[Homeroast] Balzac's Pleasures and Pains of Coffee

Joseph Robertson theotherjo at gmail.com
Tue Apr 27 21:48:41 CDT 2010

First let me comment on what I think I read from RayO. Please correct me if
I misread some part of this thread. Unlike most common thinking, Barista's
of the world are not claiming the title of "Barista". It was passed on to
them by the Italians who came up with the title for a bartenders as we know
them. It sounds like the first Italian bartenders had to do it all coffee,
beer, hard liquor,  etc. So I beg to differ on this about "claiming" to be a
Barista. I don't claim to be one but by definition I am one. Grant, most
barista's don't roast there own coffee like I do but most barista's I know
worth half there salt do strive to produce the best drink possible given
there tools at hand. I had the good fortune to photograph Mike Phillips
winning the USBC a week ago or so. He wooed the judges with his vast
knowledge of his coffee he presented. He visited the farms where his coffee
was from and did his homework.  Mike produced competition drinks and
explained the different processing techniques. I could not hear very well
but it sounded like he produced drinks from a SO coffee processed in several
ways and described the taste differences in relation to the processing
methods. It is this high level of expertize demonstrated at this once a year
competition that is bringing up the level of the profession for all. He
pulled me a shot of it after the judges got done with him. Whoa, biggest
fruit bomb I have ever passed over my lips. As a new member of the Barista
Guild I hope to help bring up the standards for all who want to "claim" the
title of Barista instead of having it bestowed on them as history sometimes
Then what about the "art" part.  Art is so subjective. Who sets the
definition. Art is probably in the eye of the beholder. The only thing I
find "Repulsive" is the discussion of anything in such general terms that it
fails to have any worthwhile meaning for anyone except the critics who love
to criticize. Are some Barista's artists? No doubt in my mind. Are some
mechanics artist's, sure. In my thinking, anyone who pours there passion
into producing something of the highest order possible with the tools at
their disposal fills the bill.
I do remember being an art student once back in college. Am I an artist
because of it. Some say I would be if I sold my creations. I don't consider
myself one. Now I'm a coffee Padawan. The question really is when do I go
from a coffee Padawan to a coffee professional or an artist? One year, two
years, 30 years, is it really time based. I'm still a grasshopper and I'm
sure I will be here long time, me thinks.
On Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 8:47 PM, The Boss <bossman001 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Wow, how true is that...  measuring & being told what they can & cant do,
> yet CLAIMING "Barista".
> Its no doubt *REPULSIVE* to anyone who has a love for the art.
> I really think the true Barista is an artist.
> > To quote Barzun: "An artist has every right - one may even say a duty -
> to
> > exhibit his productions as prominently as he can."
> >
> > and- "Art distills sensation and embodies it with enhanced meaning in a
> > memorable form - or else it is not art. "
> >
> > Most employees that claim the title of "barista" have no more to do with
> > the
> > ultimate flavor of the drinks they brew than an offset web press operator
> > can claim literary talent and authorship of the copies he prints. The
> > employee's drinks engender the same sensation as when finding a political
> > flyer on the windshield at the mall-
> >
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