Kimia Bergeson is definitely one of the most active professionals on the Finnish specialty coffee scene. She is an active MC, organiser of the Finnish AeroPress Championship and Helsinki Coffee Week. Kimia is one of the founding members of The Happy Coffee Network and she also strives to revive the Finnish SCA chapter. So that Finland can again have national barista championships! No wonder that with such an amazing community engagement, Kimia got awarded this year the title of the Young Finnish Coffee Influencer of the Year!
Daily Kimia works as the Cafe & Event Manager at Kahiwa Coffee Roasters. She loves morning shifts where she can infect others with her positive energy! And heck, she lives an hour away from work. Where does she get all this energy from?! We encourage you to get to know and follow the story of Kimia since we are pretty sure that this is just one of the first chapters of a beautiful journey!
Kimia, what is your first memory of coffee?
A former customer/friend at the first-ever cafe I worked at asked me to join her for the Helsinki Coffee Festival. I knew nothing about coffee, our ‘cafe’ had an automatic machine, and didn’t even know coffee festivals were a thing. But she was really into coffee, would make AeroPress at her desk, and was super cool! The moment I walked in, a barista from a local roastery called me over to try a coffee, I tried it and was so impressed and we ended up chatting for 20 minutes about coffee. I was over-caffeinated and in awe.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the coffee industry, and how did you get started? What did you do before coffee?
Young Kimia didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life but she just knew she wanted to change lives and make an impact. I applied for nursing school and thankfully didn’t get in, I now know that wouldn’t have been for me. Anyways, I used to work at a cafe in an office building, a regular guest was in line one day and I could tell she had been crying/having a rough day so I just offered her coffee for free. She thanked me and then left.
Later that day she came back just to tell me “I hope you realize how much of an impact you have here. You are such an important part of our work days (referring to the people working in the building). We don’t just come here for a coffee break, we come to see you and your energy. Your positivity and how you remember all of us and our orders make our days!” .
So my mind was blown that something as (at the time) simple as serving coffee could change peoples’ lives. From then on, I’ve been hooked.
Tell us a bit about the place you work at. What is your role there?
Kahiwa Coffee Roasters is based in Lahti, and along with our roastery we run a cafe & bakery in the centre of Lahti. We have been super active in specialty coffee since our opening with our barista Tuomas winning the World AeroPress Championship in 2021, winning 3rd best roastery in Finland in 2022, hosting the Finnish AeroPress finals in 2022, myself winning Finland’s Young Coffee Influencer this year, and now being the organizers of the 2023 AeroPress competition. Lahti is a short 1hr train ride away from the centre of Helsinki so come visit if you’re ever in Helsinki! My role right now is co-manager of the cafe & bakery, head of coffee, and event organizer.
What kind of experience do you want your customers to have when they visit you at the cafe/roastery?
I want my service to be genuine and approachable, so guests feel comfortable even if they’ve never been to Kahiwa before. If I meet them on their level then it’s easier to introduce specialty coffee and maybe inspire them to try something new. And if they’re not ready for ‘new’ then at least they received good service and are more likely to come back again. I’ll get ‘em next time!
What is your favourite part of the day at work, and why?
Morning shifts! I am a morning person so my energy levels are at 100 straight from the morning. So I get really excited to come to work and make our bakery employees their first coffee of the day. Then I continue the morning by sharing my energy with sleepy customers who haven’t had their coffee yet.
Side note, in bold, please: Baristas! If your chefs & bakers feed you, you should be making them coffee!
How do you stay motivated and inspired to keep improving your coffee-making skills?
Sort of serious answer: Perfectionism and an unhealthy need to prove myself.
Actual answer: People. No one becomes a pro on their own, so knowing that I can learn from every new coffee person I meet is exciting but also humbling.
You’re one of the core founding members of The Happy Coffee Network. Can you tell us a bit more about it and your role in the community?
The Happy Coffee Network (THCN) is an online community for coffee people focused on sharing knowledge and building each other up. We do this through online brew-a-longs, webinars, and soon e-courses. THCN was started by Wendelien, but she recruited us ‘founding members’ in order to help her grow and manage the community.
My role as one of the founding members is to be the first contact (first friend!) new members receive when they join. We are currently 140 members strong from over 20 countries which is incredible!
How would you encourage other coffee people around the world to join the THCN?
If you want to experience other coffee cultures from the coffee pros that work in them, this is probably the best way to do so without travelling. If you’re also curious about certain coffee-related topics but don’t know where to ask, this is the place. There are so many diverse, experienced, and talented members in the group already! You should be one of them!
How did it feel to win the Young Finnish Coffee Influencer of the Year award? And how do you think it will help with your growth and the projects you’re working on?
It felt somewhat funny, to be honest. I still attribute the word ‘influencer’ to social media and I feel like my ‘influence’ is more in person, so the title itself feels a little silly to me. However it’s my only win related to coffee, and the win was done via voting, so it also feels really validating that all of the hard work I’ve been doing in the Finnish coffee community (hosting and MC-ing AeroPress events, previously organizing Helsinki Coffee Week, etc.) is resulting in something and isn’t going unnoticed. So I am very happy with it and hope the win will help me better connect with other coffee people who also want to improve & strengthen the Finnish coffee community.
What are the current trends in cafes in your region? Are there any trends you promote yourself and would like to see more often in other places?
Somewhat random, but people in customer service should learn sign language. It’s not really a trend, but it’s an easy language to pick up and deaf communities are so wonderful and social and rarely get accessible service.
What coffee challenges are you looking forward to? Any new projects or collaborations?
YES, I HAVE PROJECTS AND I AM SO EXCITED! I am organizing the Finnish AeroPress Championships for the second year in a row, but more importantly: I am trying to revive SCA Finland. We haven’t had any coffee competitions in the last 4 years because of an inactive SCA, so I am grinding to try and revive/recreate the association. Get us a new board, make a plan for next year and bring back Finnish coffee competitions in 2024. Hit me up if you have any tips/advice!
Quick Fire Questions for Kimia Bergeson:
Would you serve filter coffee with milk if asked for it?
Totally. Coffee is meant to be enjoyed however you’d like.