What your resident barista isn't tellling you

What your resident barista isn't tellling you

Spill the beans

Text: Janice Sim

We hear it firsthand from the coffee purists themselves

It's been a while since the wave of specialty coffee hit our shores, and with millennials and yuppie mums alike hitting up a cafe every weekend, coffee has become a big part of our culture. But despite the frequent visits to our favourite spots, grasping the whole idea of the coffee compound is a learning journey that takes more than just a $5.50 order. For starters, we've been forced to choose between cappuccinos and flat whites, or left to decode menus filled with mind-boggling hand-brewed alternatives. When that happens, we usually turn to our only source of help — the cheerful barista on shift who patiently enlighten us. That's a good hundred people with inane queries every single day, and it begs the question, "What are the good folk behind the counters really thinking?"

We prodded and befriended them, laughed and knocked back copious amounts of coffee — and here are some truths we procured from five budding baristas on our sunny island. And in case you're wondering, these guys still love what they do, despite what you might read next. 

"Yes, it is in fact possible for a latte to look almost identical to a flat white." 

The main difference between a latte and a flat white isn't so much so on how much foam there is, but rather the taste and texture of the end product. They both have micro-foam on top but in terms of taste, a latte would usually be pretty milky, while a flat white requires a little more technique during the milk steaming process, resulting in a stronger coffee aroma and a velvety smooth finish. — Topknot Charlie

Barista pour latte art coffee specialty coffee

"Your coffee is probably cold because you spent so much time snagging a photo for Instagram."

First off, the ideal temperature that your coffee is supposed to be served is about 63 to 70 degrees Celsius, not a boiling 90 to 100 degrees Celsius, which equals a burnt beverage. With that in mind, any time left taking a gazillion top-down shots with your phone in an air-conditioned environment will definitely result in it being cold. — Kenny Brew 

"Please don't tarnish my perfect brew with a spoonful of sugar." 

I know some people can't live without sugar but it's hard to watch when you see a customer adding spoonfuls after spoonfuls of sugar, without even trying the coffee first. To me, that just discounts the hours of effort I've put into calibrating that morning batch.  — Stacy Grind 

"There's no way you're going to feel more buzz merely because you ordered an 8-ounce size."

An 8-ounce cup of coffee simply has more milk compared to a 5-ounce — the amount of espresso put in it is exactly the same (usually one shot). If what you're seeking out is a stronger kick, ask for an double shot.  — Daniel Chai 

"Coffees that come with your faces isn't really part of what we do here." 

From where I was trained, 3-D kittens, cute bears or illustrated faces never existed. Anything that requires a scanning machine or a toothpick wouldn't be specialty coffee. When we do latte art, all we need is steamed milk, a handy pitcher, a pair of stable hands and a cup of espresso. And in my opinion, isn't serving out hearts already the sweetest form of gesture? — James Roast 

coffee latte art faces barista singapore cafes

*All names have been changed to protect these wonderfully honest baristas