As the new web address ending .coffee is launched on the Internet, Sarah Holt talks to freelance barista Joao Almeida about what coffee means to him…
The dictionary will tell you the word coffee is a noun. But the minute I meet Portugal-born barista Joao Almeida I start to think they’ve got it wrong. For him, coffee is a verb, it’s something people do. And it’s this philosophy that he’s championing through his work in the UK.
“In Portugal, coffee is about the interaction of people,” says Joao. “It’s never about you or me, it’s about us. In the UK, you have one coffee for one self, to take away. In Portugal, coffee is about time with other people. That’s what I’m passionate about.”
Coffee seems to be part of Joao’s DNA. Even his childhood memories are linked to it.
“In Portugal, you know you become a man when you are allowed an espresso,” says Joao. Coffee with milk is for little boys. When you reach manhood, you are allowed an espresso. When you have a massive family meal with your family, the adults go outside to drink espresso and they come back in for dessert.”
As a barista, Joao doesn’t just make coffee, he sees his career as a quest for perfection.
“You pick up experiences of coffee in life,” he says. “You remember the best service from one place, the best milk from another, and the best beans from another. You keep all these in mind and spend all your time as a barista trying to achieve that perfect experience.”
However, at the same time, Joao keeps his customers at the heart of what he does.
“A barista can give you something that improves your day,” says Joao. “If you’ve had a hard commute or you’ve got deadlines, a coffee gives you one moment in time when everything goes away. It can give you that feeling that everything’s going to be okay. That’s an enormous power you have as a barista.”
And that’s why Joao personalises his customer’s coffees with latte art. Using steamed milk, he creates images of everything from people to rabbits on his lattes.
“Coffee should be all about the experience,” says Joao. “That’s what I like about it.”
To get your own .coffee web address visit the new domains page of the UK2 website. This new domain will be available to buy from 4pm.