It makes sense that baristas are often plugged into the most interesting things in any community. Jake Cameron of Dak Lak Coffee Roasters (175 Monmouth Rd, West Long Branch) shared some thoughts with us about life in and around Asbury Park.

Perfect bar or place for a beer?

Woah dude, I’m underage. Probably not the best guy to go for this.

Favorite Jersey Shore building/architecture?

I love the carousel in Asbury Park. Sometimes I go on walks with my dad or with my friends on the boardwalk. I always make time to walk around/near the carousel.

Your ideal breakfast/lunch spot on your day off?

My dad lives in Asbury and he has a beautiful condo on the sixth floor and I love to sit on his balcony and look at Deal Lake.

Best Jersey Shore pizza?

That’s a tough one. I guess it would be Freddie’s Pizza in Long Branch. You gotta love thin crust.


Favorite jersey shore kitchen experience?

One of my favorite places to go to hang out with friends is the Inkwell in Long Branch. The casualness and the quality of food is actually perfect. Also, its a coffeehouse so its in my ballpark.

What are you currently reading?

I don’t really have time to read as much as I’d love to, but over the summer I really got into more classics, so a lot of F.Scott Fitzgerald and Tennessee Williams.

Favorite music to play at work?

When it is a Saturday morning and there is a rush of I-haven’t-had-my-coffee-yet personalities coming my way, its great to hear the top 50 tracks in the background. Today’s music is just bouncy and fun and while I am more of Adult Contemporary person out of work, listening to today’s hits makes the shift easier.

Bike or car?

I love riding my bike but I do prefer my car. Listening to music or just having a conversation on the road is the best.

Any coffee mentor(s)?

My boss, Van, taught me everything about coffee and espresso. He also is very into steamed milk and always compliments how “smooth” the sound of my milk is, which I always am pretty happy about.


Most preposterous customer request?

Oh boy…wow. I mean I feel bad saying some of these things because I understand people like their coffee and certain way and I am a people pleaser so I try my best not to judge. But this one woman came in and asked for a light coffee with cream. However, she wanted it on the darker side. I took our lightest roast and I made her a coffee. The woman thanked me and went to sit down. I proceeded to return to work (cleaning, organizing, etc.) About a minute goes by and a family comes in requesting coffees, bagels, etc. As my coworker and I begin their order, the woman who ordered her coffee asked if I could make it more dark. When I looked in the cup, it was half full. And since our system is filter/drip, I had to make set up a new cup and pour some into her coffee cup. This seemed more rude then preposterous.

Also, there is always people who come in requesting a decaf, skinny, organic, almond milk Colombian macchiato/latte or something of that kind. It is a bit of a time consumer and I’ve found myself with a long line of people after making this drink for one person.

If you could tell your customers one thing about coffee, what would it be?

There is more caffeine in lighter roast than darker roast. Please don’t ask me to make you a light roast coffee at 8pm and expect me to wish you sweet dreams. I understand its a lighter flavor but it WILL keep you up if you do not normally drink coffee.

What’s the best tip for making coffee at home?

I am guilty on this one. You will very rarely find me at home making coffee. However, almost every morning, I go to my job and make my own cup of coffee while others are on shift and then I head to school. So, my suggestion for home brewing would be its too much work and just go grab a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop.


What’s your favorite/least favorite drinks to make?

My favorite would definitely have to be any flavored hot latte. I love steaming milk by hand and then pouring it. I also love trying to make a design and almost always failing. However, it does allow for some laughing from customers who try to understand how the blob I just poured is actually a volcano erupting or a lion fighting a cloud. My least favorite would have to be the dakappacino. . . so much room for failure.

What projects keep you busy when you’re not making coffee?

Well, I’m a senior in high school so applying for college is one thing. I also have an internship at the Count Basie Theatre where I work for the Educational Department and also learning about marketing in theatre. Also, I’m in play at Shore Regional High School called “Lend Me a Tenor” which everyone should come see. So a lot. But coffee is a good thing to keep as company.

David Spelman is a music producer, founder of the New York Guitar Festival, TEDxNavaesink talent advisor and Ocean Grove resident. He enjoys cycling, yoga, coffee, and generally encouraging creative dialogue across disciplines and barstools. www.davidspelman.com

Photos by Nick Keifer

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