Junior Toria Adkison is known at Kibo Midnight Oil Coffeehouse (MO) as a jack of all trades. She serves as a barista, baker and chalk artist for the local business.
Toria Adkison said she made the decision to work at MO when she was still in high school.
“I managed a coffee shop in my high school (in Ohio),” Toria Adkison said. “I grew to love coffee making, chalk board design and baking. I wanted to continue those things when I was leaving for college and Midnight Oil seemed to be the perfect fit. I bugged the manager until he gave me a job and I moved down to work a week after I graduated high school.”
According to Toria Adkison’s brother, alumnus Trey Adkison, Toria Adkison’s love for art began when they were both kids.
“Toria has liked art ever since I can remember,” Trey Adkison said. “She started off drawing cartoons when she was young, and then had the opportunity to take art classes outside of school to pursue other types of media.”
Toria Adkison said she began art classes in fourth grade and continued throughout her schooling.
“When I used to do art in middle school and high school, I always loved using pastels, and chalk art feels like an extension of pastel art,” Toria Adkison said. “I love chalk art because of its flexibility. If you mess up, you can just erase it.”
According to alumna Tandy Jackson, a fellow barista at MO, the chalk work on the walls is essential to the brand and atmosphere of MO.
“Toria’s chalk art not only announces special offers, (and gives) clarification for the ‘Kibo’ part of Kibo Midnight Oil … but also contributes to the creative atmosphere at MO with her specific fonts, colors, graphics and funny holidays included on each month’s calendar,” Jackson said.
Manager and barista Jared Davenport said Toria Adkison has a lot of freedom in the design aspect of the wall art.
“Toria and I discuss different ideas that we feel should be posted on the wall based on what information we would like the public to know about, such as our local partners, Kibo projects and featured coffee roaster,” Davenport said. “She, however, decides on her own the calendar designs and a lot of the special days.”
Toria Adkison said the calendar is one of her favorite pieces to design each month. She said she enjoys the freedom she has in its design, as well as hearing customers use the fun holidays as conversation starters in line.
According to Jackson, the calendar is also fun for the employees of MO.
“I personally am a big advocate for the calendar,” Jackson said. “The baristas sometimes help look up the random fun holidays for each month, and I always look forward to seeing what holidays will be there. The customers always ask us about the various events on the calendar, and it is fun to connect with them over the goofy holidays.”
Toria Adkison is also in charge of baking all of the desserts MO sells, which includes fruit tarts, cupcakes and all gluten-free options. She said the only thing she does not make is the cakes.
Each week Toria Adkison works three baking shifts, two barista shifts and does chalk work in her spare time.
“I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it is challenging to balance everything,” Toria Adkison said. “Some seasons are busier than others … (but) even though those times are busy, they are some of my favorite because we get a fresh start. I get to experiment a lot with both the chalk boards and the baked goods.”
Davenport said Toria Adkison balances her work while striving to do a good job.
“I have never worked with someone so driven and focused,” Davenport said. “She is the employee that does 100 times more than she is asked to do and doesn’t ever complain about it. My favorite part about working with her is that she makes my job run more easily and smoothly.”
Jackson said Toria Adkison seeks to give clients more than just a cup of coffee.
“Whether we are extremely busy or there is just one customer in line, she somehow takes the time to connect with the person, make a quality drink and somehow still help the situation be calm for her coworker, as well,” Jackson said. “Every employee at MO has their good qualities, but having a shift with Toria means that chores, drinks and washing dishes will get done, while also creating an environment where people feel important and valued.”
According to Trey Adkison, what sets Toria Adkison apart is not her many talents, but her genuine care for the people she serves.
“At work she cares about her customers and takes time to get to know them,” Trey Adkison said. “I think she realizes that caring about others is so much more important than just making a cup of coffee, and that is what makes her good at doing her job.”