Meet Peter Allane Ong, affectionately known as Allan. At 36 years old, Allan hails from the Philippines but currently calls Berlin, Germany, his home. With over a decade of devotion to the coffee industry, Allan is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience that transcends the names of traditional coffee roles. Currently, Allan acts as the Operations Manager at The Barn Coffee Roasters Berlin.
When asked about his educational background and achievements, Allan, with humility, opted not to list his certificates and past honours. “Everyday encounters are a learning experience, and achievements already,” he explains.
In a reflective moment, Allan shared his philosophy, “If I am being called a gem, I will show everyone that everybody can be a gem, even though I started as a rock. Experience rolls me to polish and shine.” This sentiment encapsulates Allan’s journey, his dedication to continuous improvement, and his gratitude towards those who have been part of his growth.
Allan emphasizes that his team’s role is being the ambassadors of the coffee they create and affirming, “We can just do coffee and by that make our guests’ mood better, but giving them a smile can give warmth to their hearts.”
Allan, what is your first memory of coffee?
As far as I remember it’s in my teenage years, memories take me back to my grandmother’s cosy home in the colder part of our country. She used to brew a well-known coffee in the region – a Liberica coffee we fondly called Kapeng Barako. Served with a side of sweet cream, it was a simple pleasure that kept us warm during chilly evenings.
The ritual of enjoying this coffee together became a cherished experience, especially as we stayed up late, savouring the warmth and sharing stories until midnight. Those times with Kapeng Barako were a genuinely memorable and comforting part of my upbringing.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the coffee industry, and how did you get started? What did you do before coffee?
Having previously worked as a Restaurant Manager, my transition to the coffee world came when an opportunity arose to manage a coffee shop in Dubai. Intrigued by my love for coffee, I embraced the challenge. Initially focused on the operational aspect, my interest soared after exploring single-origin coffees. Delving into the nuances of origin, processing, and brewing methods, I wondered at how they shaped coffee flavours.
As the coffee industry expanded, I joined the community, not just managing but also nurturing aspiring baristas. This journey inspired me, and I realised my capacity to not only lead but also fuel their talents and passion.
You have quite a few work titles at The Barn. Can you please tell us more about them and what these roles require from you in terms of responsibilities?
My main role is the Operations Manager, to oversee cafe operations. Drawing on years of managerial experience, my decision-making is well-informed. Additionally, I serve as a Trainer, concentrating on enhancing team skill sets, maintaining quality standards, and ensuring consistent coffee excellence across our local and international cafes. I am also tasked with overseeing the maintenance and supervision of all coffee equipment. Furthermore, I take charge of organizing competition events hosted by The Barn.
How did you navigate your career path from being a barista to climbing the ranks and eventually leading operations and training for a specialty coffee chain?
Starting as a barista, my journey evolved through dedication and passion. Each role was a stepping stone, not just in career progression, but in personal growth. It’s not merely about coffee; it’s about crafting a community around it. Embracing this, I transformed my love for coffee into a career that inspires others. Now, I lead with the belief that every cup poured is an opportunity to create moments of joy and connection, making my journey incredibly fulfilling and inspiring.
Were there specific mentors or role models who played a significant role in your professional development?
My journey in the coffee world has been enriched by incredible colleagues and coffee enthusiasts around me. While there may not have been specific mentors, the collective passion and camaraderie of those who love coffee have been my guiding force.
Learning from each other, sharing experiences, and collectively fueling our enthusiasm have shaped my professional development. It’s a community-driven journey where every interaction, every shared cup, contributes to the rich mosaic of my growth as a coffee professional.
How do you stay motivated and inspired to keep improving your coffee-making and people skills?
Staying inspired in the coffee world is simple yet invigorating. Every cup is a canvas for creativity, and every customer interaction is a chance to craft joy. Embracing the evolving coffee scene, I stay motivated by seeking fresh perspectives, attending workshops, and exploring new techniques.
Connecting with fellow enthusiasts, sharing experiences, and witnessing the delight my creations bring keeps me fueled. It’s a journey where the pursuit of excellence in both coffee-making and people skills isn’t a task but a passion, making every day an opportunity to elevate my craft and spread the love for exceptional coffee.
Can you tell me about a time when you had to train baristas? How did you approach the training process and what did you focus on?
Training baristas is a delightful adventure! I always start with the basics to ensure nothing is missed. I aim to inspire them to truly appreciate the artistry of coffee. My focus is on refining techniques, mastering customer service intricacies, and unveiling the potential of various beans. It’s not merely about brewing; it’s about igniting a passion for crafting delightful coffee experiences.
With positive energy and individualized attention, I see their confidence flourish, transforming the training into a joyous, educational, and heartwarming expedition of growth and inspiration.
How do you foster a positive and collaborative work environment within your team?
I cultivate a positive and collaborative atmosphere by prioritizing open communication, recognizing individual contributions, and fostering a sense of shared purpose. Team members are encouraged to share ideas, and I lead by example, promoting mutual respect. Regular team-building activities and constructive feedback sessions create a cohesive work culture. I ensure everyone feels valued, fostering a supportive environment where baristas thrive, contribute, and take pride in their roles.
Allan with some of his teammates – Matthew, Benjamin, Vojta and Amelia at The Barn – Mitte.
How do you nurture and develop the talents of your team members?
As a Trainer, nurturing and developing the talents of my team members is crucial for ensuring a skilled and motivated staff. I need to assess each team member’s strengths and areas for improvement.
Developing personalized training plans that cater to specific needs and goals and providing them with hands-on training to practice and refine their skills. Offer constructive and timely feedback to help team members understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Recognize their achievements and milestones and do regular one-on-one check-ins to discuss development opportunities,
What are your hobbies and passions outside of work?
I love Mountaibiking, hitting the mountain trails on my bike! Riding in the mountains gives me this awesome mix of adrenaline and peace. It’s like I’m part of nature, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. This not only charges me up but also clears my mind completely. So, when I get back to work, I’m all pumped up and ready to dive back in with full enthusiasm!
Allan off duty up in the mountains.
What coffee challenges are you looking forward to? Any new projects or collaborations?
I aim to establish a top-tier barista team competing globally. pushing boundaries, inspiring, and nurturing a passion that enhances not only our skills but the overall coffee experience. Every challenge is a chance to brew excellence and spread the joy of exceptional coffee.
Projects or collaborations? Still brewing so stay tuned!