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Talented hot shots spin the cups

Some wicked hot drinks are being turned out in Masterton by two Wairarapa College students, thanks to a forward-thinking business owner.

“Barista Sista” Rhion Cobb and “Barista Mista” Alex Walsh are the drinks jockeys learning how to make hot chocolates and coffees at Shotz Coffee Hatch, opposite Countdown Masterton on Queen St.

Both teenagers attend Wairarapa College’s Whare Āwhina Supported Learning Centre and are training as baristas under the experienced eye of Shotz owner Laura Hutchinson.

Barista Sista Rhion trained with Hutchinson last year and had “so much fun” she is back for more, bringing Barista Mista Alex with her. Last week, the pair graduated from hot chocolates with lots of marshmallows, to shots of espresso coffee.

They have learnt the ‘Tamper Dance’, wiggling their hips and jutting one elbow while tamping [pressing] ground coffee into the filter handle, which attaches to the coffee machine.

Barista Sista had picked up coffee-making skills “super-fast”, Hutchinson said. Barista Mista, who has taken dance classes for years, said he might make up his own tamping moves.

Shotz barista training was made possible by Hutchinson’s supplier, Sublime Coffee Roastery in Nelson, which sponsored the opportunity with roasted beans.

Hutchinson hoped other Wairarapa businesses would join her in offering cafe training to Whare Āwhina students, or teenagers with additional needs from other Wairarapa schools.

“When you’re in business, you also have a responsibility to prop up ‘other stuff’ and help the community,” she said.

Hutchinson’s daughter Ava Saba, who also attends Whare Āwhina, was the “catapult” for the launch of Shotz Coffee Hatch two years ago. The mother-and-daughter team can also be found operating Hutchinson’s coffee cart at Riversdale Beach on summer weekends.

“I’m future proofing for Ava because there is a training gap for teenagers like these guys. But there is huge potential,” she said.

Hutchinson towed her cart to flood-hit Tinui last weekend where, with sponsorship from Sublime and Moore Wilson’s, she was able to make free hot drinks for locals at a community support meeting.

Hutchinson’s goal is a café in Wairarapa run by young people such as Rhion, Alex and Ava – “or even an existing café, where they take over for a day”.

Whare Āwhina regularly partners with businesses and community organisations through its work experience programme.

Email head teacher Amanda Kawana at [email protected] for information

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