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.
Ben M. came to us through a good old fashioned case of serendipity. First of all, he found out that we were hiring through Craigslist which, as anyone who has posted or looked for a job on there knows, is a total needle-in-a-haystack scenario. After responding to the ad, he was walking by our 3 Logan Shop one afternoon and popped in on a whim to see if he could talk to someone. Our GM Erica happened to be on her way and when she arrived, she interviewed him on the spot. He was hired, and began working at HubBub's 3 Logan Square shop in May!
Ben is a Philly area native - he grew up and went to high school in the 'burbs. After graduating from high school, he spent time both in and out of college, changed majors a few times, and eventually decided to take some time off before going back. He says that college life was an adjustment, and hoped that the break would help clarify things. “That totally worked!” he reports.
Ben started up again CCP last year, and this fall just began going back to Temple University, where he began his original college journey a few years ago. He’s going to the Communications & Media School, where he'll major in Media Business.
Before HubBub, Ben worked at a T-Mobile store, and over time realized that working for a giant corporation was not for him. A coffee shop job seemed like a better fit because of his existing interest in coffee culture and the educational aspects of being a barista. That's what helped him decide to apply for the HubBub job. “It doesn’t take much to get me really nerdy about things," Ben says. "For me, it’s all or nothing with hobbies and jobs.”
And coming to work for HubBub seems like a great choice for him. “This is the best job that I’ve ever had!" he says. "There is so much cool stuff to learn about coffee, the people I work with are so great, and the people that come here are cool.”
Outside of work, Ben lives in the so-called Eraserhood neighborhood of the city. His biggest passion is music. He and his friend Matt started a small record label in 2014 called 4! (Four Factorial). Fun story: Ben has had the 4! name in mind since he was in 8th grade! Back then he was just getting into music, and had a little dream of starting a record label. He doodled up a 4! logo in his notebook, and kept it in the back of his head the whole time.
4!'s co-founder Matt lives in Yellowstone National Park, and Ben says it’s been interesting running the label from opposite ends of the country, doing everything via email and telephone. Matt handles most of the operations (production, design), while Ben takes care of the business end of things (communicating with artists, promotion, running websites).
He says: "We started the label because we both made music on our own, and when we began working on stuff together we weren’t sure how to release it. We’d always talked half-seriously about starting a label, and then decided to actually do it. It took a whole year to figure out what that even meant. But since then, it’s been really cool working with other musicians and doing promotions."
So far, they've put out 9 releases, all on cassette tapes, from both local and national artists. You can hear songs from all the bands on the label's Bandcamp page. And while you're there, check out Ben's own musical project, Benjamin Poole, whose record Home Language was 4!'s second release.
Musically, Ben is influenced primarily by Sufjan Stevens. "I am the world's biggest Sufjan fan!" he claims. He's also interested in classical music: as a kid, he sang with the Philadelphia Boy's Choir, which took him places as local as the Academy of Music, and as exotic as Cuba. He says he always liked the "weird classical pieces" like requiems the best for their ethereal, otherworldly qualities. He also has a love of musical theater (Rent is his favorite show), and opera, which he was introduced to by his Nana. He is especially a fan of the Philadelphia Opera Company's modern offerings. "The productions are really cool and artsy, with incredible stage design and direction," he reports.
Thanks so much to Ben for sharing his story, and for being an awesome part of the HubBub Crew!