We enjoy interviewing the people whom we meet during our travels. The last question we always ask is about the advice they would give to people who are just entering the speciality coffee industry. We hand picked six of them to prepare you for all the challenges in the new year.
Learn from Andreas “Pingo” Felsen, Gwilym Davies, Konrad & Ania Oleksak,
Cerianne Bury, Sebastian Lösch and Nora Šmahelová.
There is no future if you want to stay here in Germany and work as a barista. You will never earn more than 10 EUR per hour. Start roasting, start importing coffee or start anything else. Don’t start as a barista! You can’t survive with a family like that. I hope it will change but I don’t expect the change will happen in the near future. There is a need for more coffee roasters and coffee importers. I understand why many people want to work as baristas – you are in the direct contact with customers – but there is a lot of other possible ways how to work with speciality coffee.
Find somebody you can learn from. I had nobody – until Square Mile turned up. That was one of the questions they asked me: “Who’s being your mentor?”. Nobody. I didn’t get one. There was nobody for me. Find somebody who can you trust, who can teach you, who you can find information from. There is a lots of information our there. Don’t get confused by it but don’t just absorb the information. You also need to practice. You also need to spend time behind the machine working. It’s a tough job! Long hours, lots of cleaning but we know it’s fun.
Coffee is a natural product and it changes rapidly. There is so many factors that affects what it tastes like. You need to be definitely open to people, products, new things and new ideas. The process of learning about coffee is often frustrating so it’s easy to jump into the certain conclusions and stick to them. It’s not a good approach though! It’s always better to come back at some point and review your thoughts. Whole industry is changing very fast and what was true then, doesn`t necessarily have to be true now.
The most special part about the speciality coffee scene is the community. I think you can only get further in your field, whether you are barista, roaster or coffee importer, if you know what others are doing and if you learn from them. The most import part is to participate in competitions, go to events and fairs and meet new people. Get to know what they do. Let them to see what you do and don’t be too scared to do so. Eventually you share the same passion and work with the same product and although you are the competition you also love the same product. Why not to celebrate it together?
Not only look for passion but also for the right conditions. You need to have both if you want be in a certain way profitable and sustainable. To make sure you can do what you are doing year after year. You need to have both passion and the right conditions.
Stay open minded and try everything you can so you can calibrate your taste buds. Really everything, it doesn’t matter if wine, food, fruit, vegetable, coffee – both great coffee and shitty coffee. To appreciate excellent coffee you need to try bad things too. Don’t listen to media too much. There will always be somebody saying this is the best coffee and people tends to follow it blindly because they don’t have their own opinion. It’s necessary not to get lost in that and to make your own opinions.