Barista of the Week… Arjun Subedi, barista at
Gusto, 1/16 Hall Street, Bondi
The Coffee Guide (TCG): If you weren’t a barista what would you be?
Arjun: I might be working in a 9-5 job somewhere, or might be doing some other boring regular stuff. Trying not to fall asleep on my desk and going to café at least 4-5 times to have a coffee.
TCG: What’s the best thing about your job- the one thing that you really love aside from the coffee?
Arjun: My favourite moment aside from making coffee is after finishing my 3kg coffee bag. I love the fresh and caffeinated coffee smell when I open a new coffee bag. Sometimes me and my colleagues go together “this is the best smell in the world”. And the other side is my customers. Most of the time I’ve got regulars, it’s a different story when we get to work with what’s known and is the best when they say –“mate lets have another one”, it’s fun.
TCG: What’s your favourite food?
Arjun: I like to try anything new. For me my favorite food is that which makes my taste buds satisfied. Whatever the flavor will be, as much as when they go on your empty stomach and I say- “oohh ya, that was great”.
TCG: Tell us what your best (or first) coffee experience was.
Arjun: It was 5 or 6 years before, when I was starting making coffee and it was my new job. I was making all right coffee, but genuinely not very artistic. I asked my senior to teach me some tricks for coffee art and honestly he did a really good coffee. Nice silky milk and good heart shape on the head. That’s when I thought, “this is an art”.
TCG: Do people often try and chat you up at work? Have you ever taken the offer up?
Arjun: I think all people come into the café, relax, have a nice cup of coffee in morning and then start the day. At that time either they have to read the newspaper or they have to tell us their whole life story or what happened last night. I’m sure all the baristas are the best friend for their customers. And to take the offer up… I’m still waiting for the offer.
TCG: How many coffees would you make in the average day?
Arjun: Our café is quite a busy place. Normally we do 8-9 kg per day on weekdays, that means an average of 6-7grams in a small and 8-10 grams in a large coffee. If we do the calculation that will be…?? I need a calculator…
TCG: What’s the largest amount of coffees you have made in a day?
Arjun: I was working in a domestic airport and I was working the most famous café in the area, and sometimes there might be air traffic, that means all flights are delayed and everyone has delay vouchers. That means they were getting 2-3 cups of coffee for free for waiting 2-3 hours for flights- and the delay went for 7/8 hours. That time me and my mate did 28 kg of coffee. Want to know how many coffees? I’ll need a calculator again…
TCG: Does your coffee style (or how you drink it) say something about you?
Arjun: Yes of course, the first cup of coffee in the morning tells you how you’re feeling.
Here are some examples.
Strong – want to wake up but still sleepy
Decaf-can’t have a proper one but can’t live without one
Mocha with sugar- living the sweet part of life or had too much last night
Sort black- you know the best part, just get the gold and forget the rest
Piccolo or macchiato- little bit is enough for you.
TCG: Where do all the old baristas go?
Arjun: I think working in hospitality or working as a barista is not a lifetime career for anyone. Nobody will have a dream to be a successful barista in lifetime. This is just one of the “phases” for most of the people.
TCG: Who would make a better coffee, King Kong or Godzilla?’
Arjun: King Kong- because once he thinks to make nice coffee he will be on a mission.
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?
Arjun: Columbia, Ghana, Brazil are the most common names for all baristas, because most of the coffee beans come from there. So if I could pick the place, I’d choose one of those places and go to a coffee farm where you can smell fresh coffee everywhere and ask, “could I please have one decaf coffee”- just kidding.
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?
Arjun: In recent days our superstar Hugh Jackman came into the café and asked for a coffee, I made him a takeaway long black and he came back the next day as well. He is my preferable person to make a coffee again, coz he told me ‘you make a great coffee’.
TCG: What did you do on your last day off?
Arjun: A day off is the best, I turn off my alarm, sleep till late and then wake up whenever I feel like it, have breakfast and then play X_BOX till evening. Finished.
TCG: In a good cup of coffee, how much of it is due to the barista and how much is due to the beans?
Arjun: It’s both, without a good blend of coffee beans it’s very hard for a barista to pour full flavored, great tasting coffee, and without the barista it’s impossible for beans to pour at the right timing, temperature, with the right fineness and with great crema, so in this case it’s 50/50.
TCG: Is decaf a dirty word?
Arjun: It’s not, absolutely not. Decaf beans and normal coffee beans, they grow on the same tree. The only difference is we take all the caffeine from the beans. It’s simple to understand that decaf is a coffee without caffeine. Some people drink decaf ‘coz they love their coffee but can’t drink caffeine. If coffee is not the dirty word then, decaf is not a dirty word either. It’s just another name for a coffee.
TCG: What is your favourite kind of tea?
Arjun: My background is from Nepal. Back home we have special tea- what we do is in milk (or half milk and half water) we put clove, cardamoms, ginger, sugar and loose leaf tea and boil it all together (if you can’t drink milk then you can do it without milk as black tea). It has to be boiled for at least a couple of minutes. And then filter the tea in a cup ready to drink and it tastes great. It will be a wonder, but in Nepal we drink tea in cafés the same way we drink coffee here.