Ralph Dale Alfonso, - Owner of Coffee Madness, Cebu
What do you think about competitors? do you treat them as one?
It's good to have competitors in a healthy way, i see them as helpful competition in terms of developing skills, service and products. i dont really see them as a threat. it gives me the chance to enhance my shop of what is lacking. I prefer to be friends with other cafe owners around because in the end somehow, we have the same goal for the industry which is to serve and let others experience what is good coffee.
How do you decide who will be a good barista?
First and foremost i look into the character and attitude of a person. Skills and knowledge can be taught but the attitude and character of a person can be hard to change,
Passion or Money? why?
Passion over money. i am able to enjoy what I'm doing and it doesn't feel boring. i can do it every single day seven times a week and all year round. it gives me happiness in so doing and it is very satisfying. at the end of the day, i earn a little with not so much pressure, enough for me to make a living.
Who influenced/inspired you on your coffee journey?
As far as i could remember it was self influenced, I don't know any barista back then i just enjoy the company of drinking coffee even alone. i could drink a good cup of coffee any time of the day as long as i feel like having one. it was somehow a passion slowly evolving within. i was lucky enough to acquire a secondhand home espresso machine. all i did was watch youtube on how to operate and make simple coffees, until such time i found myself enjoying it much more than the profession i was in which is I.T., so I decided to pursue making coffee and in my pursuit, i was able to meet a lot of people who were much more into coffee than me. it was so inspiring and that encouraged me to set my sail higher and continue to get more involved with coffee.
What has coffee taught you?
Coffee taught me a lot of things. it taught me value, in the sense that every chain in the coffee; from farm, to process, to market, to roaster, to barista and the last one who drinks the coffee is important.
It taught me respect; i had the chance to meet a coffee farmer and was able to know how much effort they spend in harvesting, processing, and sorting to come up with good crops.
It taught me patience. to come up with a very good cup, there are always failures in the process. i know some roasters and i was able to observe how patiently they are sorting and roasting properly the green beans from the farmers in order to give those beans the right quality profiles before it lands on the shelves of cafes.
It taught me discipline. as an owner of a cafe and a barista as well, i was able to enhance and develop my self-discipline, not just by running the cafe but in every aspect in the cafe like service to guests, and most importantly by making each cup of coffee.
What opportunities has coffee given you?
It gave me a chance to know a lot of different people. i deal with them every single day at the cafe and i get to know a lot of coffee enthusiast, baristas and connoisseurs,
I get to travel for coffee, go places, visit farms, roasters and cafes, and i don't find it as work, its more of a pleasure.
But above all, it gave me the opportunity to showcase what the farmers have done, roasters have spent and the barista does at the end of the chain which is the consumers.