Sage Music founder interviews Micheal Conklin who teaches saxophone, clarinet, flute, and improvisation. They discuss coffee, the upcoming move of our music school to a new awesome space, goal setting, and our fantastic students.

Watch the video, or read the interview below.

Jason: Hey. Hello everyone. This is Jason Sagebiel, the founder of Sage Music. And I’m excited today to introduce you to one of our newest faculty members. This is Mr. Michael Conklin. You can shake my hand here and welcome to this brief interview. I remember when we were interviewing for your position – Michael’s teaching woodwinds and improvisation – we started to talk about coffee just a little bit. At one of my former jobs, I was the director of purchasing at the Ritz Carlton and bought tons of coffee from all over the world. And I have been kind of, I don’t want to say passionate, maybe I’ve just been addicted ever since. And now we have to talk about coffee. And Michael’s very, very interested in making the Perfect Cup of coffee. So you are making us coffee right? Tell us what you’re going to do here.

Michael: I’m using a recipe I stole from the 2017 AeroPress world champion.

Jason: I didn’t know there was an AeroPress champion!

Michael: There is a championship for just about anything that you could be competitive in.

Jason: I’ve never seen one before.

Michael: So basically the coffee sits in here with a filter, the coffee brews in the vessel and then I press it through.

Jason: So how about we just do it here! I’m anxious to see what you’re making, or to try what you are making.

Michael: Sure, so here is the coffee that I just ground, that it is very important.

Jason: So the coffee goes entirely into the AeroPress? The filter is underneath here. Is that right?

Michael: The filter actually is going to go on last, on top here. So right now the whole thing is upside down. Then I’m going to flip it around.

Jason: OK, we got hot water. I know, I know about this part!

Michael: Or yeah, like most, like most, not all but most coffee has hot water.

Jason: And what are you doing with this thing down here?

Michael: So right now I’m weighing the exact amount of water that I want to have for my perfect cup of coffee.

Michael: So how much water are we putting in?

Michael: We’ll put in 150 grams.

Jason: And how much coffee was inside?

Michael: 35 grams. This is this actually going to make a concentrate and then I’m going to add a little hot water at the end. For 15 seconds.

Jason: So we’re only letting it sit for 15 seconds?

Michael: I should pour 150 grams within 15 seconds. Hopefully…if I’m fast enough to get it all in on time. We’re getting close.

Jason: 130. 140…there we are. That was right on 15 seconds. That was pretty good. I don’t know if you can see it on the camera. I think you got it right there on time.

Michael: And then I just stir until 35.

Jason: OK. 29…30….33….I think you quit at 34!

Michael: Oh no!

Jason: You are not going to win the Aeropress championship!

Michael: I’ll probably not, haha, hopefully we will get decent results. Um, so that can brew for a little bit. I’m going to put the cap on.

Jason: Everything else is so precise, so how long is this going to brew?

Michael: This is brewing until 1:05, 10 seconds away. Then I flip it around.

Jason: Yeah.

Michael: Press it through until 1:35, which should give us a concentrate.

Jason: I think you’ve got 15 seconds left. You are counting down – four more seconds. For you watching at home, I’m going to tell you how it is.

Michael: So now things are no longer quite as time sensitive. The coffee’s made and now I can add more water, but I do want to measure it again because the concentrate is way, way stronger than I want.

Jason: So how much water are you going to be adding here?

Michael: 200.

Michael: 200 grams on top of the original 150?

Michael: Yes, on top of that original.

Jason: So you know when I go down to a coffee shop they don’t really do it with this kind of detail.

Michael: Not all the time, you gotta really look for the places that like to do this. And then those are a little bit pricey.

Michael: Shall we split this up here and see how you did?

Michael: Hopefully I can do this cleanly.

Jason: OK.

Michael: So you can have the less messy one.

Jason: I don’t mind. Cheers. Let’s see how you did here. It smells pretty good.

Michael: It does smell good.

Jason: I have to say that’s a pretty clean cup of coffee.

Michael: I’m happy with it.

Jason: I’m happy too, you can be our coffee champion! So, if you’re watching this video, you probably see a different background than you normally see. We are here on the second floor of the Long Island City Art Center. And the space where we are right now is one unit which is going to be a third of our new school space. We will be moving here to the second floor with all the other schools in the building. We will have three large units all in a row. We’re going to have a performance space, a big waiting room, and additional practice rooms. We’re just waiting for the building to give us possession so we can start the construction. One of the things I’m psyched about is that we’re going to promote Michael here from woodwind instructor to coffee maker in our new space because I love coffee. So hopefully we’re going to have awesome coffee service in the new space too. Anyway, Michael, I just want to talk to you a little bit while we’re enjoying this great cup of coffee. You are pretty new to the school and we’re excited to have you. And maybe you can tell me a little bit about your experience here at the school so far.

Michael: My experience at the school so far has been great. I’m really happy with the level of detail that I’m expected to teach at. And that I’m taught in the training. I really love that the school has an emphasis on relationships with our students. Whereas in some of my experiences in music schools before, I was just kind hired simply because I can play my instrument. Then I would never see anyone from the school again except my students. No one was checking in on them. Maybe the recital, but really I feel like everyone’s communicating here. There’s more, and there’s a better sense of community here that I really enjoy.

Jason: That’s awesome. We are happy to have you here. And then also tell me about the students here and what, what do you find about the students here at the school?

Michael: What I find about the students is that they really come here with a high expectations. They come here with goals and they want to achieve something which is great. I feel like it’s very much a two way relationship. I teach, they teach me, we’re both learning. It’s exciting to get to know all the students.

Jason: I am excited to hear you say that because I’ve always been impressed with the sort of students are coming to school because I always find them very much committed. They do want to achieve, there’s no babysitting involved. People come here wanting to learn whether they are an adult or a child. And so that’s exciting. So what about you? Do you have particular goals? You mentioned the students will come with goals. Did you come here with a certain goal?

Michael: Yeah, it’s to build and maintain a studio of long time students and friends. And to make a good living as a teacher, but also to make a happy living at it.

Michael: You know, I’m really hoping we can help. No, i take that back, we aren’t hoping – I know we are going to help you build all these things here. It’s exciting.

Michael: It’s already been happening.

Jason: We are excited to get you on this path, this is really great and the coffee’s awesome. So thank you.

Michael: Thank you.

Jason: Thank you, man, we’ll be having more of these together.