"it's the mark of a successful barista in a profession that has come of age. a first-rate barista knows customers by name and coffee of choice and juggles hundreds of hand-crafted beverages each day.
in italy, the average age of a barista is 48. it's not a job for an eager student who will disappear at the earliest opportunity but an exalted career. in sydney, a top barista can earn about A$100,000 and in melbourne, well, rates aren't necessarily that generous but we love them anyway."
yes dear readers, you read that correctly. the reason down under has the planet's best espresso, as i discovered for myself last year, and consistently kicks up in the world championships is that baristi there are real professionals with health care and a real salary.
paul bassett himself told me that a good oz barista could get as much as A$24 an hour. when i ask american retailers why they can't pay the same, they give me a variety of excuses, in the main: taxes, rent, labor costs, etc.
but i have to say from personal experience that i know the rent, regulatory costs, labor costs and taxes in sydney exceed every place in the u.s.a except perhaps nyc, san francisco, and la-la land. and yet the beverage prices in sydney are not appreciably higher than in nyc.
when i returned from oz last year, paul geshos with his pal alex kum of mecca and i had quite the correspondence on this very subject. how do oz independent retailers do it?
i was going to write an article for tea and coffee, but it never went anywhere, alas. still, i suggest american independent roaster/retailers follow the oz model -- professional baristi lead to better quality drinks, which lead to more satisfied customers, which lead to more business, which lead to more profits.
it can be done here.