FOLLY: Earlier today while I was in Café Neo, I got chatting with the super amazing Ernest of Café Neo. He’s always smiling, he makes great coffee, and he’s very attentive! For example, the first time I walked into Neo I ordered my drink with soy because of my lactose intolerance .
NOSA: "lack toast and tolerant", you mean
FOLLY: Ernest hasn’t forgotten. Even when I forget to say he never uses full cream milk for me.
NOSA: Folly is so high maintenance, fam. Is your diet gluten-free too? (Folly note: Actually, my college roommate baked a gluten free cake once and it was foul. Don't try it!)
FOLLY: Ernest was so gracious when I told him about EatDrinkLagos and that we had chosen to feature him in the first of our “Get To Know” series. Ibrahim and Tunde (the other baristas) were within earshot and so sort of “caught feelings”. Ibrahim tried to hide it (and pretended like he was making a sandwich) but Tunde wasn’t so coy. He called me out and everything! I told Tunde that his time was coming.
NOSA: If anyone cares, Ernest isn't my favorite barista. The fine girl that handles the morning shift is mine. She gave me like six signatures when I got my rewards card thing. Bae forever.
FOLLY: Anyway, I got chatting with Ernest about the job, being a barista, and his favorite drink on the menu.
FOLLY: So why do Tunde and Ibrahim refer to you as “boss” ?
Ernest: It’s because they met me on the job. I’ve been working at Neo Café for 1 year and 9 months now. I started with Neo at the first location at Dream Plaza.
FOLLY: So tell me a bit about yourself
Ernest: My name is Ernest Amah. First born out of 7 kids
NOSA: Was your dad trying to start a football team, abeg?
Ernest: I used to work with a consulting firm in Ilupeju thats trains people on project management. I helped the participants register for training and collected payments. I used to be at UNILAG but I had to leave because of some complications.
FOLLY: Wow! How did you get this job with Neo?
Ernest: I didn’t like my old job so I quit. I went for an interview [for Neo] in Lekki and they picked me out of a lot people. There were over a hundred applicants, but they picked four of us that day.
FOLLY: That’s pretty impressive that they picked you out of so many people. Why do you think they chose you?
Ernest: I don’t know really but maybe because I’m physically active.
FOLLY: Have you ever been a barista before?
Ernest: No. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was going to do it
FOLLY: Are you happy with the job?
Ernest: Yes, I'm happy for now.
FOLLY: What’s your favourite part of the job?
Ernest: Meeting new people everyday, it’s interesting for me.
FOLLY: What drink do you recommend to people who come in?
Ernest: The most expensive drink! [laughs] That is a Frappuccino. It is 1,200. That is for those who do coffee. For others, I recommend a smoothie.
NOSA: That's probably why you guys keep trying to make me get a large cup every time.
FOLLY: actually remember a barista suggesting a Frap for my cousin one of the first few times I was here. Must have been Ernest!
But what is YOUR own favourite drink here?
FOLLY: One last question, do you have any interesting customer stories?
Ernest: [Laughing] Yes, sometimes customers come in and they don’t know how we work. It's self service. They come in, order their drink, sit down, and then want you to come serve them at the tables.
Thank you Ernest, you're the real MVP !
UPDATE: Ernest isn't in the Akin Adeola branch anymore, you can catch him at Cafe Neo's pop-up store in Whitespace on Raymond Njoku.