Omer Blaufrarb, Purple Square
Omer Blaufrarb is Tel Aviv’s coffee ninja behind an espresso bar, taking home third place in the Latte Art Baristaam. Omer prides himself on making the best cup of coffee people can buy when they come to Purple Square Café. He loves the mysterious ‘added value’ of the coffee experience; the layers of taste, the moments shared with friends and the continuous learning that keeps him very productive. Omer is welcoming and open to those who want to know more or need a bit of help finding which blend is right for their morning. His greatest strength is in being able to befriend almost anyone, thanks to his calm and cool presence. For Omer, the most rewarding part of being a barista is seeing people discover coffee and watching their eyes open up while drinking it. Making their day better with coffee is the best tip he receives during his shifts. His favorite coffee regions are Harrar in Ethiopia and Huehuetenango in Guatemala. His favorite drink is espresso, but he loves playing with pour-overs at home.
Purple Square, Sgula St 15, Tel Aviv-Yafo, +972 3-546-9890
Gemma Farsi, Brew Shop
Gemma Farsi is the glowing face behind The Brew Shop in Tel Aviv, the only café where an espresso machine is deliberately missing and another ‘world of coffee’ is earnestly embraced. A pioneer in the specialty coffee scene, Gemma has enjoyed bringing ‘slow coffee’ to the people discovering her shop and eager to try something new. The Brew Bar, a completely new take on coffee for most Tel Avivians, is a space stripped down to the bare necessities. It’s an intimate space, where striking up a conversation with the person behind the bar seems natural. Gemma is certainly open to those conversations and welcomes curiosity about the coffee she features and how it’s made. Time seems to almost stop while visiting her café and that is the point: for a moment, the intention is centered on slowing everything down and embracing that. Gemma has been working in the coffee industry for the past 14 years, mostly developing her passion for brewing in the London scene at Notes Café and she was trained under the renowned James Hoffman. Gemma’s focus for her café is to bring in the best beans to Tel Aviv from coffee roasters around the world and to keep playing around with them to find the best brewing method that honors the taste profile of those coffees. She is personally keen on African coffees, especially Kenyan beans, calling them ‘eye-opening coffees’ and loves to brew them on her Kalita Wave at home.
Asaf Rauch, Coffee Station
When asked about the coffee scene in Israel, many people around the world have one name that comes to mind: Asaf Rauch. Asaf gained recognition and a fandom when he competed in New York’s Coffee Fest in 2013 for latte art. Coming to the scene in 2010, he was first trained by Uri Katan and then self-taught. Asaf is a pioneer in introducing complicated latte art pours that were way before their time in the coffee scene. He has since amassed a powerful Instagram following, nearing 240 ,000, with the focus on latte art skills from the Coffee Station franchise he started in Israel. He also uses the platform to showcase other talented baristas around the world. Asaf makes sure he rigorously trains every one of his baristas before they are allowed to serve coffee. When he isn’t behind the bar or filming other baristas making their latte art, he is out of town somewhere hiking and brewing up coffee with his AeroPress. At home, he doesn’t own an espresso machine, his focus being on home-brewing. Asaf loves making filter coffee with the Chemex coffeemaker and his favorite beans are light to medium roast Yirgochiffe. His favorite coffee is cold brew.
Coffee Station, Industrial 25, Ra’anana, Tel Aviv, +972 9-772-9202
Uri Katan, Café Katan Barista School
Uri Katan has been involved in the coffee industry in Israel since 2003 and started his barista training school, Café Katan, in 2011. He has worked for many years as a barista and bartender, always pushing himself to reach new levels of skill. Uri now loves marrying his passion for coffee with his talents for teaching, by training the new generation of baristas in Israel. For Uri, the best moment is when everything ‘clicks’ with his students and he sees the ‘I’ve got it’ moment in their faces. His aim is to expand his barista school to become the main training school in Israel, a place where all the cafés would want to send their new baristas. At home, he loves using the Hario V60 and prefers Ethiopian beans. Uri’s favorite drink is espresso.
Ofer Gvirsman, Loveat
Ofer Gvirsman has been slinging coffee in Tel Aviv ever since 1996 when he began as a barista with Artcaffe. He has since evolved into an appreciated, driving force for the city’s developing coffee culture. Having run Loveat Habima Café for a year now, he has been creatively using the space to bring people together in inventive ways; including hosting the Latte Art Barista Jam. Pushing the boundaries with his rock-and-roll edge, Ofer has embraced the trends of third wave coffee and make them more accessible and inviting for customers. He had great mentors who helped him cultivate a passion for coffee, from Enrico Meschini of Arcaffe Italy who taught him about roasting to David Klien from Cup of Joe with whom he worked for 10 years. In turn, Ofer has become a mentor for many young baristas in the scene today, including Ilan Edri, the winner of the Latte Art Barista Jam. Ofer looks forward to opening his own café and continuing to raise a new generation of professional baristas. His favorite drink is a plain old double espresso.