Thanks to the internet and online shopping, the world is becoming a smaller place – we can now buy products from across the country or the other side of the world. So more than ever, it’s important to know the origin of your café assets – be they beans, milk, machines or your staff, the history behind every asset can bring a lot of flavour to coffee.
Latte art champion, Caleb Cha, moved to “coffee capital” Melbourne in 2008 from Korea, where he worked as a financial consultant and in the marines. A regimented origin in the marines leads to Caleb lining up all products in an orderly fashion when he works, such as having his milk bottles in-line, and regularly clearing his machine.
“One of the biggest mistakes baristas can make is not respecting their workspace,” Cha says. “ Poor hygiene management can lead to bad coffees and non-returning customers. By being organised and a perfectionist, customers can see I am treating their coffee order seriously.”
Cha travels the world judging latte art and is lucky to sample some of the best products on offer across the globe, though he still believes Melbourne has the best coffee in the world.
“I am especially interested in Single Origin coffee. Coffee comes from different locations and the way the tastes change when paired with different milk makes for fun exploration and creation,” he says.
“Melbourne has an incredible café culture – Melbournians live with coffee and are well-educated on coffee. Customers know the origin of the beans they want, and are asking for local products.”
When it comes to milk, Cha’s origin of choice is local.
“The way milk is produced is really important to me, and I do prefer to use local dairy for my work with latte art and for customers,” he says.
“I’ve been working with PURA for almost a decade now not only because the profile of their Original product is so cooperative with the coffee beans and allows the flavour to come through, but also because they’re a local brand who support their dairy farmers.”
When asked how fellow baristas and café owners can choose the best origins for them, Caleb suggests surrounding yourself with good people and products, and utilising all of their individual skills and assets.