Espresso Librarians, part one: Luke Milbourn

If you’ve ever pondered out loud about the coffee at Espresso Library while Luke Milbourn, our Head Barista, is around you may start learning random coffee related facts. Once infamously described as “cherubic” he’s the one darting round in a constant state of hyper-caffeination. We were able to get him to sit still for just long enough to have a chat about what he gets up to at the cafe. Only so happens that with the help of Espresso Library cupids, Luke met his soul mate Laura who recently moved to Manchester. Later this month he is moving over there too, so make sure you come in and say hi before that!

Luke, you were with Espresso Library from the very beginning. How did you get involved?

Pretty simply, I came across a tweet advertising a job for anyone who liked coffee and bikes. While I refuse to be defined in terms of a small number of interested, these two would be at the top of any list that tried to do so. I guess my over enthusiasm must have come through when I first met John and Malgo as I didn't actually have any professional experience in either of these fields before starting at EL.

Well you seem to sound like you know what you're talking about when it comes to coffee these days. Where did that all come from?

I got into making coffee at Uni. Spending an unnecessary amount of time making a coffee was a great way to avoid writing philosophy essays. In hind sight it shouldn't be a surprise I’ve enjoyed working as a barista, having mates round always led to showing off my latest coffee gadget and stimulating some great metaphysical discussions.

Everyone loves a good chat over a coffee. But how did things get so out of hand? Is bombarding people with brewing jargon when they just need their fix really necessary?

The problem there is I tend to get a bit excited. When I started behind the bar I knew enough to appreciate how exceptional the kit was. And the coffee itself from The Coffee Officina…just incredible… So I was determined not to embarrass myself with all those fancy toys.I’ve always been a bit of a nerd at heart. Training with some of the best Baristas in the country just made things worse. And getting to know Rory and Marcella really made me want to get the most out of their coffee. Did I mention it was incredible? Learning to roast picked things up a notch. As with brewing coffee, the process is very methodological and understanding the science helps massively. But it’s an area that hasn't yet been fully quantified so experience still plays a big part and loads of fun

So what’s your favourite drink at Espresso Library?

I stick almost exclusively to milk-less coffee, getting through a few espresso and pour-over coffees a day. It’s the best way to pay attention to the more subtle aspects of the coffee. I use my Aeropress a fair bit at home too.

Another topic you are endlessly talking about is cycling. You regularly lead our Saturday Social Rides and have competed with the Espresso Library Racing Team. What have you got planned for the winter? 

Riding around town on fixies is what got me into cycling as a sport. I spent this year working on my road performance for a couple of trips to the Alps. It was great having a goal to train for and now John has introduced me to racing I’m hooked. Since I’ve decided Im too heavy to go up hills and too lazy to ride long distances, I think riding on the track might be fun.

One last thing, why do you think someone should check out Espresso Library?

It’s all about the feel of the place. It’s friendly and vibrant. I’ve so many really interesting conversations with different people. And what is a better way to spend your time than to sit down, forget about everything else, and concentrate on the exquisite complexity of a finely made coffee?

 Photo by Mike Sim

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