Have you ever heard about 'barista'? You would know it if you watched a TV drama 'The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince'. Yes, barista is a job which is related with coffee. The term barista was developed in America as a derivative of the Italian word meaning bartender. In Italy, a barista typically works behind a counter, serving espresso and other drinks. In that drama, the heroine, Go Eun-chan, works at a coffee shop and wants to be a great barista. Although the drama series is over now, many people still love it and they got interested in coffee and barista. The Post met a barista, Lim Jong-myoung, to learn about being a barista. He was the barista advisor of that drama, and he taught actors how to make coffee. Let's listen to him.
Lim : Literally, "barista" refers to one who has acquired some level of expertise in the preparation of espresso-based coffee drinks. Its meaning is expanded to include what might be called a coffee sommelier, a professional who is highly skilled in coffee preparation, with a comprehensive understanding of coffee, coffee blends, espresso, quality, coffee varieties, roast degree, espresso equipment, maintenance, latte art, etc. In short, barista should be able to select good coffee bean, make the best use of coffee machines to make delicious coffee and serve the coffee to their customers.
The Post : What made you decide to be a barista?
Lim : My major was visual design, so I didn't know about barista at first. I had a part-time job at a coffee shop when I was discharged from military service. At that point I had an interest in coffee, so I decided to learn about coffee to be a barista. It has been nine years since I started working as a barista. Nowadays, I'm a master barista in Gabedoorim, a coffee shop, and a lecturer at CoffeeMBA, a barista academy. And I'm doing volunteer work for the Beautifulstore as a publicity ambassador.
I'm satisfied with my job now and I think I made a good decision.
The Post : How can I become a barista?
Lim : In the past, people who wanted to be a barista started working at a coffee shop to get training because the ways of making coffee is different in each coffee shops. So it was the most effective way to learn. But nowadays, there are two ways to become a barista. If you want to learn about the whole coffee management system, you should work at major brand coffee shops such as Starbucks, Coffeebean, Pasccuci and so on. You will get paid better than at other coffee shops. But if you work at a coffee shop with no brand name but with an excellent barista, you will have a better chance of learning how to make coffee thoroughly. At first, you'll get lower pay than at famous coffee shops, but if your ability gets better you could get higher pay. However, the best way to learn is by taking a course at an educational institute for baristas. Nowadays, many universities offer barista training courses in their continuing education programs. Also, there are many barista academies managed by famous baristas.
The Post : What are the things you like about this job?
Lim : Free coffee! I can drink delicious coffee for free whenever I want. I'm not joking. It's one of the most important benefits to me. And I feel really happy when a customer drinks coffee which is made by me and satisfied with it. If the customer remembers my coffee and visits me again, it's the most worthwhile moment for a barista. I have some regular customers including some celebrities, and they say, "I won't drink any other coffee except the one barista Lim Jong-myoung made." That really makes me happy and that's one of the reasons for me to have this job.
The Post : What are the difficulties of this job?
Lim : Many people think that a barista is a cool job. I thinik it's because of the drama 'Coffe Prince', which showed cool side to people. But it's different from real life. Working as a barista is really hard. A barista should work about nine hours a day standing at the bar, so my back, legs and wrist are painful. We aren't registered by the Ministry of Labor yet, so welfare is not good. Also, barista is a job in which you have to deal with customers. Some of the customers are really fastidious, and sometimes they complain about the coffee or service. So it makes me get stressed. You know, satisfying all the customers is very tough.
The Post : Do you have any advice for students who want to be a barista?
Lim : Don't regard it as an easy job. It's really a hard job and the pay is not that good. You should consider whether you could do this job for a long time and still feel happy. So many people change their job because of difficulties in serving customers. It requires much perseverance to do this job. And the most important thing is effort. If you want to be a barista, you have to make a lot of effort.
Lee Min-jeong firstname.lastname@example.org
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