Life As We Know It: Barista

1. a person who makes and serves coffee in a coffee bar 

Australia has seen a culinary revolution. Not twenty years ago, a backyard barbie could best be described as a ritual performed to turn flaps of cow flesh, mechanically tenderised by the butcher to ensure it was really dead and force any remaining juices from it, into charcoal by the “high priest” barbie operator. This was inevitably followed by pavlova and a lukewarm cup of “international roast”. 

How things have changed. Steaks are now called wagyu (I’m still not sure how to pronounce it) and the high priest will ask each guest in turn: medium or rare? Answer “well done” and you’ll get a look like you’re a heretic. The pavlova is served with yet another question: flat white, cappuccino, short black? It’s a revolution alright!

Driving this sophistication are the barista gods. Men and women dedicated to the pursuit of taste and olfactory nirvana. 

Meet Dan Salter, Jacobs Well resident and passionate purveyor of fine coffee: Sourced from the finest coffee growing regions of the planet, organically, sustainably and socially responsibly grown, roasted to perfection and carefully mixed to create a variety of blends that will satisfy the most discerning coffee connoisseurs.  

Talking coffee with Dan is both exhilarating and exhausting. His enthusiasm and energy know no bounds, his area of expertise is wide ranging and his passion for coffee (and life) is palpable. 

Dan settled in Jacobs Well with his partner Beverley two years ago, a choice driven by the laid back lifestyle here as much as his dream to make coffee more than just a hot beverage. Having worked in the hospitality/coffee industry since he was 18, behind the counter, in sales & marketing, equipment R & D, blending & roasting and with a brief stint practicing horticulture, he knows a thing or two about coffee. 

At 42 he is anything but one dimensional and his interests are as wide ranging as they are eclectic: architecture, design, engineering, environmental & ethical science and classic cars and motorbikes. 

Not content with pursuing these subjects on an intellectual level, he has lovingly restored a classic 1977 Volkswagen Kombi van and equipped it with a hand build mini coffee roasting machine. Readers may remember the VW Van & Mini Roasting Factory as the standout participant at this year’s inaugural Arts by the Sea Festival.  

The VW Van can be seen every Sunday at the Miami Organic Markets, where Dan and Beverley sell their signature coffee blend under the name Ananya (Sanskrit: unique). 

Early & sustained success with his mobile business venture inspired him to open a permanent venue, an Espresso Lounge called “noego”, in Ormeau. Design, layout and décor are a testament to his artistic flair and tenacious personality. Tenacity apparently still a must have when dealing with council regulations. 

Always keen to share his extensive knowledge, he offers consulting services to people wanting to start their own business; bringing to the subject his unique experience backed, in his own words, by a Diploma of Life, obtained at the School of Hard Knocks.  

I had a most pleasant morning sampling outstanding coffee and watching him operate his espresso machine with consummate ease, serve a constant stream of clients with charming wit, all the while providing cogent answer to my incessant questions.

Go on, try it for yourself. It’ll be a pleasure, I guarantee it!

* You’ll find noego at 18 Blanck Street, Shop 15, Ormeau Industrial Estate.