Интервью с бариста

I came to this coffee shop just by fate’s virtue. I never planned to be a barista or a barman. It just happened. As I was looking for employment, I’ve stumbled upon an employment ad, and then I thought: “Well, why not? Why shouldn’t I try it?” Then I got a call from Lyudmila Viktorovna, the coffee shop’s proprietor and she invited me to work there.

From that very moment I started to get trained for the job and I started developing some sincere interest for it. Basically, I was always interested in barista’s job. When I’d come to an Almaty coffee shop as a guest, I’d always watch barista working, and this desire to discover the technology and mechanisms of this job, its entrails, was already there.

barista 1And so I’ve started doing it all myself. I had a hard time firstly, because being a barman is one thing – cocktails, strong beverages and stuff, while making coffee is a totally different story; it is a difficult process which you have to comprehend, get used to it, cognize it within, so to say. Coffee is a product that doesn’t like dilettantish treatment. You should really invest your heart in any job, because your result depends on your contribution. Coffee is as touchy as a girl. Despite the fact that everybody conjugates the word coffee like “coffee – he’s mine”, masculine, I see coffee as a gorgeus, valuable and high girl that requires a special approach when conquered.

There’s “The Law of Four M’s”, a coffee law. It contains the rules of making good coffee, and every word is Italian, and every word begins with letter “M”: mishella, maccinato, macchina and mano. The first rule is the coffee itself: its quality and the way of roasting. The second aspect is the coffee grinder, because whether it’s coarse grinding or fine grinding, it also matters very much. The third aspect is the coffee machine you use for making it all into coffee. The fourth and the most important aspect is the barista’s hand, in terms of skill. I wouldn’t say that I made it all great in the beginning. It was far from the ideal scene and not so serious, but I always had this desire to learn. I had to taste good coffee many times in order to comprehend its taste. Coffee was always for me like “well, coffee is coffee, usual coffee, that’s it…” I had the opinion of a regular coffee drinker and considered it a delicious, but special drink, yet it turned out so that it is far more complicated and sophisticated than that..

Everyone who wants do make coffee professionally needs to understand the very taste of coffee, that is, how it should taste originally. The first idea is that coffee must have its own specific flavor. There are tons of types of coffee existent nowadays. The entire subject of coffee begins with a cup of espresso. It stands base for all the coffee drinks, and it only begins with 25 grams of espresso… To fully comprehend the taste of coffee a true gourmand would start from espresso. Even the connoisseurs should try espresso without knowing the mark of coffee, because when one tastes it one comprehends the essentials of coffee: the taste, the color, the aura. When milk or hot water is added to espresso, it then loses its original taste to a certain degree. Primarily it was too bitter or too special for me, and I had been searching for my coffee for long, but I was really determined and I’ve achieved my goal. The moment I felt this taste I was very happy! It was a feeling of indescribable joy! Even when I visit other coffee shops, I start to think about their coffee and realize that the coffee I like the most is made in my coffee place.

barista 2When I started working, the proprietor, Lyudmila Viktorovna, trained me on the run. Back then there wasn’t anybody who could train me on the art of coffee, so she took over. She is a big coffee expert. Through her training I’ve gotten her endurance and I’m very grateful to her, because she didn’t hesitate about investing so much time in my training. A cup of coffee is like a day’s dawn for her. “A day’s no good without coffee”, - she says.  There was this instance when I’ve made some coffee for her and she said: “Don’t know if it is to my grief or to my joy, but just now a student has excelled his master”.

Everything is already thought out in the coffee industry, but it sometimes happens when you want to surprise your guests with some new, coffee-flavored dessert, and so new ideas are born. Of course we discuss everything with Lyudmila Viktorovna, we make degustation, we survey clients of our coffee shop(we let them try it, wonder if they liked, collect good feedback), get some fine product and so our coffee menu keeps growing.

For example, Lyudmila Viktorovna once went abroad and brought along the recipe of Brazil coffee.  When we made the coffee per the recipe, we didn’t much like it, so we introduced some changes to it, some ingredients, and it resulted into a fine coffee. It consists of espresso, a piece of dark chocolate with addition of Kazakh chocolate and milk. All this mix then is whipped to a certain consistency, and you get the top layer of whipped cream and chocolate powder. This coffee has a harsh and rich flavor. We’ve processed much degustation to create this recipe, and we chose this very variation, included it in our menu and gathered some guests’ feedback. The guests liked the coffee and it is still highly demanded today.

In summer not many people will drink hot coffee, and as we care about our guests, we always invent cooled coffee cocktails, while in winter we come up with something spicy to warm hearts and souls.

I personally love coffee alla Turca. There are only two places in Almaty where you can have a fine cup of alla Turca, and one of them is our establishment. We have all necessary equipment and conditions to prepare all kinds of different coffee. Once I tasted coffee alla Turca, I liked it very much, because it has its own school, some original philosophy and traditions behind it. Erstwhile I had a rough time making Arabic coffee and alla Turca. I had to really cram a lot, but in the end I’ve made it magnificent. Once, a guest from Turkey came to our establishment and ordered coffee alla Turca. When she finished it, she approached the bar and said: “I didn’t expect that in Kazakhstan, Almaty, you can have such delicious coffee. This coffee shop in Almaty made me feel like I paid a visit home".

Coffee has balanced flavor. As you make your first sip you feel the pleasant bitterness of coffee. Some time past, the bitterness fades away and second flavor comes in, accompanied by light sourness, and all those parts are in harmony with one another. This balance is created by the aftertaste of coffee, and when you drink it, you will feel this balance. A true coffee connoisseur is looking for this very balance. That’s the main thing.

You have this “at home” feeling here, in “The White Whale”. You’re met as a dear friend of big family. We have courteous staff, coziness and we approach our every guest as a close friend. When I’ve just gotten employed, I was dazed by the fact that “The White Whale” is 17 years old. Throughout my 27 years of life I’ve changed many workplaces and I’ve never ever met an establishment working so long, with a constant propietor and trusted staff being a big friendly family.

Our team consists of very good and friendly people, and I can easily say that they’re my family. You’re treated even better than you’d be in some real family, not to mention our boss, who we modestly call “mom”. She totally supports and respects you, always hears you out and gives good advice. That’s why I love to work here. I’ve been working here for two years already and I want to improve my achievements list.

Guests that come to us are our closest relatives who we want to deliver an abundance of joy and delight. It happens sometimes that people go abroad for long, and then come back to our coffee shop in Almaty and they get surprised: “Mmmmm.. You still operational here? It feels as if we’re home”. There’s nothing better than giving good emotions to the people.

We are glad to see you anytime, and we always give hearts and souls to our guests. We will gladly make you a great feast. If you came in good mood, you will depart with even better one! I want to wish prosperity and longevity to our mistress and all our staff, and, of course, to all our guests!

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Almaty, Auezov street, 69, across Kurmangazy street

+7 (727) 375 42 12, +7 (727) 376 03 95