Barista Of The Week… Tom Beaumont, Barista at Plunge Cafe, 46 Lackey Street Summer Hill NSW.
The Coffee Guide (TCG): If you weren’t a barista what would you be?
Tom: I would, in all likelihood, still be overseas in a cocktail bar somewhere, up to no good.
TCG: How do you have your coffee at home? How do you make it and how do you take it?
Tom: I spend more time at plunge than I do at home.
TCG: What’s the best thing about your job- the one thing that you really love, aside from the coffee?
Tom: The best thing about my job is the opportunity to work for someone like Hescham, who’s as passionate and scrupulous about quality as anyone I have ever met.
TCG: What’s your favourite food?
Tom: Saray’s Turkish pizza in Enmore. It’s fresh, delicious and open at stupid o’clock.
TCG: Tell us what your best (or first) coffee experience was.
Tom: My best coffee experience was meeting Hazel from Coffee Alchemy in Marrickville in 2007, and now again having the opportunity to work with her and her team this year. Her beans are world class and she is quite a character.
TCG: If you’re not drinking coffee, what is your drink of choice?
Tom: Margaritas! If I’m not drinking coffee to wake up, I’m drinking margaritas to forget.
TCG: Do people often try and chat you up at work? Have you ever taken the offer up?
Tom: Rosettas for the guys and love-hearts for the girls, but I don’t kiss and tell.
TCG: What food do you think is the best compliment to a really great coffee?
Tom: Coffee beans and preparation are the reason that I go to a cafes, the food on offer always takes the back seat.
TCG: How many coffees would you make in the average day?
Tom: On my day off I would hazard a guess at about six, but while we’re working we taste the pours at least every half hour, so I’d hate to know how many…
TCG: What’s the largest amount of coffees you have made in a day?
Tom: I’ve worked in some really busy places, but last Sunday I think we served something like 900 coffees.
TCG: Where do all the old baristas go?
Tom: I’m guessing they buy minivans and drive the kids to soccer practice.
TCG: Who would make a better coffee, King Kong or Godzilla?
Tom: I’d like to see Godzilla work the paddles on a Synesso coffee machine.
TCG: Where has your coffee making taken you?
Tom: Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur, New York, London, Berlin and Paris.
TCG: What has been your favourite moment as a barista? Is there one story that only happened to you because you are a barista?
Tom: I do have a story but… you’d need to buy me a few margaritas first.
TCG: What is the most exciting thing happening in coffee right now for you?
Tom: There are a few new players on the scene who are really pushing the boundaries as to what is possible, but for me the most exciting thing that’s happening is the growth of the market in general. The more people that get excited about great coffee the better.
TCG: Where is your favourite place to hang out in Sydney?
Tom: I always find that the Inner-West fits best. I grew up in Alexandria and have become used to the colourful characters and cultural diversity of the area.
TCG: Do you have any pets?
Tom: I have three chickens; Nancy, Margarie and Mearl. They live the high life in our backyard and produce the most delicious eggs. It’s customary to make the trip out to the backyard to say thank you to the girls after an omelette at breakfast time.
TCG: What did you do on your last day off?
Tom: I had a pretty serious motorcycle accident on my last day off, so I’m looking forward to getting back to work, where I’m out of harms way.
TCG: In a good cup of coffee, how much of it is due to the barista and how much is due to the beans?
Tom: I believe that the skill level and experience that the barista brings to the machine is sometimes underestimated. A good barista can turn a cafe around or drag it down. That having been said, the right beans and roaster are so important. Without the right roaster, you may as well only sell fried chicken.
TCG: Is decaf a dirty word?
Tom: Yes. It’s the only 5-letter dirty word.
TCG: Is specialty tea the new cappuccino?
Tom: Specialty teas are a bit cool.
TCG: What is your favourite kind of tea?
Tom: The type that holds up a golf ball.
TCG: What is your favourite alternate brewing method?
Tom: I’m a bit of a die-hard espresso and short drink fan, and have been known to have the odd cold drip from Don Campos, just to keep up with the cool kids.
TCG: Will other brewing methods fade away?
Tom: I think that as long as the industry and the consumer continue to have an open mind and continue to be innovative, there is no reason that all brewing methods won’t live happily ever after.