In the past 6 to 8 years the number of cafés sprouting and opening in countries across Asia, namely in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam have grown tremendously. Back in 2005/6, the only decent cafés serving espresso-based beverages were always serving Italian brand coffee such as Illy, or Lavazza. Today, we are seeing independent cafés mushrooming in major cities of Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Jakarta, Bandung, Ho Chih Minh. Having said that, the consumption of coffee in these countries are mainly still the traditional styled local coffee made from roasting Robusta coffee with margarine and sugar, with the occasional addition of corn to make the end product cheaper. So, what is driving the specialty coffee and café scene in these cities?
Let’s begin where the source of the café scene is most influential to these parts of the world; namely, Australia, the U.K. and the United States. In these countries, there is almost a café on every corner. There is no lack of good, decent cafés that serve their beverages with passion and purpose. Each café could easily generate and serve 200-300 cups of coffee in a couple of hours during the morning rush in the cities of Seattle, New York, London, Sydney and Melbourne. Baristas working here are not only honed in their knowledge of coffee, but also in the speed and precision of pulling those shots for the office executives that are in a hurry and doing it with a warm smile and familiarity towards their loyal customers.These countries also showcase regular barista competitions that allows the barista to showcase their knowledge, skills and creativity in the preparation of the coffee of their choice on a stage performance to enthusiastic crowds. It is like a theatre of sorts to watch and observe these baristas display their craft and skills while serving a panel of judges. The most prestigious of all would be for a barista to win their local national competitions and represent their countries at the World Barista Competition (WBC) held annually at different cities around the world. These events serve as great marketing platforms for creating the awareness of the craft of a barista and the cafés they are working in. Every champion of the WBC becomes a superstar and a role model for all baristas around the world to emulate, and their café also becomes the place to be. The barista competitions therefore play an important role in creating awareness and setting the trends of coffee offering and the style of offering. It has lifted the status of a barista from just a coffee maker to a BARI-STAR status.