Sunday, 26 June 2011

Barista Profile: Damon McMinn, Small Batch Coffee Company

Hello. Who are you? 

And what do you do?
Whatever needs to be done. 

And what is that in detail?
Set up shops, close down carts, drive around, drop things off, pick things up and, finally, make some coffee. 

When did you first discover real coffee?
Dug coffee in a big way since my teens but my eyes were only recently opened. So much I didn't know. So much I still don't. 

How did you get started in the coffee trade and learn your skills?
A lifetime ago - dare I say it? - I worked for... Starbucks. I consider the skills necessary to produce a fine coffee so elementary a bonobo could acquire them. Pulling shots, steaming milk and putting the two together is not about skill, it's about information and desire. Does one possess the necessary information to know what is good? If so, does one desire to produce something good? Bonobos likely can't grasp the concept of "good" and even if they could, I suspect the only desire they'd be interested in exploring is how much they love touching each other. This is why we at Small Batch don't employ them. It's company policy.

What is the best thing about doing what you do?
Going to bed early. I'd sleep in later, but hey. 

What drink do you make best?
I once had a Zen monk as a customer. “Give me the best coffee you have,” he said.
“Everything on this cart is the best,” I replied. “You cannot find here any coffee that is not the best.” 

With those words, he was enlightened. But not enough to leave a tip. Cheap bastard.

What are the top three things you should look out for from your neighbourhood barista?
In no order. A smile. Care. Can do. 

A home coffee brewing trick or technique?
A grinder. We sell hand ones. They're meditative.

What do you look for in a good bean or blend?
Subtleties of taste and smell are not my arena. As long as it tastes good and I know it's been roasted with love, I'm happy.
What do you drink yourself?
1/3 espresso and 2/3 hot water. Pretty much a standard since forever. I do quite like a flat white though.

What is your favourite professional machine and grinder?
La Marzocco Linea. Never used a Synesso, but hear they're pretty top notch. Anything that reliably grinds on demand. 

What is the most important part of the coffee process - the growing, the roasting, the blending, the brewing or anything in-between?
They're all the most important and can't be separated. The coffee in the cup is what counts. The growing of a high quality bean is crucial, as is the roasting, as is the brewing. Blending is a detour on the journey from farm to cup.

How do you make coffee at home?
Aeropress. It's fun.

Anything else you want to say?
Suppose a town has one and only one barista who makes coffee for all and only those who do not make coffee for themselves. Who makes coffee for the barista?

Thanks for the chat.

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