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Taking coffee culture in Nepal to a newer height – The Barista’s Coffee School

After working as a professional Barista for more than 5 years at Barista Lavazza Nepal, an Indian coffee franchise, Manoz Shahi planned of starting his own coffee house in Kathmandu. But, he couldn’t implement his dream into reality because of the unavailability of quality Baristas in Nepali market.

This is what forced Manoz to start The Barista’s Coffee School, a go to destination for aspiring Baristas to learn and get trained for coffee making in Nepal. Manoz started the school together with Binod Shrestha, a professional chef having 20+ years of work experience in various reputed 5-Star hotels in Nepal and abroad. Manoz works as the Training Director in the school, whereas, Shrestha is the Director of the School.

The school was started with just two students in the first batch this February itself. In the duration fo six months, sixteen batches of students have already completed training from the school, totaling more than 120 Baristas.

Manoz was trained Baristas in India after joining Baristas Lavazza. So, he had idea about how to train Baristas professionally, not only on brewing coffee and serving to the clients. Along with this, he too has friends abroad, who frequently share information about the international market, and latest brewing of coffee. All these are what led him to start a professional coffee training school.

Currently, students from Kathmandu, Chitwan, Hetauda, and various other cities come to the school for training.

Growing coffee culture in Nepal

The majority of the people didn’t know about coffee until some years ago. But, it has now developed like a fashion.

“Almost none of us had heard the word ‘coffee’ 20 years ago. While first espresso machine was brought in The Everest Hotel that time, none of us had any idea of what machine was. We used to believe we get intoxicated if you drink coffee,” shares Shrestha, Director of the school.

“There is not proper knowledge about coffee among Nepalese. In the streets of Nepal, all the cafes are found selling the same coffee. It’s different in the case of other nations. Opening a coffee shop in Nepal has now almost been like opening a momo shop. You need to have knowledge on coffee testing, roast, profiles, and aroma before starting a coffee shop. In the case of Nepal, there is not that much of variety. There is no knowledge here about roasting profile. We do teach everything at the school so that our students do not face problems,” expresses Manoz.

“The coffee culture is just beginning in Nepal. In Nepal, it’s mostly about Latte and Americano. But, the international market is already in Espresso phase,” Manoz shares, adding, “We are still nowhere in terms of knowledge and consumption of coffee in Nepal.”

“Nepali coffee is among the finest brands of coffee in the world. The local brands are equally tasty compared to imported brands of coffee. But, proper knowledge about coffee is really lacking in Nepal. It’s difficult to get good beans and roast in Nepal. To develop the coffee culture in Nepal, all the coffee shops need to have a roasting machine. There is no such thing now,” opines Manoz.

Only a handful of people are involved in the production of coffee beans in Nepal. This is what is hindering the growth of coffee culture in Nepal, as per Manoz.

Barista Course at the school

The Barista course at The Barista’s Coffee School (BCS) is divided into two parts: theory and practical. The first three days will be about basics of coffee and beans, and its present context in Nepali as well as international market. “As many of the Barista trainees are aspirants to go abroad, we also teach international market of coffee,” shares Manoz. On the fourth day, the trainees will go through an evaluation test.

After theory lessons are over, a 10-11 day of practical program begins. In the program, the students are taught about various 15 coffee beverages consumed in the nlooational and international market. “We mainly focus on practical, and coffee art,” expresses Manoz about the course.

Training coffee brewing in Dolpa

BCS has also carried out a project in Dolpa in coordination with Chaudhary Group (CG). As it was hard for them to take coffee brewing machines to the place, they had to train Baristas there to brew coffee manually. Currently, a coffee shop is successfully running in main bazaar of Dolpa.

Where can you see Baristas Graduated from The Barista’s Coffee School?

Many of the youths who have been trained at the school have already opened their own coffee shops in various cities of Nepal, including Kathmandu, Nepalgunj, and Makwanpur among others.

Various coffee houses also ask the school for fresh Baristas, and they are placed at jobs at a good pay.

“And, almost all the graduates are still connected with the school, and the trainers know their whereabouts,” shares Manoz with happiness, adding, “There is nothing other than our Baristas performing well in the coffee houses they work to make us feel proud.”

How does BCS stand apart?

“We look forward to developing coffee culture in Nepal, leaving the business aspect aside,” shares Manoz.

“We don’t limit the raw materials at The Barista’s Coffee School (BCS). We obviously want our graduates properly skilled and educated on making coffee. We are trying every effort to produce quality Baristas from BCS. We try to give as much as information to the students about Nepali coffee culture,” says Manoz, adding, “We obviously want Nepali market of coffee.”

“We ask our students to ask the trainer till they feel confident and perfect. We want them to go as a perfect Barista from here,” says Shrestha.

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The future

“BCS is growing very rapidly. We had not thought that so many of Nepalese youths were interested in Barista course while we were beginning,” Manoz recalled some from six months ago, when there were only two students in the first batch.

“The growth is more than what we expected. We have been feeling that as road traffic of Kathmandu is very haphazard, it is affecting many of the students to reach here on time, especially to those from Koteshwor, Bhaktapur, Kalanki, Satungal, etc. So, we are planning to open a branch soon. Added to this, we are also planning to open a café, and sending even more students to learn and experience from the café itself. Barista is not only about brewing coffee, and making art, but hospitality and customer service,” shares Shrestha.

“The students are giving us wonderful responses. We are here because of our students. They have helped us by designing and printing T-shirts and other branding items. Along with this, our past graduates frequently share to us the photos and videos of coffee arts they make at the cafes they work. We feel very happy to see such messages from our students. We have very close relation with them. Students love us a lot. They have helped us to evolve to this stage. We feel happiness to see our students performing good in the coffee houses they work,” shares Manoz with pride.

To the aspiring youths who see their career in coffee business:

“I ask all to get proper knowledge about coffee first before starting a cafe. If you are really opening a coffee shop, be a Barista first because it’s hard to run a business if you don’t know to prepare coffee on your own. You should be capable enough to serve your clients. Ten years ago, Baristas were known as waiters. Now, people know about Baristas. Barista has become a respected job, and pay rate is also higher,” shares Manoz to the youths aspiring to join the coffee business.

Startups for a better Nepal!

Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal