THE ART OF MAK­ING A GREAT COF­FEE

Baris­tas trained to treat ev­ery cup they make as if it were the first one of the day.

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The se­cret to mak­ing a great cup of cof­fee, says barista trainer Tina Pakipaki, is car­ing. “We say to make each cup like it is the first — that is the amount of at­ten­tion you should be giv­ing to each one,” she says. “And that does come about from car­ing.”

Pakipaki should know what makes both a great cup of cof­fee and a good barista — it’s part of her job as a re­tail area co- or­di­na­tor for BP to help train baris­tas who work in the com­pany’s Wild Bean Cafes.

She says the baris­tas who tend to do well are those who are able to fo­cus and pay at­ten­tion to each cup, even when they are work­ing un­der pres­sure and there is a long line of peo­ple wait­ing for their favourite drink.

And that word car­ing — car­ing about ev­ery­thing from where the beans came from, through to pre­sent­ing the fin­ished prod­uct prop­erly.

“A good barista not only wants to please the cus­tomer but is re­ally in­ter­ested in learn­ing ev­ery­thing they can about cof­fee, says Pakipaki. “They un­der­stand what is in­volved in ev­ery part of mak­ing each cof­fee.”

The job at­tracts peo­ple of all ages, from all walks of life and cul­tures, but the one thing those who mas­ter the art of mak­ing a great cup of cof­fee have in com­mon is truly car­ing about the process and the prod­uct.

Pakipaki did her barista train­ing with BP

“A good barista not only wants to please the cus­tomer but is re­ally in­ter­ested in learn­ing ev­ery­thing they can about cof­fee”.

“We check our baris­tas to make sure they are fol­low­ing the same method­ol­ogy all the time so no bad habits or short cuts creep in. If you don’t do ev­ery­thing just right, the cof­fee will be im­pacted”.

five years ago af­ter de­cid­ing to move from her ad­min­is­tra­tion job with the com­pany into work­ing in the re­tail side of the busi­ness.

“We do ex­change days where you can go and see what dif­fer­ent parts of the com­pany do — I went along with the guy who was do­ing the role I have now and when I saw what was in­volved in work­ing with the teams, and the ca­ma­raderie and the trans­fer of knowl­edge, I was re­ally at­tracted to that.

“I set my ca­reer path to land that role when it be­came avail­able. I hadn’t worked as a barista be­fore, so I had a lot to learn.”

She un­der­went in­ten­sive train­ing with a BP gold barista, so she knows ex­actly what new staff go through.

Train­ing is very thor­ough, cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from how to get the per­fect grind, cor­rect ex­trac­tion and how over or un­der ex­trac­tion im­pacts on the taste, aroma and colour of the cof­fee. It also looks at rea­sons for why prob­lems can oc­cur when milk is aer­ated.

An­other mod­ule looks at how cof­fee is har­vested, the dif­fer­ent types and how Wild Bean be­came the largest re­tailer of Fair­trade barista-made cof­fee in New Zealand.

The learn­ing process con­tin­ues with on­the-job train­ing in Wild Bean Cafes, in­clud­ing spot checks to make sure new staff are stick­ing to the com­pany way of do­ing things.

“We are strict on the way the cof­fee is made and pre­sented,” says Pakipaki. “We check our baris­tas to make sure they are fol­low­ing the same method­ol­ogy all the time so no bad habits or short cuts creep in. If you don’t do ev­ery­thing just right, the cof­fee will be im­pacted.”

Meticulous at­ten­tion is paid to de­tail — for ex­am­ple, in ar­eas like Auck­land where hu­mid­ity can af­fect the cof­fee beans, they are checked through­out the day while fac­tors like air con­di­tion­ing and where the en­trance doors are in re­la­tion to the café are taken into ac­count.

BP of­fers cus­tomers a barista guar­an­tee, so if the cof­fee is not to their sat­is­fac­tion they can take it back and get an­other one.

“Our baris­tas try not to be of­fended if a cof­fee comes back but cus­tomers are not shy in telling us if some­thing is not quite right,” she says. “Not only do we re­place it free of charge, but our baris­tas try to fig­ure out from the feed­back what can be im­proved.”

Wild Bean staff ap­pre­ci­ate peo­ple can have very strong emo­tions when it comes to their cup of joe and con­stantly strive to cre­ate the best prod­uct pos­si­ble, says Pakipaki.

To en­cour­age this BP holds awards ev­ery year for its re­tail staff — The Re­tail Ex­cel­lence (REX) Awards — with cat­e­gories for Supreme and Best Rookie Barista of the year.

Pakipaki says com­pe­ti­tion is fierce. Win­ners of re­gional heats get to take part in the na­tional fi­nals, which are capped off with a din­ner and the an­nounce­ment of win­ners.

The com­pe­ti­tion runs through­out Oc­to­ber with the awards be­ing held in De­cem­ber.

“The REX awards are a big deal, every­one gets be­hind them and the buzz con­tin­ues through­out the year,” she says. “Peo­ple work re­ally hard through­out the year so that if they get through to the fi­nals it will just come nat­u­rally.”

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