Andy has been making coffee for five years and is currently head barista at Bean Drinking, Crows Nest.
Tell us a bit about your background as a barista.
I started working as a barista about 5 years ago. During that time I have worked at some very good independent cafes and roasteries and recently started roasting. The ability to roast, and gain a greater insight into the journey from tree to cup has helped me progress as a barista.
What do you like about working as a barista?
Being a barista has allowed me to meet some really amazing people within the industry and also let me travel around Europe making coffee at International Exhibitions highlighting the specialty coffee industry. It has also allowed me to return to Australia and continue my profession in a country that is generally acknowledged as being at the forefront of what we do.
Tell us a bit about your café:
Bean Drinking is a micro roaster and espresso bar in Crows Nest. We roast on site for ourselves and our wholesale customers. We also roast filter for the various Hario brewing methods we have available for people to try in our Coffee Lab. I love it because we are so focused as a business on traceability and sustainability as well as quality, and we are always trying to improve what we do as a team.
Are there any coffee trends you recommend people should try?
I am currently enjoying cold drip, and am "rediscovering" various coffee origins and varietals through that brewing method in our Coffee Lab. I'd love people to try alternative brewing methods. Most of the alternative methods produce consistently excellent coffee at home. Buy good quality filter profiles, and brew in a Hario V60 pour over, Syphon or Woodneck for a completely new and interesting coffee experience.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue to improve my knowledge of coffee, brewing, cupping and roasting with the eventual plan to open something of my own which showcases specialty coffee.
Have you ever competed?
I have competed twice in the UK National Barista Championships. The first occasion I had the 4th highest score in the country, and this year I am looking to compete for the first time in NSW.
What coffee do you drink?
At work its endless espresso, making sure it tastes at its best. Socially I drink flat white and at home, filter.
What is it you enjoy about the coffee industry?
Our industry has some really interesting, passionate and special people in it, and I am lucky to be able to call some of those people friends.
What is the key to a good coffee?
Great green beans, coupled with a roaster who understands how to roast those beans to highlight the best in them, and a barista who is passionate and can craft a drink that showcases all the farmers hard work and effort into the cup.
What inspired you to move back to Australia?
I missed being able to get great coffee on a daily basis, and only being away from the Sydney coffee scene did I realize what a big part of my day coffee is. Australia has the most advanced and progressive coffee industry in the world. Every Sydney suburb has a great cafe and the UK isn't anywhere near that yet.
What are the main differences between the Australian and UK coffee industries?
In Australia you have an industry that rewards passionate and skilled baristas and allows them to develop a career for themselves. The UK doesn't appear to regard baristas in the same light and pays wages that deter even the most enthusiastic coffee professional and means being a barista will always 'just be a job' and rarely a career. Having said this, there are some great baristas in the UK and some of the best roasters in the world, but they are just few and far between.
Do you have any tips for baristas interested in competing?
Go into the competition to learn, develop and if you win that's a bonus. Read the rules again and again and again. There are some simple things that can catch you out and lose you silly points or get you disqualified (one day I will take my own advice).