Enjoy high-quality strong espresso and delicious cappuccino every day, right in your kitchen. We interviewed Peter and Rado from homebarista.sk
We are not very familiar with the term home barista in our country. Could you explain us this concept?
Peter: Most people already know that a barista is a professional who can prepare top espresso, cappuccino, and espresso-based drinks in a cafe. Home barista is a person who makes coffee and coffee specialties at home. They prepare it for themselves, their loved ones, family, neighbors, or friends. It is an enthusiast, a lover of the coffee world.
Rado: An experienced home barista can prepare espresso, coffee drinks, and cappuccino as well as a professional barista. Therefore home barista is destined to build a top cafe at home.
Peter: Everyone can become a home barista. The best prerequisites are to be a coffee lover, be determined to learn new things, and be able to dedicate some free time. It is also essential to realize as quickly as possible the difference between a high-quality espresso machine and a coffee machine that only imitates genuine espresso.
Is it the current fashion trend, or is it already in use in other countries?
Peter: In most of the developed countries, it is already a well-established business. I came across the term home barista a few years ago in neighboring Austria, and it inspired me immensely. In Austria, even for several years, there have been showrooms with lever coffee machines, which are intended for home baristas. Our western neighbors have already been big fans of such a new coffee industry.
Rado: We have been working with coffee and coffee machines since 2000, but the concept of a home barista is quite new. Right now we have some good home baristas in Bratislava, and I suppose there will be more and more.
There are many high-quality metal espresso coffee machines on the market
If we are very enthusiastic about something, we are driven by the desire to be even better at it. I suppose that also applies to this area. What’s the most important thing if someone wants to become a full-fledged home barista? What is the recipe for success?
Peter: It is essential to get familiar with excellent coffee. A home barista can choose fresh coffee beans and can judge the high quality of genuine roast or blend. They know how to grind fresh grains of Arabica perfectly with a good coffee grinder. He knows every hack that makes the espresso or ristretto a little more perfect and still tirelessly searches for other news in the world of espresso.
Rado: Passion, interest, persistence, natural curiosity, etc. are the key characteristics. It may sound like a cliché, but often it does not matter which quality or brand of the coffee machine you use. The most important is the person, the determination to penetrate this world and devote to it to the fullest.
Peter: However, success also depends on how quickly and thoroughly you acquire a coffee machine. Also, a grinder, which represents up to 50% of the overall success. The grinders are something fundamental, do not to underestimate them. Usually they are a separate part of home barista’s equipment. They are often better than coffee machines themselves.
Rado: The essential is, of course, to learn how to work with the best coffee beans. Once you enter this world, it is quite common that the doors open to you and you try different types of coffee. Suddenly you have an excellent coffee machine in front of you that can make an as good coffee as it tastes. You are tempted to try different things. Unfortunately, cheaper coffee machines do not allow you to experience this. So I think it is useless to buy an expensive coffee selection for semi-automatic plastic coffee machines.
Peter: A coffee machine used by a good home barista will help him prepare a cup of coffee in top quality. The experience of consuming prepared espresso is suddenly wholly different. The lever coffee machines allow you to set various features – water temperature, pressure, etc. which have a considerable influence on the quality of the prepared coffee.
If someone wants to become a home barista, they need to take courses or special education. How can you help those who are interested?
Rado: Anyone who wants to become a home barista must also learn about coffee. As well as its preparation as much as possible and broaden their passion for coffee even more. For those who want to become home baristas, we offer full-day experience intensive courses, where we focus on this issue in depth.
Peter: We start with a theory, where the candidate will learn the most important things about coffee, it is growing, harvesting, and countries of origin. Next is a practical part, which consists of preparing espresso, cappuccino, and selected coffee drinks. We dedicate our participants as much time as necessary to obtain the best results. The courses are graded from 1 to 4, and the first level is designed for complete beginners. We told you these courses would change your life. (smile.)
Rado: We run the courses all year round in Bratislava and Banská Bystrica. There are no more than four participants in the course, who are trained by an exclusive lecturer – a coffee specialist. Our goal is to work with coffee machine and coffee as much and as thoroughly as possible. The course participant has a coffee machine, a grinder, and fresh coffee beans. The lecturer provides the maximum care for all the participants.
Peter: You can have a different lecturer in each course. Also, the highest course – Latte Art – is realized in cooperation with a top professional who will teach the participants to paint with milk. This is an exciting yet challenging are which requires several years to work on.
Peter: We promote them on our website shop.homebarista.sk as well as on social networks. The courses are on request. As soon as a sufficient number of candidates has been gathered, or a request has been made, we run the course. You can also find interesting educational videos for home baristas on our YouTube channel.
Rado: We also operate on the Czech market; specific information can also be obtained through the website www.espressodoma.cz, where you can click on the Czech e-shop.
Your faces also appear in some coffee instructional videos. This is another way to learn this skill. What’s the response?
Rado: In this case, it was instead our intention to present ourselves as people, not just as a brand. Therefore, when the participants come to us, we meet each other at the gate. From the outset, we’ve emphasized making videos useful, instructional, and accurate. We strive to inspire, educate, and make people prepare an excellent espresso at home. Many customers have already chosen the right type of coffee machine thanks to these videos. Now we are convinced that it makes sense. The videos are another opportunity to show ordinary people that there are other coffee machines and coffee too.
Peter: The market is growing, and the customers are more demanding.
Are people in Slovakia interested in becoming home specialist for coffee?
We have been thinking about preparing other instructional videos with various specialists who come in contact with the coffee.
Rado: From our point of view, it is significantly growing. Different people of different ages visit our courses. We are often surprised that they are already very educated in this area. They have high-quality knowledge of coffee, possess an excellent lever coffee machine, and many plans go to the next level. They are determined to become even better home barista than they have been. They are often more informed than we are, and they even tend to surprise us by knowing what their coffee machine can do. Some are also very skilled and surely surpass even professional baristas. As I mentioned before it is necessary to have a great passion for what you do, and they have it.
Peter: The participants of our courses are generally curious and observant. We often learn from them too. We spend many hours in an intense and fascinating discussion that enriches everyone.
You have been working with coffee and coffee machines since 2000, so you are not a newcomer in this field. How do you perceive the contemporary coffee culture in Slovakia?. Where did you come across coffee? Where do you learn and get inspiration?
Rado: We have traveled all over Slovakia during our professional coffee experience. Practically, from Bratislava to Bardejov. We learned about the coffee culture, the customs, and the cafes. We have seen both high-quality and low-quality concepts, even those that have already disappeared. Coffee culture in Slovakia is diverse and very interesting; the shift to a higher level is more than evident. Customers are getting more educated, they are increasingly demanding, and that is why we have started to focus on this area. More and more people are interested in professionally prepared coffee at home, and we have a lot to catch up to now.
How long does it take for people to learn how to work with a professional lever coffee machine?
Rado: It’s very individual. Sometimes the customers come to us two or three times before buying. We attend the customer; they try it and learn and asks us. In a week or two, we direct them to our e-shop with specific recommendations, they consider. Moreover, after that, they usually make the final decision and buy the coffee machine; sometimes, even with it a course. This is perfect, so most of the time we encourage people to come and try different devices.
For this reason, we call our showroom a toy store. The customer comes, tries, and if they become familiar with the model, they can buy it. Many of them still try at home and often contact us if they are not happy with the new coffee machine.
Apparently, it is not easy to choose the right model.
Peter: That’s why we want to be a useful helper. The coffee machines we sell today have gone through our thorough selection. You will find models suitable for less exacting and demanding users. Even those that are comparable to large espresso coffee machines differ only in size.
Rado: We regularly attend fairs in Milan, recently we were at an interesting coffee event in Berlin. Here we get inspired, learn, and look for new trends. The demand for excellent lever coffee machines in Slovakia has been steadily growing recently.
Peter: People have been thinking for a long time because it’s a kind of investment. As far as the price limit is concerned, the cheapest is about EUR 600, which is also the bestseller. The upper limit is somewhere at EUR 3,000 or more. The most expensive models, of course, offer many attractive benefits. In general, these coffee machines are characterized by long durability, so this is nothing for a short period.
What should people focus on when choosing a coffee maker?
Peter: I repeat that I recommend to get advice from a professional, not to buy quickly. There are many high-quality metal espresso coffee machines on the market, which make it challenging to choose. It also depends on how much coffee you drink per day. If you prefer espresso-based drinks if you receive guests or you would like to carry your machine which a home barista often does.
Which countries are at the forefront of coffee drinking culture today?
Rado: Some would say it is Italy. However, it is not entirely true. These are countries where you would not expect it at all. For example, South Korea, New Zealand. In the Nordic countries, where I have seen a massive boom in recent years. However, in every country, there are areas where people – as far as coffee is concerned – are very far away, mostly in the capitals. Even in Bratislava, we have top cafes and even top baristas who are raising the interest of others. It moves in the right direction.
What other plans do you have?
Peter: We want to gradually expand our offer and especially add more brands of coffee machines. We plan to strengthen our training center, organize courses for home baristas, etc. We want to cooperate with new lecturers. We have been thinking about preparing other instructional videos with various specialists who come in contact with the coffee. Our goal is to build and support the growth of coffee lovers in Slovakia.
Rado: At the moment, we are also dealing with so-called coffee shows. They are often part of team building. We bring coffee machines to the designed place, invite people to try to make coffee and coffee drinks. We want to boost this area.
Text: Daniel Košťál, photo: homebarista.sk