Boris Šatka is a 34 year old barista, originally from west Slovakia. Now, he lives in Prague, where he works as the barista at his own cafe, RONIN. He’s worked in the coffee industry for almost 4 years, and has got to where he is now through a mixture of self-taught experimentation and by gradually acquiring bits of knowledge from his friends and colleagues.
Boris, what is your first memory with coffee?
My grandmother used to prepare a white coffee for me, every single morning ever since I was 3 years old… Weird right?
Could you describe the moment or situation that made you decide to become a barista?
Sometimes, I actually have a feeling that the coffee industry chose me. I’ve always been a fan of filtered coffees so, naturally, from there I wanted to know how to prepare the very best V60 brews at home. I talked a lot with baristas and friends about it, learning recipes and picking up tips on the best way to grind it.
Every day, I just kept working at building my knowledge and gradually pimping up my home coffees. Later, almost out of nowhere, I got an opportunity to work at one of the most famous fusion gastro spaces in Prague: ESKA. It was here that I started my new way of life as a professional barista.
If a career in coffee was not an option, what job would you be doing?
I have a mad list of potential jobs that I might have taken up if I hadn’t fallen for the barista lifestyle. I’d probably choose a job doing something like working as a projectionist in cinema, a drummer in some hardcore punk band where we’d be travelling around the world, or just working as a street hustler, like I actually was not so long ago.
What is your piece of advice for anybody starting a career as a barista?
Build your skills, advance your knowledge and BELIEVE in yourself. As baristas, we have this big opportunity to live our lives as a part of this beautiful global passion. Every one of you has your own bright personality, and you have a chance in this career to immerse yourself in your craft. Make sure you do just that, and enjoy the ride.
What qualities set a good and a great barista apart?
First things first, keep everything on your workplace clean – and I mean it!
Secondly, kindness and compassion are your biggest weapons, so use them. If you keep these two traits with you while you work, you're on the way to being a great person, plus a great barista.
What helps you to handle a bad day at the cafe and to provide good customer service?
When I realize who I am, where I come from and what I did, and what a f*ckn’ lucky man I am. That, and the idea that, in this industry, everything is always changing. So I'll keep on grinding harder and harder, for sure.
What is the one thing that you would miss the most if you could not work as a barista anymore?
Cleaning my [Victoria Arduino] Black Eagle after a shift. I love my job, and another big part of it is chatting to the customers and hearing their stories of the day.
What has been the best experience you have had in the speciality coffee industry so far?
The friendship I’ve built with the speciality coffee community around the world. Now, I am in a position where I get to talk with lots of roasters and companies all over Europe, which I find really exciting.
Now that I run my own place, I’ve got to say that this day-to-day experience and all the responsibilities that come with it is my favourite experience, for sure.
Rapid Fire Questions for Boris Šatka
Would you serve filter coffee with milk, if asked for it?
Do you ever take sugar with your coffee?
Yes – I used to have to add it when I used Italian dark roasts.
Espresso or Filter coffee?
Do you aim for Sweetness, Acidity, or Body?
Milky or Black?
Black (like the notorious BIG).
Slurp or Spit?
Sit in or Take Away?
Cake or Pastry with your coffee?
What is the wifi password at your cafe?
You’ll have to buy a coffee first, and then I’ll tell ya!