They call their most interesting coffee order the Train Wreck. Meet Jordon and Hafiz, the affable duo behind every cuppa that reaches your tables — even the cold brews. We steal some of their time to ask them a little more about coffee, and what started their love affair with it.
Hi Jordon and Hafiz! Can you tell us a little more about how you came to be baristas?
Jordon (J): I had no interest in coffee, until I was pushed to be a barista at the previous café I worked at. There was the knowledge part of it, the chance to learn more, and the hands-on side as well. It was the perfect marriage of two things I really like.
Hafiz (H): Javier needed a barista when Grain Traders opened, so I decided to try it out. Then I learnt that there’s so much more to coffee. Being a barista is not just another job: you need to have a level of interest in order to make a good cup of coffee.
Of the many cafés and coffee bars, why did you choose to join Grain Traders?
J: Here, I had an opportunity to start something, push my ideas, and I think that was very attractive. The autonomy to do what I want to grow the coffee side was very exciting.
H: The culture of Grain Traders, and not just the coffee but the food as well, is really interesting to me. It’s a new concept: fun, energetic, fancy, and yet very simple as well.
What is the hardest part to making a good cup of coffee?
H: Getting the right taste out of the beans — what do I want people to taste? The beans change every day, and so do the natural flavours. Keeping the final taste consistent is hard.
J: Moreover, everyone has different tastebuds. If you’re a very sensitive taster, you’ll be very averse to bitterness, but if you give the coffee to someone less sensitive, it’ll be okay to them.
When it comes to latte art, how long did it take you to perfect it? Do different drinks have different designs?
H: I’ve been doing this for a few months. Latte art is quite hard, and depends on how well you steam the milk. To master latte art, I think you need 6 months to a year to perfect the steaming of the milk, and then the actual drawing.
J: The design is up to the person drawing it.
How would you recommend a cup to someone who isn’t familiar with coffee?
J: Generally, I’ll explain the different beans, ask some questions and narrow the choices down to suit their preferences. Sometimes, I give them a small sample to try as well. If they end up purchasing a cup, then at least I know they will enjoy the coffee.
In your opinion, is there a correct way to enjoy coffee? Or is there a specific way we should drink our coffee to get the best out of it?
H: Without sugar. When you add sugar to your coffee the sweetness can overwhelm the coffee and kill its taste.
J: Specialty coffee’s just like wine — you don’t add sugar to a good wine. When people add sugar, it’s because the coffee’s too bitter to start with, which means it wasn’t done well, and the beans probably weren’t roasted properly. There’s a lot you can tell just from drinking coffee without sugar.
What’s your favourite coffee beverage at Grain Traders, both to drink and to make?
J: Hand brew, because it brings out the most flavours. Once, my friend tasted watermelon in his coffee, and I didn’t believe him till he poured a cup for me, and I tasted guava.
H: Caramel Frappuccino. (laughs) Okay, I’m joking. For me, just a simple latte. I like milk with my espresso.
What is the most interesting coffee order you’ve taken?
H: On our menu, there’s this section that says: “Make it iced, soy, mocha, or decaf”. Some people have misinterpreted it, and ordered an “iced soy mocha decaf”. At the start, we weren’t that familiar with the menu, so we literally made an iced soy mocha decaf. Later we realised that those were options, it’s not even a drink!
J: Now we call it the Train Wreck.
Do you have any tips for aspiring baristas?
H: Have an open mind, and accept criticism. If you want to be the best, you have to accept these kinds of truths.
J: What people teach you isn’t all black and white, or always fixed. It’s really more about tasting and understanding what makes a good cup of coffee. Don’t just focus on one small detail, because there is a lot to learn.
View our coffee menu here.