I know that you guys hear from me every week, and I figured it was time for a change of pace. So today I want to begin on ongoing series called Coffee AMA. In this series, I will interview another coffee professional, and we get to learn a little something about them. And what better way to start this series than by interviewing the owner of Chattahoochee Coffee Co, Kylene Compaan.
Why did you start working in coffee?
I love answering this question because I think my journey into coffee is pretty unique. I’ve always been a huge lover of coffee and coffee shops, so much so that my friends used to tease me about just living in one. So one year, I was visiting some of my best friends in Atlanta, Jonathan & Sarah Pascual, around my birthday. Jonathan managed a coffee shop at that time, so for my birthday gift, he made me “barista for a day” which basically meant he gave me a crash course in pulling espresso and milk steaming. But I loved it so much, that a few months later I moved to Atlanta to fill a part time barista position at his coffee shop! That was 8 years ago and I’ve been working in coffee ever since. (Shameless plug…Jonathan now owns Taproom Coffee in Kirkwood. Check it out!)
Where did you start working in coffee?
The Chatt Room. That was the original name of our Riverside shop located inside of Walton on the Chattahoochee. It’s gone through a couple owners and coffee suppliers since then, but that’s where it all began for me!
Who is your coffee sensei?
This is a tough question because there are so many amazing people in the coffee industry that I greatly admire and respect. However, when I look back over my career, the one person that’s been my go-to more than any other has got to be David LaMont. He was my instructor for the first coffee classes I took 8 years ago at the Counter Culture Training Center, and he’s still one of the first people I call when I need coffee help or advice. He helped me in more ways than I could possibly list when I was designing and opening our Westside location. I don’t think I’d be where I am today in coffee if it weren’t for his encouragement and friendship over the years. Thanks, David!!
What is your favorite coffee drink?
A Cortado. It’s 4 ounces of pure goodness. I love how the taste of the espresso shines through and is perfectly complimented with just a little kiss of creaminess from the steamed milk. (And I’ve gotta give a shout out here to Mountain Fresh Creamery for producing some of the best milk I’ve ever tasted.)
What is your favorite non-coffee drink?
An Old Fashioned! I love experimenting with different bourbons and whiskeys when I make them at home. However, if you meant something that we sell at the shop, I’d have to go with one of our loose-leaf Rishi teas…the Hibiscus Rooibos and the Turmeric Ginger are my favorites!
What's you favorite Atlanta spot?
I already know I’m gonna have to cheat on this question. My favorite spots in Atlanta all revolve around food and there’s no way I can just pick one. So I’m going to say my favorite Atlanta spot is the collective set of spots that make up Ford Fry’s Restaurants. The Optimist, JCT Kitchen, Superica, St. Cecilia, King+Duke. … just to name a few. And since I’ve already cheated, I’m going to throw in two honorable mentions, for brunch I love going to Local 3 on Sunday mornings, and for a splurge meal, Gunshow in Glenwood Park is incredible.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lot of things growing up, but the two that were the most persistent were an Air Force Pilot and a Sports Commentator, more specifically, an NFL sideline commentator. I bugged my parents so much about the Air Force thing that they took me on a tour of the Air Force Base in Colorado Springs during a family vacation once. But I think the concept of boot camp always kept me out of the recruiter’s office! However, I did study sports media in college and was the Sports Editor of my college newspaper. I graduated with a Communications degree with a specialization in Rhetoric & Sports Media. But life is funny. … for a variety of reasons I ended up turning down a couple great job offers in sports to work for the Detroit Rescue Mission for a number of years. I can look back now and see how that decision paved the way to my career in coffee! Still a huge sports fan though and I harbor not-so-secret although delusional fantasies of being asked to be a guest commentator or sports writer one day!
What is your favorite movie?
I love movies, and have super eclectic taste in movies, so this is always a hard question for me to answer! I have so many favorites! But if I have to choose just one. … I’ll land on Blood Diamond. It’s a super powerful movie containing all of my favorite things: action, adventure, truth, human rights, great performances, and a dash of romance. But the movie I have watched the most times in my life: You’ve Got Mail. I told you, eclectic.
What do you like to do other than own Chattahoochee Coffee Co?
I love performing! I’m an actor, vocalist and huge theatre fan, so I spend a lot of my non-coffee time either acting in, directing or going to see plays and musicals. I’ve also got a couple ongoing screenwriting projects that I’m working on. I serve on the Board for Center Stage North, a community theatre in Marietta, and love singing on the worship teams at Trinity Atlanta and Redeemer Vine City. I’m also a lover of travel and international justice issues. I’ve spent time in the DR Congo working with an organization I love called Justice Rising and serve on the Board for another favorite, Happy Hearts Somalia. One day, I’d love to somehow use my passions for coffee and the arts to fuel justice projects. Also, swing dancing. I love jazz music and swing dancing. A lot.
If you’re lucky, you might run into Kylene in the shop and you can ask her about some of her answers! If you have anyone in mind for our next coffee AMA or additional questions you want to ask Kylene, don’t be a stranger!