Barista of the Week… Nawar Adra
Barista at Circa Specialty Coffee & Tea,
21 Wentworth Street, Parramatta
The Coffee Guide (TCG): What coffee do you use at work?
Nawar: 5 Senses, custom house blend (Ethiopian Sidama, Guatamala Hanapu and Columbian).
TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?
Nawar: I normally roast and try different brews at home, from espresso to filter coffee. I have my little lab to play around with on the weekend, but when it comes to my way of drinking my coffee I normally use V60 pour-over Hario. I would normally have it in a casual wine glass, because it helps reserve the aromas inside the glass and it’s more enjoyable that way.
TCG: What is your favourite music? (For work or for play).
Nawar: My favorite music at work varies a lot. It depends on feeling and atmosphere, but having to choose one, I would go for funk music. It motivates and energizes me while focusing on pulling the best extraction out of a shot. Also, the customers enjoy the music with us while we’re working.
TCG: What made you become a barista?
Nawar: Other than being passionate about coffee and having a great love for what I am doing, being a barista has offered me the opportunity to be myself at all time. There is no need to pretend to be someone else, which may happen in other industries. I love the fact you can meet so many interesting people during that journey, from customers to bean-importers. However, one important factor that drew me to become a barista is the art in the cup. I always compare the coffee industry to wine, because both require amazing passion and care to produce an outstanding beverage.
TCG: What’s the largest amount of coffee you have made in a day?
Nawar: This was long time ago in my early days in making coffee, when it used to be a one-man-show and before I started working with a team of quality baristas. I was able to make roughly 10 kilos, which is around 550 to 600 coffees plus teas and cold drinks. It was chaotic, that’s all I can say. However, when I was working with other baristas my busiest day was 16 kilos.
TCG: Does your coffee style (or how you drink it) say something about you?
Nawar: I would definitely sat it does define what type of personality you possess. For instance, an espresso coffee drinker would be a lot more sophisticated than a mocha lover. I find customers who order piccolo lattes are the ones who are looking for balanced coffee without compromising the characteristics of the bean and they are more passionate about coffee. Also, most of the time they will be happy to wait for a coffee, rather than being in a hurry- because they know quality takes time.
TCG: If you could make coffee for one other person of your choice (anyone- past or present), who would it be and what coffee would you make them?
Nawar: If there was one person I would want to make a coffee for it would be my father. I remember when I was a kid my father always had his Lebanese coffee pot ready for him in the morning as a kick start for a productive day. When I went back a month ago I took a Brazil Cup of Excellence with me for my mom to brew as a Lebanese coffee. It came out let’s say 100 times better than any other coffee they have used in the past, which made me think that if my father had the opportunity to taste it I am sure it would have made his day a lot more enjoyable.
TCG: As a barista, what’s your next big plan?
Nawar: My current big plan is to learn more about roasting and how it can impact different brewing methods. Also, getting to understand and building up knowledge about different brewing techniques. In addition, something really exiting that will be happening soon is opening my little specialty coffee and tea café.
TCG: What did you do on your last day off?
Nawar: Plenty of exiting things happened to me on my day off. Normally I would be going around specialty coffee shops around Sydney to try and enjoy the atmosphere. I went to Excelsior Jones in Ashfield in the inner west. Then, we headed off to a coffee event for Toby’s Estate where they were launching their new cascara cider beer by Young Henry’s brewery, which was an amazing, refreshing summer drink.
TCG: Is specialty tea the new cappuccino?
Nawar: Tea has been around since before 2700 BC in China, and I think it shouldn’t be the new cappuccino, but rather the mother of all beverages. There is no tea plant variety, but rather one type, which is called Camellia Sinensis Var. But the variation of processing methods of the tea gives us different types of tea brewing. The fact is that there is still a lot to learn about tea and many new cafés have taken a new approach to educate customers about tea brewing techniques.
TCG: What is your favourite kind of tea?
Nawar: I love Semi-fermented tea, such as Oolong tea, because it is a combination of both fermentation and oxidation, which gives it an amazing aroma and flavor with a nice body into it.
TCG: What is your favourite alternate brewing method?
Nawar: Currently I love Pour-over simply because it is a delicate way of brewing a coffee. It helps highlight the characteristics of the bean. In addition, after being expose to Pour-over I was able to understand more about the different variety of coffee beans, as well as the impact of different drying processes on flavors.
TCG: Where do you see alternate brewing methods going?
Nawar: Emerging alternative brewing methods are the new big thing in coffee I’ve found. I remember a long time ago my sister got my mum a filter coffee maker, but we didn’t use it back then. Nowadays, batch brewing is taking off in many specialty cafés. Coffee lover perception has changed from a kick or punch in the cup, to looking for more delicacy, smoothness and clarity in a cup. I see it as important to consider and learn about it as much as espresso, because it’s an exciting way of brewing and an enjoyable way of drinking coffee.
TCG: What ever happened to the Clover?
Nawar: I believe the Clover coffee maker was bought out by Starbucks’s coffee chain in order to stop other cafés competing with them. The Clover coffee maker was about to change the way customers drink their coffee in America, or maybe globally. The use of fresh and high quality beans would have made it difficult for Starbuck’s to remain the sole place for coffee in the US. As a result, the company choice was to buy it and keep it in house, aiming to maintain their market positioning.
TCG: Will other methods fade away?
Nawar: I don’t think other methods are fading. In contrast, I think they are coming back but are more refined and reengineered with the help of emerging technology. Our understanding of coffee has been rising in the last decade. For example, we are using TDS readers when we brew coffee, which helps us improve the quality and consistency when producing a certain recipe for a particular blend or single origin. Scientific methods and processes -used in harvesting through to brewing the final cup- have brought back many other methods to the market, such as the Chemex coffee maker which was invented by Peter Schlumbohm in the 40’s but wasn’t popular until 2007 when sales started to rise, according to Liz Grassy president of the company.