Grace Peitzman, Sunflour Bakery’s Wordsmith

I worked with Grace Peitzman when she first became a barista at Dilworth Coffee on East. Quiet and unassuming, Grace wasn’t the type to stand around and make small talk with people during down time in shifts- instead, you’d find her scrubbing away at dishes, refilling coffees and knocking items off our daily to-do lists constantly. She quickly proved herself to be one of the hardest workers on my team. She never had to be told to do something twice; she has that intuitive, attentive nature that makes for an excellent team-mate and barista. Always carefully choosing her words, Grace has a calming, relaxed vibe about her that helps diffuse even the most stressful shifts. Her inquisitive personality and diligent work ethic, coupled with her sharp mind and desire to always be growing, makes her a (quiet) force to be reckoned with. I’m so glad that our city has a barista like Grace that is a part of and representing its coffee community.

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How long have you worked in coffee?
2 years

Where do you currently work and how long have you worked there?
Sunflour Baking Company, I’ve worked there for 7 months

If you won a multi-million dollar lottery tomorrow, what would you do?
I’d immediately complete my medium-term goal: move to Madison, Wisconsin and get a degree in Linguistics, while most likely working at a local coffee shop. My long-term plans would probably include a custom-designed house in a semi-remote location, a linguistics-based career, travel, and philanthropy focused on eradicating the root causes of climate change, social injustice, and socioeconomic problems. [Editor’s Note: DAMN GIRL!] And lots of trips to the best local coffeeshops, since I’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle…

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Complete this sentence: “I can’t go a day without __________”
Water? Sleep? I don’t know! I feel like I was supposed to say coffee here, but honestly I can go for a while without it! I’m so sensitive to caffeine that I can’t drink coffee unless I have something to do with all that extra energy. I’m just as big on tea as I am on coffee.

What’s your passion? What are you doing to pursue it?
Language is my passion–the use of words in any way, whether it’s in the written word, everyday conversation, any words, all words, whatever. I’m fascinated by the way language shapes human consciousness in all areas of life (interpersonal relations, religion, politics, etc.) I’m interested in how language has changed throughout time and how languages shape different cultures. To pursue this love beyond just reading, writing, and speaking all day long, I plan to study Linguistics and Anthropology when I return to university.

Describe your perfect day.
A perfect day at the shop would be a perfect amount of busy-ness, not too slow, but not a huge rush. I would get to make all the drinks (apologies to my co-workers for trying to hog bar all the time- there’s only one person on the barista position at a time at Sunflour!), and I’d be joking with my chill co-workers in the downtime while we clean. My perfect non-work day mostly involves sleep, food, cat-petting, and reading. Maybe going outside- maybe- if there’s river swimming or mountain hiking involved.

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What is your go-to drink when you’re at the shop?
Cappuccino. It has a more optimal milk-espresso ratio than a latte, and you get a bunch of fun, fluffy foam. It’s also quicker to drink so you can get back to work, but not so quick that it’s like taking a shot.

What book(s) are you currently reading?
“The Once and Future King” by T.H. White. It’s funnier than you’d expect from a literary classic from the 30’s/40’s. I expected it to be boring and dry until the second page when a character was introduced as “Sir Grummore Grummursum” and I spent 5 minutes laughing hysterically while repeating it out loud to myself.

What inspires you?
This will sound hackneyed and stereotypical, but drinking coffee inspires me. I know, original… Whenever I drink coffee without an immediate physical outlet, like working at my shop, I start either talking incessantly or writing impromptu essays to my long distance friends, because thoughts and ideas and feelings happen way faster with that caffeine kick. I’ve made like 50% of all my big life decisions while highly caffeinated from coffee. I’m also inspired by really majestic sights in nature (waterfalls, deserts, thunderstorms) really intense music (for reference, listen to Mendelssohn’s quartet in f minor–I played the 1st movement in high school) and conversations with friends about the future.

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What would you like to see happen in the Charlotte coffee community?
I’d like to see more local shops opening up and becoming serious competitors to Starbucks on every corner–local shops are better for just so many reasons. I’d like to see everyone valuing fresh, high-quality ingredients, like fair trade/ethically sourced beans and local milk. The Charlotte coffee community is fairly tight-knit and likes to share expertise and ideas, and I’d like to see that continue growing, but while also fostering chill and friendly coffeeshop environments for both baristas and customers.

Why do you love working in coffee?
Even though I’m not going to build a career around coffee, I feel like being a barista is an uncommonly rewarding stepping stone job for a young adult. It can still be grueling to work in customer service with only okay pay, and with benefits only if you work at Starbucks, but I prefer it to waitressing or retail. You learn a set of skills that can help you get a job in coffeeshops wherever you go. Being a barista in Charlotte has also caused me to meet a ton of cool people because all the coffee people know each other, are all super friendly, and are all ages and all kinds of people, which is something I doubt would have happened if I had chosen to be a server or a retail worker. Plus, everyone knows that baristas are invariably super hot and really cool–that’s a stereotype I don’t mind.

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I'm an SCA-certified Instructor & Examiner, the Director of Coffee at Undercurrent Coffee and a huge nerd. Other interests include cuddling with my cats, exploring the Carolinas with my husband, binge-watching Netflix and binge-eating Nutella.

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