culture, by Kathleen Carmody - 20th April 2004
The Sydney Morning Herald)
A barista is the difference between
a simple coffee and a sublime sip of aromatic
should have a glossy sheen to the surface, with
a velvety texture." Vernon Tava could be
talking about a fine painting; instead, the coffee
roaster and barista at Melbourne's Atomica Caffe
is describing the milk in a perfect latte. "And
it should be just on hot - not so that the skin
is hanging off the roof of your mouth." He
can also detail the set of the grind ("it's
better to have a good, hard pack in a slightly
coarser ground"), why beans are ripe for
roasting at two to three days old, why the coffee
is best extracted within 40 minutes of the beans
being ground and why espresso should pour in a
thin 30-second stream.
coffee nirvana. It's so much more than 43-bean
flavour these days. And Tava's passion is part
of a public fervour that has seen Australia's
love of the aromatic bean take off.
Smith, founder of Toby's Estate, a specialty coffee
house and espresso school in Sydney's Woolloomooloo,
was an early adopter of the new coffee culture.
He gave up a law career to answer the call of
the bean, spending two years in Brazil, France
and Spain learning about coffee, only to return
to Australia in 1998 to be shocked by how much
things had changed. "There was this huge
buzz about coffee," he says.
coffee consumption is running at an all-time high.
In September, economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel
reported that we consume about 2.4 kilograms per
person per year, double that of 30 years ago.
(Tea consumption, by contrast, is on the slide.)
And cafes, says Sean Edwards, managing director
of cafe-industry organisation CafeBiz, are "a
$7.5 billion industry in Australia".
the coffee that drives the billions. And it's
the barista who makes the coffee. In Italy, barista
means "barman" but the title also refers
to a specialty coffee maker. Savvy cafe owners
are realising that if customers know a maestro
is behind the machine, they'll be back. Suddenly,
the guy who makes the coffee has power.
a valuable skill," says Toby Smith. "If
[the barista] wants to leave - or complains about
the money - the owner thinks, 'I'll pay him more'
because they want to continue pouring gold."
Jill Adams, training and development manager of
the Coffee Academy at Melbourne's William Angliss
TAFE, says a good barista can take home $1000
a week - and there's often a cash bonus on top
of that. But they're hardly a drain on the business.
As Adams says, "A kilo-sized bag of coffee
costs $25 to $28 and that makes about 130 cups
with wastage." She estimates that with the
cost of milk, labour and other overheads, your
$3 flat white costs just 30 cents to make.
not just the pay packet of the barista that's
on the rise, either. The status of the job has
skyrocketed. Last year, a 25-year-old from Sydney
took out the title of World Champion Barista in
Boston. Paul Bassett no longer works in cafes
but teaches, consults and has an endorsement deal
with Sunbeam. Likewise, Tava says he's seen a
social change: at parties, doctors and lawyers
want to hear the finer details of making a great
coffee. "People are beginning to taste the
difference between beans, to actually distinguish
great milk. They're becoming a lot more brand
D'Emden, head barista at Campos Coffee in Sydney's
Newtown, adds that the top baristas are passionate
about coffee - and a little crazy. "You need
to have a bit of an obsessive-compulsive gene.
You're doing it hundreds of times every day so
to get satisfaction out of it, you need to have
the kind of personality that is never satisfied.
It's a perfectionist thing that makes you go,
'Yeah, that's good but how can we work on it?'"
at-home amateur baristas are feeling the urge
to excel. Allison Baker, senior product manager
for beverage appliances at Sunbeam, says the market
for home espresso machines has expanded at both
the cheaper and top ends of the market since they
launched a $499 machine in 2001 - and products
now range from $110 to $1000 for a one-touch model.
"People are entertaining more at home, enjoying
coffee at cafes and they want to produce that
quality at home."
Smith concurs. "The espresso machine is becoming
the new consumer item. Everyone's whacking them
in their kitchen and going, 'Hang on. It doesn't
taste as good as one from a cafe.'"
they enrol at his espresso school, which runs
a course three nights a week that's booked out
four to six weeks in advance. Or they attend the
Coffee Academy in Melbourne, which runs a Coffee
at Home course for the general public alongside
its classes aimed at cafe owners and baristas.
now seen as gourmet cuisine," says Vernon
Tava. "People have respect for that, as much
as they would for someone who's producing fine
Bolles' top coffee haunts
Allpress Espresso, 58 Epsom Rd, Rosebery (02)
Campos Coffee, 193 Missenden Rd, Newtown (02)
Berardo Coffee Company, 206 Cleveland St, Chippendale
(02) 9699 5333
Toby's Estate Coffee 129 Cathedral St, Woolloomooloo,
(02) 9358 1196
Bar Coluzzi, 322 Victoria St, Darlinghurst (02)
Gusto, 16 Hall St, Bondi (02) 9130 4565
Latteria, 320 Victoria St, Darlinghurst (02) 9331
Bambini Trust, 185 Elizabeth St, city (02) 9283
Bar Italia, 169 Norton St, Leichhardt (02) 9560
Bills, 433 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst (02) 9360
What's in a cup?
long and the short of the perfect coffee.
"short" drinks such as the espresso
and the macchiato are growing in popularity, we're
still a nation of latte drinkers, say coffee retailers.
A latte consists of a shot of espresso (generally
30 millilitres) in a glass with steamed milk poured
over, topped with a one-centimetre layer of froth.
Contrary to the widely held belief that a flat
white is stronger, the only difference between
the two drinks is the vessel in which they're
presented. A flat white is served in a ceramic
cup, usually of the same volume (200 millilitres)
as a latte glass. However, some cafes will top
a latte with extra froth, while others may pour
a flat white slightly shorter. True coffee fans
favour the "short" drinks.
espresso or short black is served in a demitasse
(small cup). A macchiato is an espresso with a
spoonful of milk added to stain the coffee.
information about Toby's Estate espresso school
or tastings, contact (02) 9358 1196. For Coffee
Academy inquiries, call (03) 9606 2111.
Estate espresso (Eatability.com)
- Hot bed for cafe's in Sydney's East, by Greg
of the world
History Of Coffee
men in a coffee shop, by Dane Crandon