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MarkPrince
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Posted Mon May 3, 2004, 12:00am
Subject: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

Barista Basics... Or Not!
Professionally Speaking article by George Sabados

George Sabados, an espresso expert and consultant in Australia, writes about how cafes and coffee houses need to get back to basics to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
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nickcho
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Posted Mon May 3, 2004, 4:35pm
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

George is, quite clearly, a qualified expert of espresso and of the business as a whole.

However, I have to put my two cents in:

Training is certainly one of the most important things... to me, most likely #2... possibly going hand-in-hand with my #1.

In my coming on 3 years of experience as a barista, a trainer, and a business owner, the #1 most important thing to me is calibrating your "bar."  In other words, you need to know what espresso is, what "great espresso" is, etc., which will hopefully provide for you some sense of context... some sense of what is possible.  Only after knowing the context within which you operate can you then go out and try and maximize your potential.

I think many of us have come across the espresso bar/coffeeshop... the place that thinks that they have the best-of-the-best coffee and espresso in town... but you know better.  Their baristas work with flair and artistry, as they steam up their bubbly milk and pull their pale, crema-less shots.  They have attitude and love to hype their skillz... too bad their skillz are the suckz.

Most of these people are "trained" by their manager or whoever... maybe what I'm trying to say is that I'd elaborate on "training," for training in of itself, while definitely better than no training... training without context isn't much.  Maybe I'm speaking from a relatively ignorant, east-coast perspective, where "good espresso" is as rare as the courteous driver.

"Calibrating your bar."  You need to know where to set the bar, so that you have something to measure quality against.  Whether "quality" is an absolute or a relative thing may be up for discussion, but assuming that quality is indeed a relative thing... well, I think you get my point.

There's my two cents.

Nick
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rlcoffee
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Posted Mon May 3, 2004, 5:40pm
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

And also, the Michel's Patisserie in the Knox City Shopping Centre (about 25 kms east of Melbourne) was proudly display a huge banner,

"National Barista Champion, March 2004".

Training paid off ?

I stopped to have a quick look at the (fairly young) girls who were preparing the lattes, but didn't stop to ask for more details.  It did seem faily well patronised, but I noticed one of the girls had the milk jug standing up on a small box steaming away while she was filling and tamping the portafilter and trying to look at the thermometer at the same time.
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fookoonetwork
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Posted Mon May 3, 2004, 8:21pm
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

I would suppose that one can only be amazed that $tarbucks continues to lead the pack and violate so many of the rules of quality.  Brand recognition and the line of people waiting to plunk down a few bucks for an inferior product never cease to amaze me.  It must be that ignorance is bliss.
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onocoffee
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Posted Mon May 3, 2004, 10:00pm
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

I'm a bit disturbed by the content of this article because it starts off with George mentioning the many trips to Asian cities that he's made yet his only focused commentary is on the Australian market.

This is the very first time I have heard Australia referenced as part of Asia.  I thought Australia was part of Oceania.  If not, why then is Australia not a member country of ASEAN?

But that's politics and I'm not interested in that.

I have to wonder aloud and ask how this small example in Australia can speak for the entirety of Asia?

Don't get me wrong.  I've met George.  I like George and I respect his knowledge about espresso.  I just don't see the correlation between the Australia coffee scene and the rest of Asia.
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aeroplane
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Posted Mon May 3, 2004, 11:03pm
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This hits the nail squarely on the head. Almost all of the coffee (drinks) I go out and buy are woefully inconsistent. Every once in a while there is a good one, but that is rare.

As there are more and more places to get an espresso based drink, the average quality can ONLY go down --- because the consumer dosen't know what good is, and continues to accept and buy poorly made, sloppy tasting drinks. Sad but true.

I hope the shop owners take this seriously and implement a program such as this.
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spinnaker007
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Posted Tue May 4, 2004, 8:33am
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

nice read...better yet, nice crema!
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MatthewB
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Posted Tue May 4, 2004, 8:18pm
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

Well I can't claim to be in the business, but can speak on behalf of the average consumer.  This article shed light on many areas I found myself witnessing in the coffee industry almost on a day-to-day occurence. In my opinion, the flare in which many companies I feel strive for, greatly effects the over all quality of the coffee that is created in taste, appearence, and overall professionalism.  Yes, many cafes do look like they could or should only pull great shots, but as all of us know this is not the case.  I feel the points Mr.  Sabados brought forth are very worthy and also appropriate.  Having worked in one of these flashy cafes, I can only say that the informal training and lack of testing or evaluation of the coffee directly effected the sales based on the very few repeat customers we had and compliments regarding quality.  This would of, and should of been avoided, if the cafe was to invest more time and money into the overall quality and presentation of the drink itself along with thorough training.  

       One more little comment in relation to this article, when an individual ventures into a cafe for their first time to experience what everybody is raving about and they are served a poor beverage it will greatly effect their desire to venture in again.  This is extremely important for persons who have never had an espresso or an espresso based drink.  Remember folks, we want to turn them on to coffee, not turn them off of coffee.
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Skarsnik
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Posted Tue May 4, 2004, 11:12pm
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

Well I can't claim to be in the business, but can speak on behalf of the average consumer.

I think the author was preaching to the choir. I dont think the average coffeeshop customer knows or cares about a good cup of coffee (look at our national instant coffee sales) and Iím pretty sure that they donít read coffeegeek forums :).

Until this changes I cannot see the validity of the sales growth figures stated in the article. Sure taking the step from producing a coffee flavored milk drink to a reasonable cup of coffee will increase sales; but 100% to 3500%?
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Malibar
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Posted Wed May 5, 2004, 12:10am
Subject: Re: Barista Basics... Or Not!, Professionally Speaking
 

Thanks so much for putting what's been on the tip of mytongue down on paper, Mr. Sabados.  I'm definitely using this in my efforts to convince my management to pursue higher quality product.

 
Hemingway had the ideal cofee shop figured out: "A clean, well-lighted place."
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