Walk into Central Coffee Company in South End and you're guaranteed to be greeted by the comforting scent of piping hot java. If you're really, really lucky your drink of choice will be prepared by millennial barista Morgan Hopkins.
Hopkins represents a the next generation of young professionals in Charlotte who are committed not only to making money, but also to seeing creativity in areas that aren't always thought of as creative, and of sustaining the environment.
At 23, the former Appalachian State University student gave up life up in the Blue Ridge Mountains to feel the pace and energy of Charlotte. She's now fueling her environmental passions while making an impact one cup at a time.
We sat down with Hopkins and a cup of joe to find out what's percolating with her.
Creative Loafing: We've seen you in action and you never just pour a cup of coffee; there's always something extra. What's the deal?
Hopkins: (Laughs) Yeah, for me there's no such thing as "just" a cup of coffee. Every cup is special. Every drink is special. Coffee drinking in 2017 is actually more of a creative experience. It's a social experience. It's like art. I'm all about connecting with people and connecting with the environment — sharing that moment and exchanging that energy.
I look at being a barista basically like I'm creating art, and in each little cup there's a masterpiece. I don't want to just hand you a drink and you pay and that's it.
When I make you a drink, I'm making you art and you're leaving with a little piece of me. It's never just a drink. It's an exchange and it's an experience. I believe everything is connected, so I put love in everything I do hoping that it will impact your day in a positive way.
You seem to have a positive attitude, but at the end of the day you're working in the service industry and that can test a person's patience. How do you maintain your optimism when not everyone else is in that space?
I look at work the same way I look at life and our connection with nature. It's kind of like a clock, and we're all just little gears. You may feel like you're going crazy as a little gear just spinning around and around, but if you take a step back and look, you'll see that all the little gears connect and make the whole clock work.
It's really a beautiful thing if you think about it. So that's my attitude.
Sure, we all have our little job or our little part we play in the scheme of things, but we all connect to make something beautiful. Me making you coffee can make an impact on your day either positively or negatively.
I don't know where you're going after you leave the coffee shop, or where you came from, but I do know that I can impact your day one way or the other, so I try to always make it a positive one.
We've all seen the people who get extremely creative when ordering coffee drinks — you know, the "super-grande-haf-caf-nonfat-caramel-brulée-captain-crunch" types. What are some coffee-ordering "do's" and "don'ts"?
(Laughs) Yes, people definitely get crazy, but I would say do make your own masterpiece. If you like plain black coffee, do that. If you like 7. 5 shots of espresso poured in exactly 23 seconds, do that. Your coffee drink should be your own.
Just please remember that we are people, too. There's nothing wrong with your ordering a special drink just the way you like, but do give baristas the time to prepare the drink just the way you like it and remember we are putting love into what we do.