Justin Leppitsch’s next job should be a barista in New York
A meditation on coping with professional grief
Look, I’m not even sure how I got the idea. It sounds insane, even. But I woke up this morning and it was obvious. Justin Leppitsch should look into making coffees. In New York.
Original thought is a burden sometimes. Lattés? New York? Are you sure? Sometimes you can’t question what you know to be true. Yes, yes and yes. I know how it sounds. I would only hope to unpack this thought process in a way that doesn’t make my family worry.
The most obvious move for Justin Leppitsch would be to sit at a desk with a few ex-footballers and collect a TV cheque.
You’re joined by a round-table of playing greats, all a curious shade of orange in the middle of winter. Your background as a premiership player and former senior coach is displayed in the corner of the screen, so you must know what you’re talking about. You take part in some pre-rehearsed banter about Cameron Ling’s hair for about two minutes. It’s all quite pleasant. The valet parking is quite nice. Then, as Matthew Lloyd starts some lukewarm take about Richmond’s recruiting, you zone out in the heat of the studio lights. I am not enjoying this.
Every mention of the Lions hurts. The vision especially. You watch clips of the new senior coach of the Brisbane Lions talking about his new direction. Somehow- you don’t even want to dissect how, he’s taking your list and getting wins you couldn’t. He’s getting Daniel Rich to break the tag, Dayne Zorko to kick more goals. Mitch Robinson is even learning English online. You watch slow-motion footage of young Harris Andrews taking another contested mark, the way you taught him to, and feel kept away from a moment that should be yours to share.
How do you sit there, in your sponsored Menzclub suit, binder clips digging into your back, and smile? You were a champion of the game once. A great hope as a coach not long after. You tried your best with a bunch of B-graders, all heavy with professional baggage before you even got there. You think to yourself, I deserve better than this. And you do.
You may think of making lattés as a step down. You pull the espresso, you froth the milk, you combine the two. It’s simple. But simple is what you need right now.
It takes technique to tamp the grounds to the right pressure. To steam the milk with enough heat so that the froth is dense, but not so hot as to burn the milk. Executing the pour is crucial to balance the espresso, the milk, the head. Congratulations Justin, you’ve made one perfect latté. But then you work a hundred times harder to make lattés the same level of perfect. For always.
Along the way you learn about bean varietals, roasting, grinding. You can’t remember the last time you had to learn something and weren’t expected to know everything. You also find beauty in self-sufficiency. Your reputation doesn’t depend on a thousand moving gears- Tom Rockliff’s temperament, rule changes, sponsorship commitments, rival list managers flying in and out of Brisbane airport, the bloody weather etc etc.
You just depend on you, Justin Leppitsch, just like the good old days.
Have you been to New York? The coffee is atrocious. Justin Leppitsch could be shit at making coffee for months before they found out.