Monday, April 1, 2013

Meet David Lee-Schneider, Barista Coach and Cafe Consultant

David Lee-Schneider has been working in the hospitality industry for more than a decade. He's been invited by businesses in Europe, China, and Australia as a cafe business consultant and barista coach. David is the founder of Barista Jam, a website where baristas and latte artists from around the world can share their latte art and learn from each other.

1. What inspired you to start Barista Jam, and how has the project grown over time?

I have always been fascinated by coffee and have been working in the coffee industry for almost a decade. When I first started to learn latte art, I was very excited and wanted to share my progress with others, posting my art on Facebook and Twitter. But I soon realized that my friends always posted nice comments, but didn't really understand much about what it takes to pour a perfectly symmetric rosetta, for example. That's when I started thinking about building a platform where baristas from around the globe could share their artwork, learn from each other, and get inspired. I was simply stunned when I realized that over two thousand latte art images had been submitted, just within a few months of launching Now, every day you can find dozens of new inspiring images on the website.

2. How do most people learn to create latte art (trial and error, with the help of friends/coworkers...)?

I guess the way most people learn is to simply dive into it and practice as much as they can. Then there are courses you can take, that give you an overview about different techniques you can use. But you'll still have to go out and practice for yourself. From my experience, I can say that it takes a minimum of three months until you manage to get a little more consistent results. But really, you never stop learning.

3. Can anyone upload photos to Barista Jam? What about videos?

At this stage photos are the medium we chose to use. Anyone is welcome to share their latte art, no matter what stage you are at. It's a great way to get feedback from others and maybe some tips on what you can do to improve. We are currently working on a video tutorial section that will help people to see how all the different patterns are created.

4. How did you get your own start as a barista, and could you talk a little bit about your current work as a coach/consultant?

I've been working in the hospitality industry for over a decade now. At one stage of my career I started moving from making cocktails to making coffee. I fell in love with the specialty coffee industry--all the different ways of blending, roasting, and brewing coffee, and a few years ago decided to start teaching coffee making classes and share my knowledge with other passionate people. During that time café owners and businesses from various countries approached me to help them start up or transform their café businesses. Being able to help people transform their businesses and lives is my biggest pleasure and gets me out of bed every morning.

5. For people who love making lattes at home but haven't worked/trained as baristas, what would you recommend they do if they want to take their latte art skills to the next level?

To create perfect latte art you don't just need skill, but also the right equipment. First, you need an espresso machine that has a steam wand, so you can steam milk to the right temperature and texture. The texture is the biggest factor in creating beautiful latte art. There are countless videos on the internet that teach you how to extract the perfect espresso and texture milk the right way. Ones you know how to do that, jump on and get creative!

Thanks, David!

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