Barista of the Week… Liam O’Donoghue
Barista at The Little Mule, 136 Percival Road, Stanmore
The Coffee Guide (TCG): What coffee do you use at work?
TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?
Liam: I don’t drink a lot of coffee at home, but I have messed around with some steeping and cold extraction, as well as pour over/filter methods, most recently with a Campos bag of yirgacheffe from the Konga co-op.
TCG: What is your favourite music?
Liam: For work: Dancehall. For play: Dance.
TCG: What’s your favourite food?
Liam: What: Silvas ¼ Chicken meal. Why: It’s the best.
TCG: If you’re not drinking coffee, what is your drink of choice?
Liam: Something like Dr. Pepper, FOCO lychee drink or Teh Botol Jasmine.
TCG: What made you become a barista?
Liam: I worked on the floor as a waiter, then behind the bar on cold drinks and slowly learnt a little about coffee. Coffee was always the most interesting part of the café, and probably the most fun.
TCG: Does your coffee style (or how you drink it) say something about you?
Liam: I used to think so, but after a few years of serving coffees I’ve realised there are no generalisations that really hold true. Except maybe that the desired temperature of one’s coffee increases proportionately to one’s age.
TCG: What is the most exciting thing happening in coffee right now for you?
Liam: Suburban cafés taking a real interest in coffee. Specialty roasters, a range of extractions, choices of single origins, feature espressos etc.
TCG: Where is your favourite place to hang out in Sydney?
Liam: Kinema Film Society – 2/365 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt. The best, little cinema in Sydney, run by some very handsome men. www.kinema.org.au
TCG: What did you do on your last day off?
Liam: Visited Circa in Parramatta with my partner. A lot has changed in Parramatta since I was a kid growing up there and Circa is one of the better changes.
TCG: In a good cup of coffee, how much of it is due to the barista and how much is due to the beans?
Liam: A barista is just the last person in a long line of people who all contribute to great coffee. Scientists, farmers, labourers, millers, buyers, shippers, roasters and baristas. There is probably a useful analogy about chains and weakest links to be used here.
TCG: What is your favourite alternate brewing method?
Liam: I recently had a Moccamaster at Wedge Espresso in Glebe, which was great, but I probably couldn’t pick a favourite. High marks also for the aeropress; a hilariously unassuming device that produces drinks that people rave about.
TCG: Where do you see alternate brewing methods going?
Liam: To more cafes.
TCG: What ever happened to the Clover?
Liam: Even if it wasn’t bought by Starbucks, they reportedly would’ve cost somewhere around $10,000 each. Compared to an Aeropress at around $50, or a moccamaster at around $300. It doesn’t make sense for most owners to invest in that amount of equipment. Especially a piece of equipment that in all likelihood may not make that many coffees. Keep in mind, many cafes do not own their espresso machines, but rather have them supplied as part of their account with a roaster, which includes servicing. It’s not surprising that something like the Clover hasn’t caught on in that environment.
TCG: Will other methods fade away?
Liam: I’m sure popularities of certain techniques will wax and wane, but for the foreseeable future it looks like consumers will continue to become more interested in coffee, and a more diverse market will to grow to accommodate that.