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YOUR PEOPLE

A dedicated space for the people who live and breathe coffee.

Know a superstar barista or want to be featured yourself? Drop us an email here.

CELESTE NORRIS

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We were excited to get to know Australia’s first ‘Barista of Choice’, Celeste Norris, who took home the award on the inaugural National Barista Day on the 1st March 2019. Celeste spoke to us about her experience of winning the title, as well as her crucial role at Good 2 Go, a social enterprise café on Melbourne’s colourful Hosier Lane.

I was lucky enough to go into partnership in a café with my father. I was 19 at the time and admittedly had no idea what I was doing! I basically taught myself how to make coffee. As you can imagine, the first year was a disaster, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I learnt from my mistakes and used my customer service skills to my advantage. We operated for nearly 10 years until we decided to sell the café in 2017. I felt I needed a new challenge with a career path where I could give back to the community.

Good 2 Go helps unemployed young people gain access to work experience and skills. By mentoring young people in an inclusive space it gives each trainee the chance to learn employability skills and build self-confidence.

All the profits from Good 2 Go are redirected back into the programs and services offered by Youth Projects. Youth Projects offers support and employment opportunities to at-risk young people looking to re-engage with learning and provides healthcare and assistance to members of our community experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. Through our “Pay it Forward Coffee” board, you can purchase a drink for someone experiencing homelessness.

I would love to see our social enterprise model expand and have the capacity to take on more trainees at Good 2 Go.

It is never boring! I believe what makes it so special is the fact that it is legal for street artists to display their art to an audience to enjoy for free. Hosier Lane has created a platform for artists to push positive or even controversial topics, it is pushing the boundaries and just another reason why I love Melbourne so much.  With thousands of tourists visiting Hosier Lane every day I feel lucky to call it my workplace.

A huge shock! It was incredible! The CEO of our organisation put together a secret campaign with my friends, family and co-workers. I had no idea I had even been nominated for the award. When I got the good news I was on the train at peak hour and trying not to scream the carriage down with shock and excitement! Once it all sunk in I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. A huge thank you to all the important people in my life who nominated me. It is an incredible feeling to be acknowledged for the work you do.

In this sector it can take quite some time to make progress, so I have learnt to celebrate the small wins. Seeing a young trainee grow in confidence and feel empowered by having the skills to make a coffee, makes my day!  Equally, the “Pay it Forward Coffee” board for me is just one of the best parts of my job, someone to chat to over a coffee can go a long way for our clients experiencing homelessness. 

There’s many crucial elements that make up a great coffee. All the one percenters count and are just as important as the others. I believe that’s the difference between a barista who wants to serve the best possible coffee they can produce, they don’t skip on any of the elements. 

The best piece of advice I can give is get to know your customers, make them welcome in your space. ALWAYS serve their coffee with a smile to help make their morning just a little better! 

A big thank you to Almond Breeze Barista Blend and BaristasforBaristas.com for acknowledging the baristas who work hard and keep the industry alive!

IGOR RAVASINI

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We caught up with Igor Ravasini, barista and owner of Bumblebean Coffee, a humble coffee van parked up in Wanneroo, offering the finest coffee with warm Italian hospitality and home to Perth’s first ‘selfieccino’ (more about that below). Igor was shortlisted from over 2,000 nominations for the first Australian National Barista Day.

I initially started in October 2016 as a food truck selling piadinas (homemade Italian flat bread) and also made coffee. Over time, as my skills as a barista improved, so too did my passion for serving exceptional coffee. I realised I needed to rebrand and focus solely on coffee, and in December 2018 Bumblebean Coffee was born.

Starting out as a small business I didn’t have the capital to begin my business in a brick-and-mortar café, and so decided to invest in a mobile van. I custom designed the van overseas and imported it to Perth, as I didn’t want it to look like every other food van. Being mobile means I have a lot more flexibility, however I stick to my regular spot now in Wanneroo as this is where I’ve built my Bumblebean Coffee community.

I had seen the technology being used in Japan and wanted to bring the experience to Perth, which I have now been doing since February. It was a large investment, but the community love it and it’s been really popular. The technology is advanced so it’s really fast, taking just six seconds once we have the photo, which can be sent to us by Facebook Messenger or email. Customers can also take the photo with our camera right then and there! We also have some favourite designs (such as superheroes) that customers can choose from. We can add text too, if they want to include a message for a special occasion (such as “Happy Birthday”). Some businesses put their logo, as a bit of extra “wow” factor for their client meetings. The creative opportunities are really endless. You can watch how the selfieccinos are made on our Facebook and Instagam pages.

The Perth coffee community is becoming more discerning and educated in the world of coffee, and what constitutes a great cup of coffee. As baristas and coffee roasters, this pushes us to raise the bar to ensure we’re constantly exceeding their expectations. It encompasses so much more than just amazing coffee, but the entire coffee experience. From the environment you create to the genuine conversation and engagement with your customers. With the sheer volume of cafés in Perth, many of which sell very good coffee, you really have to provide a point of difference.

Incredible and very humbling. It’s amazing to be supported by so many in the Perth community. Thank you to everyone who voted. We get great reviews on Facebook and Google, but to be nominated for ‘Barista of Choice’ and then shortlisted in the top 10 from over 2,000 nominations, was very exciting. I’ve worked hard to bring the best coffee and service to our community in just over two years. I can’t wait to see what the future brings! I have used the prize winnings towards investing in a larger coffee roaster.

My dream is to one day open a café. But for now I am focusing on developing my own roasted coffee. I love experimenting with different imported green beans from different regions and creating new flavour profiles. I’ve had some amazing feedback, which really fuels my passion to keep experimenting. I am also really keen to begin entering barista competitions as this will help me take my skills and knowledge to a whole new level.

In 2020 I plan to take my coffee van on an Australian-first trip around the country, visiting the major cities. I will be roasting, grinding, and brewing all of my own coffee in the confines of my 3m by 4m van. Plus continuing to offer the selfieccino experience of course. I am currently looking for sponsors and plan to film my journey.

HANY EZZAT

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

Innovative, inspiring and dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward, we had a chat with 22-year-old Hany Ezzat, head barista at Highroad by ONA Coffee, located in Canberra. Hany was recently shortlisted for ‘Barista of Choice’ and was honoured by BaristasforBaristas.com on the first National Barista Day.

Being a head barista for ONA has been an awesome rollercoaster experience. I have learnt so much about myself, coffee and being a leader. I believe the key to success in a café is getting all the elements of the café right. Everyone needs to have a vision, a goal, and an open mind. Anything is achievable with the right people around you who share the same values. Keep each other honest, give feedback, receive feedback and move forward. Trust in the product. That is all you need.

My journey into specialty coffee is a long one! I started out in hospitality when I was 12 years old at a local Turkish restaurant while I was still in school. Eventually I started corking wine and making soft drinks and coffee in the small bar the restaurant had. I didn’t really enjoy it at the start because I was really scared I was going to make the coffee wrong.

After two years of doing night service, I got an opportunity to work in a new café they were opening down the road. I was obsessed with the concept of doing latte art, but I sucked at it. I got inspired by well-known baristas such as Dritan Alsela, Aaron Shin and Caleb Cha to start my own latte art journey.

I then decided to start my own coffee art blog. I used to stick a GoPro on top of my machine and record every single pour I did, then I’d go home to study and compare my videos with people online.

I went to the most popular cafe in town, The Cupping Room, where I had my first ever coffee “WOW” moment – the waiter told me my milk coffee would taste like blueberry, and boy did it! I got invited to a cupping session the next night and subsequently got offered a part time position in the bar, which is where I learned the fundamentals of specialty coffee today. A few years, competitions and lots of hard work, I have managed to work at three of the flagship stores and I currently manage the bar at Highroad by ONA Coffee.

My most recent projects have been:
1. Freezing coffee and launching a reserve menu in-store. Basically, we are individually vacuum sealing doses of coffee when they are at their peak. This is to “lock in” the flavours of the coffee so they can be enjoyed any time of the year without the coffee going old or stale.
2. Filter coffee – I have been working on creating my own method of brewing filter coffee, more details of that to come soon.
3. I have developed a tool for espresso, which is currently in the pipeline.

My views on automation in specialty coffee have changed rapidly in the past year. At the beginning with the PuqPress coming out (automatic tamper), I was really sceptical. I didn’t like it. I had worked so hard to craft certain skills only for a machine to take over – it made me feel insecure.

Now, with the amazing opportunities to manage a team of amazing passionate baristas, I have realised that consistency between staff with coffee making is almost impossible without the automation we have in our bars today. It gives us peace of mind that everyone can do it the exact same way. I do believe it is the future of our industry. There’s no use fighting it, it’s more important to be a part of it and even contribute to it. The end goal, in fact, is to make better coffee!

It’s hard to look five years ahead. I think my main goal would be to contribute something to our industry that will make it better. But there’s no timeline or limit to the things that are possible.

Really appreciative of the opportunities BaristasforBaristas.com is giving. It is awesome to have this kind of platform as it gives us baristas a voice. No one does this job for the money, they do it because they love our industry and they love our customers. I’m so happy to be involved!

JESS LAMBIE

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We had a chinwag with St Ali‘s very own rockstar barista Jess Lambie on her journey in the coffee industry so far and her top tips for anyone starting out. 

I first fell in love with coffee when I was working at my mum’s cafe, Euro Bar in Newcastle NSW, as a chef. I saw the barista pour a ‘leaf’ with milk and became obsessed with how he did it! As a traditional artist, I was mesmerised by this medium and its complexity, so I eventually convinced Mum to put me on bar with the boys to learn how to brew coffee and make latte art!

It was incredible! I moved from Newcastle to Melbourne with the dream of one day working and competing for St Ali… and after a year it happened! Training under Ben Morrow and the St Ali banner for both competitions I evolved into a better barista and latte artist! I didn’t get the title, but for me accomplishing my dream of competing was enough, proving to myself that I could get up there and make it through the routine was an incredible feeling that continues to inspire me in all my creative endeavours today!

At this point in my career I want to share my knowledge and experiences of coffee and the industry with passionate baristas who want to learn. I have achieved a lot in coffee over the last 5 years in Melbourne and am still figuring out what I’m going to do next! I will always be a barista, whether I’m working on bar or not!

Listen and learn.
Don’t work for cash in hand.
Have an understanding of the current pay rates.
If a customer is rude, don’t take it to heart. Smile and be so polite that they feel bad for being rude in the first place.
Have fun! Hospitality is hard work, but having a good crew around you makes all the difference!

JIBBI LITTLE

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We were honoured to catch up with the Sydney-based, legendary barista, champion latte artist, and now award-winning coffee roaster (if there anything she can’t do?!) Jibbi Little to discuss her impressive career and what’s in store for 2019.

It first began when I came to Sydney to study and I got a part time job in a cafe. My first attempts at latte art were to mix espresso with milk, but then it became my passion. And now, I can do so much more. Everything is still a combination of a heart, a leaf, or a Tulip, but I always pour them in different ways. It really helps me to make some very interesting and creative designs in coffee.

My signature latte art designs are the Fantastic Mr Fox, Little Red Riding Hood and the Lion and the Mouse.

At first, I just wanted to create my own jug to use in latte art competitions, and from there on it gradually become my business. 
Because I’m passionate about latte art I’m fascinated by the impact of the final design, I sought to combine design and functionality together. There is nothing else in the world I can see myself doing. I wake up every day being excited about my JIBBIJUG and the impact it has on me and others. 
When I get emails from users talking about the impact of JIBBI products that I have worked on and how it’s made barista life easier, it makes it all worth it. 
I like to help people achieve success, improve their businesses, create stuff that helps customers on a daily basis and on a competition level. Obviously it’s a business, so I get paid for my work eventually.
Also, I love taking client’s ideas and turning them into a new JIBBIJUG… through research, design, front-end development and beyond. You could simply say, I love tinkering with latte art and designing stuff.

My proudest moments to date is being a  5 time champion of the NSW Latte Art Championship and winning the Gold Medal at the 2018 Golden Bean Coffee Roasters Competition in the Pour Over Filter category for my Gesha Village 87 coffee beans.

To win the World Latte Art Championships in 2019.

FRANCIS ELLIOTT

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We caught up with 20 year old Francis Elliott from Newcastle. Francis started working in cafes from 15 years old and it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the artistry, skill and knowledge that there was to learn about everything coffee related.

For me, 2018 was a big year for a lot of  roasters supporting and working directly with coffee producers at the origin, as well as educating consumers about the sustainability and traceability of specialty coffee.
Also, there was a huge amount of research and development into coffee machines and equipment, which in turn will bring a lot of exciting new technology and products in the future.

Automation in coffee is inevitable. Humans are one of the biggest variables in making coffee. Although, I don’t see robot cafes being a thing in the future of Australian cafe culture because we value customer service too much, though I definitely don’t rule that out for other countries.

That’s a hard question. At the moment there’s many espresso machine manufacturers pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and what a coffee machine is able to do, but at the same time there’s also coffee grinders being introduced with built-in scales and temperature-controlled burrs.

Personally, I think the coffee scene in Australia is so special because as Australians we like to take ideas from other countries, then improve and develop a new and innovative approach to the original idea. That coupled with our approach to customer service, which is very relaxed and personalised, makes it pretty unique I’ve found.

I think in 2019 we’ll see some great new coffee processing methods and varietals become more available and accessible to the everyday customer. I think we’ll also see new brewing methods and technology that will further improve the standard and quality of both filter and espresso coffee.

TAKEHIRO OKUDAIRA

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We had a chat with the super talented Takehiro Okudaira when he travelled all the way from Japan to compete in our Breezey Masters grand final in Sydney. Takehiro is a barista at Caferista and considers himself part of the emergence of the specialist coffee scene in Japan.

I’m receiving money from the customers, and everyone has their own taste and knows what they like. My job as a barista is to study and learn about everything as much as possible, from the way that I manage my store and keep it clean to how I make the coffees and the lattes. I gather as much information as possible so that when that request comes in I can make that customer the best coffee possible.

In Japan, not a lot of people go out and drink coffee at independent cafes, we’re still trying to build that up. A lot of people will just stay at home and do drip coffee. Going out and having this quality experience is still really new, and I feel really responsible for trying to build that image up in the industry. We’re working on that right now.

It’s a hard question! I would say kind of pop. A lot of the baristas have gone overseas to study and brought back music, so it’s really a mix because they’re going everywhere. It’s less Japanese, and more just a mix of a little bit of everything, so I’d say pop.

I first started by buying an espresso machine for myself and just practicing at home. I would go through litres every day. I’m really scientific about it, I try to get as much information as possible and see what works through a lot of trial and error. I’ve just been practicing again and again, that’s how I’ve got to where I am with latte art skills.

I’m ultimately aiming for number one in the world. I’ve already taken number one in Japan before, and I’m proud of that, but I want to take it to the next level. Saying, “I’m number one in the world”, doesn’t really mean everything though, because number one in the world for this competition is just based on those people who are participating. There are tons of other people out there who didn’t participate, and they still might be better. But still, having that title is an honour. It means when people come to my restaurant and drink my lattes and coffees, they know this guy is recognised as number one, so it must be good.

BEN LEWIS

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

Hailing from the UK, we had a chat with Ben Lewis whilst he was over in Australia competing in the Breezey Masters grand final. Ben won the UK heat and came a close second in the 2018 finals.

My favourite thing is being able to produce something that interests people that they normally wouldn’t be interested in. For example, I used to work in a really small cafe in a quite remote area, which was mostly for older people. They didn’t really care about specialist coffee, didn’t really care about latte art, but they were extremely interested in what I was doing. They would put in the extra effort because they knew I had the time to put in the extra effort. They found it really interesting and wanted to ask me about it, and as I did more competitions, they would come up and ask me how I was getting on. It’s quite a strange thing, the sort of connections you can make with people over coffee. Latte art is the closest way to connect with customers because it’s the first thing they see. You can deliver customers a ridiculous, amazing coffee but when they first look at it, it still looks like black coffee. Latte art really gets to customer’s interests.

I actually didn’t want a job, but my friend dragged me to a job interview anyway (which I did not prepare for and didn’t want) with the UK latte art champion. He gave me a job and showed me the art, and I found it quite entertaining. As I get into something like that I sort of get obsessed and want to be the best at it, which is hard when you’re working for the UK champion. The best I’ve done is 2nd place in the UK!

Coming 2nd in the UK last year was probably the best moment I had in coffee. My boss is pretty aggressive with his training methods, and never really showed any compassion until that moment. He sort of picked me up and carried me around, which was a bit of an experience for me, being six foot tall. That was pretty amazing, it made me want to work harder and try some new things; I’ve always wanted to push what I can do in this area, making things a little bit more complicated and better and better until it’s perfect.

YouTube. Instagram. Honest to god! I mean, I had a bit of a running start with who I was working with, but they all taught me to look on Instagram and study the way people were doing things, how they pour, and how they try to be creative. For people starting out, I would definitely say to look at what other people are doing. It can be terrifying at first, but it’s really helpful.

Strangely noisy, with either old 80s music or acoustic covers in the background. Basically, anything from George Ezra reminds me of the cafe…I honestly have no idea who that is, but he’s who people tell me is playing.

INDIA WILKES

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We had a chat with Rogue & Rascal‘s young gun barista India Wilkes about her journey so far in the industry, sustainability in the cafe scene and what makes Port Lincoln so special.

I was first taught to pull a shot one afternoon when it was very quiet in the cafe by one of our former baristas and then was taught the basics of frothing the milk the next afternoon. After that I spent every moment I had on the coffee machine trying to improve the quality of coffee that I was producing and at an efficient speed so that I was then able to handle the rushes that would come through the cafe.

I then had a quick training with another former barista to learn how to change the grind to ensure every shot I was pulling was my best before I was asked to be the second head barista. Soon enough our head barista moved back to Adelaide and I was asked to become the head barista, big ego boost as my bosses loved me enough to put me on almost every day of the week. A quick hungover trip to Adelaide after my 18th birthday party for a training with a top barista and I was good to go. 

I have now been on the machine for just over a year and enjoying every moment! The 6 am alarm ain’t that bad when I get to work in such a lovely place with such lovely people.

A good coffee comes from a good espresso and good quality beans first and foremost. Our beans are locally roasted by Eyre Roasted and delivered to our door every few days. 

From the first sip you can tell if it’s going to be a good cup. Not too milky, always strong, creamy and just hot enough to take the first sip as it’s placed in front of you. Everyone has a different perception of coffee so sometimes it’s hard to meet everyone’s tastebuds and I’m definitely not an expert, but I try to do my best to cater to all of my customers. If a customer asks for extra hot or not too strong, I’m going to make it like that to ensure they get the cup of coffee they want, even if it isn’t something I would drink. 

All the basics of a good cup are all there; making sure the coffee isn’t under extracted, has enough depth in flavours, the milk is heated to the right temperature and looks smooth and silky and made with the right amount of love.

Everyone seems to be on some sort of alternative milk these days, but having one you actually like using makes it easier. Almond Breeze Barista Blend is such an exceptional milk alternative and my absolute favourite! I drink it in my coffee, hot or cold and in smoothies as well. It is so smooth and creamy so it makes it easy to ensure you aren’t overheating or over-frothing the milk, it also makes beautiful and defined lines for latte art. It behaves so much like regular cows milk, making it so easy to recommend to a customer who cant decide on an alternative milk.

There is always exciting things happening: new menu items, new trends to follow or create! There is always room to improve in every aspect of the industry, I think being a barista has to be one of the most demanding for perfectionism. There is always new latte art designs to try and perfect, pouring the perfect symmetrical rosetta or tulip is something I strive for. 

There is also so many ways to produce a cup of coffee, espresso, cold drip, pour over, just a name a few. I haven’t even touched on half of these ways. I have started to use cold drip a lot more now coming into the warmer months. Being able to alter the strength and flavours with things like orange peel and coconut water is so cool and such a big learning process. 

I feel like I have so much creative freedom at work and that is something that excites me every day to think what kind of new pattern or juice flavour is going to happen today. 

It is important to be aware of how to be sustainable and try to minimise your footprint as much as possible. Everyone needs to be conscious of the way we consume and dispose of certain products. Especially in this industry as there is a very high rate of consumerism of straws, coffee cups, take-away containers, just to name a few. It is so easy to take the time to sit in rather than take-away, or bring in your reusable KeepCups, straws and lunch boxes. 

At The Rogue & Rascal we encourage bringing in your own cups by offering 50 cents off any size cup plus we sell all of our fresh cold pressed juice in reusable glass bottles and if brought back to us you get $1 back. We have also recently changed to cardboard straws which are compostable and the most environmentally friendly option. As a waitress it is important to know how much plastic can harm the environment so offering up paper bags instead of plastic boxes as a takeaway option is doing a little bit to help each time.

In the past year we have been using our local roaster Eyre Roasted which cuts out any freight emissions previously had by buying beans from else where. Any extra grinds on the side of the grinder or produced from changing the grind I keep for a local girl who makes coffee scrubs. We also have a few customers who like to use our coffee grinds in their gardens to keep the snails away (hot tip!).  

The cafe scene is so special in Lincoln because it is so small and community orientated. I now know everybody by their name and coffee order and they also know my name which is kinda special. Sometimes their friends come to order and they have to ask me what they have. It is also so special because you can come and have a cup of coffee by yourself for an hour or so, but in that hour be able to see at least 5 people that you know as they are coming and going.  

We try and supply good vibes all year round with good tunes, mood lighting, a friendly smile when you walk through our door and maybe one of the best views in town. That is why it is so special.

LOGAN COLLINGE

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We caught up with Logan Collinge whilst he was in Sydney competing in the 2018 Breezey Masters grand final. Logan works as a barista at Mojo Coffee in New Zealand and won our Wellington heat of the Breezey Masters.

I’ve been in the coffee industry for about four years, and latte art is just something that comes along with it. I was never massively hung up on latte art, it was more because customers liked it and as I moved through stores it sort of became an expectation. My latest store that I work in is a very low-volume specialty store, so we have the time to do latte art and focus a bit more on it.

I quite like the humble swan, but like, different iterations on it. I don’t know, I saw a mermaid yesterday, that was so cool.

The best thing about being a barista is the people in the stores. I love meeting people. Especially in my low-volume store now, I get a lot more time to properly talk to them and make friends. For people just starting out I would say…put yourself out there. You meet a lot of great baristas who just aren’t engaged in the industry. It is quite a stagnant industry, there’s not a lot of room for development, so being able to go out and meeting like-minded people who push the boundaries is really cool.

Oh, I’ll still be in the game. Hospitality is a long-term thing for me, I’ve been in hospo since I was 15… it’s the end game for me. I’d like to go to the UK for two years or so and try to get into the scene over there because some of my idols come from over there. I’d love to draw on some ideas.

In about five or six years I’d definitely like to open my own café. It would be sooner if I wasn’t going to the UK, but it’s definitely a plan.

Not to be arrogant, just because it’s on our playlist: Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”. It’s just a solid song, it gets everyone going.

SARAH JIN

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

We sat down with Sarah Jin, ahead of the Breezey Masters 2018 grand final where she won the latte art smack down and took away an easy $500 cash. Sarah won our Brisbane Breezey Masters heat in April and works as a barista at Extraction Artisan in Slacks Creek.

Yes, I was here last year in the grand final and I loved the experience, it was exciting. It was my first year, and I met a lot of new people. This year we’ve got Matt, who was here last year as well, so I like how it’s a whole community thing and not just a competition.

Actually, I do! I get inspiration from other people on Instagram and kind of developed my own. The swan is my favourite – I think everyone loves swans.

Because it’s different. When you say latte art, everyone’s expecting full cream milk, which makes really good, nice art. Dairy-free alternatives can get a bit difficult for latte art but Almond Breeze is the best. I also love the branding of Barista Blend, especially with the new packaging.

I think it’s the baristas, and then the promotion on social media and in magazines. We have a lot of competition going on in Australia and a lot of small roasters. I think all together the small roasters, baristas, and social media work together to make the scene different.

Our café pushes the boundaries. We stick with old things that customers like, but like to challenge ourselves to do new things. The music we play is sometimes old school, sometimes fun, a little bit mix-and-match. I think it’s important to try new things and have different things for the consumer to experience every day. It depends on the baristas, they all bring different personalities; it’s a good thing for a café to have many baristas.

Keep trying new things, push boundaries, improve the coffee and keep an open mind.

ALEX WHIGHAM

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

This month we sat down for a chat with Alex Whigham, barista at My Kingdom for a Horse in Adelaide and a finalist in the 2018 Breezey Masters. 

How new it is. You come to a latte art competition in Sydney and everyone’s pouring roses. I think there’s a lower standard in Adelaide, baristas have to join the regional competitions for Perth and SA. I think I like being part of the emergence of that scene in Adelaide.

It doesn’t curdle as much. Other almond milk congeals into like, a biscuit… Barista Blend has a better texture and consistency, and it’s always a little vanilla-y. And it’s got no sugar! That helps.

I like pouring the butterfly. Something about the feeling of pouring it is really cool. I’ve also created one of my own designs, it’s a crab… I’ve noticed people always do animals.

I think it’ll get a little more automated in terms of your pot pressers and your jugglers. Someone was even telling me about one machine that spits out steamed milk straight away. I’m not worried about robots stealing my job, though. Going forward, I hope the scene is moving more towards specialty. Less paddle grinders and more volumetrics, gravimetrics, things like that. I also hope the quality of coffee increases and we’ll start getting less kind of commercial grade coffee.

VICKY CHUAYBAMRUNG

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

This month we caught up with Perth hero Vicky Chuaybamrung, who recently triumphed at the 2018 Breezey Masters, the first female to do so since the competition’s inception. Vicky is a barista at Mary Street Bakery in West Leederville.

I learned most of my tips and tricks through other baristas on social media and the Perth coffee community. We are a tight knit community and every month we get together and invite everyone in the WA coffee scene to practice their latte art. We encourage everyone to join, especially women in the industry. Most ladies are too shy to step into the spotlight. 

My current one at the moment would have to be the Pagasus I did at the competition. But, I’m always trying new patterns and exploring new techniques. I might have a new one soon. 

It is so surreal! Especially coming back home to Perth, the warm welcome I get from work, customers, family and the coffee community here is very empowering. They have always made me feel like a champion. Now that I actually am, it feels even more incredible. 

I have tried a lot of almond milk and I would have to say that Almond Breeze is the best alternative milk on the market for latte art. Its silky texture doesn’t separate itself from coffee, but instead “marries” it. It mixes with coffee so well, sometimes I can’t even tell if I’m pouring full cream milk or almond milk. 

“Perth is so small”, that’s the saying we say in Perth, because everyone knows everyone. All the baristas know each other because of the passion we give towards this industry. We support each other. The coffee industry is so big, but also so small because we are all here for the love of coffee. 

TROY LY

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

This month we spoke to Troy, who works as the cafe and restaurant manager at Son of a Pizzaiolo in Melbourne. With a passion for latte art, Troy competed in this year’s Almond Breeze Latte Art Video Challenge, coming top of the public vote leaderboard for Australia.

My first job as a barista was at Michel’s Patisserie. It was here that I met Anthony, who is the barista trainer for the company, and found my passion that inspired me with some of very first pours with latte art. I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent the store to compete at the Latte Art Championships as part of the Retail Food Group. It was such a great experience, I got to learn so much and meet so many experts in the industry. Since then, I have met lots of friends who have the same passion. We have created a group called the Melbourne Coffee Network where we keep in touch with other baristas in Melbourne to share our experiences in the coffee industry and practicing latte art.

It was a great experience to join in the Almond Breeze Latte Art Challenge. I could see there were so many talented baristas competing from all around the world, with unbelievable skills being showcased in every single video clip that was posted up on the page. Public audiences were judging the vote for the patterns, which made it more challenging and encouraged me to be more creative when submitting patterns to really make an impression with my skills.

I would say Almond Breeze Barista Blend stands out as the milk alternative. I get such good feedback from my customers about it. It tastes great, has natural ingredients, is gluten free and vegan friendly and more. Also, for me as a barista, it is so much easier to use than other non-dairy milk alternatives, frothing perfectly to give great texture. Most of our customers who prefer almond milk love the nutty taste and the way it extends the coffee flavour compared to other milks. Also, it’s great for creating latte art.

My favourite thing about being a barista is just simply that I am getting to know the regulars and what their favourite drinks or roast is. It feels so heartwarming getting to know new people that come in for coffee every single morning. Just a small conversation before they get their coffee, as well as after the first sip, when I hear them say, “it makes my day” or “you save me”. I love my job, simply as it is.

I can see the demand and the choices for consumers expand and the industry getting larger. There are so many alternatives for cows milk than ever before and they are tasty in the blend. Moreover, white coffee is not the only choice when you step into a Melbourne cafe. So many specialty cafes offer many different black coffees in different brew methods. I believe that the people who enjoy coffee come along with the knowledge about it.

ISAAC KIM

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

This month, we had a chat with Isaac Kim, head barista and manager at ONA Marrickville, the first venue by ONA Coffee outside of Canberra, where they have four other hugely popular cafés. As well as the successful cafés, ONA supply exceptional, locally-roasted coffee to over one hundred more. Isaac is also a past barista competitor and is currently active in Brewers Cup competitions.

Image credit: Chanho Hong, Normcore Coffee Roasters

I mostly learned on the job. I started working in restaurants as a waiter and kitchen hand as a teen and picked up some bartending and coffee skills. Then I developed an interest in latte art for a few years, so I learned from watching videos on YouTube for latte art (we all go through that phase!). I’m now lucky enough to work very closely with the personalities that inspired me in the first place.

For me, a good cup of coffee is honest. It should be balanced and openly expressing the characteristics of the coffee. You should be able to taste the terroir, process, and even the varietal without distractions. What I think makes a good coffee experience is a whole different answer on its own.

Something that has been getting me really excited recently is the idea that baristas have the power to influence consumer behaviour in a big way. We might all feel like small cogs in the multi-billion dollar machine that is the coffee industry, but we as baristas can shape how our customers view coffee and in turn shape what specialty coffee looks like in the future.

I think it is absolutely crucial for coffee shops to have sustainability as one of the core values. We are afforded the privilege of having a voice to tell the story of each coffee and the hands responsible behind each experience. Sharing amazing flavour at the same time only serves to amplify our storytelling!

How do I personally enhance someone’s coffee experience? I believe customer service is the only thing that brings together all of the hard work that’s taken place all through the production chain – the farmers, pickers, producers, roasters, and baristas. We know more about how to treat coffee better at every step of the way, more than we ever have, but only the barista’s customer service can bring all of that together into one single experience for the customer. My motto recently has been: “specialty service for specialty coffee.” Our customers have the right to know why a coffee is regarded as special.

I like to constantly remind myself of the power of a simple smile. Ultimately, we are in the hospitality industry and service with a smile speaks volumes louder than the best quality coffee.

EDDIE INOSTROZA

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

In this month’s edition, we spoke to Eddie, who has been living, breathing and frothing coffee in his home city of Melbourne for the best part of fourteen years. He told us what’s unique about Melbourne’s special relationship with coffee and where he sees the future heading for this ever-evolving industry.

 

My love affair with coffee began fourteen years ago at one of my first cafe jobs (Red Door Corner Store). I started out as a waiter and a dishy at cafes and restaurants around Melbourne and quickly became enchanted by the buttons, the levers, paddles and wands that coffee machines have. Not only that, but I loved watching milk being textured and the look of espresso dripping out of machines, it’s beautiful! And of course, the latte art. I was hooked after the head barista at the cafe let me have a go on the machine.

The industry nowadays, at least in Melbourne, is a community of like-minded people, open and willing to share knowledge and experiences. This excites me as it hasn’t always been the case, so it’s been great to see this aspect of the industry evolve over the years.

Innovation and design in the coffee industry also gets me frothing. There are so many beautifully designed coffee machines, grinders and accessories with amazing new functionality hitting the market. I just want to get my hands on all of it!

I think the uniqueness of the Melbourne coffee scene is the standard we have. It’s kind of hard to get a crap cup of coffee in Melbourne and I’d put that down to the depth and quality of coffee shops and the amazing coffee professionals this city has produced.

At the moment I own a mobile coffee business called Roadshow Coffee where we specialise in pop-up cafes, coffee carts and mobile coffee shops for a wide range of functions and events. I’ve just started out in this new venture and I’m eager to find ways to innovate in this space. Having owned a cafe in the past, I’m excited to explore the world of mobile coffee and how we can improve on what’s already out there. Five years from now I’d love to have achieved significant growth in my business, to have established strong relationships with festivals and venues all around Australia, and of course all around the world.

With regards to the industry, I think that automation in coffee will change the role of the barista. The barista’s role will probably be less labour-intensive, with the focus being shifted towards providing an experience. Don’t ask me how, but I think that’s where it’s going.

Don’t be afraid to approach people in the industry and ask for help and direction in what you’d like to achieve from the industry.
Don’t let cowboy operators take advantage of you.
Take advantage of the resources that are out there on the internet.
Cup a lot of coffees.
If you’re going to buy a cafe or set one up, get a job at a coffee shop first.
Never lose sight of what gets you frothing. Froth hard and passionately or don’t froth at all.
Follow me on insta and get in touch if you need advice or coffee at your next event:
@eddie_the_barista
@roadshowcoffee

EMILY COUMBIS

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

In this month’s edition, we invited 2017 Australian Speciality Coffee Association Queensland winner, Emily Coumbis, to comment on where she thinks latte art is heading and why her right-sided brain is the key to her amazing latte art patterns.

I’d be lying if I didn’t put latte art at the top of my list as to what gets me frothing. The challenge of forever perfecting the new, and often complicated latte art patterns keeps me on my toes and frothing everyday!
Having worked in the hospitality industry for almost a decade, it was six years ago my passion for all things coffee came to light. I’m a complete right side of the brain individual, so naturally I stemmed towards latte art as it gets my creative juices overflowing!

From the start of my latte art career, I have been self-taught. It’s amazing to think back at how far I’ve come and how much latte art has changed. At the start, pre-Instagram (can you believe there was a time) I watched lots of how-to YouTube videos on how to create basic patterns, like rosetta’s and tulips. This was a definite trial and error way of doing things, but because I was so passionate about latte art and most importantly, enjoyed it, it was something I loved challenging myself to do.

Fast-forward a few years, and the eruption of social media. Instagram has become an amazing tool for latte artists to share their work, see what other artists are creating and what they could achieve. The amazing thing about latte art is that the possibilities are endless, so I was completely hooked from the get go.

Today, I’m working as head barista at Piggyback Café, Brisbane. Here, we’ve taken latte art one step further and introduced colour to our coffees – something which I am obsessed with. Originally, latte art was done as a bit of fun as all my colleagues loved creating it, but then we noticed customers would specially request it and the next thing we knew, my rainbow latte art Instagram videos were going viral – it’s been amazing. The most requested patterns are normally the good old trusty ones, like the swan or ‘Happy Birthday’ – I get that one a lot!

Latte art may seem simple to some, but it brings people together, and creates joy for lots of people that normally wouldn’t be coffee drinkers. I’ve been lucky enough to meet people from all walks of life through latte art.

The future of latte art is something, if I’m being honest, I’m not to sure about. We’ve seen colour in coffee, 3D art all the way to Korea with a café doing Crème Art and painting Van Gogh on top of the cup. There are so many creative individuals out there and I’m constantly seeing new patterns and ideas that inspire me to try out new things, which is very exciting for me.

When it comes to pouring latte art, my biggest advice would be “don’t be afraid of a pattern that you think looks to difficult”. The more difficult patterns are normally just a combo of the basics rolled out into one anyway. Once you’ve mastered the ‘basic’ pattern, like the heart or the tulip, set yourself a goal and after a day on the tools, you’ll be pouring your pattern in no time.

As well as latte art, another trend that has hit cafes, is the use of alternative milks. As a latte artist, using anything but dairy can definitely prove a challenge, however I’ve learnt a few tricks over my time, which makes it easier to pour great patterns.

For almond milk, the brand plays a big role in how well you will be able to pour latte art with it. My favourite brand is Almond Breeze Barista Blend as it acts almost like using dairy and doesn’t curdle if it overheats, perfect for latte art! The trick when using almond milk is to not pour too fast! It glides a lot quicker into the coffee than dairy, so you want to pour slowly so you have more control over where you want your pattern to go.
When using soy, let it rest for thirty seconds or so before you pour. This technique will make it a lot easier to handle and pour a great pattern, additionally don’t froth it up too much, and don’t overheat it unless you want tofu!

My final thought to all budding latte artists out there, is to never give up on something you have deemed too hard! If you failed at it today then tomorrow will always be a better latte art day, you have my word!

Inspired to get creative with latte art? Why not enter our Breezey Masters – https://breezeymasters.baristasforbaristas.com/

JOSHUA RIVERS

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

In this month’s edition, we speak to Breezey Master 2017 SA winner Joshua Rivers on why coffee and food get him frothing. Through a crazy accident on a scooter, Joshua left his job as a bartender, entered the world of coffee and the rest is history. He currently runs CREAM in Brighton and is considered one of the best in the business.

What gets me frothing, other than my three group volumetric Synesso Hyrda on a Sunday arvo when CREAM will do a modest 15kgs? A whole bunch of things to be honest, but for the sake of the article I will keep it to one of my obsessions, food and experimenting with food. I’m even more passionate when food is complimented with a cup of extremely good coffee; cue breakfast at CREAM.

When I first started CREAM, I had my first opportunity to create and write my own menu, a daunting task but a challenge I was up to. When I wrote the menu I kept two things in mind: 1) it had to compliment my other passion, coffee; 2) it was food that I had to enjoy eating and let me tell you this much… I don’t count my macros!!

I knew I had to incorporate some items for the everyday café goer but I wanted to encourage customers to step out of their comfort zone. Adelaide is notorious for being a conservative state, and I banned some food items to prevent the rest of the menu from stagnating. On the ban list are: Eggs Benedict, the use of rocket as a garnish or in a salad, any style of slider, and bowls of chips.

I create new menu items I know will be flavoursome and have the right aesthetic to ensure continuous social media engagement (which becomes our main source of advertising). If it’s not ‘grammable’ how will people know about you? After all did you even eat it, if you didn’t photograph it? You’ve got to make it easy for people to take images others will froth over to drive people down to your café. I won’t go into the entire menu but, I will discuss two of our most famous dishes, the Donut Breakfast Sandwich and our Hotcake Stacks.

Let’s take an ordinary breakfast sandwich and turn it to 11. Replace every basic ingredient with something high end and get the local bakery on board to bake fresh savoury donuts every morning. The Donut Breakfast Sandwich is born and in all its glory, sweeps Adelaide’s social media scene.

Next up we gave the waffles and chicken concept a face lift. We replaced the waffles with American style THICC hotcakes and after months of perfecting the recipe, they’re a real crowd favourite. Thick, golden, fluffy hotcakes, topped with fried chicken and maple bacon… perfect for your Instastory and your cheat day.

I added Wu-Tang references throughout CREAM’s menu and included messages that we believe in. There is a spiel on our efforts to lower our carbon footprint by using biodegradable packaging, not using lamb or beef, and not serving straws with beverages. This further engages the customer in what we are about and brings about a sense of environmental responsibility.

Eat indulgent food, drink quality coffee, and bop your head to some hip-hop… profanities and all. All in all, it’s a winning formula.

So there you have it; how I created one of Adelaide’s favourite menus. My challenge now is the café has reached cult status, so writing a new menu is difficult because customers will be disappointed if their favourite item is taken off. It’s a good problem to have. The solution? Maybe we’ll just open a second venue. Joshua Rivers

LUCKY C. SALVADOR

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the coffee industry forward and in this series we meet the people who are leading the charge.

In this month’s edition, we speak to Breezey Master 2017 winner Lucky C. Salvador on what gets him frothing in the world of design. Lucky has been in the coffee industry for 10 years and has moved from the Philippines, to Melbourne and now to Singapore where he trains future baristas.
Over to you, Lucky.

This is tough! I pretty much like a cafe with any kind of personality or genre. I think in general, what makes cafe look great, is not only having a beautiful interior design and furniture, but making sure it has a warm and inviting atmosphere, quality coffee and food – it’s all about creating a special, intimate experience. I love that feeling of being welcomed by a café like coming into a good friends home.

Whenever I walk into a cafe, the first thing that my eyes will look for is the coffee bar set up. Like a lot of customers I look at the machines, equipment, the brand of coffee and the type of milk they use. Basically, I like to see what is on offer – more often than not if I see something new, I’ll want to try it and it’s always good to learn and educate customers as coffee is continuously growing. It’s important for our industry.

My advice is to have a bar set up that makes a statement and enables you to stand out.

It’s not only getting better, it’s getting crazier. Latte art nowadays is unbelievable, and honestly, only few latte artist baristas can pull off those kinds of wild designs, not even myself (although I’ll keep practicing).

In terms of what baristas can do to stand out, I would say there’s more to our role than latte art. Learn everything and be good at it, like the ability to deliver unique coffee knowledge, to taste, to make insanely delicious coffee and to change someone’s perception. Most importantly, deliver exceptional customer service – that’s where you’ll truly stand out as a barista.

To make a brand stand out, you need to be unique. Whether that’s in your product offering, how you taste, or how you look.

As I said before, coffee culture is cool and if you want to be part of an impressive bar set up, the way your product looks is very important. I’ve been really impressed with the redesign from Almond Breeze Barista Blend, not only is the new packaging fresh, it listened to the people who use it in order to decide what it should look like. If that doesn’t show dedication to the industry and grab people’s attention, I don’t know what will.

RAIHAAN ESAT

Almond Breeze Barista Blend is dedicated to pushing the industry forward and in this series; we are profiling the people who are leading the charge.

First up, we meet Raihaan Esat

Raihaan Esat is an economics and finance graduate from QUT and has been in the Coffee industry for over 10 years.

Raihaan considers himself a student of knowledge in roast profiling, quality control systems, blending, competition preparations and barista training.

Raihaan is proud to join the ICT team and is looking to work with coffee roasters of all shapes and sizes to make them unique!

Coffee has become such a diverse industry so when it comes to talking about what excites me, the question is, where do I start? I’m going to start from the beginning, by honouring the people at the origin of coffee, the farmers; without them where would we be?

Over the past year, I have had the incredible fortune of been involved in sourcing coffee from some truly progressive farmers. Their insistence on producing quality comes from the desire to share their love for the land and the coffee that springs from it!

I wish I could give a simple answer to this question and say that technology improved five fold, or that farming techniques improved 10 fold. However, although these may be true, I feel as though I would be doing the industry a disservice if I did not mention the apparent shift in perspective that I have noticed over the past year.

There was a time where the small and the artisanal businesses were regarded as the only true representation of coffee, and large corporate structures were seen as the enemy to progressive ideas. Things, however, are changing. In my hometown at least, I have seen nothing but love and respect flow to anyone involved in coffee, the corporate giants coexist in harmony with the micro coffee artisans. One cannot exist without the other; it’s a symbiotic relationship.

One word ‘differentiation’. I feel as though in the last five years we have been building up to something, something beautiful. We have spent endless amounts of time and energy improving our skills in farming, roasting and coffee preparation and information on all of this is no longer held on to by the elite minority, but is shared freely. The result of this?

Where once the industry seemed to be moving in a homogenous direction, now businesses are finding it increasingly easy to try something new, different and adventurous. Take for instance the alternative milk products. In the blink of an eye we have seen the emergence of a great variety of options, each with its own uniqueness that is only matched with its unashamed acceptance of it!

This is hard to say, but the sad truth is, climate change is a challenge for coffee growers. For us on the service side of the industry, it’s in our best interest to safeguard our future by contributing to research into new and sustainable agricultural exercises, new coffee varieties and ethical practices. This is probably the industry’s most immediate concern. I have no doubt that with the continued effort of coffee producers, supported by collaborations with roasting professionals; we will overcome these challenges in the not too distant future!


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