Coffee & Cuties: Meet 8 Of S.F.'s Coolest Baristas!

[UPDATE: This story was published on June 20.]
It’s totally normal to have a caffeine-induced crush on your local barista. C'mon, we see you getting yet another cup, shaking from the three you’ve already had. The jig is up. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Perhaps it’s the sexy scent of coffee or the buzz-fueled conversations you have over important topics like how much room to leave for milk.
But here's what we know: When the cuties bringing us the beans are as stylish and interesting as they are here in S.F., cafe crushes definitely happen. That's why we're bringing you eight of the city's coolest baristas, and getting up close and personal. We're breaking the ice on their brews of choice, coffee-themed deal breakers, and where you can find them on their days off. Grab a latte, and let the stalking begin.
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Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
1 of 16
Name: Valicia Byrne
Hood: Lower Haight
Cafe: The Grind Café
Position: Barista

What is your coffee drink of choice?
"Lately, it’s been simple: Coffee with cream and brown sugar."

What do you love about your job?
"Human interaction. When I help super-rad people that appreciate whatever it is I’m making for them, I can’t help but be stoked. Even getting the cell phone zombies and Starbucks lovers to interact can be pretty fun."

What's the weirdest thing a customer has ordered?
"I had a woman ask my co-worker to microwave her strawberry banana smoothie. That seemed counterproductive and also very disgusting."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
2 of 16
What coffee drink is a deal breaker in a potential partner?
"Anything with caramel."

What is the coolest thing that has happened to you as a result of your job?
"I got to tell Alec Baldwin how much I love 30 Rock. I can check that one off my list."

Where can we find you if you aren't at work?
"The dog park, Community Thrift, or nowhere in particular — having a good time."

How would you describe your personal style?
"My personal style has been described as 'Victorian, combat, and casual,' and I like that very much."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
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3 of 16
Name: Joe Clucas
Hood: Berkeley
Cafe: Four Barrel
Position: Production

What is your coffee drink of choice?
“Black coffee.”

What coffee drink is a deal breaker in a potential partner?
"I’m not that worried about coffee."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
4 of 16
How would you describe your style?
"Comfort, beard, pants, shirt, guy, dude, sprinkle, and game."

What is your go-to work outfit?
"Jeans, shirt, another shirt sometimes, shoes, and socks."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
5 of 16
Name: Mary Marxen
Hood: Potrero Hill
Cafe: Sightglass
Position: Barista

What is your coffee drink of choice?
"Drip coffee. Loving our Burundi right now."

What's the weirdest thing a customer has ordered?
"Hooker's Mocha. What’s a Hooker's Mocha?"

What coffee drink is a deal breaker in a potential partner?
"Anything with milk in it that is bigger than a cappuccino. No, I think just anything with milk in it."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
6 of 16
Why do baristas get a bad wrap?
"I don't really run into snobby coffee people, so I don't know what everyone’s talking about. I generally enjoy customers, so being nice comes naturally."

Where can we find you if you aren't at work?
"Honestly, probably rolling through the Mission with two three-year-old baby girls and a red wagon."

What's your go-to work outfit?
"Hoop earrings, Danskos, black J Brand jeans, and a collared shirt."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
7 of 16
Name: Omar Moncayo Gonzales
Hood: Mission
Cafe: Four Barrel
Position: Production

What is your coffee drink of choice?
"Since I'm off of coffee for now, I'd have to say a glass of milk. But, Americanos are pretty awesome."

What is the coolest thing that has happened to you as a result of your job?
"Having Anthony’s Cookies readily available any day of the week!"

What coffee drink is a deal breaker in a potential partner?
"I guess something like a quad-shot, extra-hot, non-fat, decaf soy latte — or at least something along those lines."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
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8 of 16
Where can we find you if you aren't at work?
"You can find me in my bedroom drawing or somewhere eating pizza."

What's your go-to work outfit?
"Jeans, Dickies, a Carhartt work shirt, and a pair of Clarks weavers."

How do you deal with unwanted flirting?
"I put my headphones on and take off running."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
9 of 16
Name: Brett Walker
Hood: Sunset
Cafe: Four Barrel
Position: Barista

What coffee drink is a deal breaker in a potential partner?
"I just have problems with friends who are self-proclaimed ‘foodies’ or really into cooking, eating, and buying expensive groceries, but have a lackluster coffee-preparation outfit in their kitchen. It's pretty affordable and easy to get a decent Burr grinder, French press, or Chemex and to figure out how to make relatively palatable coffee at home. There is no reason in the free world why, when living in a city such as San Francisco, you should have old, dark, oily coffee in your kitchen cupboard, sitting next to an old blade grinder and a stack of Mr. Coffee filters."

How would you describe your personal style?
"Effervescent."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
10 of 16
What is the coolest thing that has happened to you as a result of your job?
"I wouldn't even know where to begin. As far as working goes, there is much to be learned from working in a high-profile place such as Four Barrel. I wish I had learned some of these lessons when I was much younger. And the amount of relationships I have made through my interactions with customers on a daily basis is crazy. I have so many friends who used to be customers, still are, but are now friends."

What's your go-to work outfit?
"Worst-case scenario, I can be found wearing a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt, and a pair of old Blundstone boots."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
11 of 16
Name: Hajera Ghori
Hood: Mission
Cafe: Tartine
Position: Bakery Assistant

What is your coffee drink of choice?
"Now that it's warm out I crave Blue Bottle's iced coffee. Otherwise, I drink a soy cappuccino."

What is the weirdest thing a customer has ordered?
"A cappuccino with no milk and just foam. Attempting to explain to her that foam is, in fact, made of milk was fruitless."

What coffee drink is a deal breaker in a potential partner?
"I'm not sure if I'd date someone who likes coffee with hazelnut syrup. I might find someone who enjoys the simplicity of a cup of black coffee endearing."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
12 of 16
What is the coolest thing that has happened to you as a result of your job?
"Being spotted by Refinery29, of course." [Ed. Note: Aww, shucks!]

How would you describe your personal style?
"I dress like a 5th grade teacher gone to seed."

What's your go-to work outfit?
"A thrifted maternity dress. It's incredibly comfortable."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
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13 of 16
Name: Nick Koch
Hood: Mission
Cafe: Four Barrel
Position: Manager

What is your coffee drink of choice?
"I usually stick with shorty Americanos."

What's the weirdest thing a customer has ordered?
"Our offerings are pretty minimal, it doesn't really give people the option of ordering weird stuff. Someone once asked if we serve Philz, which was pretty funny."

What do you love about your job?
"Everything. The customers, the people I work with, the space, how well our employers treat us, the energy, and the good vibes. I've worked at five coffee places in my life, and this one's the best by a long shot. Also, there's a staff keg."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
14 of 16
How would you describe your personal style?
"Recovering emo kid."

Where can we find you if you aren't at work?
"Home or at Amoeba."

What coffee drink is a deal breaker in a potential partner?
"Oh, I don't really care about that stuff. My girlfriend drinks the shit out of caramel Frappuccinos."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
15 of 16
Name: Kyle Skelton
Hood: Mission
Cafe: Four Barrel
Position: Production And Delivery

Why do baristas get a bad wrap?
"There is nothing wrong with being passionate about something, but sometimes it can be mistaken for pretension."

What is your coffee drink of choice?
"Americano."

What's your go-to work outfit?
"Black on black, with some black."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
16 of 16
How do you deal with unwanted flirting?
"Introduce them to Brett Walker."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
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