Barista of the Week… Ben Stronach

Barista of the Week… Ben Stronach, barista at The Little Marionette, 1a Booth Street, Balmain, NSW

The Coffee Guide (TCG): If you weren’t a barista what would you be?

Ben: A town planner, or maybe a politician.

TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?

Ben: Plunger or Aeropress, black, usually light roast.

TCG: What’s the best thing about your job- the one thing that you really love aside from the coffee?

Ben: Playing and sharing music.

TCG: What is your favourite music?

Ben: Blues.

TCG: What’s your favourite food?

Ben: Most of my favorites are seasonal, all comfort foods. Dumplings are a staple. If you are what you eat, I would probably be a pork and chive dumpling.

TCG: Tell us what your best (or first) coffee experience was.

Ben: First experience was Brazil instant coffee with powdered milk at my Nan’s house when I was about ten, to accompany a home made crème caramel. Best is hard to say… there have been so many!

TCG: If you’re not drinking coffee, what is your drink of choice?

Ben: Scotch, also a Stronach happy hour tradition.

TCG: What made you become a barista?

Ben: I became a barista at 16 because I was sick of just doing the dishes and prep. I am still a barista because I love coffee.

TCG: Do people often try and chat you up at work? Have you ever taken the offer up?

Ben: I am oblivious. Seriously.

TCG: What food do you think is the best compliment to a really great coffee?

Ben: Fresh croissants.

TCG: Does your coffee style (or how you drink it) say something about you?

Ben: I guess it is similar to the parallel between dogs and their owners. You know when you see a person that has similar traits, be it looks or personality, as their pet… it can be the same as with a persons choice in coffee.

TCG: Where do all the old baristas go?

Ben: Ask Jimmy Papadakis from Mondo Movies in Annandale!

TCG: Where has your coffee making taken you? (Around Australia? Around the world)?

Ben: Myanmar.

TCG: What has been your favourite moment as a barista? Is there one story that only happened to you because you are a barista?

Ben: My friend and co worker Kieran once approached a woman customer from behind and said in a loud voice ‘HI MUM!” The woman turned around and looked confused. Kieran backed away slowly… It was a case of mistaken identity.  She was even more confused when I wouldn’t charge her for her coffee and said ‘don’t worry about it… you’re family.‘ to which she replied ‘Ok Mr. Weird nice coffee guy.’ I fell on the ground when I heard it wasn’t actually his mum!

TCG: What is the most exciting thing happening in coffee right now for you?

Ben: Roasting the sweet beans.

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?

Ben: A good friend of mine told me about a place in Colombia that is on a very small farm that do not export any coffee, their best beans are kept for their own consumption, it sounded amazing and I would love to go for a visit.

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?

Ben: I had a dream once that I made Bob Dylan a cappuccino, he was wearing a brimmed hat so as not to be noticed, but I knew it was him… Strange dream I know!

TCG: As a barista, that’s your next big plan?

Ben: Traveling and working, maybe to the USA.

TCG: Where is your favourite place to hang out in Sydney?

Ben: Maroubra. For an after-work surf and some Indonesian food.

TCG: What is your guilty pleasure?

Ben: Chocolate.

TCG: What’s your favourite time of the year?

Ben: Autumn the water is warm and waves are good.

TCG: What are you reading right now?

Ben: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

TCG: What is your favourite trick to get you through the cold months of winter?

Ben: I don’t really mind the cold, but probably some hot soup.

TCG: What is your favourite movie of all time?

Ben: The Life Aquatic.

TCG: Where did you grow up?

Ben: Newcastle.

TCG: Do you have any pets?

Ben: No. But I like to tell people at work that ‘I’m going home to feed my Kat.’ Kat is my lovely girlfriend.

TCG: What did you do on your last day off?

Ben: Made espresso cups with my mother in Newcastle in her pottery studio, what can I say I’m obsessed.

TCG: In a good cup of coffee, how much of it is due to the barista and how much is due to the beans?

Ben: Probably both factors are equally as important.

TCG: Is specialty tea the new cappuccino?

Ben: No.

TCG: What is your favourite kind of tea?

Ben: Earl Grey, or Chai, or Fresh Ginger- depending on my mood.

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