Selina Smith – The Barista

What is your earliest coffee related experience?
Drinking long blacks from the bakery with my Dad before school, and skipping school to sit in Hot Mamas which used to be a cool cafe in Motueka. We used to sit in there for hours, drinking flat whites and eating wedges with sour cream.
When / why did you first get working in coffee?
My first job as a barista was in 2003 at Sunaroma Cafe in Christchurch. I was attending the polytech over the road and I used to buy coffee there every day. I dropped out of the course and was offered a job behind the coffee machine.
What led you to becoming a barista?
At Sunaroma I worked with a guy called Nathan who was the first ‘coffee geek’ I really ever came across. Back then it was all about perfecting the latte art and drinking endless double espressos of C4’s ‘Krank’. I loved the chaotic morning rush of people coming through for their takeaways, and the geekiness of the coffee scene. I’ve worked as a barista ever since.
What is the best part of your job?
Being part of something that is continually evolving. Skills, ethics, tastes, and brew styles, there is always something to talk about, to learn. And of course as a shop barista there is the contact with people every day, of serving something which I am excited about and opening peoples eyes to how much more there can be to a cup of coffee.
Talk us through a typical work day
At the moment I am waiting to have another work day! I work for myself in a small coffee cart in Nelson which needs a new place to park up but this has been put on hold until after I have my baby!
What are your roles outside of making coffee?
Running my business, The Bach Coffee. I work for myself and I’m the only employee! The business is a year old so I’m learning about the admin side of the coffee business currently.
What is your favourite brew method and/or coffee origin and why?
My favourite brew method changes depending on my mood and the time of day, as does my favourite coffee origin but East African for filter brews nearly every time! One absolute standout espresso in recent memory was a coffee I used in the UKBC which was from the Emporium Farm in Panama. When you opened a bag of this coffee it smelled of strawberries and cream sweets, and it tasted the same, delicious!
Tulip or rosetta?
Rosetta. My latte art never really evolved from those Sunaroma days but a rosetta is always a nice flourish to show that you’re proud of your work.
What would be your dream ‘coffee experience’?
To travel to origin. I really fancy visiting Ethiopia….
Do you have a ‘coffee crush’ (person you most respect in the business)?
The person I respect most is Andrew Tolley, director of Taylor St Baristas in England. I worked for him for 4 years and absolutely respect his opinion and authority on all things coffee. (Just don’t tell him I said that, he’ll get a big head) We used to call him ‘guru’, his passion for coffee is unsurpassed, except perhaps by his passion for running!