WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A BARISTA : ULLASH (AASHISH) SHRESTHA
“YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU CANNOT ACE A CUP OF COFFEE OVERNIGHT”
In a world that runs on movement and change a pause is important to understand where you are heading. Sometimes all it takes is a cup of coffee to pause and reflect on life and all that makes you yourself. Whether it is Americano or Cappuccino coffee is capable of not only awakening you but filling you with the energy required to get through the day and move ahead in life. Without a barista coffee shops wouldn’t have been as charming or warm.
Being a barista isn’t just about coffee makers, although that is a major part of the deal. It could be a very viable career for youngsters who have a passion for it. It could open up avenues of opportunities for people aiming to go abroad too. If you would want a refreshingly good cuppa Ullash (Aashish) Shrestha the barista and floor manager at Coffee Pasal is your man. And we ask him about what it takes to be a barista.
Ullash (Aashish) Shrestha is currently working as a floor manager and barista at Coffee Pasal Durbarmarg Kathmandu. A man who believes in the power of art, he got into this field intrigued with the way his supervisor created coffee. He believes coffee is going to revolutionize the world and wants to be in this field for long term. Being coffee lovers ourselves we went to Coffee Pasal and talked about what he does.
WHAT INCLINED YOU TOWARDS BECOMING A BARISTA?
I never thought I would grow up and become a barista. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of this profession until 2 years ago. When Coffee Pasal started two years ago they were looking for a floor supervisor I applied for the post and got accepted. It was here that I learned about coffee and its capabilities. The owner of Coffee Pasal , Mr.Ramesh Shrestha is also a head barista ,the way he makes coffee intrigued me towards the coffee making process. I was always inclined towards art and sketches since childhood and the way he could create art in a cup of coffee was just amazing. I wanted to combine the art and passion into something that I could follow as a profession and hence that is when I decided to be a barista. It’s a treat for the eyes and taste buds, so why not?
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE TO FACE AS A BARISTA?
The process of coffee making seems effortless, when you get a cup of coffee you do not think of the steps that are needed to be followed in order to present it in front of you. But the processes that need to be followed such as texturing and extraction are a bit difficult to follow for beginners. My hands have a slight tremble because of my smoking habit, and that was an issue when it comes to making intricate patterns and designs on a cup of coffee. For others, the concentration and finesse required to complete a design could be a challenge.
When it comes to customers, a lot of them are supportive but some of them might discourage you as well. In Nepal when you think of coffee generally it is a hot drink but some of the coffees need to be presented in medium hot temperature in order to maintain the standards. Some customers return the medium hot coffee because they think it’s not hot enough, and they send their harsh remarks along with it.
Regardless of the effort put in and all the positivity, sometimes your work might not be as well received as you’d expect. This should not demoralize you because it has never been easy in any profession. Whatever remarks you get you should use it in a constructive way and move ahead.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU LEARNT AS A BARISTA?
There are a lot of things I have learnt but to be specific being patient is the most important lesson I have learnt in the process. You need to understand that you cannot ace a cup of coffee overnight. Without focus and concentration you will not be able to create a good cup of coffee.
HOW IS COFFEE ART ACCEPTED IN NEPAL?
From what I have seen it is heartily welcomed. I strongly believe that it is the eye that tastes before the tongue and since when you make a cup of coffee it has something beautiful on top I think it pleases the eye as well as the taste buds. People are encouraging and accepting in term of coffee art especially in Kathmandu.
WHAT ARE THE SKILLS THAT MAKE A BARISTA?
As already discussed it takesa lot of patience, concentration and focus but in Nepal generally there is also a considerable lack of theoretical knowledge. Just a few days of training is not what makes a barista it takes a lot more than that. You need to be passionate about it, and understand how you do what you do brings different consequences. Practical skills are mandatory but then theoretical skills are equally important as well. You could Google or learn more from your trainer. It is very important to have someone who guides you as well because you can’t learn everything by yourself. Respecting what you do and what you can do is important.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE WHEN IT COMES TO COFFEE?
After understanding coffee my favorite is an espresso. Whenever I visit other coffee shops I make sure I taste the espresso because that is the base of coffee and it is most flavorful.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF BEING A BARISTA?
Working on the machine while creating a cup of coffee is what makes me feel alive. People meditate in order to release their stress but for me my work is the best form of meditation. I am in my own world where I do not worry about anything and just focus on the cup and what I can create. Being a barista is like being home for me it is simply an amazing feeling.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE UPCOMING BARISTAS SHOULD KEEP IN MIND?
The main thing is focus, without focusing on yourself you cannot achieve anything. Believe in yourself and your capabilities and understand that it takes time. Hygiene is something that needs to be kept in mind as well because when you make a cup of coffee for someone that person is entrusting you with their health. Making it in a hygienic way is essential. Be patient and also do not be too harsh on yourself. Understand that practice is important and that training is not everything. This is a fun platform and it is new and it’s in the trend as well not only in Nepal but all over the world. But I would say following the trend is the last thing you should think about. The main thing is that you need to understand this profession and what you will have to do to. You can do a lot in this field if you really want to.