Barista of the Month – Liam Conroy Allen and Craig Francis at Loco

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By Ravenous Renee

The boys at Loco sure know how to make a good coffee, and a consistent one at that – special kudos goes to two of Loco’s highly skilled barista’s, Liam Conroy Allen and Craig Francis, for always churning up a fabulous brew (special mention must also be made to Shian, who’s equally known for his amazing barista flair).

Both switched on and extremely talented, and more than just behind the coffee making machine, it’s evident; these boys are going to go far. So how did these young barista’s develop their coffee-making craft to what it is today? Well, they both did it through their own individual path and unique way, not forgetting to mention inspiring mentors.

For Liam, he was brought up in a family of coffee drinkers, and hence found an appreciation for coffee at an early age — it was not unusual for Liam to drop by for a coffee before he went on his way to school. Furthermore, Liam’s family was involved in the high-end catering business, which meant Liam had become accustomed to the hospitality industry and every aspect that it entailed.

From there, Liam realised he enjoyed the service orientated industry and decided to get a café job at Loco, to work on his own accord. It was then only a natural progression that Liam became a barista, especially when he found great mentors in co-workers Craig and Shian. Then, as Liam recalled; it took a year of relentlessly critiquing and getting everyone’s opinion’ on his coffee, before he felt confident with calling himself a barista. Lucky for Liam, he also had his hospitality-catering skills to fall back on.

Now, three years into it; just like the passion, dedication and drive Liam has put into developing his career outside of Loco as a recording artist (with a love of singing and playing the piano); Liam has managed to put these same attributes into developing his coffee making skills and expertise – to the next level. And to his own merit, Liam has become a much valued and appreciated member of the delightful Loco team.

As for Craig, he also grew up on coffee, but residing in a small country town – Sale, in East Gippsland – for most of his younger years, the Nescafe variety was what he’d become more accustomed too, that was until he moved to Melbourne. Craving for a lifestyle change, especially loving the Melbourne arts scene – and being a talented budding photographer, with an eye for ‘portraiture and fashion, and anything to do with people’ – Craig also realised what a wonderful café culture Melbourne had to offer.

It was then from this realisation and new-found love for decent coffee – and with an ‘Advanced Diploma of Hospitality’ (obtained during high school) and extensive café and nightclub experience that he later attained, as well as meeting some great mentors along the way – that Craig moved on to score his winning barista gig at Loco. And from there, while also pursuing his artistic pursuits, Craig has not looked back. ‘Passion, personality and people skills,’ have taken him to where he has needed to be today.

Lastly, when both Liam and Craig were asked what superpower they could have if they could only have one; Liam chose ‘to fly’ and Craig, excited by the boundless opportunities of speculation, said: ‘I’d be any one of the planeteers’ – both answers demonstrating that these boys desire to be at the height of their game in everything they do.

Loco

436 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick

7 Days a Week, 7am until 5:30pm

Ph: (03) 9532 4455

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