His day starts an hour before the crack of dawn and yet Toli always has a welcoming smile on his face as he greets you to the Bakehouse Café for a hot cup of coffee.
Say hello to Toli – coffee aficionado and Bakehouse Café’s Head Barista.
Toli’s coffee journey started when he was only 17 years old and working in his family’s café in New Zealand.
“My dad told me that if I wasn’t considering going to university then I better be helping out in the family business instead. The rest is history,” said Toli with a laugh.
He came to Canterbury after stints working as a barista for the past five years in Wellington, Auckland and Brisbane, drawn to the challenge of setting up and working in Bakehouse and taking ownership of all things coffee across all of the Club’s dining outlets.
“Working at Bakehouse is just an evolution of what I’ve done before but just on a much larger scale – I’ve previously worked at smaller cafes making coffee and learning from other experienced baristas while perfecting my craft. Eventually I became responsible for training staff, engaging suppliers and things like that but Bakehouse takes it to the next level for me,” said Toli.
When Canterbury sent the call out for a new Head Barista to lead the team, Toli said he was keen as beans, pun notwithstanding, and there was the extra convenience of only living down the road in Belmore which makes work within a walking distance.
Toli leads a team of Bakehouse baristas who have all been trained by him in the art of making the perfect coffee. In the lead up to the café opening, he ran multiple training sessions and mock services where other Canterbury staff were invited to put his new baristas under the pump in realistic situations to prepare them for the live environment of a busy café.
“Lots of people know how to make coffee but there are little things which they can get wrong which affects the taste of it – for example, not tamping the grind level which extracts the coffee unevenly, not extracting the coffee quick enough or not controlling the temperature of the milk. If the barista understands what they are doing, then they are more inclined to make the coffee correctly and take more care which ultimately translates to a more positive experience for the customer.”
Even though Bakehouse Café makes hundreds and hundreds of cups of coffee each day, Toli is ever vigilant to ensure every cup passes his muster.
“For many people, drinking coffee is a blissful experience from the first sip and knowing we can make them that perfect cup makes our day,” said Toli.
As for our resident Head Barista, he can’t survive without his coffee! His choice of poison – flat white, extra shot, extra hot – something he says is quintessentially Kiwi, or at least in his hometown anyway where everyone serves their coffee extra strong and extra hot, possibly due to the freezing winds in Wellington!
Bakehouse’s coffee beans are sourced from local Sydney roaster, Will & Co, who have partnered with worldwide green bean suppliers to offer the best raw quality product available. The green beans, 100% Arabica beans from Guatemala and Brazil, are then roasted on-site in their large Probat roasters. Specifically chosen by Toli and his team out of 13 other different coffee blends in blind taste-testings, Will & Co’s roast leaves a smooth medium-bodied flavour from start to finish.