Latest from the Cafe front: Barista trainings and Championships
We’re fast approaching our one year anniversary at Kinyei’s St 1.5 Cafe! Incredible to think that it’s been one year since we launched our Kickstarter campaign to get this whole thing off the ground, ran a remote training with our green staff and the Jasper folks, and opened our doors in Battambang.
There hasn’t been a minute to sit still so far; looking back at the past two months, it’s been a frenzied push to expand our team and into our upstairs space. We’d like to think these last several months have been a testament to the team’s hard work and endless energy for fulfilling Kinyei’s collaborative spaces a making the most of every opportunity that presents itself.
Barista Training in and out
We kicked off October with another round of hiring to ready ourselves for the tourist season, nearly upon us. Theavy, Sopheap, Seyla and Chouert, the cafe newcomers, are quickly acclimating to cafe life. Fortuitously, Kinyei was hosting volunteers James and Joel, pals from Australia, on site for 2 weeks around the same time (see post below for their blog). James, a coffee connoisseur with years of experience in the coffee industry back in Brisbane, used the two weeks to pass on his expertise.
Sopheap's first latte
James, with help from Katie and the Cafe team, developed a comprehensive Barista training manual and accreditation course, with a coffee appreciation component, covering coffee concepts from crop to cup.
This newly minted Barista Course has jumpstarted a new service for Kinyei’s cafe team – professional espresso machine training. So far the Kinyei team has facilitated our training for one barista from Art Deli in Siem Reap, and two baristas from a new cafe near Banteay Preab, Phnom Penh. The Cafe team did a fantastic job of delivering this training and received stellar feedback from the trainees. Sorn Sreyna commented about the benefits of the training,
“I feel excited that I can make a nice coffee now, I know clearly how to make many kinds of coffee and hot to steam a very nice milk.”
She then asked, “Can I come back to train again?”
Similarly the cafe team was excited to be able to share (and show off) their skills. Untac also noted that “the training was great but quite short. I would want at least a week if I were a trainee I would feel confused!”
Srey Na and Sopheap, barista trainees from Phnom Penh
Untac also incorporated YouTube instructables into the training himself, citing how helpful it was for him when he was learning to use YouTube to watch different milk steaming techniques. To be sure, making delicious espresso takes persistence and passion!
TOT for P2P
Kinyei’s senior Cafe staff also attended a train the trainer workshop led by the Women’s Reproductive Team from the Catholic Centre in Battambang at Kinyei. Perfect timing for the team to use their new training skills as we rolled out the Barista training curriculum to staff from cafes around Cambodia.
TOT P2P it's all happening
Soksabike tour guide Moth Pheap was happy for the chance to view experienced trainers to get ideas for leadership style and setting clear direction and focus to a task. Sopheap Khou appreciated that the trainers spent time to understand their audience, and become familiar with those they were going to train, including cultivating a friendly feeling between instructor and student. Phalla Yai pointed out that the training was just a first step, and that with limited time, there was limited potential for learning – she’d like to see more trainings like this in the future.
It was fun to see Kinyei’s different project teams come together to learn a general skill like leadership and training that they can bring back to their specific jobs, and use in peer to peer education whether that’s training new baristas in the cafe, new tour guides on the route, or any other hobby, interest or skill that they have.
Thanks again to Meg Battle, Theary and the team from the Catholic Church for putting together a super workshop!
Kinyei’s first entry into the Cambodian National Barista Champs
On the 20th of October Katie, Sean and Sakana crowded into a shared taxi to Phnom Penh to cheer on Untac in the 2011 Barista Championships at the Sofitel.
On the 21st of October Untac had 15 minutes to make and serve 12 coffees. He made four espressos, four Cappuccinos and four signature drinks. With help from fellow cafe staff, Untac concocted the ‘Kinyei’; a shot of espresso, a shot of ginger sugar syrup, latte milk and cinnamon sprinkled on top. The ‘Kinyei’ was served in a piccolo latte glass. Delicious…and innovative! Katie, Mel, Justin and I got the pleasure of tasting the ‘Kinyei’ during Untac’s practice round the day before the competition at St 1.5.
Untac brought his coffee making flare and charming personality to the floor to produce some stunning coffees. Have a look for yourself – Untac competes in National Barista Competition
“The three who won were very skillful, all the competitors have skills, but did worse during the competition, even me”, Untac noted. He attributed this to the nervousness all contestants felt, as none had been judged before. He also noted that there were two different machines and that the contenstents were randomly assigned to compete on; the participants all agreed the larger 2 Group Saaco machine was more optimal than the smaller single group machine. It was luck of the draw.
The crowned barista was from The Shop in Phnom Penh. Talk about steep competition, most of these baristas are churning out hundreds of espressos daily. We’re terribly stoked for Untac, he did us all proud in Phnom Penh!
Untac and Sakana scoping out the competition
The small Kinyei contingency was delighted to witness the pomp at the Cambodian Restaurant Association’s (CRA) barista competition. Sakana noted that she loved to watch the cooking competition “since cooking is something I’ve loved since I was little.” On Phnom Penh, she added “Romdeng restaurant was my and the pumpkin cake at Living Room cafe.”
“The cafes in Phnom Penh are similar to Kinyei, but I got some new ideas about specials. At Kinyei we could have something like Banana Cappuccino”, Sean reported.
As for watching Untac compete, Sakana remarked “I was very scared for Untac!”
Untac just before his turn at the machine
“I was very happy when I watched Untac to make coffee, some time I want to help but this is a competition so I cannot”, lamented Sean.
Untac interjected that one of his favorite things was getting to know the other contestants from different places in Cambodia. Everyone was really friendly, and happy to share about their experiences. “While we played on the machines, people would come and share what they know. We’re still talking together on facebook.”
“I think next year Kinyei should send two baristas to compete” Sakana concluded. We couldn’t agree more.
An aside: Lucky for the team, the event was held as part of the CRA hospitality competition. You can imagine our elation as we witnessed competitors in the bedmaking, fruit carving, and bartending competitions.