~ Talking coffee & community with Melody in OKC ~
Coffee Slingers has been a go-to OKC coffee stop for our team since before their participation in the first Caffeine Crawl OKC in 2013, and we've loved watching them engage the coffee lovers of OKC as Oklahoma's specialty coffee scene continues to grow. We hope you enjoy our chat with Melody, and grab a cup of coffee next time you're in OK!
- The LAB Team
The LAB: What's been the best part of watching Coffee Slingers grow as a company?
Melody: Creative thinking from my crew - watching development and confidence grow in the people I've mentored. Also growing as a leader that can trust and let go as well as have the time to see the whole picture, and where we are going next.
The LAB: What are a few key things you look for when hiring a new barista, and what do you wish was a bigger (or smaller) focus in the barista community in general?
Melody: Can they be a team player, and can they learn from mistakes and take feedback - being an assertive communicator is also important.
I wish the community would focus more on the coffee and a little less on the latte art - because pretty coffee has to taste good, too. I would also like to see us putting less focus on making coffee that just tastes 'approachable' - this is difficult for producers at the farm level trying to accommodate the industry, and makes a lot of amazing coffees muted. Just like in craft beer and wine, a diverse flavor variety is available for different palates, and some of us want coffee, beer and wine that is complex and makes us think!
The LAB: Three things you love about OKC?
Melody: I have loved watching Oklahoma grow into a more friendly city for out-of-towners, as well as bikers and walkers - we now have covered bus stops and a bike share program. We are really starting to focus on the welcoming factor, health, and diversity. This has been very enjoyable for me to see and be a part of - I love being a part of something that's growing in OKC!
The LAB: What ways have you seen the OKC specialty coffee scene grow and change since opening Coffee Slingers?
Melody: It's changed so much since the day we opened our doors in 2008 - Oklahoma City is familiar with specialty coffee now. It has helped finding people that want to be a part of the specialty coffee industry, which makes it better for all coffee shops. We have all helped plant the seed to create a culture that understands the combination of hard work and quality - we take a humble pride in the job we do, and can enjoy it creatively in a fun, flexible, and always growing industry.
The LAB: What's your go-to morning routine?
Melody: Breakfast, then ride. it's necessary way for me to start my day or I feel a little off.
The LAB: Favorite music artists currently?
Melody: The Skatalites, Howlin' Wolf - anything with clear defined instruments displayed in layers.
The LAB: What's an ideal day off for you look like?
Melody: Jumping out of an airplane, rock climbing, or just going to the Wichita Mountains for a hike with my new dog Millie, who I just adopted. I guess you can say I'm in love...
The LAB: Favorite after-hours beverage (and favorite place to order/drink it)?
Melody: Vino! Summer it's Pinos from Oregon - winter it's Malbecs from Argentina, or a Cabernet from California. I definitely enjoy French wines in the spring/summer. Weather and food is a huge deciding factor when it comes to wine.
If I'm going to go get a drink, it's definitely going to be an outside patio like Sidecar, Flip's Wine Bar, or the O Bar. Wine temperature is usually a selling point for me. I enjoy understanding the processes and how aging affects the flavors of the wine - I think having diversity in the things that you're in to helps with staying passionate about what you do everyday.
The LAB: Totally agree! What was your first job in coffee, and what do you remember most about it?
Melody: My first job was in a outdoor coffee kiosk at a grocery store in Tacoma, Washington.
I wore cut off gloves and we had space heaters on the floor - I remember opening my first bag of fresh coffee to fill the hopper, and wondering why it didn't taste like it smelled.
Another memory would be a customer with more worldly experience coming by and trying to show me how to grind, pack and pull a shot - if you can only imagine - it was 1995 and I was 16. I remember really wanting to make tasty drinks.
The LAB: That's awesome, and cool to see how far you've come! Thanks so much for sharing, Melody.
Melody: Cheers for listening ~