Barista of the Week… Alex Kum, Head Barista at Mecca Espresso, King Street, Sydney
The Coffee Guide (TCG): If you weren’t a barista what would you be?
Alex: A kebab man.
TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?
Alex: Espresso, on my Speedster.
TCG: What’s the best thing about your job- the one thing that you really love aside from the coffee?
Alex: It is the coffee… Being exposed to new coffees every day.
TCG: What is your favourite music? (For work or for play).
Alex: Black Keys.
TCG: What’s your favourite food?
Alex: Raw cashews, pure protein.
TCG: Tell us what your best (or first) coffee experience was.
Alex: The best, the first time I drank Beloya at Mecca.
TCG: If you’re not drinking coffee, what is your drink of choice?
Alex: Hendricks on the rocks. It deadens the pain.
TCG: What made you become a barista?
Alex: It was so long ago (17 years) that I can’t remember.
TCG: Do people often try and chat you up at work?
Alex: I met by partner across the counter and we are still together.
TCG: What food do you think is the best compliment to a really great coffee?
Alex: Cashews compliment coffee really well.
TCG: Where do all the old baristas go?
Alex: Mecca….you never leave.
TCG: Tell us one thing about yourself that no-one else really knows…
Alex: Outside of the bar I’m quiet.
TCG: Where has your coffee making taken you?
Alex: My pilgrimage ended at Mecca.
TCG: What has been your favourite moment as a barista? Is there one story that only happened to you because you are a barista?
Alex: One customer was so rude I threw her order in the bin. She came back, and she was polite.
TCG: What is the most exciting thing happening in coffee right now for you?
Alex: Direct trade coffees, constantly surprised by what Paul brings back from origin.
TCG: If you could pick one spot in the world to sit and have a coffee, where would it be, and what coffee would you have?
Alex: Square Mile London, for anything black.
TCG: As a barista, that’s your next big plan?
Alex: Having a weekend.
TCG: Where is your favourite place to hang out in Sydney?
Alex: Ruby’s Cafe, Bronte Road, Charing Cross. I love the food and the vibe.
TCG: What is your guilty pleasure?
Alex: I don’t want to tell you.
TCG: What’s your favourite time of the year and why?
Alex: Christmas, 3 weeks off.
TCG: What are you reading right now?
Alex: Cycle training manuals.
TCG: What is your favourite movie of all time?
Alex: Favourite movie of all time is The Professional with Jean Reno.
TCG: What is the farthest you have been from home?
TCG: What did you do on your last day off?
Alex: Slept in, drank coffee.
TCG: In a good cup of coffee, how much of it is due to the barista and how much is due to the beans?
Alex: 10% is the Barista, the rest is coffee (the bean and the roast) and machinery.
TCG: Is decaf a dirty word?
Alex: No, if people are so into coffee they are willing to drink decaf, respect.
TCG: Is specialty tea the new cappuccino?
Alex: No, but I admire specialty direct trade teas, there are a lot of parallels with coffee.