Nepali students who want to be employed as baristas in Australia need a high level of craftsmanship. To qualify, they pay between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 for training back in Nepal
The growing coffee culture is great news for aspiring baristas. For one, there are now proper barista training schools for them.
Baristas are responsible for all kinds of behind-the-bar coffee duties, from making basic espresso shots to engaging in dainty latte art.
While it seems a fairly easy job, it requires a particular set of skills in using espresso machines, in understanding the nuances of different varieties of coffee, as well as a crash-course in tastes and customer service.
“Everything we do in the coffee business is an art,” says Gagan Pradhan, the owner of Himalayan Java. “Extraction of espresso is an art. Foaming, frothing, and steaming milk is an art. Anyone who is not an expert in this art cannot make a good cup of coffee.”
It was Pradhan who started the first coffee school in Nepal. Pradhan, himself a graduate of an Australian university, says that the motivation came when, during a holiday Down Under in 2010, he saw many unskilled Nepali students there struggling to get jobs. It was then that he decided to open a coffee school in Nepal, so that his students would not have a hard time getting employed in the competitive job market of Australia. Since then many other coffee schools have opened up in Nepal.
In fact, most trainees at barista schools are prospective students to Australia. “It’s a job as dignified as that of a chef,” says Ramesh Shrestha, director of Coffee Pasal, Durbarmarg, which also runs a barista training program. “People also prefer working as baristas because it is less labor intensive and better paid compared to other jobs available to Nepali students in Australia.”
Coffee-making is huge in Australia, which has a coffee culture so advanced and rich that even the coffee giant Starbucks could not get a toehold in this market. Nepali students who want to be employed as baristas in Australia thus need a high level of craftsmanship. To qualify, students pay between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 for 10-15 days of training back in Nepal.
“A good barista needs to train in making good coffee, good customer service as well as in creating a good atmosphere,” adds Pradhan. To impart these skills Himalayan Java and the ‘Italian Espresso Academy Nepal, Coffee and Barista School’ in Putalisadak also offer extended internships.
Not all trainees want to go to Australia. Some want to be a part of an expanding coffee culture in Nepal
Not all trainees want to go to Australia. Some want to be a part of an expanding coffee culture in Nepal, to open their own coffee shop or to work in one. “There are mothers who want to open a coffee shop to support their children, and then there are coffee enthusiasts,” says Shrestha of Coffee Pasal.
One such coffee enthusiast is Siddhi Hang Rai, a high school graduate and trainee at the Italian Espresso Academy. Rai says he took up the course not because he wanted to go somewhere but simply because he was interested in learning more about coffee. On the other hand, Nischal Karki, another trainee, says he is only thinking of landing a good job in Australia.
The global coffee industry is huge, and it will keep growing, says Pradhan of Himalayan Java. “Coffee is a social beverage and people go to coffee shops to enjoy the overall experience rather than only to sip on a cup of good coffee. It is the responsibility of baristas to offer this enriching experience”.