Becoming a Successful Barista
FHA Barista Challenge 2016 Chief Judge Kammie Hui shares useful tips
Kammie Hui, training manager at 18 GRAMS, a premier espresso café in Hong Kong, and chief judge at the FHA Barista Challenge 2016, a part of the upcoming Food&HotelAsia2016 – the most comprehensive industry trade event for the food and hospitality industry in Asia, shares key must-haves for aspiring baristas.
As a judge, what can you say about the level of excellence shown by baristas in Asia in brewing a good cup of coffee?
Asian baristas are doing an incredible job these days, and this is evident through the growing representation of baristas from Asia in many international coffee competitions. In comparison to our Western peers, I don't see a great difference except for the fact that we (Asia) are a younger entrant where speciality coffee is concerned. Today, I see more and more passionate baristas investing a great deal of effort to level up their skills and knowledge, value-adding to the growth of the coffee scene in Asia.
What else can be done to elevate the barista profession in Asia, to encourage more of the younger generation to take an interest?
Sharing of knowledge and skills is always a great way to incite interest. The staging of competitions, such as the FHA Barista Competition, is another effective way to promote the profession as these competing events, especially the renowned ones are highly publicised.
There is a traditional coffee culture of sorts in some Asian countries. How, in your opinion, does that enhance the experience of, or pose a challenge to the Asian barista?
I still enjoy drinking coffee in some local cafes in Hong Kong and elsewhere. In fact, it's a great opportunity to understand the differences between all types of consumers, those who seek out local establishments and others who prefer the large coffee chains. It is also a way to develop your palate, from root to maturity.
In some Asian countries like China or Japan, tea takes prominence over coffee. How will this impact the aspiring barista and coffee business?
Many baristas love both coffee, and tea. In my opinion, tea and coffee are individual beverages but in essence they are no different, where both possess a long history and have a strong influence in shaping ancient and modern culture. I would say that instead of being in competition, they actually complement each other.
What would be the most important message you would impart to a barista who is just entering the profession?
The ability to learn every day is key to becoming a proficient barista. Other qualities that are good to have are to be nimble and quick to adapt to any situation. My message to all budding baristas is to be highly passionate in what you do, learn and practice hard, and open your mind to any possibilities.
FHA Barista Challenge is hosted by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) – Singapore Chapter and supported by the regional industry associations. Top baristas from regional countries will gather to pit their skills against one another for the honor of being the finest barista in Asia.
Specialized courses designed for budding baristas will be held alongside the competition arenas, including barista skills, brewing, roasting skills, sensory judge course, and sensory skills.
SpecialityCoffee&Tea2016 trade exhibition features 171 exhibitors from 31 countries and regions including Boncafe, Coffex Coffee, Dilmah Fine Tea and Herbs, Ebenezer Coffee Manufacturer, Franke Coffee Systems, IllyCaffe Spa, La Marzocco, Monin Asia, Nuova Simonelli, Santino Coffee Specialists, Spinelli, WMF, among others. 36 companies are new to the event including Routin 1883, Drago Mocambo, Rocket Espresso, Sweet Serenity Syrup, Nespresso, Oriole, Owl International, Iberital De Recambios, Empire Teas, and Rockbern Coffee.