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Office Space: Caitlin Corcoran, barista

This barista at Parisi Artisan Coffee embraces her caffeinated lifestyle. A competitor in the United States Barista Championship, Corcoran is ranked 25th.

Office Space on Caitlin Corcoran of Parisi Cafe in Union Station.

One day on the job

11 a.m.

Wake up, get ready, ride bike to work.


Come into work.

12:15 p.m.

Deal with the lunchtime rush.

1-5 p.m.

Manage the espresso machine, take inventory, mix syrups and chai blends.

5-7 p.m.

Clean, count the drawer.

7-10 p.m.

Happy hour at Pierpont’s with co-workers.

10-1 a.m.

Experiment with making shrubs (acidic fruit base mixed with spirits).

1-3 a.m.

Read food books and flavor magazines.


In her genes

Coffee means family to Corcoran, whose mother worked at the Classic Cup Café. “I grew up around coffee,” she says. “What’s now considered ‘trendy’ pour-overs, she always did that at home.”

Signature drinks

Corcoran has the chance to create her own signature drink in the last round of every barista competition. She made her most complicated drink in the first competition: a shot of espresso with mustard, cheese sauce and a cream glaze next to a slice of Anjou pear.

Cooling off with coffee

Stifling summer heat gives Corcoran a chance to experiment with chilly coffee drinks. One of her most recent concoctions is an iced coffee cocktail: an iced coffee pour-over mixed with jasmine iced tea and garnished with some of Corcoran’s special jasmine ice cubes. “It’s way more refreshing than your standard-issue iced coffee,” she says.

Good eats, good reads

When Corcoran can’t get her flavor fix from working at Parisi all day, she kicks back at home with books about food and flavors. She recommends “The Flavor Bible” by Karen Page for beginners. Books on her nightstand now include “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz and “The Kitchen as Laboratory” by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink and Erik Van Der Linden. “So basically my whole day just revolves around flavors and tasting things,” she says.


After her morning yoga, Corcoran grabs her bike and heads toward Union Station from her 44th and Charlotte home. It’s a healthy way to commute, but the noontime heat can be exhausting. Corcoran allots herself “sprinkler time” to cool off and wash the sweat away before she comes into work.

Scrapes and bruises

Corcoran recently added a brake to her silver fixed-gear 1972 Raleigh professional that she rides every morning. She used to use her legs to stop, but after three car-bike accidents, she opted for safety.

What’s the perk?

“The cool thing about coffee … is that we have total control over how it tastes. We’re actually brewing that liquid that you’re consuming instead of just mixing things together,” Corcoran says. She also enjoys the sense of community that comes from the entire coffee-making process, from the farm to the cup. “On a larger scale, it’s such a global commodity. It’s so cool to know that we got this coffee from this farmer, they picked it and then they went to us.”


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