Interview #100: Frank Battista

Here it is. Interview #100 featuring the one and only Frank Battista.

I met Frank a few years ago when I started swinging by Commonplace Coffee as part of my morning routine.

The stops at the coffee shop soon became not only an opportunity for a warm and comforting beverage (I love the raspberry patch tea) but also time to catch up with friendly and funny … Frank!

As someone who’s observed Frank interact with a broad spectrum of customers, I’m amazed how he handles all personalities with ease. Regulars and strangers alike, somehow he is able to make them smile and laugh.

Frank treats everyone with respect and patience. I admire his pace in life. He is steady, present, and doesn’t rush.

I saved Frank’s interview for capstone of this project because what sticks out to me most about Frank is his kindness.

And after 100 interviews, I realize that this is what Yinzpiration is all about.

Yes the affordability of Pittsburgh is awesome.
Yes it’s incredible to be leaders in healthcare and technology.
Yes we have amazing food, talented musicians, and an innovative community of artists.
Yes we have the best end-of-tunnel experience ever known to humankind.

But if we forget to say hello, listen, and high-five one another we miss the mark.

So what do you say we help Pittsburgh top the “friendliest” charts?! It’s people like you and people like Frank that are going to make it happen.

Enjoy Frank’s Q&A!

Name: Frank Battista

Job title: Barista/Educator/Steward with Commonplace Coffee Co.

Twitter: If you hear me say something worth tweeting feel free to do so.

Blog: Posted a thing once.

Neighborhood you live in: Central North Side, Allegheny City Central, Mexican War Streets. It depends on who you ask.

Coffee Shop Drink of Choice: Espresso/Cappuccino

Current Shampoo Preference: Whatever is present at the time but I identify as ‘baking soda-curious’.

Why do you choose Pittsburgh as your home?
I grew up in the South Hills. I wanted to go live in the woods as I didn’t quite care for the suburbs or cities. After living in Chicago and NYC i found that cities do indeed have redeemable qualities. Upon returning to Pittsburgh i found many of those redeemable qualities here, just not as obviously present. My family and I find Pittsburgh to be quite comfortable, an interesting study in history and development, stocked well enough with yummy food and drink and all with an approachable cost of living. Above all though we have a great community of family and friends here and a sense of this being our present and seemingly a good portion of our future. It is also nice that we always have a sense of ‘ooooh’ whenever we see the city we call home.

Who do you spend your time with?
Mostly: Belle (wife), Viggo (son, 3), Zali (daughter, 2), Henri (canine, 5). I also appreciate the company of a wide variety of people whom I know from different seasons of life and different venues.

What are your favorite aspects of your job?
The opportunity to serve someone a thing that is nice. I currently work for a company that I feel I have found a home in with Commonplace Coffee Co.. The coffee industry is a great window into how the world works. Coffee provides a context to discuss: agriculture, education, chemistry, physics, sociology, economics, ethics, the environment, design, friendship, neighborliness, history, politics, etc.. I claim to know very little abut any of these things but it is nice to have access to thinking about and practicing them within the context of my vocation.

Do you have a soul food?
Popcorn. A REALLY big bowl of stove top-popped with butter and light sprinkling of Kosher flake salt.

What are some of your recent personal goals?

  1. Figure out some personal goals.
  2. Practice contentment.
  3. Be a great husband and parent.
  4. Be a great friend and neighbor.

What are some of your favorite Pittsburgh restaurants?

  • Korea Gardens
  • Sultan’s Market (This is actually in Chicago, but let’s pretend.)

Describe your ideal day.
Generally speaking this would include: time with my family, a nice coffee beverage, a really great sandwich, lots of walking/no time in the car, crossing something off of the ‘to do’ list, running into people I know, getting to go out of my way to do something nice for someone, having a surreal experience, eating some grilled food and a bit of a beverage on the front stoop to close out.

What is the most memorable live show you have seen in Pittsburgh?

Small: The first time I saw Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Club Cafe’ 2010

Medium: Swell Season/The Frames, Byham Theater 2008

Large: Sigur Ros, Stage AE 2014

Colossal: U2, Heinz Field 2011 (There was this spider—hanging underneath the catwalk that Bono was on—that had no idea where he was.)

What do you think Pittsburgh will be like in ten years? What do you love most about the city?
I referred to Pittsburgh as ‘the city of unrealized potential’ from the time I moved back in 2004. I have however quieted that phrase over the past several years as Pittsburgh seems to have become ‘the city of realizing potential’. I could actually see this city in some ways being unrecognizable in ten years rom what it was 10 years ago. I am thankful to those who have either returned to their hometown or those who have made the choice to adopt this city and bring some freshness to it. As for the future, I really hope that one thing this city maintains is the sense of being a small town and that the inter-connectedness continues to be one of its defining traits. I really love a lot of things about Pittsburgh. It’s a hard task to choose the most loved thing. I love some people, the topography, the history, the unpolished-ness and the fact that the city is nestled amongst so many trees, waterways and other natural things.