[Homeroast] Amateurs/Professionals & Craftsmen/Artists

miKe mcKoffee mcKona at comcast.net
Sat May 1 11:44:17 CDT 2010

> -----Original Message-----
> From: homeroast-bounces at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com 
> [mailto:homeroast-bounces at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com] On 
> Behalf Of Ryan M. Ward
> Sent: Saturday, May 01, 2010 8:29 AM
> ""Holding a job" in our society commonly means being paid to 
> work for someone else. "
> I am not so sure of this either. 
> First off, I looked up the word 'job' in the dictionary and 
> the definition is a little vauge but did not seem to preclude 
> working for oneself. I am sure the Oxford English Dictionary 
> would hold the definitive answer here- I do not own a copy.
> Speaking personally (acknowledging that I alone do not 
> represent society as a whole), I agreed with Rich's 
> definition with a slight exception (that being that I don't 
> feel that being paid to do something is enough, that payment 
> should be significant, and constitute a significant portion 
> of one's livelihood. I would not consider someone who works 
> in a coffee house one hour a week to be a professional 
> barista, that is an amateur barista with an allowance).

Agree a dictionary definition of "holding a job" does not necessarily denote
being employed versus self-employed. Yet in common US usage ever hear things
like "go to school, get an education, get a 'job'", or "find a 'job' you
bum" etc. Unemployment statistics don't factor in self-employed people who
can't find work. "Job Fairs" are typically companies looking for employees.
Job listings, courses on how to find a Job, employment agency Job Listings
and on and on using the term "Job" to denote employment, not
self-employment. Hence in the context initially used I stand by "job"
commonly referring to under the employ of someone else.
> "I highly doubt many if any would have the skill to come 
> close to matching any of the six finalists in the recent US 
> Barista competition, all professionals."
> Well, I imagine you are right, but again these people are 
> almost pathological cases. Rich stated: "In most cases" This 
> does not mean, amateurs are better than professionals always. 
> It means take a random amateur, and a random professional and 
> compare them. Statisitically, I doubt any of those six, or 
> any of your Baristas would be chosen at random. Most likely a 
> Starbucks employee would get drawn honestly. Although I think 
> you do have a very valid point in that there appears to be 
> some kind of an upper limit to the skill levels of amateurs 
> that has been exceeded by the skill levels of professionals- 
> considered as one large set. Its just this apparent exceeding 
> of skill is being done by a very small subset of the 
> professional population.

Here it also comes to the definition of "professional" versus simply
"working for pay". In some contexts being paid automatically makes you a
professional and uneligible for amateur statis like in many sports. But does
working for pay automatically someone a professional? When it comes to the
realm of coffee I and many of like mind would say no. Simply receiving a
paycheck does not make someone a "coffee professional". A coffee
professional is someone who has chosen to make coffee a career, not just a
job be it temporary or otherwise. And yes, many of us "coffee professionals"
are indeed pathological cases! I could have gotten a "job" the next day with
one of the out-sourcing companies after getting the axe from HP, and for
only a buck an hour less, but chose to leave the rat race. Now I'm happily
struggling to keep the doors open at my Roastery and two Coffeehouses and
still can't pay myself a dime on anything close to a regular basis 2 and a
half years into my Professional Journey. Yes, I'm pathological about coffee
finding it more important than money. Professional DOES NOT necessarily mean
getting paid! 

As far as randomly plucking "a typical amateur" versus "professional"
baristas and comparing you're also just as likely to get an amateur with a
department store POC espresso machine using pre-ground as you are a paid
push bottom monkey "professional". Places like this List or H-B or
Coffeegeek etc. are just as much a case of being a pathological microcosm of
amatuers as top Cafes are for pathological professionals:)

>  Think what it boils down to is interest and ambition. 
> Amateurs make coffee because the are interested in coffee- 
> this is their hobby, so they tend to get good at it if they 
> approach it correctly. They start tinkering in the kitchen 
> and coming up with come really cool ideas. 
> Some baristas are interested in coffee but honestly, many are 
> just holding jobs(This is what I have noticed working in 
> coffee). They know that if the customer does not complain, 
> they are home free. Maybe they like coffee, but minimal work 
> is sufficient for them. They have little ambition to advance 
> their skill. I think this is the phenomena we are noticing. 
> Those baristas who are interested; however, have the 
> financial support, and the equipment to take their skills to 
> the next level, beyond the typical amateur. They can afford 
> to make coffee all day and practice their art. Most of us 
> amateurs have other professions. We get to make coffee when 
> we get home from work.

Again goes both ways. Some get into making coffee (be it espresso or other
wise) at home primarily to save money rather than a love of coffee. Wanting
to get good at it isn't necessarily a factor. Agree there are many
"professionals" that barely good enough will do. But not all just as with
amatuers. In my coffeehouses it isn't about a customer not complaining, it's
about enlightening and having customers rave. 

Slave to the Bean Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffee

URL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:
Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.

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