Meet the Barista: Ayla Blakey, Havana Coffee Works

22-year old Ayla Blakey is a sucker for a good sunrise, of which she gets to experience plenty waking up early to be a barista. 

Born and raised on Waiheke Island, hospitality was the only real option for part-time work as a teenager. Blakey was trained as a barista, despite finding the idea of coffee-making a bit scary. 

Now, nearing four years in the industry, Blakey finds reward in the connections she makes with customers. 

“Coffee is such a crucial part of so many people’s lives, and knowing that you have made something people enjoy and keep wanting to come back for is very rewarding.”

Working at Havana in Auckland, Blakey has started to see familiar faces, with great feedback from regular customers, locals, and surrounding businesses. It’s not easy to make a good cup of coffee and a lot of love goes into ensuring it’s the best it can be. 

Post-pandemic, Blakey has noted the popularity of drinking-in. Customers are opting for the enjoyable experience as normality returns to their lives, however this hasn’t put a pressure on Blakey’s latte art skills. 

“When it comes to latte art, I’ve always felt it to be an added bonus. As long as coffee tastes good, I don’t think it matters too much how it looks.”

At Havana, Blakey has also noted popularity rising in plant milks. Oat milk has been the most consistent, as new alternatives come out and become trendy before popularity drops off again. Havana’s Hacienda Cafe offers full cream and trim cows milk, along with oat milk and soy milk as dairy free alternatives. 

Blakey’s favourite coffee blend is Havana Super Deluxe, as she has become accustomed to it over the years.

“Recently I have been getting into plunger at home and for that I like to use the limited releases, the current one being Reunion.”

Her go-to coffee order has changed over the years, but currently takes the form of a 6oz long black. 

“If I’m making it myself, it’s a 6oz oat flat white.”

When not working as a barista, Blakey keeps very busy, helping out with odd jobs to expand her skillset. She is currently enjoying cooking in her spare time, trying out different recipes and using new ingredients. 

“I will always be up for learning something new.”