April 25, 2013

Coffee makers are easy to find. Baristas...? Well that's another story.

We at Black Velvet Coffee are no different to any other professional coffee house in terms of the ongoing struggle we face trying to find quality baristas. With respect, anyone can be taught how to operate an espresso machine but not everyone displays the passion or the will required to learn how to understand the art of making espresso or the willingness to learn how to understand and respect 'coffee' as a product.

While there is certainly an element of 'theatre' attached to the professional barista, and we agree, a little theatre most certainly adds to the coffee drinking experience, a funky looking hat, fancy apron and a curly moustache doesn't make you a barista. It doesn't improve ones understanding of the product of coffee nor does it help extract the perfect espresso (if in fact there is such a thing).

Why is espresso extracted under pressure? Why is the temperature of the water so important? What does a small alteration to the grind and the dosage size do to the extraction and subsequently the flavour?

As we have always said... The issue in some sections of the industry is that too many 'would be' baristas simply want to skip straight to the 'how' without the most crucial part of learning. The 'why'. When one begins to understand the 'why', the 'how' becomes much easier and much more exciting.

Understanding coffee doesn't come overnight and carrying your own special milk jug and scales in your backpack doesn't make you a barista. Understanding coffee comes with time, experience, experimentation and a willingness to learn. The very best baristas are the most humble and are also the ones who legitimately know that they still have much to learn. The journey is an endless one. It is an industry that is getting larger by the day and an industry that is ever evolving.

We are all still learning.

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