Like most cultures, coffee culture is no different really. A group of people brought together by a common interest. What better place than a coffee shop. There is always a buzz, and hive of activity. It attracts in some ways, so many like minded people, and in other ways such a variety. From businessmen, to housewives, students to teachers. Hundreds of years ago, they were popular meeting places for artists. A few years ago, Wine Masters were popping up everywhere, and now the latest trend seems to be becoming a Barrister. We were fortunate enough to be able to interview Winston, one of the top up and coming Barristers in the Country.
These days no matter where I am, or what I am doing, coffee seems to be screaming out at me! Coffee culture, coffee culture! Most people have coffee making machines, and there are shops dedicated to selling only coffee. We are so spoilt for choice, that it is difficult to know which coffee to drink, when, where and why? I am attending a Barristers course early next month, and will be back with loads more information on what all the different coffee beans are, and how to choose between them.
Meanwhile, not sure about you, but I am getting extremely confused between the different ways to drink coffee. Gone are the days when we only had the choice between an espresso and a cappuccino. And worse still, when I grew up, we either had instant or percolated coffee. Now we have a whole range of ways to drink our coffee:
- Latte: A coffee mixed with a frothed milk foam.
- Americana: Made by adding hot water to a mug with a tot of espresso coffee in it.
- Iced Coffee: Chilled coffee with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
- Cappuccino: A cup of coffee covered in a layer of frothed milk foam.
- Skinny Cappuccino. The same as a cappuccino, but made with fat free milk.
- Flat white: A cup of coffee with milk.
- Espresso: Extremely strong, and dense, with “crema” (coffee foam on the top). Hence, café crema being an alternative name for an Italian espresso.
- Macchiato: A cup of frothed milk, filled up with an espresso coffee.
- Moccachino: A café latte with chocolate added to it.
- Frappe. A coffee with ice, served black or white.
And to make coffee even more enticing, many Countries around the world have their own special coffees, such as:
Caffe Au Lait: France Egg Coffee: Vietnam Turkish Coffee: Turkey Café Bombon: Spain Café Cubana: Cuba Wiener: Vienna Palazzo: USA Caffe De Ola: Mexico
To top it off we have alcoholic coffee drinks, like an Irish coffee, Bavarian coffee, Café royal, Kalua coffee, and even coffee liquors.
I have to say that my favourite is still a cappuccino. It has to be made with the best quality coffee beans, and brimming over the top of the mug with foam. If you can convince me otherwise, please share with me the way you love your coffee.
How did you get involved with espresso coffee. How did it all start?
Without romanticizing too much, there was a complaint in my local newspaper about the bad coffee served in my town. That was about 5 years ago. After reading that I started tasting different coffees trying to figure out what a good cup of coffee really was. This eventually led me to Origin Coffee Roasting where I did a barista course while studying in 2013. I worked part time at a roaster in Somerset West and a market in Woodstock until I completed my studies in June 2014. I started working full time at Origin in August 2014.
What makes you continue to work as a barista? Is the job repetitious?
No it’s not repetitious. It may seem that way because, on the opposite end of the bar, it looks like we’re just pouring coffee every day but that’s far from it. We’re using different coffees every day so there’s a lot of tasting involved, the weather is always changing which means the coffee pours differently throughout the day so we have to work accordingly, we meet different people every day, face different challenges on a daily basis etc. So far from repetitious. And that’s exactly why I continue to work as a barista.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration by looking at all the people involved in the coffee cycle. From the farmer, to the green coffee buyer, the roaster, barista and finally the consumer. To know that I play a role in this process gives me the inspiration to try my hardest to serve the best cup of coffee possible. To justice to those who have played their part before me.
What is the new “in” in the current coffee industry?
To be honest I think that quality has become the new “in” in the coffee industry. More and more café are trying to produce better coffee, which makes things very competitive in terms of quality. This drives the industry in a positive direction. More cafés are also beginning to use alternative or filter brew methods like the aeropress and v60 pourover to make filter coffee. This is best enjoyed black without sugar to ensure that the nuisances and characteristics of the coffee can be picked up.
What kind of coffee do you like/not like to make
I like making all kinds of coffee. There is espresso based coffees like your typical Americano and latte and there is filter brew like the French press or aeropress. I can’t say I dislike making certain types of coffees but I do sometimes cringe when customers want an unusual order that takes away the emphasis of the coffee. For example a large milk based with a single shot and soya milk will completely overshadow the flavor of the coffee. But at the end of the day coffee is subjective and we cannot tell the customers what it is they like or dislike, we can only give advice and hopefully guide them.
What is the most time consuming coffee to make?
I’d say the filter methods we use in our café is the most time consuming. The French press takes about 5 minutes to complete. Whereas espresso based takes roughly 2 minutes.
What can you tell me about Coffee Culture?
Coffee Culture. Where do I start? Well right now in the coffee industry (worldwide) we’re experiencing what we call “Third wave.” “First wave” would be defined as the way our parents might’ve had their coffee. Instant coffee or a dark roasted Italian blend in the household filter machine. There was no real coffee or café culture. Then, with the arrival of Starbucks and other commercial coffee chains, the “Second wave” of coffee individuals evolved. People became more aware of what they were drinking and the trend of takeaway espresso based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos started.
Right now we’re experiencing “Third wave” where people in the coffee have become more conscious of the quality of the coffee they buy. Some companies going as far as establishing direct trade with farmers so they contribute to improving farming methods, exporting etc.
Green coffee beans are roasted with precision and a lot of care is taken in preparing both espresso based and filter drinks. Along with this, consumers are also conscious of the quality of coffee in cafes. Consumers know what they want when buying coffee, more so than before. And they are also a lot more educated. Because of this you find more cafes opening and more consumers visiting cafes thus a growing café culture. Bigger than before.
Tell me about the competitions you have won and what lies ahead for you.
Most recently I’ve won the South African National Aeropress title. The aeropress is basically a filtering device used to make coffee. And I won the national competition so I’ll be competing in the World Aeropress championships in Dublin, Ireland in June. I also came 2nd in the Western Cape Barista competition and 8th in the National Barista competition. In the future I’d like to enter more competitions with the goal of winning and competing at the World Barista Competition.
My dream is to put Africa on the map for coffee. As a continent we produce some of the best tasting coffees in the world but, other than in South Africa, we don’t necessarily serve this as it should be served. Most of the high quality coffee produced in Africa is exported and lower grade commercial coffees are left. I’d like to change this. Coffee was founded in Africa so I feel that we have a responsibility to be serving the best tasting African coffees in our cafes.