Our Barista Stories series has been long in the making. Since our first visits to cafes around Europe, we have met many amazing baristas who have had a number of interesting stories to share. We love the speciality coffee community exactly for the people building it and are thrilled to introduce some of those individuals to you.
Baristas truly are the ones who contribute to the atmosphere in the cafe massively and are the key reason why we’d revisit.
Read on to meet Hannah Bullen, brewing your daily cup of coffee at Convoy Espresso in Bristol.
Hannah Bullen is the Barista Manager at Convoy Espresso in Bristol. Originally from Marlow in south Buckinghamshire, this 30-year-old barista has worked in coffee on and off for the last five years.
A few questions for Hannah
What led you to coffee? Could you describe the moment or situation that made you decide to become a barista?
I love coffee! I love making it and I definitely love drinking it…but in all honesty, the thing that draws me to this profession more than making great coffee is the people I’m making it for. My favourite thing about being part of Convoy is getting to know the regulars, sharing a little of life and creating an awesome atmosphere for them to drink coffee in.
What is the funniest thing that you have experienced behind the bar? Can you recall any embarrassing moment?
Countless steam wand purging incidents (I’ve been sprayed in the neck a couple of times). I also wouldn’t advise encouraging your boyfriend to use the pitcher rinser to clean his hands. Messy.
What would you do if you were not working in coffee?
I love to paint so I like to think I’d be in a studio somewhere with messy hands (and drinking copious amounts of coffee obviously).
What is an unusual habit or hobby that you love?
I make kombucha at home! It’s been a process of learning and sometimes I end up drinking what tastes like straight vinegar but I'm getting there and I love it.
If you have a bad day at the cafe, what helps you to handle it and provide good customer service?
I’m definitely learning that there are moments (although rare) where I feel like I’ve maxed out on my ability to stay engaged in small talk/chats with customers. There are days where it just feels harder to stay super chirpy and always have a smile on your face like a lot of customers expect. I’m an introvert so if I’ve had a bad day and don’t have a lot to give to customers I know that I can ask for help from my team and they will step up and make a real effort to engage with customers so I can have a break.
I really value that my team can offer support when I need a break and likewise I carry the load when they feel stretched too. I am well aware that Convoy wouldn’t work on a practical level if it was just me working behind the coffee bar all day every day, but I also know that Convoy is made waaaaayyyyyy better by the fact that the other girls that work here also have so much to give and are really amazing human beings.
I would never want to run the show by myself. My bad days are made a million times better by the people I work with and that keeps Convoy running smoothly and providing great customer service.
What is the one thing that you would miss the most if you could not work as a barista/in coffee anymore?
I would really miss the team that I work with here at Convoy. Not only do I get on really well with my colleagues but I am also great friends with the owners of the business. Starting a business and then hanging out and making coffee with your friends is the best.
Imagine the perfect day in your city. Perhaps you have an old friend visiting. What would be top 3 to 5 activities or places you would show them?
Katie and Kims on Picton Street was by FAR the best brunch spot in Bristol (and potentially the world) until it closed a few months ago. Can my perfect day involve time travel? I also LOVE Trade Winds on Whiteladies or the Lido in Clifton. Both have such lovely vibes.
I love a wander around Harbourside and also Ashton Court in the Autumn when all the leave start changing is dreamy too.
What do you consider some of the best experiences you have had in coffee so far?
Making a Chemex for the very first time has to be up there. I love that I can’t rush the process. Pour overs in general invite you to slow down and savour time out of your day to simply make a great cup of coffee. There’s definitely a life lesson to be learned there somewhere!
It has also been such a privilege (and steep learning curve) getting to be part of a startup. I’ve been with Convoy Espresso from the very beginning when it was just an idea/hope. When my three friends who own the business asked if I’d be part of it I literally jumped at the opportunity. I have learned so much through this process and gained three awesome bosses/better friends in the process…all because of a desire to drink (and provide) great coffee in The Paintworks.
Quick Fire Question
Would you serve filter coffee with milk, if asked for it?
Do you ever take sugar with your coffee?
Espresso or Filter coffee?
Do you aim for Sweetness, Acidity, or Body?
Milky or Black?
Slurp or Spit?
Sit in or Take Away?
Cake or Pastry with your coffee?
Pastry all the way
What is your wifi password in a cafe?