Tagged "Great Coffee in Common"


Great Coffee in Common: Byron Lim

Posted by Joshua Liew on

Great Coffee in Common: Byron Lim, The Tiny Roaster 

When and how did your Roasting journey start?

It grew out of the necessity and sustainability for the café, and there was an opportunity to learn and grow inward/in-house. I wanted to know even more in-dept. about coffee, even more than my role as a barista. One natural question I had for myself all the time was, “How does a roaster influence the coffee and customer’s experience?”.

As a roaster now, I get to define the flavour and story of the coffee, it gives me greater influence and impact in every batch of roast that will affect the overall customer’s experience.

How will your roasting experience now add benefits to you make a cup of coffee if you hop behind a coffee bar?

Technically it helps me understand how different elements affect the taste of the coffee. How there are limitation that a barista will face which can be due to the Roast Profile, the Quality of Green, us not picking up the ‘Quakers’, and before that, I was just frustrated and questioned my own coffee knowledge and experience when I can’t perfecting calibrate the coffee.

How does a good grade/quality green affect the final cup? Can people expect good coffee using lower grade coffee?

Coffee quality is a roaster’s starting point. As a roaster I ask myself how I can take this coffee one step farther, how I can highlight the producers and barista too.

What do you look out for when you’re creating a blend? Balance is a very common word heard, but what is your view as a balance cup?

“Balance” to me is general market acceptance; not too boring or adventurous, a comfortable cup for everyone. Balance of Flavor, good body, good acidity. sweetness and consistency.

As a blend, it has to “Balance” the expectation of specialty familiar customer and also not specialty coffee drinker.

What will be your steps in helping a café create a Custom House Blend?

I’ll definitely be looking at who their customer-base is, who is drinking it, speak to them, get to understand what they like.

You will ask me: “Why not jump straight into a Cupping Session? Why choose such an inefficient way? Cos some of my client don’t even know what they are looking for?"

My answer, we want their customer’s opinion.

Getting cheap and cost effective coffee isn’t my goal but they are ways around it. My priority is to get a coffee the client can be proud of, and yet introduce a new dimension of coffee to them.

My approach is creating a blend from the End-User point-of-view.

What do you want to see happen in the coffee industry in the next 5 years?

More collaboration, create a more open-minded community, sharing information and coffee. Commune over coffee and talk about it, and I’ve seen that happen towards the end of last year.

Recently we collaborated with Homeground Roaster, and I was asked for the first time by them, “Hey, have you ever roasted coffee with another roaster from another company?”, and that spirit of Collaboration/Community is what I truly loved.

I want to see more people connect with the Barista, Roasters, Home Brewers.

When we closed Tiny last year, we lost not only a shop space but a community. Coffee to me is a medium that connects and create a community of people & conversation.

Is roasting the end goal for a Barista? Is it a nature progression? What is your advice?

Do what you like, do what you are good at. There are many baristas that knows how to roast and can roast really well too. But everyone has a part to play in this industry.

I love the technical side of roasting, I love the reach and influence I have as a roaster. Roasting is a lonely and repetitive job, but I love it!

But if you love to connect with people and make coffee, continue to be a barista, be honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself into a role, because the interest will naturally come. Expose yourself to roasting and do it for awhile, and then ask yourself if you love it.

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Great Coffee in Common: John Chew

Posted by Joshua Liew on

John Chew, - Head Barista at China House, Penang

 

Describe the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee.

There’s already nothing as perfect as a decent and easy cup of coffee.

How did you get started in the coffee business?

I do not own a cafe business for now. I got into my coffee career admiring how cool baristas appeared to be. I wanted to play with coffee machines and of course, I love coffee.

What's your relationship with coffee?

Coffee and I are just like a couple that is in love. I spend my time getting to know it better and I learned a lot since I first started 7 years ago. No doubt, we are in a long term, long running relationship.

In your opinion, what makes a good coffee?

Of course, it is a good barista to pair with good coffee beans. A good barista should know how to make his beans perform well into a cup that doesn't have indecent qualities.

Passion or money? Why?

Both are equally important. Passion and money are the keywords in sustaining the business.

As a barista, what do you think about competitors (cafes) in industry?

I never felt competitors are a category to focus our energy in a business. If there is competition, it should be healthy. We grow together, learn from each other, and share our knowledge. I visit other cafes quite often too as most experienced baristas actually love sharing their own coffee stories and knowledge, this is a form of information exchange.

How do you decide what defines a good barista?

A good barista should taste their coffee from time to time in a day, as we know coffee beans are sensitive to their environments and tend to change, making adjustments as necessary. Understand the origin of the beans and be able to impress guests with good coffee. But of course, baristas should never stop learning as coffee is a field of study and has great influence to the community.

 Wait for the right timing? Or just go for it?

Just go for it, you know you won’t always be lucky enough to get the right timing. That’s a big challenge, as you might not know what would be the result. I would say… no pain no gain.

What would you like to see happen in the coffee industry over the next ten years?

Coffee should become better accepted to masses, I think it would be a big winner for the food and beverage industry. Maybe there will be more options in how we serve it. What if we serve coffee like one of our daily vitamins like coffee tablets or capsules.   

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Great Coffee in Common: Celine Lofamia

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women around the world. With this in mind we are embarking on a new project to shine a light on the role that women play on creating your daily cup.

With it we hope to challenge any perception that the coffee industry is male dominated and shift the conversation to the value of a role rather than that of gender. Through our ‘Great Coffee in Common’ series we have brought together women from different parts of the supply chain to hear their voices and opinions on this important subject and hear their personal experiences of working in the coffee industry.

celine lofamia 40 hands common man coffee roasters women in coffee

How did you get started in the coffee business?

Way back in college I was already interested in coffee and started joining barista competitions. I competed in the Philippine Barista Cup in 2008  and came out as a champion (!) and then the Philippine Grand Barista Cup where I was a finalist. After college, my friend Lanz Mirondo ask me to join in 40 Hands and work as a barista and the rest, as they say, is history!

How do you see the role of women in the coffee and do you think it has changed at all over the years you've been in the industry?

Traditionally I think the norm has been for women to work in the fields growing the coffee rather than working at the front end of the supply chain, but yes this has begun to change. Whilst before men might get access to training over women this isn't the case as much now. However, I read somewhere that it's not about favouring women over men so much as letting both men and women have access to the same level of information and resources. This should be a global movement of change to balance the inequalities between genders and will lead to a much more sustainable industry.

Finally, how do you take your coffee?

I'm a magic kinda gal, it's the first thing I do when I get to the cafe in the mornings - pour myself a coffee!

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Great Coffee In Common: Ibu Seri

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women around the world. With this in mind we are embarking on a new project to shine a light on the role that women play on creating your daily cup.

With it we hope to challenge any perception that the coffee industry is male dominated and shift the conversation to the value of a role rather than that of gender. Through our ‘Great Coffee in Common’ series we have brought together women from different parts of the supply chain to hear their voices and opinions on this important subject and hear their personal experiences of working in the coffee industry.

Ibu Seri tiga raja mill women in coffee common man coffee roasters

Ibu Seri, middle standing in pink

Who/what inspired you on your coffee journey?

My main inspiration has been the staff at the Tiga Raja Mill. The training they gave me on how to grow and care for the coffee plants without using chemical fertilisers has been invaluable and really makes me firm in my commitment to actively develop coffee farming here.

It is also hugely inspiring to meet our direct coffee buyers and hear them complement my coffee. It makes me realise that we can establish a remarkable relationship between people like me (the farmers) and the buyers out there and that is a massive boost of confidence to carry on doing what we do.

What has being in the coffee industry taught you?

It has taught me that we don't need to damage the environment to earn profits. If you learn how to grow the plants in the right way then you don't have to compromise on either of these things.

What opportunities has coffee given you?

I have got to see the wider impact of coffee on a global scale and realise that what I produce is just one part of a larger supply chain. It also makes me realise that I can develop the coffee that I grow in my field and reach a wider audience of buyers out there.

I have also been invited to train and nurture other aspiring farmers at the Tiga Raja Mill which is hugely rewarding.

Is coffee your main product on your farm?

No, we grow oranges as our number one product but this is closely followed by coffee plants. I have begun to realise though that coffee has many advantages over oranges.

Can you describe the difference between specialty and ordinary coffee?

To us, coffee is just coffee there is no difference in terms of name but I guess it would be down to a difference in quality and attention that we give to the crops.

Do you think that climate change has affected the your farming practices?

Yes it has had a huge affect on my farm. We normally have two harvests per year in Sumatra but last year we had a prolonged dry season which has meant that one of those just didn't happen.

Finally, how would you describe the perfect way to enjoy a cup of coffee?

For me it would be whilst relaxing during lunch break in the fields.

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Great Coffee In Common: Carmen Yap

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women around the world. With this in mind we are embarking on a new project to shine a light on the role that women play on creating your daily cup.

With it we hope to challenge any perception that the coffee industry is male dominated and shift the conversation to the value of a role rather than that of gender. Through our ‘Great Coffee in Common’ series we have brought together women from different parts of the supply chain to hear their voices and opinions on this important subject and hear their personal experiences of working in the coffee industry.

carmen yap artisan coffee malaysia common man coffee roasters

How did you get started in the coffee business?

It was all by chance; my husband and I got to know some friends and individuals from different industries, then we sort of put them together. With my husband's support and lots of courage, I decided to try it out. 

What has working in the coffee business taught you?

It has humbled me. It takes a lot of team efforts to run a cafe, everyone has a part to play because no matter how good is the coffee, no one will drink it from a stained cup. 

What advice would you give to aspiring cafe owners?

I'm still a newbie in the industry but if I may say something to aspiring cafe owners, it is to take your time to learn the trade before rushing into it. I had no prior F&B experience before this and often wonder if I had invested more time when I was younger, I might have been able to grow my business faster and in a more efficient manner.

How do you see the role of women in the coffee industry?

Honestly I don't see there's a significant difference between men and women in the specialty coffee industry. We have as many female barista as male barista. As long as one has the drive and passion to learn, they are treated equally. Of course this is just my personal view and what we practice in our cafes. 

There is currently a lot of global focus on the role of women especially when it comes to the working environment, do you think that women's role in coffee has changed?

This has been going on for years. Females are gradually recognised as being as important as men in the work force but some gaps still remain. I remember, during meetings in the early days, I was often asked when is my boss coming! But the good thing is this stigma only happens to me as an cafe owner. 

For my baristas, they are rather fortunate that it is now a gender neutral profession, I guess we have the early american chain cafes to thank for that. For as long as I remember there are male and female barista unlike the local coffee shops/mamak where its usually a man making your coffee. To answers the question, yes I believe it has changed if we are talking about the coffee industry as a whole but it's not just something specific to specialty coffee.

Describe the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee.
I've grown so used to drinking my coffee in my cafe, my answers are definitely biased. I'd just say the perfect setting is somewhere cosy, with plenty of natural light. 
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