Above image - presentation and style from a barista at Rush 2, Wollongong.
It is said that women prefer men like their coffee - strong, fresh and hot. The practice of having caffeine infuse our bloodstreams and activate alertness is not the sole prerogative of coffee, for tea, other specific herbal plants and mixtures like Red Bull are readily available, to mitigate the undesired effects of a regimented working life, or an unbalanced lifestyle without sufficient exercise and too much consumption.
Alex Levine observed that only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.
Having originated in Ethopia, roasted coffee beans were the mainstay of a cultured and elegant way of life in the Middle East, before it spread through adventure, trade and migration to outlets of emerging colonies, established nations and commercial franchises. These days, in any modern urban setting, it takes a strong will and discipline to avoid the temptations of coffee - its aroma, its congregations, its variety and its blending into mainstream habits and suggestions.
Barista, as a word, is Italian for bar tender. Baristas are the males or females behind a commercial espresso machine; these can be operated manually, semi automatic or automatic. A manual machine requires pulling a lever to direct and push water through ground coffee. Electric pumps are utilised by semi-automatics, but the barista has to stop the flow of espresso at the optimal moment, using an on\off switch or button. An automatic machine will turn on and off, after a preset amount of water has been pushed through the grounds. Machines help, but the critical difference from an ordinary cuppa to one that delights depends on the human factor - the skills, experience and touch of the barista.
It is said that there has never been a better office communication system than the coffee break. It need not involve drinking the brew, but the option is then utilised to have a breather, refresh the mind, or provide a forum to chat over things one may not say in an open office.
Anne Spencer said that good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard. I say that good baristas are as engaging as effective and enjoyable communication masters, for the draw to cafes may not just be for coffee, but the whole experience of soaking in the offered ambiance, the familiarity with the baristas and the escape to a magical alternative.
In conclusion, I quote Diane Ackerman - "After all, coffee is bitter, a flavor from the forbidden and dangerous realm." Coffee drinking can be addictive, but when offered with other draw factors, becomes part and parcel of an experience away from the mundane. Maybe, in short, strong, fresh and hot!