of the plant to its arrival in a cup of espresso. “She was more interested and excited to continue it,” she said upon her return. Quite simply, it was the amount of hard work that goes into the product that drove me.
“With coffee, for example, just seeing how many hands have touched the product and how complex it is, how little we appreciate something we don’t know about,” she added. “I think this has translated into many products, and the realization that the more you look at something, the more you know about making it – that’s what prompted me to investigate.”
Since returning from Honduras, Perry has spent time studying crafts, equipment, and assets on her own, working for Pure Intentions Coffee in Charlotte, North Carolina—which was working out of a garage at the time—and doing some training on her own, including teaching industry experts Coffee and the help of cafe owners “from the ground up”.
She said coffee wasn’t always the plan, but education and entrepreneurship had always been. “When I was a kid, I was definitely an entrepreneur,” she said. “I owned my first business when I was 6 years old selling cookbooks and handmade goods to neighbors, but I didn’t think it would be something like that. I thought I would go work for someone else, be in the business areas of the company. So I was like going a different path. completely.
“But the drinks, the hospitality, the coffee—it all kept pulling me back in and I found a lot of success in it. I definitely had a lot to learn and said to myself, ‘I can teach this to other people.’ I think it’s less of the counseling and more of the educational aspects. If I could share Something I know with someone else, that’s powerful.”
In 2016, I ordered Harold’s Cabin at 247 Congress St. Berry ran her own coffee program and around the same time, she came up with the idea for Talk Coffee to Me to help companies like Harold’s kickstart coffee programs. She’s already been training and counseling on her own, so why not give her a name?
But what exactly does a coffee consulting entail?
“That’s a great question,” Berry said. “I think there are a lot of people who romanticize this – the beauty of coffee and the admiration of the café vibe on this side of the table and they want it to be a full-time party.”
So it’s basically everything, from recruitment, equipment supply, DHEC requirements, certifications, training and everything in between, she said.
When Berry wasn’t beyond pub training, consulting, or even making a drink herself, she wanted to do more to connect with consumers because they’re “more excited about anything anyone in the industry might offer,” she said.
To that end, she launched a bike tour program through Airbnb Experiences, partnering with former bike-sharing company Holy Spokes, taking a group of enthusiastic and ardent coffee lovers across the peninsula to four different cafes. “At every stop, it wasn’t about tasting coffee in a store, it was about knowing what’s behind the cup,” she said. “So we might do some education about the plant and how it becomes coffee, and what you know and love like coffee, and then the next step might be how to taste professionally and assess the flavor.”
Unfortunately, with the pandemic and the replacement of Holy Spokes with Lime bikes, the Coffee Tour is no longer running. But Berry said she has other educational projects in the pipeline.
And to answer the age-old question “what makes a good cup of coffee?” Berry answers it in two parts:
“One, what you want. It’s all about tradition and experience, or maybe a memory you have. And the second part is balance. It doesn’t matter what the coffee is if it’s balanced. If it has equal parts acidity, sweetness, and general coffee bitterness, that’s what I’m looking for.”
Berry doesn’t just make coffee. Find out how she consults her on cocktails for some of the city’s hottest spots big doseAnd city paper Annual Guide to Charleston’s Beverage and Bar Culture, June 15.
For more information on what she offers and other clients, head over to talkcoffeetome.com or follow her on Instagram @talkcoffeetome.
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