Tahlequah Daily Press

January 15, 2014

Qualities of good baristas


TAHLEQUAH — Drip, at 403 N. Muskogee Ave., hosts a latte art competition for baristas on Jan. 31. Al Soto, owner of Drip, mentioned four traits he looks for in great baristas.

1. Palette - being able to notice and appreciate the differences between different coffees. “I tell the baristas I hire that ‘you will drink black coffee,’” Soto said. “They have to be able to taste and appreciate coffee stripped down. If coffee is just coffee, you can’t communicate with the customer and it just isn’t going to work.”

2. Respect - adhering to the process of making coffee. A talented barista is in no hurry and wants every cup of coffee to taste better than his last. “We call Drip a slow bar,” Soto said. “You have to be a coffee geek who wants to push quality. It’s all about the technique - slowing it down. Take each cup one at a time.”

3. Passion - a love of coffee. Baristas want to share their expertise with others. “You want to communicate your excitement to the customer,” Soto said. “You want a barista to have an energy.”

4. Love - for the customer. Great baristas put the interests of their clients above all else. “You can have the best product in town, but be a snob and you’re not going to succeed,” Soto said. “Treatment of the customer is at least as important as the product. We encourage our customers to try new things, but ultimately they are going to drink coffee the way they want to drink it, and that is what we should give them.”