If you’ve taken a class through The Workshop or popped by our Pro Shop in Chelsea anytime recently, chances are you’ve seen Sean Ben-Zvi slinging latte swans or coaching a group of students on how to cast the perfect pour. Since she started back in April, Sean has guided countless home brewers, budding baristas, and wholesale clients through the ins and outs of the art and science of coffee as our training manager for wholesale and public education. Sean has big things brewing for our public education program, and sat down with us ahead of launching a slate of new classes through The Workshop to chat what’s to come.
Hi Sean! We’re so happy to have you here. You joined the Joe team a few months back—can you tell us about how long you’ve been here and what drew you to work at Joe?
I’ve been at Joe since the beginning of April and I’ve had an absolute blast so far! Joe Coffee is such a deep-rooted structure in New York City and I wanted to be a part of its legacy. Since joining I’m elated to have learned more on how much importance this company puts on producer relationships and supporting farmers.
Here at Joe, you’re the training manager for wholesale and public education. What do you enjoy most about your role, and working at Joe specifically?
What I enjoy most about being in education is the impact it can have on the individual as well as the culture as a whole. I feel because of the quality and popularity of Joe cafes, the company catches consumers’ attention to indulge in more coffee knowledge; essentially working at Joe allows me to have a much wider reach of impact within the coffee drinking community.
The Workshop is Joe’s public education program—where we dive into everything from home brewing to roasting, coffee cupping and of course, latte art! What do you think makes The Workshop unique, or different from other public education offerings out there?
I feel The Workshop fills a nice little hole between absolute beginner Googling coffee facts, and the SCA [Specialty Coffee Association] courses offered in the city. The Workshop is approachable, affordable, and very fun. It is the testing site of exploring whether you want to dive deeper into the science of coffee, or you simply want some tools to make better coffee at home—all while giving you a strong foundation to keep building upon (whether that is with more advanced courses or daily home practice).
Those who haven’t had the chance to meet you yet might not know that you’re also a latte art competitor. How does your background—latte art champ and beyond—influence your work at Joe?
I have a background in performing arts which is instrumental in my success in education. I have also worked in many different cafe environments, giving me a deeper perspective of cafe operations which helps me answer ultra-specific questions. I’ve competed and won in latte art competitions, including a big national competition, so it’s always fun to pull out a swan at the end of class. And of course, I wouldn’t be anywhere without my “fake it ’til you make it” mantra 🙂
Your role also involves training our wholesale clients! What do you find interesting or exciting about this aspect?
I absolutely adore working with wholesale clients. As I mentioned before, my biggest goal with education is impact. Supporting our wholesale clients is a crucial way to be able to impact the level of coffee served in the city, as well as to be able to give people skills that they can develop and make a career out of. As a young barista I always had to fight for every scrap of information since education is not usually prioritized in cafe environments. I’m grateful I get to give young baristas what I always wanted when I was in their shoes.
You have a lot planned for the future of The Workshop! Without giving too much away, what are you excited most for around what’s to come?
Picking what I’m most excited for feels like picking a favorite child—impossible! What I can say is we’re working toward offering more focused and specific classes in addition to our current core classes. A way to continue developing with us for as long as someone would like, knowing that the coffee industry is forever growing and there’s always more to learn!
We’re adding new class offerings to The Workshop! Check for more Fall dates soon.