Meet Your Barista: Three Bags Full

Each week we’ll be interviewing a new Melbourne barista to discover the person behind your morning fix. This week we met with Pok Tummachairoj, Head Barista at Three Bags Full.

Three Bags Full’s Head Barista, Pok Tummachairoj. Photo by Elizabeth Kuiper.

It’s a wintery morning when we sit down with Three Bags Full’s barista, Pok Tummachairoj, at one of the trendy cafe’s spacious tables. Pok has been working at the cafe for almost a year now. Previously, he and his wife owned a successful café in Bangkok, which they closed down in order to chase their dreams in Melbourne and to learn about coffee, culture and everything in between.

‘It’s been pretty good,’ Pok tells Local Eyes. ‘We have a nice place and a lot of coffee to make. We have our own house-blend and single origin blends that rotate every week.’ This is, of course, a reference to the three single-origin coffees, each from Nicaragua, Brazil and Ethiopia, which are brought together to create their signature house blend. ‘We try to get the flavour from Ethiopia, and more body from Brazil, to create a balanced taste,’ Pok explains.

Pok tells us that his favourite part of being a barista is trying a lot of coffee – but no surprises there. 

The Abbotsford barista is visibly animated, with his voice full of excitement, as he talks about the range of specialty coffees on offer at his cafe, including a cold drip infused with Orange Peels (‘They’re very refreshing!’). At this point, my coffee arrives and I am able to sample the goods. The latte art is perfection and the taste matches the aesthetics to a tee. Pok lets me in on one of the secrets to his success – consistency. ‘We have to drink the coffee and report on it every morning to ensure it’s of a high quality every time’.

Pok isn’t just a great barista – he is a coffee taster extraordinaire, having recently come third place in Victoria for cup tasting (‘cupping’). Cupping is a competition that entails tasting and correctly identifying types of coffee. It turns out that that there’s a whole incredibly detailed process for cupping. The cupper ‘slurps’ the beverage in a way that introduces air to the mouth, the same way a sommelier might do, and coffee aromas are analysed at different stages – the dry stage (ground, roasted coffee), the crust stage (the coffee as its steeping) and the break (when a cap is broken after four minutes of steeping). The coffee is graded based on their aroma, flavour, mouth feel, acidity, balance, cleanliness and aftertaste. Pok is humble about his victory, insisting he was just lucky, but I was skeptical. I am an avid coffee drinker, but even then, my palate is only evolved enough to recognise three types: good coffee, mediocre coffee and Starbucks.

Pok tells us that his favourite part of being a barista is trying a lot of coffee – but no surprises there. ‘Also, I love being able to create my own methods of extracting coffee. I am a nerdy barista. I love learning new things and experimenting.’ Pok believes Melbourne is a global coffee-leader, which he says boils down to having a good culture, with good working teams creating specialty coffee and providing in-depth training and education on the art of coffee making.

You can visit Pok at Three Bags Full, located on 60 Nicholson Street in Abbotsford. The cafe is open Monday to Friday from 7am until 4pm, or Saturday through Sunday from 8am to 4pm.

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