The meteoric growth in consumer demand for espresso has placed immense downward pressure on the skills of the average barista. Many coffee retailers (most notably Starbucks) have responded to this gap between supply and demand by introducing more automated machines and processes, enabling them to hire a wider availability of less skilled workers at lower salaries. Yet others are responding by trying to raise the bar — increasing the training and education of the average, or available, barista.

As reported here in a previous post, Australia is planning to address the problem, in part, through formal barista accreditation and licensing. But according to Rob Forsyth, barista and chairman of the AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association, there is also the lost art of listening to customers — especially for a new crop who think they know it all: Coffee industry experts spill the beans on baristas – National – (from tomorrow’s Sydney Morning Herald). A little knowledge truly can be a dangerous thing.