The business of coffee relies on the shared passion of coffee people all over the world, and this section is dedicated to introducing the members of our diverse, dynamic supply chain. Here we ask a few fun questions of our partners at origin, our employees, and our customers; and we share their answers with you so that you can get to know them like we do—in their own words.
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Tommy Gallagher, Technical ServicesTommy Gallagher is Counter Culture Coffee's New York City Technician. He was born to Tom and Yen, a hearing-deaf, American-Chinese couple in the Washington, DC, area. After a charming tour of duty in public school, a degree in illustration and industrial design, and a range of jobs like health and safety inspector, illustrator, helping run camps for kids of deaf adults (kodas), swimming coach, freelance designer, research assistant at a lab for cognitive neuroscience, and stone cutter at a monument shop, he found himself working in coffee. Tommy was first introduced to Counter Culture and its coffees working at murky coffee and worked with them later at the espresso and cocktail bar in NY's Le Parker Meridien hotel.
Tommy currently resides in Brooklyn with his girlfriend Jessica, their Jack Russell Terrier, and two cats. He loves eating, making stuff, learning how things work and why people make them, and general adventuring.
Q: What coffee are you currently drinking?
My jam right now is our lovely Shakisso.
Q: Choose your favorite coffee and brewing method.
Hall of famer? It was a microlot Rwanda Karaba Peaberry, in a French Press at murky coffee in May of 2007. To-date, the best, most memorable coffee experience I've ever had.
As for brew method, I'm too fickle to pick one.
Q: Who at Counter Culture Coffee would you most like to arm-wrestle, and why?
Though I may have been challenged to an arm-wresting extravaganza with the other two Toms, I'm gonna say Brian Ludviksen. Every time I'm in Durham, that dude is running all over the place, he has got to be fit.
Q: What is your favorite book?
Short list is Kandinsky's Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Malevich's The Non-Objective World, Donald Norman books on design and human-machine interaction, and crazy-ass Grant Morrison comics.
Q: What keeps you busy outside of work?
I plan a lot of my day around what I'm going to eat and when I'm going to eat it. There's also plotting and scheming things I'd like to make, my lovely Lady-Friend, our critter-bugs, and my obsession with news about the auto industry.
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.
There are countless pearls of wisdom I've learned from my tech buddies Ken, Tom, and Brian, but BLud (Brian) broke down the ideas of pre-infusion and 'soft'-infusion to me maybe a week into working for Counter Culture. Understanding the function of flow restriction helped me understand the relevance of modern espresso machines beyond temperature stability.
Q: When you were 8 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to draw comic books. I still do.
Q: If you could beam yourself anywhere in the world for your lunch break, where would you go and what would you eat?
Teleportation is merely flirting with the 4th Dimension. I want to go straight to 1992. My parents' house. There's family in town from Taiwan and my mom is making the most epic of epic dumpling feasts. Literally, hundreds of the most delicious dumplings—steamed, in soup, and in buns—that I've ever had.
Q: Which Counter Culture Coffee customer is most likely to see you outside of work?
I've been frequenting Everyman Espresso as of late. Wonderful espresso and single-origin coffees brewed daily.
Q: Tommy, we heard that you designed a series of postcards to send out as illustration samples that ended up featured in a weekly magazine dedicated to postcard collectors. Can you tell us a little bit about hopw that project came into being?
Well-researched! It never ended up being a full-on series, but towards the end of college I was making postcards out of samples of my work to send to art editors at magazines. One was an illustration of a rooster, with a recipe for fried chicken next to him. The art editor at a pretty big magazine got one and wasn't into it, but his wife saw it and she liked it. Turns out she was an editor for Postcard Collector magazine, and wanted to do a story on the postcard. After the story ran, I got a TON of requests for the postcard from collectors. Which meant I got a TON of letters with self-addressed, stamped envelopes and $2 inside. I was contacted again later for a follow-up recipe card, but plans fell through and, ultimately, the magazine folded.
Q. We hear that you attended Savannah College of Art and Design. What inspires your illustrating and design work?
I like to make things, largely because of the process. Getting the ball rolling, overcoming that inertia is this maddening, frustrating, confidence-killing thing that leads into this magnificent groove where you just work and hours pass unknowingly, and your brain becomes limber and you can do no wrong. it is amazing. Super-fun.
Q: We also heard that you participated in long distance races involving a car you bought for $500. Can you elaborate? Did you win?
Well, it was a rally, which is a race based more on navigation and checkpoints than outright speed. It was from New York to New Orleans, and the only real rule was you couldn't spend more than $500 on your car. So, basically it was a road trip in a piece of crap, just asking for things to go wrong, but it was with, like, 50 other pieces of crap, so it was super fun. I was living in San Diego at the time and bought the car in sorta-nearby Oceanside, 3 days before the race started. It's a really long story, but we had little-to-no mechanical experience, we had to make a major repair before we could leave, showed up to the start on the back of a tow truck, cooked meals on the exhaust manifold of our beloved 1977 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale, and did not win. It's one of the coolest things I've ever done.