Ukraine isn’t the first country that comes to mind when looking for the consumer end of specialty coffee, but recent investment in the country’s international cities has helped it rise in specialty coffee. Local barista Daria Zabolotna has been raising coffee standards in the city - here she outlines her journey from a part-time barista during studies to the learning that’s helped her succeed.

When did you start your career in a coffee shop and how did you get to know this industry?
2009, at that time I was a student of the Faculty of Journalism, but finances forced me to find a part-time job. So I got into the field of catering through the institution where there was an excellent barista school, and the management of the coffee shop actively promoted the culture of espresso consumption. They inspired me to further study the coffee culture, but my favourite direction in coffee was still the art of latte art.

What is the status of specialty coffee in Donetsk and Ukraine in general?
It is the specialty coffee segment that has been actively developing in Ukraine for the last 10 years, and coffee shops of the third wave have simply overwhelmed the space of Ukrainian cities. As for Donetsk, the situation is complicated here, since the conflict in the Donbas and isolation from the outside world have left an indelible imprint on the development of any spheres of activity, not only coffee. To be honest, Donetsk was stuck in its development somewhere in 2013. And coffee is mainly from international roasts - it hard to find a coffee shop where fresh roasting is used, and where you can find at least monosort, and not blends with robusta.

Which people are suitable for working with coffee?
At least for those who need a job, it's good if a person working with coffee at least drinks it, and ideally a good barista should be interested in the product with which he works. Personally, I am in love with coffee, coffee is my passion!

If someone is new to coffee and wants to start, where would you recommend to start?Have a cup of good coffee, and find a barista coach who will give at least basic knowledge and skills of working with a coffee machine and other devices for brewing coffee.

Are there any central blog posts or websites that you visit to gain more knowledge, develop further skills?
There is a wonderful magazine called STANDART, dedicated to the culture of coffee consumption. On the internet, you can find a lot of information about coffee, how to brew it, how it grows and much more. The main thing is to check the information obtained through an experiment. For example, I found a recipe for a coffee drink, cook, try, evaluate, write down your impressions, try to add something from yourself, develop!

What's next in your career? What is on the horizon and what goals do you have for the next three years?
I asked myself this question three years ago and opened my own small coffee shop, where it's cozy and where guests enjoy drinking coffee and socialising. Many people tell me that it's like home and that they always want to come back. But to be honest, I would like to first visit the World Barista Championship as a participant, and maybe someday become a judge of the world championships.

Find Daria on Instagram via @daria_barbaristo4ka