Tagged "Great Coffee in Common"
Who influenced/inspired you on your coffee journey?
My guests at coffee shop back home in Slovakia. Level of coffee knowledge and passion about this was very low back in time so that inspired me to raise this level and change something on our scene.
What has coffee taught you?
It doesn't matter how good you think you are, coffee is still more clever than you and can surprise you at any time. Never rely on your knowledge or skills because each coffee is individual!
What opportunities has coffee given you?
To be different in bar community and to travel more and more.
Describe the perfect setting to enjoy coffee:
In the morning at my apartment, after breakfast made by my amazing partner, with some nice music, open window and sunshine. And it will be probably flat white to start with.
In your opinion, what makes a good coffee?
It's a combination of more elements such as farm and farmer, roasting, barista, technology etc ... but at the end of the day it's all about full hospitality which you get in your favourite coffee shop. We are selling experience not only beverages.
How do you drink your coffee?
Morning - flat white then later some filter from clever or v60 and in the evening espresso. Best ever coffee? Natural Geisha from Los Lajones estate owned by Graciano Cruz. Pat drop from 2016 and Lot no.5 roasted by Union Roastery.
Who influenced you on your coffee journey?:
There have been a few people who have had quite an impact on my coffee experience, however I think the person who has kind of shaped me into the person I am now is none other than Jay Holland. Jay is the Head Roaster at our WA location and I consider him as my professional (and personal) mentor. When I was working in production in WA, he was always willing to set aside the time and talk to me about coffee, answer questions I had around roasting, and basically fostered my interest levels and passion for the coffee industry in general, ultimately encouraging me to take this roasting job over in Melbourne where I currently am now. He is such an amazing guy and I feel so blessed to call him a friend and a colleague.
Describe the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee:
Being quite an outdoorsy person, I’ve been lucky enough to do a bit of travelling, camping and hiking, so this one is quite easy for me. My favourite ever experience of enjoying a coffee was not long ago, at the top of a mountain range in the South West of WA, drinking a freshly aeropressed brew of Ardi filter coffee and watching the sun rise into the crisp blue sky over the vast green landscape below. That, for me, is perfect.
What is your favourite coffee bean?:
Well, again this is quite an easy one. As most people know, Five Senses owns a coffee mill in Sumatra, Indonesia called Tiga Raja and I love everything about this coffee to bits. Just ask my work colleagues, they’ll let you know how much I love it. Now I know what some of you must be thinking, “What?! A Sumatran? No way!”. Yes way. Until you’ve tasted Tiga Raja, you might never know why I think this way, but trust me, it’ll change your life. Think intense orange chocolate, cola and brown sugar with a capsicum like sweetness and lingering aftertaste. Delicious!
What has coffee taught you?:
Oh wow. Where do I start! I think for me, coffee has taught me the importance of having meaningful, caring, and ethical relationships across the micro and macro areas of the industry. Understanding the processes that are involved in sourcing coffee from farmers all the way through to the drinker’s cup gives me great scope for how big the coffee industry is and how it literally fuels the lives of so many individuals. Being a roaster of coffee, my appreciation for the product has grown and given me greater drive and passion for ensuring that these relationships are well represented. I want the consumer to experience the greatest satisfaction possible when drinking their cup of coffee.
At what point did you know that you were meant to roast coffee for a living?:
Well, as surprising as this is for some, the only company and job I have ever worked at is Five Senses Coffee. So, I’ve been surrounded by coffee my whole working life. Starting off in production, packing coffee and dispatching, naturally I became interested in what I was sending to our customers! My older brother Sam was a roaster at the time, so I was able to feed off his knowledge and get a bit of an understanding of what’s involved in roasting. Engaging with him and the other roasters became a regular occurrence and I stared to join in their cupping sessions and spending a bit of time watching over their shoulder as they worked. When the opportunity came up to move to Melbourne and become the new roaster at our Victorian location, I jumped at
it. Being a roaster fits in with my areas of interest and it has been an amazing journey so far, one that I am excited about for the future. Plus, I get to drink amazing coffee everyday, what more could you ask for?
What would you like to see happen in the coffee industry over the next ten
I'd like to start seeing sustainability in coffee production become the norm. If companies from the get-go ensure sustainable practices are adopted, then I think it will go a long way in ensuring the longevity of not only the coffee industry, but the earth itself. One thing in particular that I'd like to see is the use of 100% biodegradable bags for packed coffee. I think this is definitely not far away from happening and I think customers will jump at the opportunity to use these bags instead of the ones which unfortunately are going straight to landfill. Excited for what's to come!
When you’re getting to know a new coffee, how do you decide to roast it? Do you have a default roast profile?:
One of the first things we do when a new coffee is about to arrive is research and find out all of the information “pre-roast” that is available to us. Info such as region, MASL, initial cupping results and scores, taste expectations etc. Then what we will do is once it has arrived on site, we will take a moisture density reading and a screen size reading and then see if that data is similar to any of our current coffees, in order to have some idea of what profile we are going to run on the first test roast. Usually if the coffee is coming from the same region as one of our current coffees, they tend to be very similar in regards to how it is going to roast. Once we’ve roasted a test roast, it is simply a matter of fine-tuning temps, times, development etc to the desired outcome we want out of that coffee.
What are some of the trends you have observed in coffee roasting over the years?:
Well, since only being a roaster for just over a year, I haven’t really been able to see any dramatic trends happen, however one thing during my time at Five Senses that I have observed is the multitude of cafes that start off out-sourcing their coffee, before quickly developing an interest in how their coffee is roasted, ultimately resulting in them buying a roaster and roasting their own coffee in-house! I think over the years, people have become to realise the “science-y” side of roasting and how even small changes in air-temp, environment, burner percentage and such can make a dramatic difference as to how the coffee is going to taste. This greater appreciation for what we do as roasters and the intricacies involved with our job has become such a vital part in how we communicate with the rest of the industry, which is really satisfying to see and I am excited for how this is going to develop in the years to come.
Owners/Baristas of Ome Space, Penang
Describe the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee. (Joachim)
The perfect setting is not limited to one. Over time, for me, it has transitioned from café hopper to home brewer to barista. Sometimes, I forget which hat I am wearing and I find myself geeking out on coffee, raving about my favourite cafe or new cafe in town to discussing better ways to manage cafes with other owners. Heck, I even find myself helping greet customers or help clear dishes at friends' cafes. All over coffee of course! As you can see I have gone deep down the rabbit hole of coffee!
It started with discovering new and unique settings or coffees, to having that first sip of coffee of the day (always the best!) be it a home made brew or a morning calibration espresso alone behind the bar.
These days, it's not just the coffee but being with fellow coffee lovers, catching up and trying new things. It's about the people, really.
2a. How did you get started in the coffee business? (Joachim)
It started from drinking way too many coffees and visiting way too many cafes. Eventually, I caught the attention of a consultant helping start up a cafe (now he has his own café, Sudo Brew) and he roped me in to be one of the founding baristas at VCR. I didn't throw any money in but after exploring law, sales and marketing, I thought now this, coffee is something I should take full ownership of. (Job-wise)
It was a lightbulb moment to take ownership of the work for most people after working at a few places or jobs.
2b. How did you get started in the coffee business? (Shean)
I guess we can call it an accidental career choice. When I return from UK to KL, I happen to hang out a lot at VCR / around Pudu area. They needed help at the bar when they first started out so I jumped in to help out with cashiering. They eventually hired me as a trainee barista. As the saying goes, the rest is history.
3a. What's your relationship with coffee? (Joachim)
It's been many things to me; it's helped me fuel up, inspire me, gotten to know so many people with a similar love for it, at times I've hated it after a hard day of tasting or training with it, it's opened up the world of food, crafts beers, cocktails and other culinary delights and also gotten me interested in countries and cultures I would never haven gotten into without coffee.
3b. What's your relationship with coffee? (Shean)
I drank a lot of coffee back in my university days, perhaps more so than I am consuming on an average day. I used to be that customer who would sit at a cafe for hours working on my laptop and move on to the next one and then the next one. I’ve visited almost all of the chain coffee shops regularly in the small town of Nottingham. Eventually, after moving to London, my ‘drinking’ habits and my love of exploration within the walkable city got me slowly navigating the cafe scene there, which finally brought me from sitting on a cafe chair to standing behind the coffee machine.
- Who has been the biggest inspiration in your coffee life? (Joachim)
It’s a bit clichéd but James Hoffman no nonsense yet self-aware approach to coffee. I didn't get to meet him when he visited Malaysia but from experience, it was probably for the better. Getting to know your idols up close rarely ends well.
- In your opinion, what makes a good coffee? (Joachim)
I've always believed in the holy trinity of coffee. Freshly ground, not stale coffee and freshly brewed. This rule even applies to local kopitiam coffee! One of my favourite kopitiams in Ipoh serves wonderful traditional white coffee and you don't get any stale, rancid or burnt flavours. In fact you can taste the natural sweet flavours of the locally grown Liberica varietal!
Also, if you find yourself somewhere looking for good coffee, always look for a barista who really knows her/his stuff then the equipment then the coffee. A barista is usually able to turn decent coffee into something better.
- As a barista, what do you think about competitors in industry? (Joachim)
From my experience in sales and marketing, it's never good to knock the competition down. Working in F&B is a tough line, no room for negative energy and we are all in this together. If you know something that may make someone's life just a little easier, why not share?
Of course, it's best not to take advantage of others and it's a two way street. Always try to give back more than you take and recently I am sad that more and more people move away from the community or go overseas for greener pastures. While I respect their decisions, it just means fewer people to share that love for coffee as we go further down the rabbit hole that is coffee.
Ultimately, I believe in kaizen which means we should always strive to improve and be our better selves each day. The only benchmark is yourself, really. To be more patient, open and better at enduring challenges. Everything else is noise.
- How do you decide what defines a good barista? (Joachim)
Being a barista is harder than I thought it was. It's not just the physical nature of the work - I enjoy that.
I remember making the jump from home brewer to barista and the weight of expectations of guests and others start to weigh on your shoulders. The first year is difficult as we can be our own enemy, really. By 'we' I mean our minds, as we may think the worse of others around us but instead, I find time and time again that people in specialty coffee are open-minded, friendly and eager to share. Similar to how the Melbourne coffee scene matured thanks to that sharing culture that existed among the indie cafes.
I think being open minded, always learning and having a good attitude plus good hospitality skills go a long way. The rest you can pick up along the way and as they say, when the student is ready, the master appears!
- Wait for the right timing? Or just go for it? (Joachim)
I firmly belong in the timing camp. Some exceptions are if the reward is worth it or if it's a friend in need. I believe in probability, careful risk taking.
One pet theory I have is that the Malaysian café boom in 2013-2014 was thanks to Facebook pages. Back then, you didn't need to pay anything to reach the audience your café built up so it made marketing for indie cafes then far easier. And back then, Facebook was a more pleasant place to be. So timing (whether we realise it or not) does play a role.
Spontaneity works well for some things but other things require some planning and timing.
- What would you like to see happen in the coffee industry over the next ten years? (Joachim)
Robot baristas! I jest but we see the rise of automation in specialty coffee maybe we will see throw downs among human and robots or automated brewing. It's happened before!
Over the next ten years, my crystal ball is looking rather murky. Like my french press. But I believe in cycles, up and downs so we will see people come and go but I rather take it one day at a time.