This blog really wants to stand at a bar and drink his espresso.

Archive for December 2008

“It’s a young profession”

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That was the advice given to me by a barista of some renown and great skill, and of course it was followed by the words, “You have to be patient.” She also mentioned that one of the trainers for her company just turned 30.

There’s good and bad in this. The bad is that I’m not good at being patient when it comes to coffee. It is currently possible to brew a stellar cup of coffee, to order, in a retail environment. Not many are doing so, and this is where my impatience flares up. I see too many talented, creative baristi who are being utilized only on the line, and given no other responsibilities. Coffee quality and barista wages will remain at their current levels it this continues. These baristi need to be trained for management and have their business acumen developed so they can reside in positions where they can make a difference. Even better, they need to be paid more and then given the tools to start their own shops. This, obviously, is not something that a company would ever want to do, unless there was some sort of wholesale agreement, but it would be perfect for an organization like the BGA. Especially since the BGA does…what does the BGA do again? I never even got my welcome packet.

I confess to not ever attending a BGA training session, but if they are anything like the barista jams that I’ve been to, I don’t think it’s the way to spread quality. Even if some knowledge and skill is imparted unto the attendees, if they do not work in an environment that uses that knowledge and skill, then there is no long-term benefit. The owners and managers are the ones who need training, and the best entities to do that are the roasters. More companies need to follow Stumptown’s example and demand that their wholesale customers meet a certain standard.

On the bright side, it’s a good thing that a leading specialty coffee company entrusts their training to a 30-year-old with lots of coffee experience, and not some 23-year-old punk. But there needs to be a place were all those talented punks can go to earn a living and develop, otherwise this business won’t have the human capital to flourish.


Written by Nick

27 December, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Posted in Coffee

Are We Fighting a Losing Battle?

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From Wikipedia, “Turkish Coffee”:

 In recent times, Turkish coffee has become less popular than tea (which was grown locally, and could be bought without hard currency), instant coffee, and other modern styles of coffee.

Granted, this is Wikipedia, and this particular section has no citation, but what does this say? A coffee culture as developed as Turkey’s is moving away from Turkish coffee (which, if you haven’t tried, I highly recommend)? Does this mean that the world will generally move towards greater convenience, and that quality will be lost?

Is “super-specialty coffee” an anachronism? Or should it just be relegated to a very tasty margin?

And what of convenience? Is lugging around a paper sippy cup full of staling coffee really that convenient? How is the instantaneousness of espresso not convenient? What drives consumers to large beverages?

Written by Nick

25 December, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Posted in Coffee