Posts Tagged ‘barista’

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Industry Comment – with Emily Oak

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Who decides what the customer wants?

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What does a customer remember about a coffee they drink? Is it the latte art, the café atmosphere, the conversation they shared with the barista or the origin and farm the coffee came from? Chances are it’s one of the aforementioned, but what a barista is trying to share and what a customer takes away is probably rarely the same thing.

The experience that a customer treasures from going for coffee or visiting a cafe is often the same reason they were attracted to go there in the first place – and it is different for everyone.  Of course there is no right and wrong when it comes to defining this interaction although for the most part a feeling of trust and respect between the customer and the café must exist.

Specialty coffee baristas love what they do. We’re passionate, dedicated and in most instances educated quite thoroughly and specifically about the coffees we roast, dial in, pour and serve every day. We know the region and district it was grown, in some instances we’ve met the farmers and workers and touched the trees that produce the cherries. We care about the supply chain and the integrity of our product, and, we want you to understand it’s true value. Despite our competing businesses, as a collective this is our common goal.

So why is this a topic worth discussing? As I mentioned earlier, the problem occurs when the goals and the outcomes don’t line up.

The biggest question currently facing the specialty coffee retailer is how to better engage customers to share our passion. Because more often than not, it seems, that customers just aren’t that into it. We have, I believe, as an industry, accepted that in the past that sometimes our interactions have been less than ideal. In the push to share our cause we’ve come across as patronising, soap-boxy and preachy, and not actually stopped to find out what people are looking for. Customers end up dissatisfied and then disengage, no longer paying attention to what we’re trying to share.  What we need to do as an industry is recognise that not every person who walks through the door is looking to know the whole story…. (yet!) Equally, customers need to recognise that coffee isn’t just coffee, hopefully through the quality of experience and relationships that can be developed between a café and its patrons.

As an industry we’re in a unique position. Our clients visit regularly (daily in most instances) and the frequency of interaction we are offered is far greater than that of most other hospitality industries.  Specialty coffee needs to share with customers our product and our story, because the coffee we serve is undervalued by the general public. Because of this, people are not willing to pay what coffee is worth, or understand why in fact, we actually need to pay more.

How we better spread this message is still being debated, but at the very least communication needs to be improved. Baristas need to adapt to respect the needs and wishes of their customers and understand that everyone is looking for a different outcome from their interaction. Hopefully from this basis, a new dialogue can open up. Equally, customers need to be willing to engage a little more and begin to understand that when it comes to coffee, things can only get better.

Emily Oak is Division Manager for St Ali and Sensory Lab in NSW and a former member of the WCE Board of Directors.



Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Industry Comment – with Emily Oak

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Singles or Blends?

Not so long ago I had a minor squabble with Neil Perry via twitter on the pros and cons of single origins vs. blends in espresso beverages. Even as one of Australia’s most recognised and successful celebrity chefs, his mis-interpretation of the merits of each had me perplexed. As I attempted to explain how each performed generally as espressos the conversation got split into tangents and inevitably came to a halt, but it left me wondering how many people are confused by what ‘single origin’ or ‘blend’ actually means and how they can best be used.

The term ‘single origin’ can be a little confusing. Essentially it means coffee from one single place – either one country, one region or one single estate. It is not mixed or blended with any other coffee, be it from another or the same, country, region or farm. It is alone, one bean from one place.

A blend is anything other than that. A blend can be coffees from various countries, from various regions, or even two varying roasts of the same coffee mixed together (usually referred to as a ‘single origin blend’– just to things!).

So, why do we offer both? It’s hard to establish how blending coffees together began, but it is easy to explain why it became popular. By putting together coffees of various taste and depth, a roaster can develop flavours and textures that might not be possible in a single origin bean. When done well, a blend can bring out the best in coffees as individuals, while complementing each other to create balance, the desired taste or other aspect most sought after. Blending can sometimes hide faults in coffees and add volume as fillers, or perform better (than single origins) when mixed with milk.  Traditionally, over decades, coupled with the limited technology for quality control from the growing and production of green coffee and roasting, blends produced a better outcome for espresso coffees.

Single origins coffees, whilst always having existed, have had somewhat of a renaissance in the last decade or so. This is primarily because of the rapid increase in the quality and traceability of coffees, as well as a renewed interest in single cup brewing. Even when I started in the coffee industry 17 years ago we sold the generic Colombia, Brazil or Mexican coffee. Now, we can trace our coffees back to the region, farm or estate and get a much higher quality cup.

Singe Origin coffees are however individual in their taste and not for everyone. In fact, the point of them, more often than not, is to highlight the individuality and nuances of a region, variety or processing method; aspects of flavour that can get lost if mixed with other coffees. As an espresso, single origins are most often softer in milk than a blend or sometimes a little confronting with unusual or unique characteristics as a black coffee. They are not for everyone and are almost always limited when it comes to repeating a flavour profile.

Both blends and single origins are valuable elements, especially for specialty coffee, as an avenue of sharing just how good quality coffee can taste. Blends are a fantastic way of introducing people to better coffees but ironically, as people explore coffee more and more they are inevitably drawn to tasting the distinct and diverse range of single origin coffees now available to the market. Regardless of what you prefer, if it’s a good coffee bean to start with you will almost always enjoy the experience.

Emily Oak is Division Manager for St Ali and Sensory Lab in NSW and a former member of the WCE Board of Directors.



Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Gnome

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In a great little space in one of the buzziest and trendiest parts of Surry hills, Anakin from Toby’s Estate has created a real gem. A natural café spot, Anakin has taken this space over from Coffee, Tea or me, and created a café that is a true coffee lover’s hangout. And what a hang-out it is – with great food and tables on to the street, it’s the perfect place to watch the passing bustle of humanity on cosmopolitan Crown street.

But it’s the coffee that the aficionados come for – the house blend combining a wet and a dry processed Ethiopian, a Java and a Brazil – sweet on the tip of the tongue, with an earthy middle palate and a hint of saltiness on the back palate. Delicious.

536 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

T: (02) 9332 3191



Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Shot Cafe

ShotCafe_Mosman_tinyRecently opened located in Sydney Harbour’s headland park in Mosman this café blends a stunning location with good coffee and delicious food. With extensive harbour views and a large al fresco dining area this former Army ‘All Ranks Club’ heritage cottage is proving very popular with families and lovers of the outdoors.

Shot was established by  Tracey Leitch and her partner Peter Rose, whose previous openings include establishing the iconic Balmoral Sandbar and Awaba Café. “Our menu is a mix of delicious home style food with a few irresistible sweet treats thrown in” notes Rose. Shot has set up a ‘Bark Park’ to accommodate dogs whilst their owners enjoy a mid walk refreshment. Tethered amidst the shade of trees they can enjoy some company and often get spoilt with a doggie bone biscuit sold at Shot.

Pre- or post a Shot espresso there is a chance to explore the stunning harbour vantage point: there are magnificent harbour views, a lookout, walking track from Chowder Bay to Balmoral, fortifications, tunnels and heritage buildings. For those who love all things organic, the growers markets are held at Headland Park every Thursday. Peter and Tracey’s vision for Shot was a café that consistently delivered fresh, tasty, home-style food, and on that count it heartily delivers, with a lot more besides.

Shot Cafe
Building 3, Headland Park
Middle Head Rd
Mosman

Tel 02 9969 4400



Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Australia declared the best coffee nation in the world!

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by Emily Oak, Director, WBC and AIR Training & Development Manager

From June 23-25th at Olympia, in Kensington London, the world’s best baristas and coffee professionals gathered together under one roof to celebrate all facets of the specialty industry. Baristas from more than 50 countries represented their individual nations competing against each other in a bid to win the global title.
This year was fresh and even more interesting for two main reasons. Firstly, it was the first time a semi final round was introduced into the competition. This added a layer of complexity and difficulty for competitors and judges. Secondly, there were more than 15 second or third time champions competing. This mean the standard of performance was higher than it has ever been before. Australia’s reining Barista Champion Scottie Callaghan, (who was also World Latte Art Champion 2006 and Australian Barista Champion 2007) put in a solid performance, making it through both the preliminary and semi final rounds to the final of the championship, no easy task at all.
Scott came away with the third place trophy, making him the third best barista in the world. Combined with the efforts of the rest of ‘Team Australia’ competing in a whole range of competitions (Latte Art, Good Spirits and Cup Tasting) Scott’s placing helped secure the overall team trophy for Australia…. Well Done!



Monday, February 15th, 2010

Kokoh

Kokoh_lowresThe selection of cafes on Sydney’s Northern Beaches can be ‘mixed’ at best. However, there’s a little gem in leafy Wahroonga which really hits the spot.

Kokoh is tucked rather unpretentiously in on Redleaf Ave, but it’s proof that you can find good food and coffee on the Northern Beaches, if you look hard enough!

The menu itself seems, at first glance pretty modest, with a selection of teas, coffee [by Morgan's Handcrafted] and gourmet sandwiches.

Breakfast includes regulars such as Muesli, Fruit Toast, and Toast with numerous spreads, and for lunch, sandwiches include Ham [$13.50], Turkey [$13.50], Salmon [$13.50] and Chicken Schnitzel [$14.50]. However it’s the way things are done, with special menu touches and a lot of care taken over preparation, that make an impression. The only downside is the pricing – at $14 for Bacon and Eggs, with extras like a sausage at $5 or salmon $6.50, some would say prices are a little on the high side, although the ingredients are of top quality.

The toast includes four varieties of La Tartine certified organic sourdough: spelt, wholemeal, white or sesame, and is accompanied by Hank’s strawberry  or triple berry jam, four fruits marmalade, or honey and ricotta… not a huge selection, but beautifully done.  And for lunch, the sandwiches [on the same four La Tartine breads] are simple but beautifully made.

Indeed Kokoh is a lovely little haven situated as it is, just off the busy Pacific Highway; a haven that’s definitely worth searching out!

Kokoh

11 Redleaf Ave
Wahroonga NSW 2076
Tel: (02) 9489 1470



Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Bunker

Bunker_darlinghurst2It’s not easy to make an impression on Darlinghurst’s ‘cafe’d-out’ Victoria Avenue. True, Bunker’s actually not quite on Victoria Ave, squeezed in as it is by the hairdresser around the corner on Liverpool Street. It’s easy to see how it got it’s name; as you round the corner it’s easy to miss, but once you’re inside, the sandstone block walls do indeed give the impression of being inside a wartime bunker.

Bunker’s menu suffers from a hint of that slightly pretentious ‘down-home’ bonhommie [Poached chook/steak sanga] that screams ‘I’m so inner-city Sydney’. On the other hand, given that it was a friend in the media who informed me I absolutely had to check this place out, I guess I can’t complain. And in fact, the food range is interesting and eclectic; typical items include Omelette of the Day served on Sonoma sourdough [$13], Scrambled or Poached eggs on sourdough [$8.50] with a range of extras: bacon, field mushrooms ['mushies'], chorizo, smoked salmon and homemade baked beans, and a range of ‘Sangas’ including the aforementioned Poached chook, coriander & fetta on sourdough [$9.00] and the Kurobuta ham with cheddar & dijon on wholewheat miche roll [$8.50], which was excellent.

They do it well, with just the right mix of friendliness and panache, and even the coffee is pretty good. In fact, we’ve heard people say it’s the best in Darlinghurst [although given the quality of the competition, that wouldn't be so hard].

Bunker_darlinghurst1So all in all, we’d have to give Bunker a big tick. The only other thing is, so have a lot of others in the know and it’s a pretty small space, so if you’re going to visit, make sure you don’t come at weekend peak times, or you’ll be in for a wait!

399 Liverpool Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Phone (0404) 407 349



Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Deus ex Machina

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Some people might consider Deus ex Machina – or ‘god from a machine’ [Latin deus, god + Latin ex, from + Latin māchinā] an enigma – a motorbike shop turned cafe. If you’ve got a bit of extra space [a lot, actually] why not put up some funky posters [big, striking artwork, actually] add some communal tables, a kitchen and an espresso machine, leave a racing motorbike in the middle, and call it a cafe? Which is precisely what the owners of Deus did and somehow it works!

Although right on the abominable Parramatta Road at the corner of Missenden Rd, they have managed to completely blanket out the sound of the road and replace it with the busy bustle of barista, waiters and expectant diners.

The menu is eclectic, adventurous and varied. Two items stood out for me – the Smoked trout and kipfler potato salad, with a poached egg and hollandaise [$15], and the Canellini and french beans, tuna, olive, fennel, tomato and caper salad [$15], and I tried them both [on consecutive days].

The bean salad was a trifle disappointing – perhaps perfect for a health food fanatic – ie it tasted pretty much like beans and not much else. The Smoked trout on the other hand, was delicious – the trout delicately smoked, fresh and moist perfectly balanced by the accompanying egg and salad.  To top it off, the chips [ordered separately] were delicious – perfectly fried in fresh oil. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the quality of their chips [which are so easy to get wrong] and judging by this simple criteria, Deus beats many restaurants serving meals at twice the price!

Coffee [by di Lorenzo] was good – well-rounded and smooth, although talking of price, I can’t say it was deserving of the $3.50 price tag. However, as a complete cafe experience in an iconic location, Deus is one not to be missed!  AF [Sept 09].

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98-104 Parramatta Road
Camperdown
NSW 2050

tel: 02 8594 2800



Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Dov at Delectica

DOV (6)_tinyIn the slightly seedy area of backpackers’ hostels and cafes mixed with comfortable terraces, is one cafe that has a particularly interesting heritage. Dov at Delectica has a strange name  and a slightly unusual history to boot. Originally on the premises of what is now Darlinghurst’s Forbes & Burton, opposite the National Art School, DOV was a Sydney inner-city institution. The glitterati used to mix with artists and A-listers, residents and druggies in a gloriously eclectic mix. However [as the story goes] the owner of Forbes & Burton wanted the premises for himself and didn’t renew the lease, causing the DOV owners to look for new premises. Instead of a ‘heritage’ style artistic haven, they settled on the slightly seedy premises of an existing cafe called Delectica.

Dov at Delectica serves a range of hearty meals, such as Penne with ham, baby spinach, pine nuts, garlic and white wine [$15.50] and Open steak sandwich, cos lettuce, avocado, tomato, onion, aloili and fries [$16.00] and, perhaps given their backpacker clientele, a $10 Special of Soup and cheese sandwich [Monday to Friday]. They also serve a small range of desserts [baked on the premises] – I had the Pear and almond frangipane tart and it was delicious. Coffee was well-made –  full-bodied but smooth.

With its wide-open windows, it’s a pleasant place to hang out, especially in summer. However, while its clientele may still be eclectic, it was nothing on the mix of people that used to gravitate to the old DOV!

2/130 Victoria St
Potts Point
NSW 2000



Monday, September 14th, 2009

Cafe E61

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Another, slightly lower-profile option in Crows Nest, is Cafe E61, up Willoughby Road and just around the corner from Wrapido.

The Faema E61 was the name of a famous and ground-breaking commercial espresso machine, launched [not co-incidentally] in 1961. Therefore, we would expect a large part of its focus to be its coffee and using Toby’s Estate, on the coffee front,  Cafe E61 did not disappoint.

However, it’s also an interesting Crows Nest option on the food front. Because it’s small and fairly narrow, it wouldn’t be a suitable option for work lunches or large groups, however although simple, the food was good and extremely good value.

Menu items consisted mainly of sandwiches, such as Panfried pancetta, fetta, tomato and rocket [$7]; Rare roast beef, horseradish, beetroot, tomato, swiss cheese and lettuce [$7.70]; Brown rice & lentil pattie, avocado, plum sauce and lettuce [$6.20], and the Thai tuna pattie, with avocado, sweet chilli, tomato and lettuce [$7.20]. E61 also serves a range of breakfast items – I tried the Pesto Scrambled Eggs, which were delicious. They also have wraps, and a selection of cakes and slices, which were all home-made and were excellent.

A low-key alternative to some of the flashier cafes down Willoughby Road, E61 comes highly recommended, especially for the coffee!

E61
20 Burlington Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Phone: (02) 9966 9906