As you guys already know, coffee is a big part of my life. I love the social aspect of coffee, the taste, the process of making it and, of course, the buzz! Because of my obsession with coffee shops I often wonder what it takes to be a Barista.
I had the pleasure of interviewing PVD local barista & baker Wetherley Rouleau on her experience and training on becoming a barista. It’s not easy and requires much passion and patience!
Without further adieu, Wetherley…
you worked at one of my favorite places ever in Providence! tell us about how you got to work at Seven Stars?!
“I was working at another cafe, knew I enjoyed making drinks but wasn’t learning as much as I wanted. I met some of the Seven Stars crew at one of the monthly latte art competitions and finally applied at the right time! I got very lucky!”
when did you decide you wanted to be a Barista?
“Initially I got a job at a cafe because simply, it looked fun and I needed a job to get me through college. I quickly learned how fascinating the coffee industry is, and that it was bigger and more complex than I had imagined. I also learned that being a barista required a lot more thought, knowledge and skill than I ever knew before. I fell in love before I even knew it.”
describe what it was like when you worked at Seven Stars?
“For me, a typical day at Seven Stars began at 5:30 am. I was one of the usual openers. I loved the early mornings! The city is so quiet and peaceful and I got to set up the store for all the customers which was a fun and nice way to transition into my work day. So, I made the coffee, teas, set up the milk pitchers and sugars, etc. Another opener would put the bread out, and the manager would set up pastries. It doesn’t sound like a lot of work but it is time consuming and we all ran around quite a bit during open! Then, when the doors finally opened it was all about waiting on people and making delicious drinks.”
being a Barista takes extensive training, tell us about the training a Barista at Seven Stars needs to go through.
“Before you can even be eligible for the training program you have to be employed for a minimum of 90 days. Then when classes come around, the in house Coffee Director Mark Hundley instructs us at New Harvest’s training lab. We focused on extracting espresso, steaming milk, pouring drinks and use of the machine/cleaning it. We got all the basics and more, and it is hugely insightful. After the classes we still had to go through training on the bar in the stores either with Mark, the store’s Head Barista, or sometimes managers. When we’ve had enough practice, we then had to go through a test where we make every drink. If it is up to standard, we become barista certified and get to make drinks every shift. Really though, training never ends because you learn something new everyday.
why do you think it’s important to have such good training and know how to make a perfect cup of coffee??
“Extensive training is important because espresso is an art that changes every single day. We have to know how to work with it effectively in order to get the best flavor. There are so many factors that affect the taste, and we learn how to get it just right only by working with it. It truly is a craft that only gets better with practice, and it takes a lot of discipline but the outcome is absolutely worth it. Nothing beats a well-crafted coffee drink first thing in the morning.
what do you think is the biggest misconception about being a Barista?
“I dislike the whole “snobby barista” stigma. It’s a baristas job to help you understand an espresso drink menu; not to make you feel stupid for not knowing what something is. Even though it’s funny, I also dislike that baristas are typically portrayed as lazy on TV and movies. There are some really passionate and hard working coffee professionals out there!
what is your favorite part about being a Barista?
“Simply I just love making drinks. I actually enjoy the pressure of having long line of drinks and being able to get them out in a timely and tasty manner. It is what I imagine line cooks (somewhat) feel like, and I’m obsessed with the whole culinary world. I really love the feeling of improving my skills every time I work on the bar. ”
This, I think is totally amazing and I hope we don’t take for granted but you always, always, always, have a smile on your face at 7am, with a line out the door with customers, how do you do it??
“I’m used to it at this point! It is our job to wake up the city, and honestly by the time the regular working crowd comes in, I’ve already been up for a couple hours and had a cup of coffee. Opening the store is a great way to ease into the day. It also doesn’t hurt that our regulars are so kind and good to us!”
this question may be too common or obvious, but we need to know! what is your favorite coffee drink??
“My favorite coffee drink is a whole milk cappuccino. It’s such a perfect balance of espresso and milk; it automatically wakes me up and puts me in a great mood! I also rarely say no to an iced coffee, and a great double espresso is always a nice treat.
what would you say is your favorite tool/machine to make coffee? chemex, keurig, drip coffee maker, espresso machine, etc?!
“At home, I’m all about my chemex. I love that thing so much! It makes such a clean and delicious cup of coffee, and it gets people interested in the brewing process!
flavored syrups are all the rage right now. what is your take on them?
For me personally, I don’t often use flavor syrups, but I do enjoy the vanilla syrup we make at Seven Stars because we use real vanilla beans, and those are just beautiful in anything. And I understand people love their flavor syrups, so I’m happy to put them in a drink for anyone. Anyone who truly appreciates a delicious coffee won’t need to put anything artificial in it though.
there is a whole world around coffee art, tell me about that!
“Latte art is awesome! It takes so much practice and I think people get excited about developing their skills and seeing their friends improve too. In Providence we have occasional “Latte Art Throw-downs” where anyone can come to watch, baristas sign up to compete, and we all take turns pouring art until someone wins. It’s a great way to meet the other local coffee professionals, and everyone is very happy and supportive of each other. It’s more of a big party than a competition- the energy is so positive and it’s always a blast.
how would you describe your fashion style?
“So feminine! You can’t tell when I’m in my work uniform though. I am usually a “less-is-more” kind of girl with one loud accessory. I am all about anything with food print, summer dresses, rompers and polka dots.
Us gals here at winter moon live our lives by inspiration, tell us, what inspires you?
“My best friends inspire me on a personal level- they always have. They love that I work in coffee even though they are all health professionals! Professionally though, the overall coffee community continues to inspire me. We see new shops popping up recently, and knowing that they are being received so well is very inspirational and also comforting. I find a new reason to be inspired in my craft everyday.
if you could drop everything and do ONE thing, what would you do and why?!
“Travel. There is so much of the country and the world that I want to see, and I’m slowly working on plans to travel. I want to see what people are doing in other cities and really immerse myself in different culture.”
“Oh I have so many! One of my currents is”:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou
where are you from and where do you live now?
“I’m originally from a small town in New Hampshire, and I’ve been living in Providence for 5 years now.”
describe Providence in a few words.
“Tiny, creative and fun. I love this little city.
what would you say to someone considering a career change, wanting to dive into the world of coffee?
“Be prepared to work hard! Stay humble always, and accept criticism because it is all going to help you. Learn what you like about coffee and pursue that. There is so much opportunity beyond the surface but only for those who are hungry enough to work hard.
we think you are so lovely! what kinds of social media can we follow you on and how can our readers contact you?
“Thank you so much! You guys are lovely, it’s so great that you introduce the audience to businesses or professions that they may not have known about before! I mainly use instagram! My username is simply @wetherley ”
Wetherley is currently a barista at BOLT Coffee and a baker at Ellie’s Bakery! Be sure to say “hi” to her if you see her around town; she’s the loveliest!
// all photography by Olivia //