If there’s one person who could claim responsibility for the collective productivity of Saratoga Springs as a whole, it’s Josh Clark. If you don’t know him by name, you’d probably recognize him: He’s the affable musician who spends some 30 hours a week manning the massive Probat coffee roaster smack dab in the middle of Saratoga’s town square: Uncommon Grounds. In other words, he’s the guy keeping Saratogians caffeinated.
“I roast around 1,500 pounds a week,” he told Saratoga Living over a cup of fair trade Nicaraguan Alta De Jinotega coffee, black—and a mango smoothie. “My blood sugar’s low, OK?”
Clark, a Greenfield native, grew up coming to Uncommon Grounds and began working for the Broadway coffee shop as a barista in, he estimates, 2012. He was drawn to the job for the culture surrounding it. “I like to be surrounded by fellow musicians and artists and struggling writers,” he says. “In most industries you tend to be the only one. So I definitely dug this as a day job.” He eventually graduated to head roaster after the previous one left and now manages, operates and runs the coffee-roasting operations throughout Uncommon’s four Capital Region shops.
While Clark still writes and makes music in his free time, roasting coffee actually requires quite a bit of left-brain power to heat the beans—which come to Uncommon as pale, rock-hard seeds from the highlands of countries around the world—to the right temperature at the right time. A friend of his recently commented that the calculations Clark does on the daily are actually derivative calculus (after all, he’s monitoring the rate of temperature change over time). “Is that what I’m doing?!” Clark, who’s never so much as taken a pre-calc class, responded in disbelief.
And though he enjoys the thoughtful, analytical part of his job, Clark is clearly comfortable in a consumer-facing role; coffee drinkers come up to him with questions about what he’s doing regularly. “I’m glad to share,” he says. “That’s why we have the roaster in the public square, so to speak. It’s great.”