Barista of the Week… Nic Theodore, Barista at Double Roasters, 199 Victoria Road Marrickville
The Coffee Guide (TCG): If you weren’t a barista what would you be?
Nic: Well, I can’t sing, I strum a very rough “wild thing” on the guitar, I can’t paint and I have no artistic flair. I can cook but find I’ve eaten most of the dish before I can plate it up. So I guess I’d be one of those coffee geeks visiting their 4th café by 9am knowing everybody’s name, ordering my coffee with the words “I’ll just have my usual” while I stand in the way of other customers trying to order. Talking about an article out of this month’s café culture magazine. Yep that’d be me for sure!
TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?
Nic: Having owned my own café previously I’m up to my ears at home in coffee machine parts, grinder burrs, ACF cups and milk jugs. In fact I’m pretty sure I’ve been driving around Sydney with half a La Marzocco linea in the boot of my car for the last 6months. So you can excuse me if I like to keep it simple at home, a V60 pour-over is simple and easy. Although I just bought my first syphon so I’m pretty excited about that. I love you, e-bay!!!
TCG: What is your favourite music? (For work or for play).
Nic: I like to rock it out at work. Anything from the keys to the kills. My favourite album at the moment is Band of Skulls; Sweet and Sour. Album of the year. You heard it here first!!!
TCG: What’s your favourite food?
Nic: You can’t ask me that question….it’s like asking a mother to pick her favourite child. I love my food and appreciate all cuisines, from all over the world. Don’t think there’s anything I wouldn’t try. Right now though….pork belly sandwich, only at Double Roasters!!!
TCG: Tell us what your best (or first) coffee experience was.
Nic: Every now and then you have a coffee that just knocks your socks off. The most recent coffee-gasm I got was from a panama esmerelda geisha as an espresso. I think I had 4 or 5 in a row. Wow!!!
TCG: If you’re not drinking coffee, what is your drink of choice?
Nic: I love a locally brewed ale, or a single malt whiskey on ice. So, beer then whisky. No, whisky then beer. No wait…I love them both equally, please don’t make me choose!!!
TCG: What made you become a barista?
Nic: My looks. Well not how you’d think. I was 21 and we just got a new espresso machine installed at the hotel I was casually working at in Darling Harbour. The day before a massive international convention my manager who had no idea what espresso was, looked at me and said “Nic, you look Italian, why don’t you make the coffee tomorrow”, so I ran home, got online and researched everything I could on extracting espresso. I loved it so much I dropped out of uni and started working fulltime.
TCG: What food do you think is the best compliment to a really great coffee?
Nic: It depends totally on the coffee. You can get so many different results from so many different brewing methods, so it’s impossible to say. I remember having a Honduran “Cup of Excellence” that tasted like the best cinnamon fruit toast I’ve ever had. I walked out of the café and threw my two slices of raisin toast in the bin.
TCG: How many coffees would you make in the average day?
Nic: It depends on the day really. At Double Roasters on a weekend, enough!!! It’s absolutely mental. A little bit less on a Monday. I’m definitely the only person I know that loves going to work on a Monday after having my ass handed to me on the weekend!
TCG: What’s the largest amount of coffees you have made in a day?
Nic: Over 1000, easy. Note to self: next time your friend asks you to help them make coffee at the Aroma festival, tell them you’ve got plans.
TCG: What has been your favourite moment as a barista? Is there one story that only happened to you because you are a barista?
Nic: There’s been too many to tell. I’ve met some awesome people on both sides of the counter and made some great friends in this industry.
TCG: What is the most exciting thing happening in coffee right now for you?
Nic: For me it’s bridging the gap between roaster and farmer. Seeing the work that goes into harvesting, picking and processing for export and building relationships with farmers on estates all over the globe is definitely something we will all reap the rewards of down the track.
Locally though, it’s the change in attitude in Sydney when it comes to sharing our methods and techniques. The amount of times Scott has dragged a customer to the back of Double Roasters while he is roasting and explained to them exactly what he’s doing! Respect.
TCG: Where do all the old baristas go?
Nic: Well I must be at least 50 in barista years, but I’m working in reverse. Having already owned my own place, I’m really enjoying working with Scott and the guys at Double Roasters. I’m loving getting back to doing what I really love rather than paying invoices and wages. So I guess in that case, if I play my cards right I could be waiting tables soon and if all goes well might hit Scott up for a job washing dishes!
But seriously…. the roastary. Just ask Scott – you’ll find him at the back of the place roasting batch after batch. He’s been hitting it so hard he’s come down with a brand new condition…… Roasters’ elbow. Bandage and all!
TCG: Does your coffee style(or how you drink it) say something about you?
Nic: For sure! As soon as I hear a double ristretto being ordered I know it’s either a budding barista or a wanna-be coffee connoisseur. I have a lot of respect for the espresso drinkers. What ever happened to the true single espresso? We are a dying breed. And why do I always end up dating large soy latte drinkers? Do I have an affliction for lactose intolerance???
TCG: Where is your favourite place to hang out in Sydney?
Nic: Nothing I love more than being on two wheels, whether it’s riding my Triumph through the Royal National Park or riding my fixie with my boy E through the mean streets of old Sydney town. Watch out for those cabbies!!!
TCG: What is your guilty pleasure?
Nic: Gaytimes!!! And I don’t care about the calories, just don’t tell the fellas I love them. It’ll just get weird.
TCG: What’s your favourite time of the year?
Nic: Summer!!! Love the heat; it makes people do crazy things. And quite frankly the less clothes I have to wear the better!
TCG: What are you reading right now?
Nic: I’m reading three books right now. I’m not a genius; I just have the attention span of a goldfish. The first one is “The Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida (he has an interesting way of looking at things). The second is Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – pretty intense for someone who doesn’t like confrontation. And the last I’ve been sitting on for a while – Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Stop Smoking”. Ask me how it’s going. Hang on, have you got a light??
TCG: What is your favourite thing to do in Summer?
Nic: I love the beach. Whether I’m surfing waves or sinking my toes in the wet sand. I’m definitely at home near the water.
TCG: What is your favourite movie of all time?
Nic: The Notebook…..and I cried every time!!!
TCG: Where did you grow up? And what is your fondest childhood memory?
Nic: I spent my early years right across the road from Maroubra beach. I remember the whole family getting up at sunrise and walking down to the rockpool for a swim on Christmas day. Ah…goodtimes.
TCG: What did you do on your last day off?
Nic: Spent the day brewing syphons with my mate Iain McCrae. He’s an absolute whore for a syphon. Loves it. Remember the name “Iain McCrae”!!!
TCG: In a good cup of coffee, how much of it is due to the barista and how much is due to the beans?
Nic: One is no good without the other, it really is a team effort. Don’t let any barista tell you he’s good enough to make a good coffee from a below par bean on a crap, dirty machine. Tell him he’s a mug. And tell ‘em I told you so!
TCG: Is decaf a dirty word?
Nic: Not at all. I’ve got a lot of time for someone who doesn’t need a caffeine fix, yet is still willing to come in and say hi.
TCG: Is specialty tea the new cappuccino?
Nic: I definitely think filter coffee is going to bring tea drinkers back to the dark side.
TCG: What is your favourite kind of tea?
Nic: Long island iced!!!