A love for delicious coffee isn’t the only qualification for which Blue Bottlers are chosen: We seek out the dedicated, kindhearted, and creative to join us in our mission to get great coffee to everyone who asks for it. This means that many join us without previous experience in the coffee industry. When she moved to New York City in 2013 to attend art school for photography, Park Slope barista Kayla Lim was no different from other newcomers.
“I will admit I was a little intimidated,” she says of her early days as a barista. “But my trainers made me feel right at home.”
Crossing the Country
Having a built-in community in New York didn’t mean things were easy. Moving from San Lorenzo, California, across the country to attend Parsons School of Design was naturally an uncertain time, but photography was something Kayla always felt sure of.
“I feel like I grew up around it,” Kayla says. “Many of my family members, including my dad, had collections of cameras. I remember taking my dad’s film point-and-shoot cameras and running through rolls taking pictures of the most random things.”
She nurtured her passion throughout her teen years. “In high school, I was part of a filmmaking/visual arts academy called Bay Area Digital Arts. The academy ended up having to move because of funding and space issues, so I decided to start learning more about film processing and printing to fill that creative void. Shortly thereafter, my dad gave me a beautiful K1000, and since then, photography has been a huge part of my life, and eventually landed me here in New York.”
Community came through for her as an East Coast transplant, and it’s what fuels Kayla as an artist to this day.
“Music and movies are a huge inspiration of mine, but I think what’s more important, especially since I’ve come to New York, is being surrounded and supported by a solid creative community," she says. "That’s what’s really amazing about my job at Blue Bottle. Not only I have this community of intelligent people in the coffee industry, but it’s also given me the chance to meet and get to know some amazingly talented people. “
Like Kayla, many Blue Bottlers are also working artists. “It’s amazing,” she says. “In my time as a barista, I’ve worked with other photographers, musicians, writers, painters, you name it. And what’s great is that not only do we support each other on bar and at work, but we support each other in what we do outside of work, too.”
Last year, for her senior thesis—an exhibition at Milk Studios—Kayla says, “A solid crew of Blue Bottlers rolled through to show support. It was great to see them and such a fun time. It was also just great to know that’s the kind of community we’ve built for each other.”
The creativity she has developed through her artistry serves her well in the coffee industry.
“It’s this vast world that I feel like I’ll always have more to learn from,” says Kayla. “Blue Bottle was my first introduction to specialty coffee, and my interest in coffee has expanded tenfold. It's led me to just visit as many different cafes as I can just to see what everyone brings to the table. There are so many different approaches to coffee, just like any form of art, and to experience all these different takes is what keeps everything so interesting.”
Want to join our team of creatives? Visit our Careers page for current opportunities in your region.