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.
Read on to meet Laure Jubert, who, until recently, was your barista at SIP Coffee Bar in Bordeaux.
Laure is a freelance barista trainer and consultant. The 30-year-old says she comes simply from France. Even her Instagram says ‘the travelling barista’. Currently, she lives in Bordeaux, where she used to work at SIP Coffee Bar until very recently. Finally, she has made the change to become a freelancer and pursue her dream to become a coffee trainer. You can meet her teaching coffee workshops and training at PIHA, another great cafe in Bordeaux. Laure has worked in coffee for four years now.
A few questions for Laure
What led you to coffee? Could you describe the moment or situation that made you decide to become a barista?
I was living in Calgary, Canada, working as an art curator during the week, and on a farmer market during the weekend. There was a barista booth of Phil and Sebastian. My first coffee there was an espresso from Kenya, and I will always remember this moment, it was like in a movie. The time stopped, my heart started to beat fast not from the caffeine but from the excitement of the discovery: the coffee was sweet and acidic, super fruity. And then I realised, the two baristas were staring at me, smiling.
This special barista, Jacquot Lamoureux, taught me so much about his job, how special and skilful it is, that I owe him a lot. He gave me two books when I left: “The Professional Barista's Handbook” and “Everything but Espresso” from Scott Rao, asking me to always be sharing my knowledge with the others as he did with me. It’s why I took espresso classes, then became a part-time barista, and started giving workshops.
What would you do if you were not working in coffee?
I guess I would have continued working in art galleries!
What is an unusual habit or hobby that you love?
Kintsugi—or repairing of broken objects and highlighting their scars with gold—is a Japanese technique and philosophy. I love spending hours repairing and transforming these objects into beautiful ones.
What is your piece of advice for anybody starting a career as a barista?
Don’t stop questioning [the established truths about coffee] and thinking outside the box.
What qualities set a good and a great barista apart?
To me, it is the passion and experience you give in any cup you serve, in any exchange with the customer, achieving to adapt your talk to anybody: a random customer, a coffee geek or a grandma.
If you have a bad day at the cafe, what helps you to handle it and provide good customer service?
The good cohesiveness among the team members is very important, when it goes bad we exchange some jokes or supporting looks with each other.
What is the one thing that you would miss the most if you could not work as a barista/in coffee anymore?
Interacting with customers. It is probably my favourite part of this job when a regular coffee drinker realises what good coffee is.
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?
The first cup of coffee will be at L'Alchimiste, having a chat with Yohan, their barista. Then, we will stroll through the beautiful streets of the city centre of Bordeaux (In the south-west of France, life is kind of slower, perfect for slow coffee lovers!). We will have a very tasty bowl of ramen at Ebisu (I recommend you the tantanmen.) and then go to discover the craft perfume shop Le Nez Insurgé, where we can challenge ourselves with the smells. We will finish the day at the craft beer bar Jaqen where there are so many beers to try for a beer adventurer.
What do you consider some of the best experiences you have had in coffee so far?
To give workshops is probably my favourite thing. First of all, because we really have a quality time while interacting with customers. Also because often it creates a community of coffee people. How happy I am when I see former students hanging out together at the cafe, discussing their latest coffee discoveries!
Organising events such as Coffee Country Discovery. I started with Ethiopian and Colombian months in Paris, and Brazilian week in Tokyo. It does bring together the community which is proud to show its culture and share it with the public. An amazing memory is from the time we organised a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Quick Fire Question
Would you serve filter coffee with milk, if asked for it?
Yes! Like for sugar, I’ll advise to try it without milk first, and if needed, I can give them a pot of milk then.