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Article by Angela Moxey, Cafe Culture International.

We really brewed up something rather special at the ‘Alternative Dairy Co Barista Engage Program’ last week!

Held at The Coffee Commune in Brisbane’s Bowen Hills, Barista Engage workshop aimed to educate baristas and aspiring baristas, to the possibilities of their coffee career.

The cafe and coffee industry has advanced into a hefty $13 billion segment. However, despite this, career advancement in many hospitality positions can seem rather dim.

Once a hospitality superstar progresses into a management role within a business, the question will then start to stir, “What’s next for me?”.

Hospitality workers often find themselves in a kind of rut, lost in finding the right direction to take in order to follow their passion, but also with a desire to continue to move forward with their career.

The Coffee Commune

To discuss the possible career progressions for this booming industry, we hosted Barista Engage last week.

Sponsored by The Alternative Dairy Co (ADC), this free one-day workshop (which was also live-streamed*) focused on the positive career paths for baristas who want to advance in their full-time career. We asked some industry professionals to share their success stories with attendees of the workshop – and boy did they deliver!

Alternative Dairy Co Rachel Glasbergen was fully behind this project, looking at how the industry is changing after Covid and the importance of career path opportunities in the coffee and café industry. The Alternative Dairy Co business is built around sustainability and longevity of business and locking in long term futures in the industry is vital to their business ethos.

Toby Smith with Alternative Dairy Co’s Rachel Glasbergen

Industry Leaders/Professionals:

JEFF DUTTON – ALCHEMY CORDIAL COMPANY. Jeff is an experienced General Manager, Asia Pacific Sales Manager & National Sales Manager, used to managing people. He has a history of building brand recognition, sales and profitability across multiple countries simultaneously combined with extensive experience in the development and achievement of budgets.

PHILLIP DI BELLA – THE COFFEE COMMUNE. Phillip started one of the fastest growing coffee companies in Australia known as Di Bella Coffee, and has seen global success in his international start-ups. He now sits as the CEO of The Coffee Commune.

Phillip Di Bella

TOBY SMITH – TOBY’S ESTATE. The story of Toby’s Estate began in 1997, when coffee loving lawyer Toby Smith made a life-changing decision, swapping legal books for coffee cups to follow his passion for his favourite brew. In 2001, Toby’s Estate was born when he opened his very first cafe, espresso school and roastery.

Toby Smith

SAM TAYLOR – SOUL ORIGIN. Sam spent the 2000s and early 2010s running cafes and pursuing the craft of a barista. A National level competitor and now ASCA Latte Art Judge, Sam has spent the past 5 years sharing specialty coffee with Australia in his role as head of coffee for Australian franchise group Soul Origin.

Sam Taylor

PAUL ASQUITH – JOSIE COFFEE. With 20 years already spent committed to coffee, Paul’s passion is for digesting the endless possibilities and knowledge surrounding coffee flavour development.

RAIHAAN ESAT – INTERNATIONAL COFFEE TRADERS (ICT). Raihaan has been a part of the ICT for nine years, focusing his attention on the green bean sector of the industry. He has followed his passion for coffee by learning everything he can within the industry, from roasting to competing in the highest level of barista competitions. He now sits as the General Manager of ICT.

Raihaan Esat

We were looking for this workshop to not only be both educational and motivational, but also to be effective practically.

Which is why we offered our attending barista guests the opportunity to be a part of an ongoing mentor program. Six lucky entrants, chosen for their passion and drive for the industry, will have the opportunity to utilise our speakers as coaches, who will help in directing them towards the right path to achieve their goal within the industry.

These lucky baristas are Tram Phan, Brendan Kesby, Melinda Brown, Anastasia Chandra, Prue Ireland, and Amos Sharma – a massive congratulations guys!

The chosen protégés: Brendan Kesby, Amos Sharma, Tram Phan, Melinda Brown, Prue Ireland and Anastasia Chandra

Barista Engage is an industry first, with the generous support of major sponsor The Alternative Dairy Co, who jumped at the chance to do a positive impact workshop. Also, a special shoutout to our other sponsor Sunbeam, who provided the exceptional lucky door prize of a Sunbeam Barista Max Coffee Machine, which was gladly received by Brendan Kesby!

Lucky door prize – Brendan Kesby, winner of the Sunbeam coffee machine presented by Sunbeam representative Will Tran.

The Barista Engage workshop aimed at hopefully shining a different light onto the barista career path and take away last years’ negative industry downturn due to the Covid pandemic. An industry first which is certainly not to be the last!

*See replay of our livestream here:

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