Joe the art of Coffee29/04/2007
On the 25th Jen and I have a bit of a lazy morning even though I would have to say that Hostel Jazz is one of the loudest Hostels I have ever stayed in! There is a dorm room with 18 beds in it and at the very early stages of the morning they were in and out of the room at intervals of less then 30 seconds! Now surely that’s fine but they would just let the door slam shut every-time and it would close with that mucho gusto and the floors would shake… I’m so mad even now just thinking about it!
So after deciding to get out of bed and get the day on the way Jen takes me for a walk along side Central Park towards the museum mile? I think that’s what its called… I am so bloody hungry and its nearing twelve we decide to go into the nearest cafe we could find for breakfast that was served out of Styrofoam with plastic cutlery. My survival training at school has come in handy today! That afternoon we walk along the Brooklyn bridge and take in one of the best views of New York.
Joes Cafe, the art of coffee, East 13th street
This Joes cafe is has a nice layout and is very busy with a line to order never less then 5 deep. Jen and I wait around for a table and when one is free we dive for it and take off the thousand layers we are wearing to combat the cold. I go to the counter and order an espresso, american and a traditional cap and go around to the side of the bar to watch it being made.
Its been made in a naked portifilter and looks like its pouring ok though I am distracted and am not looking to hard at it. I don´t bother with an introduction at this stage as its kinda awkward to do so at this point, for me anyway. The espresso was ok though a little thin and my cappuccino was nice with the espresso cutting through the latte art topped milk.
At this point I go up and compliment her on her espresso so I can make an introduction and Jessica Rufo screws her face up a little and says “really, I thought it poured a little fast”. Now at this point I am a little taken back, gasp a little and my first thought is why the hell did you serve it then?
This could be a good time to rant
As you know it happens time and time again that the barista for some reason or not lets their standards slide and are more then happy to serve it anyway! Why take the chance to serve a bad espresso? Quite possibly the person drinking it would not know the difference, but in the one out of, say 100 chance you serve it to someone and never get their custom again! In this day and age of blogging and communication, cafes that have a good reputation in the world scene should really be on top of this issue all the time. Or maybe, just maybe, it comes down to the companies hiring policey. God knows the company that managed the Bewleys building had no hiring policey at all and Stephen and myself continuasly found ourselves battling to inspire any work ethic at all.
On the other hand why should a barista give a hoot what they serve unless they have a vested interest in the job. How does a cafe owner combat this? Higher wages? Some sort of bonus scheme? Will thorough training with enthuses on the plight of the bean and the people who cultivate, transport, roast and package it help? I am not sure that there is an answer to this, maybe untill the cafe owner starts to make the dream of a career barista a reality. Is a career Barista a possibility? Or is just like the first year of uni or an apprenticeship?When you are introduced to the fundamentals of the coffee industry before deciding to either specialise or move on all together.
I at one time was that guy who blindly made coffee not knowing about the industry at large. When I was only 3 days out of my 24th birthday I had an epiphany, I woke up and after years of searching outside of the coffee industry for a career. I decided that I wanted to open something of my own. I looked into buying a cafe and thank god that I did not at this stage as I feel that I would of gone belly up for sure. I had not a clue about the industry as a whole but had been making coffee since I was 15 years old and just did what I did (talk about boring).
I went on the war path to find out as much as I could about coffee and I am still learning, thats why I love it. I then had a second epiphany when Bewley´s sent me to origin I began to really understand what I had been training for years and I feel that I have found new life in my job.
La Virgen, Nicaragua 9/06
I also have promised myself after working part time in Dublin at a fine dining restaurant called Eden to supplement my wages so I could do this trip. Never to work for another company that does not focus on coffee the way it should. I unfortunately for the sake of 100 Eruo´s in tips per night, had to shut my mouth and literally make coffee the complete opposite to the way it should be made, so as to just please the owner and the bitchy wait staff! Grrr never again!
Sorry back to Joes.
Well after that exclamation on Jessica behalf we get talking anyway and she is very keen, but is just laking on this day the drive. She tells me she wants to open her own cafe and is already looking for sites in New York. I wish her the best and maybe when her own money is on the line she will take better care.
I realise that I have not answered any of the questions I just put forward, maybe as a post I will go into my thoughts on this subject more… Will see.