culture / Drinks / food / Local Love / Out and About / sacramento

Behind the Bar.

In this year’s list of the thirty best coffees in America, industry arbiter Coffee Review listed four coffees from Sacramento, which is more than any other city on the list. Coffee Review rates bean varieties from independent roasters. Temple and Old Soul, who are major bean suppliers for the shops throughout Sacramento, each had two varieties in the top thirty. So the point is, if when drinking indie coffee around here, you’re likely to be drinking something award winning.

Sacramento has become an independent coffee powerhouse over the past decade, and, if 2014 is an indication of anything, our coffee companies are showing no sign of stopping. But amongst all of the much deserved fan fair for the roasters, store owners, and company founders, an integral part of the coffee experience is often overlooked: the barista.

The barista’s portafilter, where all espresso drinks begin. Photo M.Hershenow. 2014

The barista’s portafilter, where all espresso drinks begin. Photo M.Hershenow. 2014

In this series, we will be taking a closer look at the people in the cafés who prepare our city’s award winning coffee, and ask them what they think it takes to be successful at this crucial job.

Macaela preps her espresso while talking with a customer. Photo M.Hershenow. 2014.

Whitecotton preps her espresso while talking with a customer. Photo M.Hershenow. 2014.

Macaela Whitecotton is a barista in midtown. Like many baristas, she worked in a name-brand coffee shop before coming over to independent coffee over a year ago.
According to her, success as a barista depends largely on keeping your cool and knowing your craft.

 

Macaela, with cashier Connie, preparing a customer’s order. Photo M.Hershenow.

Whitecotton, with cashier Connie, preparing a customer’s order. Photo M.Hershenow.

“You have to be focused, friendly, and always be smiling, whether you are happy or not,” she says, “None of us want to become [that] ‘bitter barista’. There is so much that is going on in our brain while we are talking to the customer; we are evaluating our espresso, delegating tasks, timing out when to steam our milk, and of course making the drink look pretty with a heart or flower.”

 

The pour. It is during this step that a skilled barista creates a the latte art which has become iconic to specialty coffee. Photo M.Hershenow. 2014.

The pour. It is during this step that a skilled barista creates a the latte art which has become iconic to specialty coffee. Photo M.Hershenow. 2014.

But, as with all things, the most important factor for success is having a passion for what you do, “In the end you really have to be loving what you do to truly appreciate it when someone is enjoying their drink.”

A swan-adorned macchiato, paired with a much less intricate oolong tea, at Temple’s Fair Oaks location. Photo M.Hershenow. 2014.

A swan-adorned macchiato, paired with a much less intricate oolong tea, at Temple’s Fair Oaks location. Photo M.Hershenow. 2014.

Are you a barista? If so, what do you think is crucial to making and serving great coffee? Contact us at TUBEmag.com and let us know for a chance to be featured in a future installment of “Behind the Bar.”

Words and photos by M.Hershenow.

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