Ramirez brewing up thoughtfulness in local shops

New Tech High @ Coppell senior Cole Ramirez very well knows he comes off as pretentious. He voices his hate to Starbucks feverently, wears plaid pants casually as an 18-year-old, makes short films with his friends and says his favorite band is The Beach Boys.

Today, however, as he waits at Golden Boy Coffee in Coppell, leaning on the counter across from a barista, carefully balancing the leafy foam art atop his cortado while asking about her family by name, he exudes nothing but thoughtfulness. He has been here since morning, typical for him, settled in a booth far inside the shop. When I arrive and quip that he should “get ready for the deepest questions of his life,” he answers with a serious affirmative.

Ramirez is a self-ordained coffee enthusiast, and Golden Boy Coffee is one of his many niches.

“My first job, ironically, was here, not at Golden Boy but at Zenzero [the previous business at this location],” Ramirez says. “I hadn’t really been into coffee before, but at Zenzero, I’d try all these drinks that they had and that’s how it all started.”

Almost immediately during our conversation, it becomes clear that coffee is Ramirez’s thing, as playing a sport or being in band is to some. His mornings start with a pour over at his house, a process he explains in some detail, then onto Golden Boy for some company with his coffee. After school, he will sometimes head back to Golden Boy or out to try a new place.

“They actually opened up a store in Plano, and I was their first customer on that morning,” Ramirez says. “It was a school day, too; I drove all the way to Plano. I just go to a ton of coffee shops and ask questions. The coffee community is so supportive, and you learn a lot from people.”

When I tell him my own imagination of the coffee community, a group of guys intensely arguing about ethically sourced coffee on Reddit, he laughs. He has developed some of his closest friendships through coffee.

“[Ramirez] used to come in every day I was working and we became friends that way,” George Coffee + Provisions barista Hannah Martin said. “During stay-at-home orders, when no one was going anywhere, Edison Coffee Co. was doing curbside pickup and he texted me and some friends that he was going to get coffee and asked if we wanted anything. He dropped off masks and a cappuccino for me and checked up on us from six feet apart.”

Asked about the specifics of coffee, Ramirez nearly trips over himself to answer. Still, his descriptions are patient. Before he discusses “industry terms,” he stops and asks if I know what he means by “direct trade” or “grind size.” If a confused look emerges on my face, he will pull up a diagram or picture and explain animatedly with his hands. His thoughtfulness is evident here; it is almost as though he runs what he wants to say through a filter based on other people’s needs.

He speaks easily though and is enthusiastic about almost everything. After patiently listening to me digress from the subject of college location’s importance onto a small town in Washington, interjecting a ‘wow’ at the appropriate times, he adds, “I almost wrote my college essay about coffee,” as if he’d been thinking about it while I spoke. Again, after discussing his college plans and his dream of marketing for a coffee company or owning one, he brings back up a jokingly deep question I had asked earlier.

“I’ve been thinking about what happens to our souls after death more often lately,” Ramirez said. “Not in any bad way, just thinking about how people who have near death experiences change after them.”

While speaking to him, especially about serious subjects he does not seem to have considered before, it feels like you are watching something important; it feels like he is taking things from the conversation and learning them about himself as he speaks.

He gives the same value to all conversation. When I stop him mid-sentence because Phoebe Bridgers is playing while we speak at Golden Boy, he is not annoyed. He tells me what he knows about her music and asks what the song playing is. He is engaged, and you know that whatever you’re talking about, he’s listening.

“Coffee is such an easy place and environment in order for you to work on socializing in a non scary way,” Karmic Grounds Coffee barista Jackie Farias said. “Coffee shops are just where you talk, so when you’re involved in coffee and the coffee community, you don’t even realize that you’re learning more about yourself every day.”

In that environment, Ramirez has made friends from local coffee shops all over. When a name of a coffee shop is thrown out to him, whether or not he has been, he will have a testament from someone who works there come immediately to his mind. He says things like “a staple of Dallas’s coffee scene” (La La Land Kind Coffee) and “fruitier notes versus earthy” (Golden Boy versus George Coffee + Provisions) and indeed, the only time he interrupts me in our hour and a half together is at my misinterpretation of what a cortado is (four ounce drink, equal parts espresso and milk).

On a tangent about Starbucks’ unethical buying and roasting practices and the preservatives in Keurig K-Cups, I stop him to jokingly ask, “Are you aware you’re being a coffee elitist right now?”

He agrees almost immediately, laughing as well: “Yes, very.” His admission excludes him from the typical coffee know-it-all title.

Upon closer inspection, Ramirez does not fit so easily into one box. He talks like a hippie environmentalist about fair trade and coffee farmer poverty, a gamer when it comes to Destiny 2 and Twitch and philosopher about psychology and death.

Mid conversation and largely out of the blue, he asks me, “Do you want to do journalism as a career?” I’m immediately tempted to make a joke (“I’m the one asking the questions here”), but I can tell it is genuine interest. So I tell him, as I sip a cold brew and he sits in front of an empty cortado glass, because I know he is listening.

Follow Anjali (@anjalikrishna_) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.

Created By
Anjali Krishna


Lilly Gorman