A YOUNG Wrexham barista is savouring the heady aroma of success after officially reaching the highpoint of his trade.
Billy Paterson, who admits he didn’t even like coffee before starting work at Starbucks in Wrexham’s Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre, has just won the right to don the coveted black apron of a Coffee Master.
The accolade means a barista is acknowledged as the creme de la creme of their business and has trained with the best and is now expert in all things coffee.
The Coffee Masters programme is open to anyone who joins Starbucks as a barista and during a special 12-week course they are taught the rudiments of taste and texture.
Billy, 22, who is originally from Newscastle-upon-Tyne, said: “I came down to Wrexham to study at Glyndwr University and left last October with a 2:1 in English.
“I liked the town so much that I decided to stay on and became a barista at Starbucks in Eagles Meadow 10 months ago.
“I was interested in taking my career further and was lucky enough to be chosen for the Coffee Master course.
“The training schedule is quite intense and you have to complete a work-book to show you’ve studied areas such as the history of coffee, the regions around the world where beans are grown such as Indonesia, Africa and South America, roasting and blending and the ethical issues of fair trading.
“That was one part of the course I found particularly interesting as it follows the cost of a cup of coffee from when money is handed in over the counter right back to the farmer on the plantation.
“People on the course are judged by experts in the field on all these areas and their ability to create perfectly composed drinks.
“At the end of it you are awarded a certificate and the official black apron worn by all Starbucks Coffee Masters, which are different from the normal green ones baristas have on.
“Our manager at Eagles Meadow, Claire Edwards, is our only Coffee Master at the moment but now she’s going to be handing over the reins to me.”
Billy admits that although the course was a bit of a hard grind, it was well worth doing as it will help him as he brews up a promising career with the company.
“There was a lot of work involved and, at times, my girlfriend Gemma got a bit fed up with me talking about coffee all the time but I’m very glad I did it because it makes you very knowledgeable about the business and helps you to speak about the product with confidence and authority,” he said.
“I hope it will also be useful when it comes to climbing the promotion ladder because I want to stay with the company and get as far as I can in it.
“The funny thing is that when I first started at Starbucks I didn’t really like coffee all that much but now I love it.
“My current favourite is the Peruvian blend we are serving at Eagles Meadow. It has a very nice nutty after-taste and I can certainly recommend it.”
Billy’s boss, coffee shop manager Claire Edwards, was full of praise for what he has achieved.
She said: “We’re all really proud of him for the way he came successfully through the Coffee Master course.
“He shows strong commitment to the job and certainly has the ability to rise up the ranks of the company.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “I’d like to congratulate Billy on achieving the coveted status of a Coffee Master.
“As one of his customers, I can testify the accolade is richly deserved – he makes fantastic coffee.”