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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Great Coffee in Common: Jonette George

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

Jonette George, Smudge Publishing

In a few sentences, tell us what Smudge is all about.

Smudge is a boutique publishing house celebrating culinary destinations throughout Australia and the world. We are a team of passionate foodies who love our coffee, our food and our drinks and are happy to share our stories with anyone keen to listen.

What is the most exciting thing about what you do?

I love travelling, so to visit farms at origin to see first-hand the red cherries on coffee trees, ready to be picked is a big thrill. I love to meet the pickers, the farmers and everyone involved in bringing coffee beans to the roaster. I enjoy watching baristas plying their trade in the many cafes I visit.

From your perspective as someone who’s spent time with people in the industry, what is something you wish coffee drinkers knew about coffee?

We have written several books to educate the public about coffee. I wish everyone in the world understood that once you drink a great specialty coffee, there is no going back!

What’s your favourite story to tell from your coffee related adventures?

The most recent book I published was The Coffee Man – the story about Sasa Sestic, the World Barista Champion 2015. His story starts in war-torn Bosnia during the civil war, and takes him to Sydney to represent Australia in Handball at the Olympics. His iron-fist determination translated into a determination to understand coffee and to produce the best coffee possible. He is today, like so many in the industry, working closely with farmers to make sure the future of quality coffee is sustainable.

What do you see being the biggest challenge facing the coffee industry?

Changing climate conditions are already challenging the industry, but I believe we will adapt and discover new strains that can survive the changing conditions.

What are some of the trends have you observed in coffee throughout your career?

We have moved from a dark roast, Italian style coffee to a very light roasted bean. But some of these are so extreme, they taste like green grass or even straw. We have moved closer back to a mid-range roast, which brings out the chocolate flavours, but also celebrates the fruit flavours coming through as well. We can now enjoy a coffee that tastes like a hot berry milkshake!

In your opinion what makes a good coffee?

Good soil + good compost + good plant + good farmer + good picker + good processing + good exporting + good roasting + great barista! Any step that isn’t good can spoil the end result.

Is there a coffee that stands out as your best ever?

I’m still searching for the Holy Grail! That is the delight of tasting coffee all over the world.

Describe the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee:

Anywhere so long as the service is friendly. Welcoming staff is key.

Why do you think people love coffee?

It is addictive – pure and simple!

In general, how do you like to drink your coffee?

I start with 2 lattes, and then move on to black filters later in the day.

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Great Coffee in Common: Ralph Dale Alfonso

Posted by Lucky Salvador on

Ralph Dale Alfonso, - Owner of Coffee Madness, Cebu 

 

What do you think about competitors? do you treat them as one?

It's good to have competitors in a healthy way, i see them as helpful competition in terms of developing skills, service and products. i dont really see them as a threat.  it gives me the chance to enhance my shop of  what is lacking. I prefer to be friends with other cafe owners  around  because in the end somehow, we have the same goal for the industry which is to serve and let others experience what is good coffee.

How do you decide who will be a good barista?

First and foremost i look into the character and attitude of a person.  Skills and knowledge can be taught but the attitude and character of a person can be hard to change,

Passion or Money? why?

Passion over money.  i am able to enjoy what I'm doing and it doesn't feel boring. i can do it every single day seven times a week and all year round. it gives me happiness in so doing and it is very satisfying. at the end of the day, i earn a little with not so much pressure, enough for me to make a living.

Who influenced/inspired you on your coffee journey?

As far as i could remember it was self influenced, I don't know any barista back then i just enjoy the company of drinking coffee even alone.  i could drink a good cup of coffee any time of the day as long as i feel like having one. it was somehow a passion slowly evolving within. i was lucky enough to acquire a secondhand  home espresso machine.  all i did was watch youtube on how to operate and make simple coffees, until such time i found myself  enjoying it much more than the profession i was in which is I.T., so I decided to pursue making coffee and in my pursuit, i was able to meet a lot of people who were much more  into coffee than me.  it was so inspiring and that encouraged me to set my sail higher and continue to get more involved  with coffee.

What has coffee taught you?

Coffee taught me a lot of things.  it taught me value, in the sense that every chain in the coffee; from farm, to process, to market, to roaster, to barista and the last one who drinks the coffee is important.

It taught me respect;  i had the chance to meet a coffee farmer  and was able to know how much effort they spend in harvesting, processing, and sorting to come up with good crops.

It taught me patience. to come up with a very good cup, there are always  failures in the process. i know some roasters and i was able to observe how patiently they are sorting and roasting properly the green beans from the farmers in order to give those beans the right quality profiles before it lands on the shelves of cafes.

It taught me discipline. as an owner of a cafe and a barista as well, i was able to enhance and develop my self-discipline, not just by running the cafe  but in every aspect in the cafe like service to guests, and most importantly by making each cup of coffee.

What opportunities has coffee given you?

It gave me a chance to know a lot of different people. i deal with them every single day at the cafe and i get to know a lot of coffee enthusiast, baristas and connoisseurs,

I get to travel for coffee, go places, visit farms, roasters and cafes, and i don't find it as work, its more of a pleasure.

But above all, it gave me the opportunity to showcase what the farmers  have done, roasters have spent and the barista does at the end of the chain which is the consumers.

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