Juliet Han graduated from UC San Diego before moving to Washington D.C. for a music policy internship. She eventually switched to coffee and has now been working in the coffee industry for over a decade. Han has been a judge for regional barista competitions and represented Intelligentsia Coffee in the 2012 U.S. Cup Tasters Championship, where she placed third. Currently, Han is a roaster for Blue Bottle Coffee.
Image taken from Juliet Han's Twitter (@JulietintheBae)
What hooked you on coffee?
It hit me one day after years of being a Barista as a side job…I was never bored with it! It was a number of things…the sensory discipline it took to taste coffee (what we call cuppings) to the people in the industry. After 10 years, I’m still learning a lot and having fun.
The coolest example of science in your coffee?
I would say the process of roasting. The process of roasting has barely been studied academically unlike a lot of culinary subjects. So many things are going on when you roast coffee; it’s a volatile process with complicated aromas and many variables to consider.
The food you find most fascinating?
Mushrooms…the way they grow, their flavors, texture, everything about it.
What scientific concept--coffee related or otherwise--do you find most fascinating?
I’m studying chemistry right now, so the idea of matter. Everything around us is basically matter comprised of atoms and molecules. It’s that simple, and so complicated. On my first day of class, there was an article of “Chemistry of Roasting” on the bulletin board about the chemicals that are released in the process of roasting; I can’t wait to read it again after I finish this class to make some sense out of it.
Your best example of a food that is better because of science?
Dairy, especially milks and cheese, but that’s a whole new world I’m scared to explore.
How do you think science will impact your world of coffee in the next 5 years?
Science will impact coffee tremendously as it is slowly starting to already. Coffee is a global agriculture/commodity, a cultural phenomenon and a staple beverage in many countries’. More and more, I’m reading about universities developing “studies” for coffee that vary in topic. From coffee varietals to understanding water temperature, the value of science needed in the coffee community is at a higher demand.
One kitchen tool you could not live without?
My Brita water pitcher—LA water is not the tastiest.
Five things most likely to be found in your fridge?
Eggs, salsa, carrots, onions, baking soda
Your all-time favorite ingredient? Favorite cookbook?
I put Tapatio on most everything. I would put it in coffee if I thought it would make it taste better. Cookbooks, do online publications count? I’m a huge fan of SmittenKitchen.com and ThugKitchen.com.
Your standard breakfast?
Coffee, then followed by whatever I can find (day old pastries, yogurt, bananas) unless it’s a big coffee tasting day…then I will make sure to eat a lot of bland carbs so I don’t lose my mind an hour into tasting.