Barista Of The Week… Matt Ward, barista at Coin Laundry, 61 Armadale Street, Armadale, Victoria.
The Coffee Guide (TCG): If you weren’t a barista what would you be?
Matt: I studied international business, so an interesting field would be import/export and customs.
TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?
Matt: Nescafe with 3… No, we have a little espresso machine but for something different I’ll have a syphon.
TCG: What’s the best thing about your job- the one thing that you really love aside from the coffee?
Matt: When the café is in full swing and the customers and staff are having a good time, that’s the best thing about the industry. It’s generally a great social environment and rewarding when someone compliments your coffee.
TCG: What’s your favourite food?
Matt: Thai food. Hands down because it’s so fresh and good for you and it reminds me of my first trip overseas. My favourite dish would be massaman curry.
TCG: Tell us what your best (or first) coffee experience was.
Matt: My girlfriend and I went travelling through Guatemala and did a tour of a coffee plantation. Seeing how much effort and time these growers and harvesters put in really makes you appreciate something we take for granted.
TCG: If you’re not drinking coffee, what is your drink of choice?
Matt: Probably black English breakfast tea. Reminds me of Grandma’s.
TCG: What made you become a barista?
Matt: A friend of mine who is an excellent barista taught me. I wanted to be as good as him.
TCG: Do people often try and chat you up at work? Have you ever taken the offer up?
Matt: No I don’t think anyone’s ever made a pass at me, and if they did- I’m spoken for!
TCG: How many coffees would you make in the average day?
Matt: 600 perhaps? Good question. Around 8kg.
TCG: What’s the largest amount of coffees you have made in a day?
Matt: At a previous café in docklands we did 10kg before midday.
TCG: Does your coffee style (or how you drink it) say something about you?
Matt: I like to think that every coffee going out can be consumed and enjoyed by a customer. I take pride in my work and would hate to think that a coffee I made someone was one you dread receiving and consequently have it ruin your day!
TCG: Where do all the old baristas go?
Matt: To the burnt-out corner, or to another café to pursue the next step.
TCG: Where has your coffee making taken you?
Matt: I’ve never made coffee outside of Melbourne, but whilst in Portugal at the casa de musica, I felt obliged to give a guy a lesson. It was his first day and he had no training. His glasses were fogging up. I really felt for him.
TCG: What is the most exciting thing happening in coffee right now for you?
Matt: Experimenting with my syphon filter.
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?
Matt: For the wow factor I’d have to say the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I had one of the best espressos in all of Italy there. Very surreal.
TCG: As a barista, what’s your next big plan?
Matt: The friend I mentioned earlier, Mitch Haworth and I, we’re planning to open a café together next year, combining our love for coffee and food into something of our own will be huge for us.
TCG: Where is your favourite place to hang out in Melbourne?
Matt: The MCG watching my team, the Melbourne Demons, have a win!
TCG: What is your guilty pleasure?
Matt: Cashew nuts.
TCG: What’s your favourite time of the year?
Matt: I love the springtime, because the sun’s out but it’s not crazy hot yet.
TCG: What are you reading right now?
Matt: The last book I read was called Super Freakonomics. The author has a great way of mixing sociology and economics to tackle some interesting topics.
TCG: What is your favourite thing to do in Summer?
Matt: Swimming at the beach, but growing up I loved swimming in the Murray River.
TCG: What is your favourite movie of all time?
Matt: That’s a hard question, but probably The Shaweshank Redemption.
TCG: Where did you grow up? And what is your fondest childhood memory?
Matt: I grew up in a little town called Corowa, which is about a half hours drive from Albury. Time spent with family is always a fond memory.
TCG: Do you have any pets?
Matt: My parents have a couple of cats. One’s called Myles, who is more like a dog than a lap-cat, and another called Matilda. She’s just old and cranky.
TCG: What did you do on your last day off?
Matt: Shopping for a new suit.
TCG: In a good cup of coffee, how much of it is due to the barista and how much is due to the beans?
Matt: A barista has to know how to handle good quality beans, and if the beans ain’t good, you’re going to struggle to make good espresso.
TCG: Is decaf a dirty word?
Matt: [chuckles] Each to their own.
TCG: Is specialty tea the new cappuccino?
Matt: I don’t know too much about specialty tea, but I do think people are keen for good quality tea, just as they are with coffee.
TGC: What is your favourite kind of tea?
Matt: English breakfast tea.