Mary Grayson “MG” Batts has been a dedicated member of the Blueprint team for the past two and a half years. She currently serves as shift lead at Blueprint Coffee Watson.
WHAT PROMPTED YOUR INTEREST IN COFFEE?
At first, the caffeine! I started drinking coffee from the local café in my hometown, which is right by the theatre, when I was in a musical in high school. Over time, and especially during the years I was traveling constantly while working on electoral campaigns, brewing coffee became a familiar ritual — a way to take a minute for myself when everything was chaotic and stressful.
WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO COFFEE ORDER WHEN YOU VISIT ANOTHER CAFE?
Before the pandemic, I loved to sit at Comet Coffee with a sidecar and a pastry and read a book. At Blueprint, either espresso and tonic, or black coffee, depending on my mood. Also, our power bars at Watson! I have one for breakfast almost every day.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS YOU HAVE LEARNED THROUGH YOUR CAREER & YOUR ROLE AT THE CAFÉ?
The overarching theme is communication. I have to be able to meet everyone who walks through the door where they are, figure out what they want and provide a (hopefully) satisfying experience. That means learning to communicate well with tons of people who are very unlike me, which is good!
I also have learned to give great service while maintaining my own boundaries. There’s a difference between serving someone professionally and letting them walk all over you, if they’re so inclined. Thankfully, it’s not often I feel the need to enforce my boundaries at work. But it takes skill to do that, and I feel I’m getting better at it all the time. It helps immeasurably to feel truly empowered at work, which I very much do.
IF YOU COULD ENJOY A CUP OF COFFEE WITH ANYONE IN THE WORLD, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
My grandfather. He died in March of this year. He didn’t like coffee and would always rib me for my little coffee brewing setup when I’d come visit. It sure would be nice to sit at the table and hear him tease me for my “fancy coffee” again.
On the other hand, if I were to choose someone living, it would have to be Stacey Abrams.
IS THERE A COMMON MISCONCEPTION ABOUT SPECIALTY COFFEE, OR ANYTHING YOU WISH MORE CONSUMERS KNEW?
Brewing good coffee at home doesn’t have to be so hard! It can seem intimidating to make coffee on your own. Folks get lost in all the expensive equipment and complicated techniques out there. The math and science aspects of brewing can be helpful to troubleshoot if you hit a wall, and we’re always happy to give pointers if you’d like to ask. But don’t overthink it too much! If it tastes good to you, that’s what matters.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE BLUEPRINT WATSON COMMUNITY?
The relationships. I’ve been at Watson since we opened here, and I’ve absolutely loved getting to know some of our regulars. I love watching their kids grow, giving their dogs a treat, and just chatting about what’s going on in their lives. More than one customer has shown me pictures of their newborn, just hours old, knowing I shared in their excitement.
During the pandemic, I was furloughed for more than three months, and I was a little surprised how much I missed our customers here. I really mean it when I say these relationships are some of the most meaningful connections in my life. I love being a part of this community.
I also love and appreciate every one of the people that makes up Blueprint. They’re talented, kind, smart, supportive, thoughtful, and they take care of me in ways I didn’t always know I deserved. The owners of this company are truly good, thoughtful, and compassionate people — I swear I’m not just saying this because they sign my paychecks! They’ve created an environment that makes me so proud of what I do each day. I love being able to bring my whole self to work: to be exactly who I am and be valued for it. Working here with these people has changed me for the better in so many ways.
HOW DOES COFFEE IMPACT COMMUNITIES AND EVERYDAY LIFE?
I’m coming to appreciate how important spaces like this are to the health of a community: neutral, joyful spaces to gather, or to just be. It’s cliché to say a café is the social hub of a community, but it’s so true. It brings life and joy to a neighborhood. I hope Blueprint Watson brings that to our neighborhood. We certainly try to see ourselves this way. We believe in taking care of people, supporting our community, acting as responsible leaders, and facing hard things with integrity. We act with intention and compassion. We’re members of a community, with all the obligations that come with it.
WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS OUTSIDE OF THE CAFÉ?
I’m extremely passionate about voting rights. If you’ve ever come to Watson and had a lengthy, detailed conversation about voting, it was probably with me! I used to work on electoral campaigns, until 2016, when I decided to join the fight for voting rights in a bigger way. I’m currently working on finishing my undergraduate degree by taking classes after work and online. This takes up almost every free moment I have outside work.
One day, I hope to become a voting rights attorney. The recent flurry of lawsuits over ballot access is a perfect illustration of why this work is so necessary. I want the right to vote in America to be universal, and I’m committed to fight for it.