All About Alumni / Winter 2016
The Art of the Brew

Filmmaker Rock Baijnauth’s search for the perfect brew inspired Barista

Photo of a man standing with open arms in front of brewing coffee

Still image from Barista. Photo: Courtesy of Aerovelo.

Rock Baijnauth hopped from coffee shop to coffee shop across Los Angeles searching for the perfect brew to drink while writing his screenplays – and it soon inspired his documentary Barista, a film about the surreal world of coffee competitions.

Baijnauth (BA 2001 NEW) had planned to make a movie focusing on the craft-coffee movement in Los Angeles, but in the process he discovered the fascinating subculture of barista competitions – which showcase everything from stunning latte art and bacon-fat mochas to the use of liquid nitrogen to make ice cream for an affogato.

The documentary follows five rising stars of the coffee world, highlighting both their craftsmanship and personal stories. Barista (Samuel Goldwyn Films) has had theatrical runs across Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Austin, and can be purchased on iTunes or Amazon. “The movie is more about passion than it is about coffee,” says Baijnauth, a cinema studies graduate who directed The Pirate Tapes, which screened on HBO in the United States. “There isn’t a lot of money in the work, but these baristas devote their lives to mastering their craft – and the coffee they produce isn’t purely functional. It’s art.”

Watch a trailer for Barista

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