Our Barista Stories series has been long in the making. Since our first visits to cafes around Europe, we have met many amazing baristas who have had a number of interesting stories to share. We love the speciality coffee community exactly for the people building it and are thrilled to introduce some of those individuals to you.
Baristas truly are the ones who contribute to the atmosphere in the cafe massively and are the key reason why we’d revisit.
Joaquín Molina is a 33 years old barista originally from Ecuador, but his current home is in Madrid. Although he is a full-time barista not at one, but at two cafes in the city, Zero Point and Hanso cafe, he is also interested in other drink-related professions, especially in the beer and wine industries. He has worked in the coffee industry since 2012.
A few questions for Joaquín
What led you to coffee? Could you describe the moment or situation that made you decide to become a barista?
A very good friend of mine was really interested in coffee after travelling in the U.S. and he introduced me to this industry. After a few weeks, he opened a coffee shop and I started learning there. Probably the energy that my friend was having when he was talking about coffee made me curious about it.
What is the funniest thing that you have experienced behind the bar? Can you recall any embarrassing moment?
Making a fake cake with coffee cakes and watching your colleagues eating them has no price.
What would you do if you were not working in coffee?
It is difficult to say, I'd probably be working with wine or beer, I really like them too. The wine was the first thing that caught my attention.
What is an unusual habit or hobby that you love?
I try to exercise regularly: riding the bicycle, climbing, playing football, trekking,…or just chilling with friends or at home.
What are some bad recommendations you hear often in your profession? What is your piece of advice for anybody starting a career as a barista?
Maybe the way people are treated in some coffee shops, the relationship between barista and customers. Or maybe the little importance that people give to the coffee industry. I would say to them to like and enjoy what they do because then they will appreciate it. And the further you take it, the better it gets.
Looking back, what one thing would you wish to know when you were starting to work as a barista?
Can´t think about anything.
What qualities set a good and a great barista apart?
Maybe the knowledge that you have and keep getting about coffee, how organised you are at work, having good relationships with customers, even if, sometimes, dealing with people could be a bit exhausting, and definitely how much you like what you do.
If you have a bad day at the cafe, what helps you to handle it and provide good customer service?
Depends on the situation, sometimes just focusing on something different, or having a small break will help.
What is the one thing that you would miss the most if you could not work as a barista/in coffee anymore?
Well, there are probably two things. First, I’d miss having access to all the coffee beans that I have. And the other one is, I’d miss meeting people from the coffee industry and the people you meet because of coffee.
Imagine the perfect day in your city. Perhaps you have an old friend visiting. What would be top 3 to 5 activities or places you would show them?
If I recommend places that I like, not only because of the coffee but because of the people that work there, [I must name] The Fix, Ruda Café, Toma Café, Hola Coffee and Misión Café (besides the two places I work at).
Madrid is a very active city so thinking about things to do can take some time.
What do you consider some of the best experiences you have had in coffee so far?
Meeting people that have been working in the industry for a long time and travelling.
Quick Fire Question
Would you serve filter coffee with milk, if asked for it?
Do you ever take sugar with your coffee?
Espresso or Filter coffee?
Uuff can I choose both?
Do you aim for Sweetness, Acidity, or Body?
Sweetness, acidity, body, balance and aftertaste.
Milky or Black?
Black during summer, milky during winter.
Slurp or Spit?
Sit in or Take Away?
Sit in, coffee deserves a little of your time.
Cake or Pastry with your coffee?
What is your wifi password in a cafe?