Jittery Joe's is a rapidly growing coffee chain based in Athens. And we get to explore their world with a peek into the fast-growing field of food science. We interview Roaster Master Charlie Mustard, learning the intricacies of what goes into making a great cup of "joe." It turns out there’s a lot of math and science behind it. So Teachable Moments focus on where coffee is grown, how huge this industry really is, and exactly how caffeine affects the body.
FAST FORWARD: JITTERY JOE'S
VO: Athens, Georgia. Home of great music, great restaurants, shopping, and the historic Georgia Theater. Oh, and I hear Athens has a school somewhere around here too.
VO: Cute. Let's just get started.
VO: Welcome to another episode of Fast Forward. Today we're visiting Jittery Joe's-a homegrown coffee chain based out of Athens. And because these folks are the experts, let's get right to it. How do you like your coffee?
CHARLIE: If I'm just tasting it for information sake, I just taste it black.
TED: If it's drip coffee, I usually drink it black, maybe with a little bit of honey.
WADE: A lot of times I'll do a French press or a pour over.
ANN: If I'm feeling crazy I'll put in some honey and cinnamon.
VO: Trust them. These folks actually get paid to drink coffee. What? You don't believe that job exists?
CHARLIE: Yes, you can get a job drinking coffee. If you work for Jittery Joe's in any aspect you get pretty much all the free coffee you want.
VO: That's what I'm talking about! So tell me more about this Jittery Joe's.
BOB: My name is Bob and this is my wife Deborah. We're one of the two couples that own the Jittery Joe's Coffee Roasters.
We have 5 full service stores here in Athens. Then there are 3-kiosk types of stores and between those 8 stores there are 100-110 part time employees. The most rapidly growing part of our business is our roasting operation. Through that operation we sell in all 50 states...
If you consider Athens to be part of Metro Atlanta, which I know it isn't, but if you drew the circle out that large, we would be the 3rd largest coffee company in Metro Atlanta.
VO: Pretty impressive. So what can you teach us about coffee?
CHARLIE: Coffee beans are grown between the tropics on the globe, if you look at the equator and you have the 2 tropics. Any country that can grow at the right elevation, about 4,500 feet or higher grows it because coffee is the second main commodity?- behind oil - traded in the world.
VO: Wow. That's a-latte beans.
ANN: That joke was weak-like gas station coffee.
VO: No argument. So that joke notwithstanding, why are coffee people always so darn happy?
LANE: Cause there's caffeine in it.
WADE: It's nice around that 3 o'clock lull to get a little caffeine boost.
ANN: Most people are extremely happy in coffee shops because of the caffeine levels.
VO: Okay, obviously caffeine has something to do with it. But let's get more detail on how caffeine affects the body. Anyone?
ANN: I wasn't prepared for this. How does caffeine affect body, Umm...
TED: Caffeine doesn't actually make you more awake. It blocks the receptors that tell you your tired.
(BELL DING x3)
VO: Closer. But let's really get to the science.
CHRISTIAN: (LAUGHS) that you'd be better asking Charlie about...
VO: Okay. Charlie, you're on!
CHARLIE: Caffeine stimulates the body by blocking the effect of adenosine, which then causes the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, which has the effect of fight or flight on the body. So your heart rate races. Your pupils dilate. But it also affects the production of dopamine, which is a calming, pleasurable chemical. So that might have something to do with the addictiveness of coffee, if there is some calm, pleasurable feeling after drinking a cup of coffee.
VO: As you can tell, Charlie Mustard really knows his stuff. He's somewhat of a coffee artist.
CHARLIE: I'm a roast master. My job is to roast the coffee here at Jittery Joe's.
VO: And an artist?
CHARLIE: I'm a coffee artist.
VO: See? So tell us about your art.
CHARLIE: The way to roast coffee is very subjective, but there's a lot of science involved as well.
CHARLIE: Science has given me a really good background on how to look at the coffee.
CHRISTIAN: There is kind of a basic formula you use when you're roasting. There are some very specific chemical reactions that happen.
TED: We use a lot of science and a lot of technology.
Roasting coffee and reading about the process and talking to Charlie our roaster about what's actually happening when you're roasting coffee is the first chemistry I've done in probably 8-9 years.
BOB: Even a basic job like being a barista, nowadays requires some pretty technological skill. Charlie in the back is looking at how different proteins and sugars interact with each other when he's roasting. All of our recipes are formulas and percentages. X percentage of milk and x percentage of chocolate and x percentage of espresso...you have to be able to go back and forth from ounces to metric.
WADE: It's not necessarily complicated math, but it's math you need to know.
BOB: If they can't do math, they're not going to last. It's just kind of that simple.
VO: Okay. I get it. What else do you look for in employees?
LANE: First off we look for someone who really loves coffee.
TED: Something we look for is people who are good at balancing the scientific information and the technical specs of coffee with the sort of personal relations that you have to have behind the counter.
VO: And let's just say I have the skills, personality, and love for coffee. What's the best thing about working for Jittery Joe's?
TED: The coolest thing about working for Jittery Joe's is the amount of coffee you get to drink. And after that it's definitely all the people you get to work with.
CHRISTIAN: One thing that really drew me to it is it's a very good combination of science and art.
ANN: Coffee is just a lot of fun. It's a great interaction with the customers, and with your employees. It's fun work and fun people. I enjoy it.
VO: And maybe some day you will too. Or maybe it'll be another job we explore on the next episode of Fast Forward!