Name: Will Forsman
Occupation: Head barista at Café Steam
Where we found him: Café Steam
What’s the most time-intensive drink you make? In terms of just someone orders it and you go, argh? The Amanda Palmer. You have to change gears on everything. As a barista, you’re all about the coffee and you’re steaming milk all the time. Then you have to switch it up to suddenly mixing tea and lemonade and it takes 45 seconds to heat it up. And you infuse with cayenne and honey—and it just distracts from the coffee.
Num. Now you’re going to get a lot of Amanda Palmer orders. Exactly! I should’ve kept my mouth shut!
Favorite part of working at Steam? For myself, it comes down to having an occupation that embraces both science and art equally. More of an artist? There’s latte art, and a feeling to coffee that you don’t get in other occupations. But there’s a lot of science in coffee, too. A lot of chemistry. You can bring more of that if you’re more of a scientist.
Strangest story from behind the counter? We had a bunch of WWE wrestlers in there. Three dudes walk in and if you could imagine—they’re the biggest guys you’ve ever seen. Built like a fridge. They start asking about the coffee, and I’m walking them through. They’re enthralled by the coffee part of it. So [the first guy] says, “We’ll take three pour overs.” It’s a type of hand-brewed coffee, where you’re being more precise with distribution and the saturation of water. And these are 16-ounce coffees. That’s a lot of coffee. And then the guy behind him says, “What’s he getting? I’ll take three, too.” Each one of them wanted three 16-ounce coffees to themselves! And the third guy said, “Will you add a double shot to each of mine?”
One upping each other? I think that might’ve been it! Really, they were so absolutely gigantic that they had such a high caffeine
tolerance. They were the nicest guys. Fame had not altered their sense of reality at all.
How did you land at Steam? I used to play music in a band, and my guitarist had a solo gig at the previous establishment, Press Coffee. I went to see a show there, and after finding the coffee shop, I began going there more often. My friend and I would write music there. I thought it would be kind of cool to have a job here. I said to the guy—the previous owner—are you hiring? Yeah, we’re hiring. I worked there for a year, and then that whole stuff went down and it changed over. I got bumped up, and promoted to general manager at the new establishment.
How surprised were you when that happened? [Press Coffee’s owner was arrested for criminal sexual conduct in 2014.] You cannot imagine how absolutely crazy that two-week period was. Every day I’d wake up and go: “Oooh! That’s just weird.” And you know, being so close to a big story like that, people want to go to you for information—but I knew just about nothing about it. Hindsight is 20/20.
First job? Working at Viola Gopher Count. My sister was on the board there. I worked in the burger stand. I did not get paid … but they got what they paid for because I was not very efficient! I was 12 or 13.
What are you passionate about? Coffee comes first in all things. It’s such a strange thing to have an identity in. I wake up and think coffee, and go to bed and think coffee. Now I’m into photography—I’m the stereotypical photographer barista.
I didn’t realize that was a stereotype. They all want to take pictures of their latte! Otherwise, I’m into the outdoors in general. Fly-fishing is the thing I look forward to doing when I’m in any kind of mood, happy or sad. You can solve a lot of the world’s problems with fly-fishing.
First kiss? Emmylou Hermanson. That was an absolutely amazing experience, but I can’t attest to the fact I received it well. Was I 14? It was at her friend’s house and I was in the kitchen and I could hear her and her friend talking in her room. She comes in the kitchen and grabs my hand and brings me into her friends’ room and plants it on me. And I sat on the bed and started contemplating what had just taken place for a long time.
What’s something you want to accomplish in the next year? I would like to start roasting coffee. That’s kind of the big plan, working toward roasting for ourselves. I’d like to be the head roaster. And that involves travel and photography—for origin trips, Central/South America, Papua New Guinea ….
Scariest thing you’ve done? Helicopter! We were in Hawaii and going over these volcanoes. We’d hit updrafts, and fall—and it would feel as if we were falling 100 feet. Just thinking about it is spooky.
Life motto? Live simply. Live humbly.