Coffee. It’s an essential part of an average person’s day, whether that means ordering a Starbucks cappuccino in the morning or mixing a cup of instant coffee before leaving the house. For Diamond Bar High School senior Andrew Gao, however, coffee brewing is a passion where careful skills and experience combine together for his ultimate goal: to craft the perfect cup of coffee.
“All the elements, all the techniques and detailed things you have to keep in mind and focus on when you’re making coffee; putting all that together and making that one perfect cup is what most baristas strive for,” Gao said.
Last summer, while visiting China, his passion for coffee brewing started when he attended his aunt’s coffee class with his cousin, Jerry Ding. From there, Ding’s passion for coffee sparked Gao’s passion for coffee when he returned to the United States. Despite only recently looking into coffee more in depth last year, Gao isn’t a stranger to coffee.
He grew up around his family business, Yun-Joy Coffee, a company that serves as vendors for coffee and tea houses. Also, Gao interned at his family’s company last summer in customer service.
Gao’s club, Coffee Association of DBHS, offers free coffee classes to interested students. It had around 40 members at one point, but currently isn’t active because it couldn’t afford the heavy expenses that came with buying espresso machines for members. When Gao couldn’t continue teaching people as part of his campus club, he looked into offering paid classes outside of school.
His coffee classes last from an hour to two hours. The first class begins with the history of coffee and eventually covers various coffee making techniques for different types of coffee in later lessons. Gao teaches the classes alongside his mother and aunt—both coffee experts themselves—at his house.
“Every cup of coffee has a different taste. There’s a whole taste and aroma wheel that a cup of coffee can cover,” Gao said.
As Gao prepares to move onto college, he looks forward to further developing his coffee brewing. He is developing a website to promote his coffee-making business.