It seems as though every week now there is some breakthrough or some great new thing happening either at the farm level or in the cafe. When these things happen, it can either be celebrated or cause confusion and conversation from coffee companies as they figure out how to play catch up. It’s interesting however, that despite the trends that come and go in coffee there will always be one thing that stays the same, the barista is very important.
In cities or towns that have multiple coffee options, I imagine the decision on where to get coffee can be quite troublesome. How does one decide where to get coffee? It’s easy when you think about it this way: you need to find where your friends are…
The point is that the barista is on the front lines of coffee warfare. At Ricks Roasters, a lot of work goes into sourcing the best coffee we can find and roasting it the best way we know how. But there comes a point in the week that coffee leaves our hands and is placed on a shelf in a cafe or restaurant. When this happens, it’s up to the barista to convey the coffee experience.
We try to remind the barista of their importance in the chain of coffee. To help with this, we give baristas a rundown of all the steps coffee takes as a cherry; from a shrub in Ethiopia all the way to being placed in an espresso blend sitting in a cafe in the middle of Virginia. The barista then has an opportunity that everyone else on the coffee chain doesn’t get to have: translating the joy of the farmer to the appreciation of the customer.
That translation must be done at the customer’s level, and that translation comes in many shapes and sizes.
Because one thing I am not trying to say is that the barista has to know everything about the coffee. Drinking coffee is an experience and the farmer wants the customer to have a great experience when drinking their coffee. As a roasting company, I want the customer to have a great experience drinking coffee. The barista’s job is to create an atmosphere where coffee beverages are enjoyed. This is their sole duty to make sure you “drink better coffee”.