In a world where most education for youth is abstract and detached from applicable experiences, many learners find it difficult to truly assimilate and own what they learn. How many times have we heard people say something like “he just doesn’t get it” or “she’s just doesn’t care!”
At The Bridge, we believe that the issue might be resolved by approaching the learning task from a different angle. We rely on the Supportive Immersion methodology, which through an empathic, empowering and process-based approach, encourages matching students to life situations where learning is most likely to happen. Often times, it is through engaging in their passions that people discover or uncover previously dormant avenues to learning. This was the case for Asa, one of our Bridge students who found a way back to his creativity by working at a café.
One would have thought that the path to connect again with his creativity would have been to expose him to art in the traditional sense, but that wasn’t his path. He tried it, but it felt forced and perhaps even intimidating. He needed to come at it from his own angle, and through that journey with the art of coffee he even found himself appreciating things he thought he disliked, like science and math. Slowly but surely Asa has reunited with his creativity, and recently painted a beautiful mural at a daycare and started his own poetry blog; and that seems like only the beginning results from this reunion with his creative side.
Read below Asa’s account of his experience at Café La Mancha.
Internship Highlight: Café La Mancha
My name is Asa Miles Kaplan, I’m 18 years old and currently enrolled in the bridge program. I have an internship at Cafe La Mancha, a small specialty coffee shop in San Jose, Costa Rica. I have been working there as a barista for just over 2 months now. It has been an incredible experience so far that I have been able to learn quite a lot from. My interest in coffee began when I was 3 years old. I had my first cup of black coffee at a ski resort called Suicide Six. I loved the bitterness and the way the flavor covered my whole tongue. Since then I have been drinking coffee almost every single day. Growing up, I always loved the comforting, warm atmosphere of cafes, especially those that were family owned. A lot of love and care was always put into to the coffee and people just enjoyed being there. Cafes have always been a place for me to relax and forget about whatever may be worrying me. They help me focus and not just because of the caffeine, but also because I feel safe. To me, cafes are where creatives like myself congregate and share ideas and inspiration. Ever since I was a small kid, I wanted to open my own coffee shop. I want to be able to provide that space that meant so much to me to other people.
When working with coffee, there are many aspects that must be considered when reaching for the goal of the aptly named “golden cup”. The golden cup standard takes into account coffee-to-water ratio (55 g/L ± 10%), water temperature (90℃ ± 3°), the time of coffee-to-water contact (1-4 minutes - Fine, 4-6 minutes - Drip, 6-8 minutes - Coarse), Turbulence, and Filter media (least affect to brew flavor, body, time of contact, and sediment less than 75 milligrams per 100 milliliters). This all leads to the universal standard of “a brew strength, measured in Total Dissolved Solids, of 11.5 to 13.5 grams per liter, corresponding to 1.15 to 1.35 “percent” on the SCAA Brewing Control Chart, resulting from a solubles extraction yield of 18 to 22 percent”. As a high school student I was never much interested in the sciences or maths. The applied aspects of it never truly interested me; however, when Alberto, my mentor at the cafe, started describing the chemistry and weights and measures behind coffee and the brewing of pour-overs and espressos, my mind was immediately enraptured by this. When working with coffee, the weights are very specific as seen above, every little thing must be considered when brewing. Even before brewing, coffee plants are carefully monitored. The altitude, type of soil, and time of picking all contributes to a coffee beans flavor and richness. The roasting process also alters the overall chemistry of the bean itself.
My time working at Cafe La Mancha has truly been incredible and educational. I have been able to learn so much about the coffee world and how much time, effort, concentration, and passion is put into every cup of coffee that is made. I will be continuing my internship at the Cafe for my stay at The Bridge and I am sure that my already huge passion for coffee will blossom into something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.