Joanna Yuen is well-known at the Nestlé Head Office in Sydney, Australia. Before taking on her current role as National Barista Trainer back in 2019, she was a friendly face, running the head office cafe. “With a strong focus on customer service I fast became a familiar personality within the building,” she explains. “My passion for coffee and dedication to running a successful café are what landed me my current role with Nestlé Professional”.
Alongside her passion for coffee is her passion for the planet. Jo is very proud to be part of a company that has a strong environmental sustainability focus. Nestle’s commitment to achieve 100% responsibly sourced coffee by 2025, whilst continuing to improve farmer livelihoods, is highly valued by Jo and by many of the customers with whom she works.
Joanna has worked in the hospitality industry for over twenty years. But it wasn’t until ten years into her career that she discovered a love for the craft of coffee.
“The venue I worked at had a big gaming section, offering complimentary coffee,” she explains. “As Head Bartender, I found myself behind the espresso machine pulling shots and learning the intricacies of making the perfect cup of coffee. I found an appreciation for the art of espresso-making and understood how important that was in building a relationship with the customers”.
Joanna took on the personal challenge to expand her knowledge in the coffee category. She reached out to work and train with leading Australian Roasteries like Toby’s Estate, All Press, Campos, Single O and Double Roasters.
Sharing her passion for the perfect pour
It is now Joanna’s responsibility at Nestlé Professional to impart her knowledge and infectious enthusiasm to budding baristas across the country.
“The support I provide varies from site to site and includes the bean-to-cup process, how to deliver a consistent cup, latte art techniques and technical aspects such as grinder adjustment. I help baristas build their confidence, allowing them to deliver the perfect coffee experience to their own customers”.
Alongside this she also helps with recipe development; carries out research on the Australian café landscape; hosts an annual barista competition; upskills the Nestlé Professional beverage sales team; and creates exciting digital content. Her days are also spent doing on-site and off-site account training.
“Every customer has their own way of operating. A good barista should tailor their drink according to the individual’s liking,” Joanna explains. It is this mantra that she takes forward throughout all of her training, whether it be in-person, virtually or via her barista tutorial video.
“Throughout my career what I’ve loved the most is working with people, from customers to baristas,” Joanna explains. “Therefore, one of my biggest challenges has been to adapt to COVID and find engaging ways to communicate in my virtual training sessions.”
She is looking forward to hosting a 3-day training event with Accor in North Queensland; retraining the team after the COVID lockdown; and training and judging at the rescheduled P&O annual barista competition. “I hope to engage and inspire the next generation of coffee leaders in the industry,” she beams.
Plus, she explains, female baristas are winning more and more competitions. She wants their skills to be recognized by the general public. “Say yes to new challenges,” is her mantra. “I’d like to see us gain visibility, building to a point where we are a real force to be reckoned with”.