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Saturday, 17 April 2010

I wish I had taken my camera out with me to the shopping centre today to photograph the intense activity at the mid-plaza coffee stand. Normally at a coffee stand or cafe there are two baristas on the job: one on the machine and one on the milk. But here I saw three people working furiously to keep up with demand for fresh take-away coffee.

After paying for my large flat-white, I moved around to the take-out section to wait. And wait I did. A full ten minutes later I took possession. It was bitter but at least it was hot.

While waiting, I had plenty to keep me occupied watching the team at work.

The enormous, multi-tap machine was constantly producing rivers of expresso under the control of a tall man in his 40s. Close beside him stood a young woman with a black, beaded hairband who had the milk job. She used both hands: one to hold a jug of hot milk under the steam nozzle and the other to pass a freshly-frothed jug to the third person in the team.

This part was the most interesting. Here, a middle-aged woman had the task of completing coffees, calling out the name of the customer, and handing the concoctions over to his or her waiting hands. Unlike the woman next to her, this woman had a red, fabric hairband with polka dots on it.

It was a cute accessory. Her job involved making things look pretty, too. Cappuccinos of different kinds made her make different patterns with sprinkling chocolate. Some were in a star pattern while others were cross-hatched. Babycinos were made by dumping four spoonsful of white froth on top of a splash of espresso.

At her station the counter was covered with chocolate, testimony to her incessant industry as chief sprinkler and designer of cappuccino magic.

My flat-white? She probably sighed with relief when it came my turn. Flat-whites have no chocolate on them. Just the way I like it.

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