Barista Of The Week… Anakin Addess, Barista at Cornersmith, 314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville.
The Coffee Guide (TCG): If you weren’t a barista what would you be?
Anakin: I would probably be a pastry chef, sommelier, web designer or a guitar teacher. Four very different careers, but all things I do in my ‘spare’ time or as other jobs.
TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?
Anakin: To tell you the truth I try not to drink coffee on my days off, as the amount of caffeine I consume at work is unhealthy, having to taste a lot of espresso constantly to maintain consistency.
TCG: What’s the best thing about your job- the one thing that you really love aside from the coffee?
Anakin: The customers. Occasionally meeting a challenging one, but for the most part hearing feedback.
TCG: What is your favourite music?
Anakin: At the moment I’m listening to a lot of electronic music as I’ve acquired a couple of synths I’m playing around with. Trying to figure out how some of these artists compose and produce within the realms of their chosen fields is challenging. I’ve given rock music a rest for a while. While I’m at work I love bebop jazz or swing/rockabilly to pump along to.
TCG: What’s your favourite food?
Anakin: Deserts. Hard to get right, but when it’s done well it can be amazing. And it generally goes well with coffee.
TCG: Tell us what your best (or first) coffee experience was.
Anakin: My first specialty coffee experience was from a gentleman named Rob Wilson, a coffee roaster based in Redfern who had a little shop/roastery, which was until recently where Mecca Espresso had their Roaster. Before Mecca in about 2003 I was introduced to his coffee by a friend and was amazed by the flavours I had never tasted before, it was well-made to say the least.
TCG: If you’re not drinking coffee, what is your drink of choice?
Anakin: Italian reds, Belgian wheat beer, Scotch single malts or Bourbon. Usually to help me calm down after a day of drinking espresso and to add to my tasting notes diary, which every good barista should have.
TCG: What made you become a barista?
Anakin: Believe it or not, I was bartending in a nightclub and wanted to learn how to make the perfect Espresso Martini. Campos Newtown was about 30 meters from where I was living at the time. So I applied for a job thinking I could do both jobs, as I always have at least 2 jobs going at once, but was shocked by how hard it was to maintain focus with such an intense coffee house. Needless to say I didn’t last too long at Campos, but there was a seed planted that kept niggling away at me. A five star hotel, a three-hat restaurant and another nightclub later I dropped my resumé in to Toby’s Estate and spent three years there, eventually managing their main Café.
TCG: Do people often try and chat you up at work?
Anakin: I’ve never been chatted up as a barista. Working as a bartender…
TCG: What food do you think is the best compliment to a really great coffee?
Anakin: Chocolate. Because sometimes it can be a beautiful addition, or if served with a light roast Central American, a palate neutralising softener.
TCG: How many coffees would you make in the average day?
Anakin: 200 – 300.
TCG: What’s the largest amount of coffees you have made in a day?
Anakin: 5000 at the Aroma Festival, with help. By myself, depending on the length of the day, at the most 800 – 1000 before burnout.
TCG: Does your coffee style (or how you drink it) say something about you?
Anakin: Always. When a woman walks in and orders a double ristretto she’s the kind of girl that orders a Sazerac cocktail and you know she’s out of your league.
TCG: Where do all the old baristas go?
Anakin: Into roasting, they become chefs or go into whatever they studied at University.
TCG: Who would make a better coffee, King Kong or Godzilla?’
TCG: Where has your coffee making taken you? (Around Australia? Around the world)?
Anakin: I stayed in Australia for coffee making. I traveled a bit for bartending.
TCG: What has been your favourite moment as a barista? Is there one story that only happened to you because you are a barista?
Anakin: Being told I made a bad coffee, because criticism has improved me more than anything else.
TCG: What is the most exciting thing happening in coffee right now for you?
Anakin: ‘For me’ are the operative words here, because I’m at odds with a lot of the roasting and blending happening at the moment. Consistency in blending profiles helps baristas know what to look for. Grapefruit is not a desirable flavour in coffee.
I think the experimentation away from espresso is fantastic. Syphons, cold drips, Chemex, are all bringing new facets to coffee that is opening new possibilities in flavour. Meaning coffee is an anytime-of-the-day beverage now.
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?
Anakin: Anywhere in Cuba or the Dominican Republic with a matching cigar.
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?
Anakin: Aleister Crowley. The conversation would be epic. I’d make him an Espresso Martini.
TCG: As a barista, what’s your next big plan?
Anakin: To get Cornersmith to a consistently amazing coffee house (the kitchen can handle their own). And find a replacement for myself.
TCG: Where is your favourite place to hang out in Sydney?
Anakin: Palm Beach on a cold afternoon. There’s no one else around and it feels like there’s always something greater than yourself looking out at the ocean.
TCG: What is your guilty pleasure?
TCG: What’s your favourite time of the year?
Anakin: Any day I have off. Which working a few jobs, isn’t many.
TCG: What are you reading right now?
Anakin: La Marzocco ‘Linea’ Technical Manual.
TCG: What is your favourite thing to do in Summer?
Anakin: Stay inside. I’m a winter baby
TCG: What is your favourite movie of all time?
Anakin: Fight Club. I relate to Edward Norton’s character. I don’t think that’s a good thing.
TCG: Where did you grow up? And what is your fondest childhood memory?
Anakin: Many places. Fondest memory… Don’t have one. It got better after childhood.
TCG: What did you do on your last day off?
Anakin: Organize council paperwork for a new café.
TCG: In a good cup of coffee, how much of it is due to the barista and how much is due to the beans?
Anakin: That’s a hard question, too many variables to give a definite answer.
TCG: Is decaf a dirty word?
Anakin: No! If you were diagnosed with a heart condition or pregnant and couldn’t drink coffee but loved the taste who am I to deny you. I take pride in every coffee I serve and try to do the best I can. Those that don’t care about any product they serve shouldn’t serve it. Period!
TCG: Is specialty tea the new cappuccino?
Anakin: I do love tea but it’s not quite picking up as fast as the new ‘Third Wave’ of coffee.
TCG: What is your favourite kind of tea?
Anakin: Chamomile for the evening or Japanese white tea for the soft, rounded flavour.