Ten Questions With… Hazel de los Reyes: Roaster/Barista at Coffee Alchemy (aka Flint & Steel), 24 Addison Road Marrickville.
1.TCG: If you weren’t a barista what would you be?
Hazel: I’d be a roaster… [Laughs] No, I’d be unemployed. I can’t imagine what else I would be.
2.TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?
Hazel: Siphon – I use a stovetop siphon. A Yama.
3.TCG: What’s the best thing about your job- aside from the coffee?
Hazel: People. Other than the coffee that’s what it’s all about, the customers who appreciate the coffee. It’s hospitality. It’s customer service. If you don’t like people- don’t work in a café.
4.TCG: Tell us about your best-ever coffee experience.
Hazel: Kenya- my first roast of a Kenyan in 2002. It was like orange juice and it presented to me the possibility that there is so much more to coffee than what I’ve learned before. I could never have imagined it would taste like orange juice. But it did and it made me want to try more.
5.TCG: If you’re not drinking coffee, what is your drink of choice?
Hazel: Water. I like water. It depends on the weather, but water is clean and it takes care of the caffeine. It flushes me out.
6.TCG: What made you become a barista?
Hazel: I became a barista and a roaster together. I was researching coffee machines and it came up that to make a great coffee you need great beans. So I thought I’d roast them so I could make the best coffee.
Then making an espresso that tasted great was another moment. It’s a whole lot of small steps that lead to one huge vocation. And it is a vocation. It hardly pays anything, so it’s closer to a vocation than a career.
7.TCG: What food do you think is the best compliment to a really great coffee?
Hazel: Everything [she pauses], but I pare coffee with breakfast all the time. It all goes well together. Breakfast. Any breakfast. But toast with an Ethiopian is good, or a Brazil with baked beans. Breakfast is just a great match for coffee. Plus I can’t sleep if I have coffee after 2pm.
8.TCG: Where do all the old baristas go?
Hazel: I’m getting old and I’ll be in this for life! Ask me again in 10 years and you’ll know where all the old baristas go!
9.TCG: What is your proudest coffee moment?
Hazel: I don’t have one in particular. There are many. But every time I bring back a cup that was licked clean by a customer- that is a moment I am proud of.
10.TCG:What is your next great goal as a barista?
Hazel: Every new roast- you aim to make it perfect. Every time you pull a shot, make it a good one. That’s the goal.