A barista is professional coffee maker, a sort of coffee mixologist. I had the chance to engage barista Jesse Wambugu at the Sankara Nairobi hotel.
He is a graduate in food production and fully trained in the art of coffee making both locally and internationally. Wambugu met Jon Wagner, the former Java Boss who gave him the opportunity to work at the renowned coffee house. Wagner ensured he was trained in the various processes of roasting, grinding, preparing, decorating and so on.
After working with Java for one and a half years, Wambugu moved to Dormans outlets where he continued to perfect his trade. Currently at Sankara Nairobi, he cites passion, interest and training as core components to being a good barista. One also needs to be able to operate different machines used to make coffee but most importantly have great customer service.
“I make my coffee fresh all the time, even doing so where the customer is seated. Its important to engage them while you prepare their cuppa.
One of the worst experience as a barista is when a client gets mad knowing that you’ve made instant coffee despite them asking for brewed coffee. Also, when they complain about your coffee.
He is a member of several barista groups across the country where they meet for training, share knowledge and engage with farmers training them how to cultivate a good crop.
“The coffee culture in Kenya is growing. It is at 4 per cent but its steadily growing as seen by the increase of coffee houses around the country.”
His parting shot: Being a barista is an interesting career but hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves. Its a profession like any other so it should be recognised and not looked down upon.
Tidbits on Jesse
Favourite coffee is espresso
He has over 12 years of experience as a barista
He has a signature style of brewing
He tastes up to 1500grams of coffee during auctions
He unwinds by boxing at the gym and doing charity work