The people who work for us are seriously top notch humans, and we’re excited to introduce you to them in this column of barista profiles. If you come into HubBub's Spruce Street shop, you've almost definitely been served by one of our managers, Paul M. His smiling face is a fixture behind the counter! Paul's authentically friendly demeanor, enjoyment of working with people, and enthusiasm for coffee make him a really easy person to talk to, and a rockstar barista.
Paul is from Annapolis, Maryland, but went to high school in Baltimore. It was an all-boys school, which he says he wasn't crazy about, but that it did prepare him well for college. He went to Catholic University of America, where he was a media studies major. He says that his media studies professors were rad, and helped him learn to be critical and analyze the media he consumed in both religious and mainstream culture. He made some student films and wrote his senior thesis about zombie epidemic in film!
After graduation, Paul moved to New York. He lived in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, and worked in film post-production, supplying producers with reels of stock footage. After that job, he worked for a number of small companies and start ups as a project manager. Even though he had the skills and personality for the job, the gigs soon lost their luster. He began asking himself: What do I really like? What will I want to go to work and participate in and share with others? There was a Stumptown coffee shop on the ground floor of his apartment building that he frequented almost every day. He got to know all the baristas there and soon, the answer became clear: coffee.
After six years of living in New York, Paul and his partner decided to make a life change and move to Philadelphia. "I love New York, but I don't think I'll ever move back," he says. "My partner and I were surviving, but we weren't really thriving." They moved here in September 2013, and Paul was hired to work at HubBub's cafe on Spruce Street in March of 2014. He had been working at another shop, where he learned some coffee basics. But HubBub, he said, was like "graduating to the next level." Now, he co-manages the joint, which he really enjoys.
His favorite part of the day is when regulars switch up their normal orders and surprise him, and surprise themselves. He also loves encouraging people to branch out and try new things, especially when they have a free coffee on their punch card. Watching peoples' coffee palates expand is really fun, too. "It's why we do what we do," he says. Even though he loves coffee, Paul is an anti-snob. He prefers to drink Chemex pour overs, especially coffees from Ethiopia. But, he's quick to point out, he's got no problem drinking grocery store coffee from his mom's Mister Coffee maker at home. "When in Rome!" he says with a laugh.
Outside of work, Paul lives in a 7 bedroom house (!) in University City with his partner, his cat, and six roommates. "Moving here was a big living change. I thought I was going to hate it and be really crazy about my stuff, but I actually really like living communally!" he says. His house occasionally hosts basement shows and is part of the Philly DIY punk community. In fact, they had just had a show the night before our chat. "Sorry if I'm talking really loudly, I was standing right next to the speaker!" Paul says. The band at fault was Pinkwash, a 2-piece from Philly who he says are awesome. "Just drummer and guitarist, Ashley and Joey, and they’re insane. It’s not even totally my kind of music, but they transcend all that."
While he doesn't consider himself "punk," he thinks the scene is really cool. Paul says: "I’ve learned a lot from punk spaces and workshops, about inclusivity, about how you relate to the rest of the world...understanding my privilege, things like that never crossed my mind, especially in college and in Manhattan - two places of extreme privilege. That scene kinds of exists in New York but is hard to find, and it's everywhere in West Philly."
Paul is also really into comics and cartoons, and can often be found checking out new shows on Cartoon Network. A recent favorite is Over the Garden Wall, which he describes as "kind of haunting...dark in a subversive way that kids can get down with." He also reads lots of comics, and highly recommends Saga, a fantasy series from writer Bryan K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples. "It’s so good and beautiful and really badass at the same time," he says. But his all-time favorite is legendary Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (of Spirited Away fame). Many of the tattoos that make up his sleeve are tributes to this classic anime style. Actually, Paul has lots of extremely great tattoos:
Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us, Paul. We are lucky to have you be such a big part of our HubBub Spruce Street team!