“We, as humans, have a romantic ideal about coffee. A universal vision shared across ages, geography, and demographics. The ideal coffee shop is an archetype that unifies… so do wine and jazz. Urban Mix creates a Holy Trinity trifecta of these universal human truths that encourage and inspire us all to come together – to “mix’.”- Urban Mix Coffee House
By Colorado Coffee Zine
Sebastian Legner, lead barista at Urban Mix Coffee House in downtown Denver, is bracing himself for a Spring season full of home runs. Not only does this certified Q Grader go to bat for the hot new coffee shop walking distance from Coors Field and compete in local latte art competitions, he will also attend Global Coffee EXPO in Seattle, WA this month. Sebastian, affectionately described as one of Urban Mix Coffee House’s “artists in residence” by owner Jen Florez, wouldn’t be able to decline a coffee opportunity even if he tried.
From the early age of 10, Sebastian helped his father work the coffee crops on the family farm in Puerto Rico. “I remember as a little child digging a hole with him and putting coffee in the ground…we picked the coffee, we processed it by hand, we dried it under the sun…and my dad would roast it on the stove top …it always got burned but it was a fun experience.” Sebastian recalls great times on the farm in an abandoned forest about 3,000ft above sea level.
He participated in every step for years, until starting college and getting his first coffee shop job at Starbucks. “I think that is where the passion exploded to know more. Not only the farming but the whole process, from seed to cup.” After working in a series of coffee shops, learning front of house and management as well as participating in the local barista competitions, including as a judge, Sebastian decided it was time for a change. Turns out, the Colorado coffee scene with its 3rd wave coffee shops, renowned roasters, and innovative community projects was the perfect place to keep learning and developing as a coffee professional.
Although Sebastian describes himself as a purist, favoring the pourover method for coffee tasting, he strongly believes that coffee should be experienced according to your personal style. He regularly reviews and curates the menu, collaborating with owners Joe and Jen to make Urban Mix an accepting, welcoming community space from that morning cup of coffee to the evening wine glass on jazz nights.
An experienced latte art competitor in Puerto Rico and now in Colorado, he admits that despite rarely placing and never taking home the prize, he appreciates the learning experience and connecting with the driven people who inspire him in the coffee industry. “Back home Daniel Rivera the barista champion of Puerto Rico, he wins every year but he has so much passion and so much dedication.”
Sebastian’s advice to anyone entering this demanding line of work is “Don’t give up, read on your spare time, always be open minded to other new techniques. There’s nothing set in stone in this industry, it changes every day.”
He sends a warm thank you to his coffee mentors Jesus Orlando Gomez and master Pedro Trilla and his Urban Mix family Joe and Jen Florez.
To learn more about Sebastian’s seed to cup journey, run into him at the next latte art competition, during his morning pourover at Urban Mix, or at Global Coffee EXPO in Seattle, WA.