The Michael Jordan of Coffee

Coffee makes me happy. It’s not just drinking coffee, but the whole thing. Being inside a coffee house, the idea of it, the process of making it, the smells, and each unique shops experience makes me really, really happy. Maybe I’m weird, but whatever.

One of the few places I’ll go for coffee in Venice is Menotti’s on Windward just under the iconic “Venice” sign near the boardwalk. The man in charge is Nicely Abel. He’s also not just any old barista. He’s the best. In fact, he’s won back-to-back-to-back World Latte Art Championships. nicely

1. That’s a thing.

2. That’s crazy. He’s the Michael Jordan of coffee.

A couple days ago I went to see Nicely and the scope of his mastery donned on me. The volume of coffee he’s had to make to be good and the volume of coffee he’s had to make to be great is astounding to think about. Pulling shots, pouring milk, and even making art is a talent developed through sheer repetition.

Interestingly, there’s almost no other way to practice it but to actually make coffee and challenge how it looks and tastes in his profession. Drawing latte art on paper doesn’t really translate to making it with milk in a cup, for example. There’s no escaping the route to mastering his craft, it’s a numbers game.

And, when you go and order something from him, he doesn’t just make it, he makes it as if it’s Game 6. You know that look on someone’s face when they are “in it.” It’s like he’s looking down the barrel of a gun for the perfect shot. It’s a look that says, “Not now, mother f*cker. I’m working!” He’s got a title to defend and you’re mistaken if he’s going to give away a chance to practice on you.

The reason I thought of him and this blog is because what you all do in the gym everyday is a numbers game, as well. Nicely can’t afford to just make any old cup of coffee. Those reps are too precious. To get as good as he is, he needs to get every ounce of intentional practice out of every cup or he’s wasting opportunity (and coffee).

What if you took the position that you can’t afford to practice a squat or a clean or anything else for that matter just any old way? What if it was too precious just to “warm up” or “get the bar to your shoulder?” What if each rep was a chance to master something and that there aren’t enough reps to give any away?


Logan Gelbrich


8/19/14 WOD

Complete the following for time:
Run 800m
15 Handstand Push Ups
15 Deadlifts (225/155)
Run 600m
10 Handstand Push Ups
10 Deadlifts
Run 400m
5 Handstand Push Ups
5 Deadlifts
Run 200m