The Blue Bottle Coffee located in the W.C. Morse building on Broadway is undeniably beautiful. It features stately architecture and a modern interior, with high ceilings and hanging lights. When I visited Esraa on a Wednesday afternoon, sunlight was streaming in through the large windows, and several customers were seated enjoying their coffee. Behind them, a semi-transparent screen separated the main space from machine repair area housing various espresso machines and tools.
As soon as I walked in, I spotted Esraa making drinks behind the bar. She’s mastered the art of pouring tulips - I watched in amazement as she poured my oat milk mocha with 6 perfect layers. The Blue Bottle Area Lead, Jess, walked in soon after I did. Esraa earned her praise with two lattes: “Absolutely gorgeous.”
In addition to her impressive latte art skills, Esraa is a natural with customer service. She is warm, kind, and full of enthusiasm about her experience at Blue Bottle. She especially loves working on a team. When I asked Esraa about her favorite part of being a barista, she mentioned monthly team meetings where “all the crew is together” talking about hospitality and new ideas for the cafe.
In regards to the coffee side of things, Esraa explained, “I didn’t know much about coffee when I came to America. And now I am surprised! Coffee is so different! There’s many ways to make coffee - French press, pourover, espresso, and many ways to taste it - is this coffee good, bad, sugary? We taste coffees here every day, and if you pull a shot, or if you open a new bag of coffee, you have to taste it in the morning and you have to dial in. Blue Bottle has very good quality.” Indeed, Blue Bottle is regarded as one of the first and most prominent specialty coffee shops in the Bay Area, and their baristas are trained to high standards.
Esraa has come a long way since she took 1951’s barista training program in February 2018. She says that 1951 helped her “a lot! And they helped me find a job too. Dee came with me to my interview at Blue Bottle, and my first day she came to visit me, and so many 1951 people come visit me now.” Esraa took the class with her twin sister Alaa, and both of them thrived in the hands-on learning environment. Esraa added, “Oh, I liked everything about the training program! I liked the people, they’re friendly too. I felt like I want to learn a lot, I want to work with them, it’s a nice crew.”
Just from a short conversation, it is easy to see that Esraa values a sense of community. When she speaks of her coworkers, I could sense the comfort she feels with her team and it is wonderful to see her smile when they interact. Esraa expressed gratitude for Blue Bottle and her managers for teaching her with patience and kindness - and the results are amazing. Her espresso drinks are beautifully made, and her latte art is stunning! 1951’s training program is designed to teach trainees the basics of specialty coffee and provide an introduction to working in a cafe, and Esraa has put in a lot of hard work to keep learning at Blue Bottle. Her initiative is clearly seen in each drink she makes - with precision and an artist’s touch.
For her next chapter, Esraa hopes to work in media, maybe even on a TV show behind the camera. She plans to go to school for media studies and luckily, her job at Blue Bottle will allow her to continue working while she pursues her passions. She’s currently balancing her goal of becoming a filmmaker, while also keeping in mind her shared dream with Alaa of opening a coffee shop together.
We are so proud of you, Esraa. You are an incredible barista and an even better person, and we are always cheering you on!