Ben Morrow: ”No Dark Sides to Barista Life. Only Brown - the Side Involving Coffee.”
Profiled and awarded as a latte art guru, barista Ben Morrow’s heart beats to the work done by coffee farmers and to a pot of black filter coffee.
Barista Benjamin Morrow draws a graph on the flip chart, plotting milk volume on the y-axis and time on the x-axis. The graph explains the amount of air forced into the liquid and the amount of time that it spends spinning without air induction.
According to Morrow, the correct temperature for milk is 50 °C, and the steam wand should not stay in the milk for more than 20 seconds. The temperature is lower than the range given in Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) guidelines, but Morrow claims that you can taste the higher temperature in milk.
This man is worth believing as he has won numerous barista awards and titles. Morrow first decided to put his skills to the test in a competition in 2014 and also already took part in the World Latte Art Championship event organised the same year and came sixth. The year after he won the New York Coffee Masters Tournament, and in 2016 it was time for him to brew up a double victory by winning the Australian Latte Art Championships as well as the London Coffee Masters title.
Coffee is barista Ben Morrow’s passion
Despite being one of the world’s leading latte art gurus, Morrow is particularly pleased with his success in other barista competitions.
”The NY Coffee Masters competition was the most rewarding as far as personal satisfaction. I’m really well known for my latte art, and it was extremely gratifying to get affirmation by winning a hardcore coffee competition.”
“Coffee’s always come to our cups from somewhere, and each coffee has its own story. No matter what the coffee’s like, behind each bean there’s a huge number of people who’ve worked hard for the coffee.”
Morrow prefers to use coffees that can be traced back to their origin. The internet is helpful in this, and many coffee farms even have a website these days.
“When you know the origin of the coffee, perhaps down to the farm where it was grown, you’re able to spot the best coffee in the region and tell the coffee’s good because it was grown by that particular farmer. Coffee’s good when it tastes like it should,” Morrow explains.
Barista guru Morrow ended up in the coffee business by chance
Coffee was not actually a calling for barista Ben Morrow: he has only been in the coffee business for eight years. And his earliest memory of coffee is not that fond either:
“I was perhaps six or seven years old when my mum took me to this very old-fashioned cafe. She asked me what I wanted, so I pointed at the espresso on the menu. I didn’t like it at all – and it probably wasn’t made very well either,” laughs Morrow, now aged 27.
Morrow was supposed to become a musician, and he had a part-time job in a bakery to finance his dream. There was a gradual shift in balance between his passions, and eventually he gave up music as a career.
“Working at the coffee machine got me into experimenting and exploring further. Coffee was more interesting to me than selling bakery products. Now I travel across the world to teach people about coffee,” Morrow says.
Barista opening his own coffee roastery
Morrow has moved from Melbourne, Australia, to Rotterdam, Holland. This continent-hopping barista does not, however, see massive differences between the countries’ cafe cultures.
“For example, Melbourne specialty coffee is generally a little more developed than say Brisbane and then probably less than say Perth. I would say the biggest difference (compared with Holland) is the service style that you get in a cafe. Most cafes in Australia will give you a sit-down table service.”
Morrow is opening his own coffee roastery in Holland towards the end of the year.
“To begin with we’re just going to focus on roasting and getting some delicious coffee out into the market. The name is Manhattan Coffee Roasters, which is a play on the Dutch saying about Rotterdam which is 'Manhattan on the Maas’. I don’t believe we’ll be up and running until the end of the year. Eventually I’d imagine that we’ll have a cafe involved with us, so you can sit and enjoy a coffee roasted and prepared by us.”