Art of The Craft #2 – Steven Chan – The path to the perfect coffee

Its fair to say that Galway has experienced a coffee revolution in a quiet and steady fashion over the last few years. With a number of speciality coffee shops now in the city its widely acknowledged that Coffeewerk & Press is the premier coffee shop in the city. With a list of accolades and awards its been the focus of many articles since it was opened by Dan Ulrichs.

But the subject for todays blog is its Manager and Head Barista, Steven Chan.

Full disclosure to start, todays person of focus, Steven Chan is in fact my brother in law. However that doesn’t lessen the admiration I have for what he does. In fact, having seen him transition from the kid I first met 11 years ago to the role he fills today just makes it even better.

Steven has had an interest in coffee for a long time. I remember he was eager to learn the skills of a barista as far back as 2009 when he was first working with me in the restaurant, even though he was only 18 at the time. That was the first time we took part in a coffee training course together and while I’ve joined him on the occasional coffee related event since he’s left me behind a long time ago in the experience front. I think you could say he’s been on the path to the perfect coffee since.

He’s worked in many coffee shops in town (Cafe Express, Badger & Dodo etc) but I think he’s really found a home in his current position. He’s found a role that he’s not only good at but is passionate about. Ask him about any of the wide variety of coffees that they sell and he will tell you in intricate detail about the taste profile of each.

I don’t think many people realise the level of skill and precision it takes to be a barista. And when you’re doing it in a place like Coffeewerk & Press where the standards are at the highest of levels that becomes even more challenging. Every single coffee that they make is weighed to precision and if its not right you won’t be drinking it. This is applied across the board – espresso, milk based drinks, and their particular speciality – filter coffees.


Each of these was produced for me to photograph while Steven talked me through the process of the different coffee styles. Afterwards I was able to taste the different types of coffee and really appreciate the uniqueness of each having seen the effort put in to make sure they were the best representation possible of the product.

Steven has excelled at this. Its one thing to work in a high volume location but to do this while producing a perfect product every-time is a different matter altogether. He oversaw the production of their cold brew coffee product “Kalt”, something you can’t get anywhere else in Galway. This interest in experimentation occupies his free time as well with him being an avid home cook who is always trying out new styles and techniques in food.

Last year he won a local competition for latte art with his signature swan latte design, beating competition from a wide variety of other local coffee shops. Be sure and ask him to make one for you when you call in for your coffee.

Coffeewerk & Press is also home to a fantastic range of products from a wide variety of products and a gallery space. In their own words “Coffeewerk & Press is a space created to showcase the overlap between Irish and international art and design with the perfect cup of coffee!”

The list of design companies they work with is ever expanding and too long to list here but you can get all the latest information by visiting their Facebook page or keeping up to date with their Instagram While you’re at it you can see more from Steven on his own Instagram

Keep up to date with MY next features on local craft workers on Facebook , see my other work on Instagram or talk to me on Twitter

If you’re interested in this project or know someone who would be a good candidate to have their skills showcased please contact me on jeff@p3bphotography.com or call me on 0867279638.