Lately, it’s everyone’s favorite habitat. You can find just about anyone lounging on a comfy chair, chatting with friends, studying for an exam or conducting a business meeting while enjoying a good cup of joe.
But did you know that not all coffee are created equal? There’s more to baristas than just putting whipped cream on your matcha frappe and spelling your name right on a cup.
John from Linear Coffee Roasters tells us all about the art and science of making great coffee, what it takes to be a top-notch barista and how coffee can change someone’s perspective in life.
Hi! Tell us bit about yourself and your work
Hi, I’m John. I love tattoos and piercings, shoes, and rock music. I also love making and drinking coffee (it’s obvious haha). I am the head barista/ assistant roaster at Linear Coffee Roasters, a new cafe that serves good quality coffee. A barista is the person that makes and serves coffee. My work here is not as easy as you think. We make our coffee with so much attention to detail. Grind size, Coffee to Water Ratio, Water temperature, Brew Time, Proper application or technique—- those are just a few examples of what we do in the cafe. We need to do those things to serve you guys a good cup of coffee.
What are the common misconceptions about your line of work?
People who are not really into coffee sometimes call us “bartender” or “waiter”. Yeah, I mean I’ve done that kind of work before, but it’s very different from being a barista. Another thing is when people talk about coffee itself. Some customers think that a burnt, ashy, charcoaly, rubbery, papery or woody taste of coffee is good, when in fact, it is actually as bad as it sounds.
Describe your typical work day.
I wake up in the morning without having any breakfast because I don’t wanna consume anything before coffee. When I arrive at Linear, the first thing I do is drink plain water to cleanse my palate, then set about making coffee. Once I get my daily caffeine fix, I start calibrating coffee. That means adjusting or recording the parameters (grind size, water temp, dosage, technique) or recipe that we’re going to use on a certain origin of coffee. The reason for that is because we need to serve a consistent product. If we don’t do these routine tasks, we won’t be able to serve the same quality. Other co-workers will be unable to replicate the same taste or quality of coffee without those right parameters as well.
After all of that, I go out and eat, then get back to work. Linear Coffee Roasters is a kind of cafe that actually roasts coffee, so the main focus of the company is to supply coffee to other cafes. Usually on Mondays or Tuesdays, I stay at the back to roast coffee, since I’m the assistant roaster. It’s the process where we cook green coffee beans into roasted ones. From dense, less flavors, the greens develop into brown coffee beans with a lot of soluble compounds, flavors and aromas.
On any other day, you can always see me at the front, doing what I love, making good coffee, and talking to customers. I love introducing customers to what we serve in the cafe, especially the first-timers.
What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
That exciting feeling after roasting the coffee and waiting for the outcome. Anticipating what it should taste like and discovering new flavors and aromas. I also enjoy introducing the kind of coffee we serve and telling its story from farm to cup (where the coffee came from, the information, the process, what we do to get these kind of flavors, and the like).
On the flipside, what’s the hardest part of your job? What makes it fulfilling? Will you trade it for something else?
The hardest part is that not everyone will love what we do and not everyone will understand what we serve in the cafe. What makes it fulfilling is when we are able to convert those non-coffee lovers (those people who claim to be lovers but put a lot of sugar in their coffee, yucks!) into drinking and enjoying a good cup of coffee. And I mean good quality coffees with natural flavors and aromas. So nope, I will never ever trade it for something else.
Any message to those who want to pursue the same career? What does it take to be successful or happy in your field?
All I can say is this kind of profession takes a lot of hard work and a lot of research to get to where we are right now (even today, the team is still in the process of learning). What’s good about being in the coffee industry is that coffee is a “moving process”. Everyday you learn something new and discover something new. You can’t say you’re already a master or an expert because somehow, somewhere, there are people who will always be better than you. Now for those who want to be in the industry, you just have to embrace it and enjoy what you do. It’s not a competition nor a race. Instead, it’s all about doing what you love and introducing it to the consumers. Cheers!
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