Q&A with Yadi Arifin of Fika Cafe
Yadi Arifin owns the adorable Fika Cafe in Kensington Market. He also won the 2017 Toronto AeroPress competition, so we thought we chat with him, hear his story and and see if we could pick up some tips and tricks from the master. We also included an awesome AeroPress brew guide that he dialed in specifically for the Bows & Arrows featured this month, so be sure to give that a try!
How’d you get into coffee and why’d you decide to run the FIKA café?
My background is in pastry before this – I graduated from George Brown’s Baking program eons ago and I started in Alberta, at Chateau Lake Louise. I worked there for two years and then I transferred to the Royal York, put in 5 years and decided I wanted to move on.
After that, I got into property management for a few years… but in my mind I always wanted to have my own business related to food and beverage. So I decided to use my pastry background and I had to choose if I wanted to do a bakery or a café..
I went on a café crawl and participated in local coffee events just to do research and get a feel. And at the time I felt that a coffee shop made the most sense to me. After my research and visiting New York, I realized there were so many different experiences with coffee. It opened up my eyes. That pretty much sums up how I got into coffee.
What are you trying to accomplish at FIKA café?
Of course, serve good coffee. Having good coffee and serve it right. Do the best you can.
Sometimes I go to a shop, and I know they have good beans, but if the barista is tired and they don’t do a good job, then you’ll be disappointed. That is the challenge for every café, you know? That could happen here too.
I think the goal is just trying to be consistent. The way I judge a good café is having a consistent quality and knowledgeable baristas. Well, off course being friendly would be great!
I’m also proud of the baking program here; I just hope we continue to offer something different and unique. And make sure they’re as good as they can be. We have a small kitchen but we bake everything in-house.
It’s a Swedish inspired café, so we try to bring Swedish inspired items, and one of them is the Swedish Cinnamon Bun, which we serve all year. In February we also make a traditional pastry called Semla, it’s made of cardamom bun, filled with almond paste and whipped cream. You have to try it!
And now, how’s it going at FIKA for you running a cafe and a business?
So far so good. As a small business, it’s very challenging. I think a lot of people assume that running a café will be nice and fun, however, your life is pretty much… here.
I’m still passionate, I love doing this. I want to do competitions – and every year I want to have a goal to keep pushing myself – this year I want to compete in a barista competition. Next year, who knows, maybe visit a coffee farm. Everything you read on the packages or on the internet about the coffee and farms, it doesn’t do justice.
Digging into brewing, how do you come up with a recipe for the AeroPress?
You look around in general, I mean what are the recipes for AeroPresses and you go from there. The recipe that I use, I don’t think it’s anything special.
When I entered that competition, my focus is to keep it simple. I believe the AeroPress should be very approachable and that’s why I entered the competition. I had never done it before - I always used the Hario V60, and this competition came up, and it was like ‘Okay, let’s take the AeroPress out from my cabinet’ and I started using it.
Somehow I ended up with that recipe and then you start tweaking.
I do it based on how I like it.
If I ask somebody else, then I can get distracted. Basically, as long as I like it, then I’m happy. Once I get it, then I’ll start letting people taste my brew, and if the feedback is within a range, then I’m confident. Everybody has a different palate. If you keep on tweaking it, it’s never-ending. And after a while if you keep doing it, you might start to doubt yourself.
What tips would you have for people looking to step up their brewing?
I would say the most important thing is using filtered water and investing in a good grinder. Get a Brita, that’s a minimum. With a Brita, the TDS doesn’t fluctuate that much, so at least it’ll get rid of the unwanted odors and metals such as chlorine and lead.
Why do you like brewing with an AeroPress?
It’s just so versatile and not that expensive. You can be more creative and you can get really geeky.