Learning from the Best: The Barista Hustle

Learning from the Best: The Barista Hustle

By Chris Kolbu
LEARN

The last ten years have seen fantastic improvements in our collective understanding of coffee — not just in brewing, but every part of the chain, from the moment a coffee tree is planted. While there is still much work to be done across the entire industry, it has never been easier for a single person — professional or not — to build a solid, comprehensive understanding of coffee. Unfortunately, a lot of the information available out there is only available piecemeal, couched in very technical jargon or otherwise not as easily available as it should be. This is where Matt Perger and his Barista Hustle comes in.

Matt Perger is an Australia-based coffee professional with a knack for both the art and science of coffee making; he was the 2012 World Brewers Cup Champion and has finished in the finals of the World Barista Championships twice already. In his day-to-day he oversees all coffee aspects of Melbourne company St. Ali.

Two things set him apart in the industry: his willingness to question established facts and techniques (he has developed his own tamper, among other things!), and his skills as a communicator.

Perhaps as a testament to these two qualities, Matt has taken on a very ambitious project, dubbed The Barista Hustle“[A]free weekly email that details a concept, technique, product or otherwise that helps Baristas. I’ll be dabbling in articles, podcasts, videos, downloads and anything I can think of to get the message across”. He has solicited questions that he will be basing his writings on for the length of the project, and is taking a leave of absence from his workplace to dedicate himself to it. It is also completely free, which is amazing in and of itself.

No one has all the answers to making great coffee. Not even close. Specialty Coffee is still very young and we have so much to learn. The cutting edge changes monthly and best-practice means a thousand different things to different people. To be brutally honest, we’re still really bad at serving consistently delicious and special coffees to our customers. This has to change faster.

I’ve been lucky enough over the last few years to work for and invest in a company that has research and development amongst its top priorities. This has put me in an incredibly unique position, where I can ask big questions and utilise our resources to find the answers. There are so few people in the industry that have the means to do this.

I would love for every Barista on the planet to make better coffee. Not just for selfish reasons like wanting a better cup of coffee when I visit a cafe. The better the average quality of coffee is around the world, the stronger our industry becomes. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Two of these hustles have already made it on the web: Coffee Extraction and How to Taste It and Surface Area and Time. If the titles seem technical, don’t worry—the articles make their points without delving into the minutiae of jargon, chemistry or overly technical detail.  They can be used as-is, or as a springboard enabling  you to go head-first down the rabbit hole to see for yourself.

If you would like to learn more, do the hustle.

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