TO SENIOR barista and trainer Henri Koh, 45, coffee brewing is an art form.

A coffee connoisseur of more than 10 years, Mr Koh works at Boncafé International, a gourmet coffee manufacturer and supplier of roasted and ground coffee.

He says: “Have passion in making every single cup. A barista’s job entails more than just coffee-making. It is all about providing a service and creating a memorable experience.

“Also, be sure to follow the rules of thumb of making coffee. The four fundamentals that I always apply are the proportions of coffee and water, using the correct grind size corresponding to the type of brewing method, using fresh and clean water, and last but not least, using fresh coffee.”


Attention to detail

Mr Koh’s years of expertise and passion in coffee stand him in good stead in conducting barista-training workshops.

He joined Boncafé in 2006 after leaving his store manager job of eight years with Starbucks Coffee to develop his career further.

“My experience allows me to come up with barista training modules and facilitate the training programmes,” says Mr Koh, whose learners consist of members of the public and customers from independent cafés, restaurants and hotels.

“We share with the participants the history of coffee, the regions where the trees are grown, harvesting and processing. We also transfer our skills and teach them how to brew a perfect cup of coffee.”

He also ingrains these principles in his customers when he visits them to perform quality checks on coffee equipment and coffee beverages, so he can empower them to deliver “a great cup of coffee, anytime, anywhere.”


Creative thinking

Apart from training and quality control, he is involved in marketing projects and events and acts as a spokesman for media interviews and a brand ambassador at exhibitions.

He also creates new recipes for coffee and non-coffee beverages.

He says: “We usually receive marketing briefs from our customers and work in the direction of festive seasons, new food programmes or special occasions. I get inspiration from market research, and tasting and experimenting with new products at our academy.”

To relax and stimulate creative thinking, he does indulge in a cup of pourover coffee.

Pourover coffee is made by pouring water over the grounds using a coffee dripper rather than a coffee maker.


A daily dose

The coffee aficionado says although he is not a typical coffee addict, he needs a daily dose of coffee — usually a shot of espresso — to boost his energy for the day.

“My favourite coffee has always been single origin or estate coffee. I love to explore the original characteristic of the coffee, which can range from nuts, spice, fruits to even wine at times,” he says.

Single origin coffee is coffee grown on a single farm as opposed to in regions or countries, or a specific collection of beans from a single country. Estate coffee is a type of single origin coffee.         

His friends and family members are always curious about his job, says Mr Koh, because it is still relatively new in this region. However, he adds, coffee consumption is becoming a lifestyle and people enjoy spending time over a cup of excellent handmade coffee.

He says his mission is to share his knowledge of coffee and its culture, and he wants to groom more highly skilled baristas who can bring out the best of Singapore’s coffee culture.


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