A macchiato in the morning, a catch-up with friends over a cappuccino, a latte after lunch or an espresso during a business meeting. Coffee has become so ingrained in our culture that there is a café on almost every corner.
The quality of the beans and the skill of the barista combine to create the perfect cup – whether your regular order is a flat white or a decaf piccolo latte on low fat unsweetened almond milk.
Kenichiro Seno, better known as Ken, is a barista with local coffee roasting company, Peak Coffee. He works with single origin and blended beans that have been carefully chosen and roasted to bring out their unique character.
“My role as a barista is to help bring those beans to life in a cup for the customer to enjoy,” Ken said.
Ken’s career in hospitality began in his homeland, Japan, where he grew up in Chiba, about 40 km southeast of Tokyo.
He moved to Australia in 2003 and began training in commercial kitchens and restaurants, and then moved “front of house” to work in customer service. He completed a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery and a Diploma in Hospitality Management at the TAFE Northern Sydney Institute.
“One day the coffee industry caught my eye, and I began working in cafés around Sydney’s Northern Beaches,” Ken said.
Ken swapped the busy beaches of Sydney for the untouched coastline of Port Macquarie in 2011. A keen surfer, he says after five years there are still so many secret beaches to be discovered and adventures to be had here. “When I get in the ocean I feel calm, relaxed and can see things clearly. The ocean has taught me a lot.”
Looking to develop his skills further, Ken signed up for Peak Coffee’s Barista Course.
“Peak provided an opportunity and a space for students to practice after the course had finished. So I came to visit Peak as much as I could to improve my skills and knowledge, and was then offered a job.”
Ken started working in Peak’s pop-up coffee cart, and then moved to the Peak Brew Lab, where you will find him most days.
At Peak Ken has learnt how to make a great coffee, and he’s also picked up some Aussie slang. “I’ll have ‘Dog Eyes’ and ‘Power Poles’ for lunch and then a ‘10 to 8’ after work!”
There are many steps involved in each and every cup – grinding, dosing, levelling, tamping, extraction, stretching milk and finally pouring the milk. Ken completes each of these steps with skill, care and love.
The biggest challenge is consistency. “My ultimate goal is to ensure the customer feels comfortable and that they can enjoy a perfect, predictable result every time.”
Ken’s enthusiasm for coffee, his stamina and his friendly customer service has helped him build a loyal following of coffee connoisseurs.
“Without a doubt, the best part of my day is seeing a customer really enjoy their coffee.”
6.00am – Wake up, get ready for work. Water the garden. Make coffee.
7:30am – Open shop front doors for morning rush. Start making coffee for regular customers.
10:00am – Re-stock, get ready for lunchtime customers. Help in the warehouse, boxing orders.
12:00pm – Lunch.
12:30pm – Back to making coffee. Chat with customers who are looking to buy beans, grinding beans for their home use and answering coffee questions.
2:00pm – Helping train students in basic coffee skills.
4:00pm – Start end of day clean.
5:00pm – Close the doors.
5:30pm – Check the surf (if it’s not too dark).