Daryn Berlin, Regional Development Director
Daryn Berlin, Director of Regional Development, was Counter Culture’s first employee, in 1995, and has been a part of the Counter Culture Coffee scene ever since in a number of different roles; he served as roaster, green coffee buyer, production manager, and general manager before settling on his current position, which involves sales and customer relations in areas where Counter Culture is newer to the coffee scene, most recently Philadelphia and New York City. He grew up in Orlando and got his start in the service industry by working at several restaurants and hotels in Disney World, including his first job as a waiter in Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Daryn moved to North Carolina in 1994 with his wife Kirsten, to whom he has been married 14 years. When he isn’t talking coffee, Daryn enjoys spending time with his family, running, watching TV, and putzing around the yard.
Q: What coffee are you currently drinking?
A: Colombia Huila Condor. I have always loved it. It has been consistently sweet and nutty to me as long as we have had it, since about 1998. Whenever I am not sure what to grab to take home, my nose always brings back to the one I love.
Q: Choose your favorite coffee and brewing method.
A: Espresso. It never ceases to amaze me how much there is to offer, good or bad, in a shot of espresso. I think I have learned more about coffee than ever before in these past few years from espresso. It is such an intense relationship between coffee, water and people.
Q: Who at Counter Culture Coffee would you most like to arm-wrestle, and why?
A: Over the years I have arm-wrestled many. I have won a few, lost many and most recently experienced a crushing defeat to Tim Hill. Darn roasters.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: “Pan” by Knut Hamsen. He was a Norwegian writer in the early 20th century. It is easy to read, hard to describe, and just plain delightful.
Q: What keeps you busy outside of work?
A: Eli and Zoë, my two remarkable children. What can I say except unbridled genius, insouciant stubbornness, and all out joyful insanity.
Q: Share an interesting fact you've learned about coffee while working at Counter Culture Coffee and name the person from whom you learned it.
A: On my first day of work at Counter Culture, I learned that coffee was not roasted on sheet pans in an oven. It became pretty obvious to me shortly after co-founder Fred Houk said “and this is the coffee roaster,” and pointed to the big funny-looking clothes dryer-like thing over in the corner.
Q: When you were 8 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records. It didn’t really matter what record, as long as it brought me fame, fortune and didn’t get me buried in a coffin the size of a piano case.
Q: If you could beam yourself anywhere in the world for your lunch break, where would you go and what would you eat?
A: Sonny’s Barbeque in Plant City, Florida. I would have sliced pork (with Smokin’ sauce!), garlic bread, French fries, and baked beans instead of slaw. Sure, there as Sonny’s all over the South, but at the one in Plant City they just seems to care a little bit more about pork.
Q: Which Counter Culture Coffee customer is most likely to see you outside of work (i.e. where do you like to hang out)?
A: Probably the gang at Francesca’s Dessert Café in Durham. It is the place to be after a nice dinner out with the wife.
Q: Tell us about “Quest for Coffee”
A: About five years ago, a friend gave me a small coffee plant. I would joke with people that I would one day drink a cup of coffee made from beans from the plant. I was mostly just talking junk, but then a couple years ago the plant really started to take off. I picked up the level of rhetoric, started a web log about it, and the rest is history. Will you join me for a taste?