Meet the Barista Series: Jacob at NOC Whampoa

24 APR 2020

It has been a while, but welcome back to our Meet the Baristas Series, where we introduce you to the NOC baristas that serve up the best brews at each of our locations.

This month, we sat down for a coffee with Jacob, the head barista at our beautiful Whampoa store.

1. What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the opportunity to connect with customers and my team through coffee. Most customers come in to enjoy their coffee everyday but don’t really know how the seeds of a fruit become the cup of liquid black gold they drink every day. We also hire a lot of new team members who don’t have prior coffee knowledge. NOC is truly one-of-a-kind in a small city like Hong Kong, as it provides customers and staff members with the time, space and opportunity to gather, share coffee skills and knowledge, and to enjoy a coffee experience of simplicity with substance.

2. Why did you decide to make coffee your career?

When I worked for a Japanese restaurant in Central, I used to drink coffee from the restaurant’s coffee machine to wake myself up in the morning. One day, I dropped by a neighbourhood café for a coffee and it tasted much better than the coffee I made. I became intrigued by specialty coffee and decided to engage with my interest by entering the coffee industry. I started by working part-time at local coffee shops, then travelled to Australia for a working holiday, where I was fortunate enough to have met many passionate roasters and baristas, who taught me their trade and pushed me to improve my coffee skills and knowledge. I love being a barista because coffee is definitely one of my passions, and being a barista means you are faced with new challenges every day.

3. How do you train your baristas in the NOC method?

To our customers, NOC is very minimalistic, but behind the scenes there is complex undertakings to curate that simple façade: the hard work that is required to achieve the simplicity is invisible to the public.

Instead of ‘training’ baristas, the way I see it is that I am merely making the high standards and procedures that need to be followed clear, and sharing my own tips on how to achieve what is required of us as NOC baristas. As individuals, we are all the same but unique in our goals, personalities, learning and thinking processes. My job as a trainer is to help a person learn, but I can only help a trainee as much as s/he wants to learn something. The truth is that ‘the more you practise, the more you learn’, and my approach is to be there to guide and support my team’s learning every step of the way.

4. What experience do you want to create for NOC customers?

As Sam mentioned in our ultimate guide to coffee tasting, coffee is a deeply personal experience. Everyone has her/his own preference, and there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to what ‘good coffee’ means. I hope to lead customers in finding their favourite cups of coffee, and help them learn to understand and appreciate our coffee skills.

But, as much as I want to introduce customers to the intricate world of coffee, I respect that customers visit coffee shops for their own purposes. I believe customers will come to me with their questions when they are ready, and I want to be there to answer their questions and share my thoughts when they do come to me.

5. What is your favourite brewing method?

Pourover, because that is how I can enjoy the coffee in its most original state and taste.

6. What does NOC mean to you?

I love how NOC provides a clean, comfortable and supportive environment for professional baristas to serve, learn and grow. We follow high standards put forward by our founders and strict housekeeping rules. I appreciate the way our company culture influences the team to build a habit of working swiftly and accurately, and I believe this is the only way we can then be able to create a great coffee experience for customers.

NOC is made up of a group of people who are passionate about what they do. I think we make a great team and I really enjoy working with my fellow baristas, who are talented in their own unique ways and so supportive of each other.

7. How do you take your coffee?

I chuck down one to two espressos in the morning so I can function, and enjoy a pourover in the afternoon when we are less busy in the store.