A Day in the Life of... a CMCR Academy Trainer

Posted by Keith Yee on

Keith Yee, CMCR Academy Trainer 



“Keith, are you keen on becoming a barista trainer?”

This was the question proposed to me by Matt (our GM) one and half years ago, my answer? For sure! what a great opportunity to work in such interesting position so I took up the offer and here I am today.

Some people might wonder what the job scope of a barista trainer is and what we do when there is no training, so this is an account of a typical day as a barista trainer at Common Man Coffee Roasters.

8am: I start my day just like everyone else, with a cup of coffee. I sit down and check my schedule for who I am going to train today so I can prepare mentally prepare myself for both the students and the content that I need to deliver. Today I have a public fundamental barista skills class and then on-site training for one of our wholesale clients in the afternoon.

day in the life common man coffee roasters

Once I'm done, I take some time to check my emails for training enquiries from wholesale clients and public students and make the necessary arrangements to book them in. This can be really tricky as I have to prevent class clashes with the different clients, difficult when we have over 70 wholesale clients to manage not to mention public students too! 

9am: Class begins! This is a Fundamental Barista class, it's going to last for three hours finishing around 12pm. What I love the most about my job is that I get to meet people from different industries and even countries but everyone come here only for one purpose, a passion for COFFEE!

day in the life common man coffee roasters

12pm After the session ends, I head up to Grounded for our weekly sales meeting with the team.

day in the life common man coffee roasters

Then it's time for lunch which I normally spend hanging out with the Grounded baristas and enjoying the CMCR staff meal!

2pm It’s time to head out of my usual training ground for some on-site training with one of our wholesale clients, Atlas Coffee Embassy. On-site training can be very challenging because the cafe's equipment can be differ from place to place so I have to be adaptable to different machines and spaces. On top of this we sometimes, like today, I have to deal with live orders coming in as we conduct the training. Today we are mainly about the calibration and the workflow of the bar which helps when you have live orders to work with. It's a great feeling when everyone seems satisfy after a session!

day in the life common man coffee roasters

Being a barista trainer in Common Man Coffee Roasters is really fun and full of challenges; it's not as easy as many people think and it can be tiring talking to so many people and drinking so much coffee (!) but still I really enjoy it nearly two years after that question kicked the whole thing off!

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A Day in the Life of...a CMCR Account Manager

Posted by May Espino on

May Espino, CMCR Account Manager 

Two years ago when I took up the role, I didn’t exactly know what an Account Manager did. At the time,  I was  looking to do something different, something challenging yet exciting and of course still involved coffee. I remember how anxious I was when I went on my first solo visit; I wasn’t very bold but I do remember wanting to do well and yearned to understand my role more. As with most things, as time has passed I’ve shaped this role to be my own and now love every minute of it!

One of the reasons my role is so much fun is because every day is different. In my previous role as a barista,  things had become pretty routine, I would know what time I would start, would I was likely to see during the day and then knock off at the same time every day. Now as an Account Manager, my job requires me to travel all over Singapore to catch up with clients and show them lots of love and support in form of great service! I know lots of people who might wish they had my job but not everyone really understands what it takes to do it; so here is here’s a recap of a typical day in a life of me, an Account Manager at Common Man Coffee Roasters!

7am: It usually takes me just an hour to prepare for work so waking up at 7am sharp is essential. I need to make sure I have enough time for a quick bite because my day is usually 80% espresso tasting so missing breakfast and starting the day with empty stomach is probably not the best idea. Today’s menu? A quick ham and cheese brioche!

clueless goat common man coffee roasters9am: One of my favourite accounts to visit early in the morning is The Clueless Goat in Novena. One, because I’ve never had a bad coffee from Zach (one of the co-owner, he really embodies perfection on every shot!) and two, it’s on my commute to the city so an easy stop off for my first coffee. They are always super crowded when I visit but after the rush-hour buzz calms down I try to catch up as much as I can.

10.30am: From Novena, I take a bus straight to my second destination, Upper Thompson. A vegan place called Brownice is finally getting their very own Synesso MVP. I am meeting Darren (CMCR’s superstar tech) here for the scheduled installation. While he’s getting the machine installed, I take the opportunity to get to know the team and talk about the new coffee programme they want to launch. When Darren finishes up, I jump in and do a quick recipe tasting to ensure that the machine is working fine and the coffee tastes amazing.

1.30pm: Next stop is Holland Village. This time to check out on Tiong Bahru Bakery’s new outlet at Chip Bee Gardens, it’s the soft launch of the outlet so a good time to say hi to the team. Really diggin’ the whole vibe of it and I can already tell that this place is gonna rock! 

tiong bahru bakery chip bee gardens

open farm community common man coffee roasters2pm: I’m not far from Open Farm Community on Minden Road so I decide to drop in to change the coffee machine gaskets here as it doesn’t look like Darren will be able to make it down this week. My job is not all about tasting coffee, sometime I have to get down and dirty with the machines too and let me tell you it isn’t easy to repair an Expobar without the right tools - the soup spoon definitely saved the day!

3pm: My next stop is will be City Hall and as I hear my stomach growling, I decide to have a quick stop for my favourite comfort food, Pho!




4pm: I’m within walking distance is of The Glasshouse so head over there to catch up with the team. I swear this place is always packed when I visit, though I’m happy to find an empty bar seat so I settle myself in and pass over a sample bag of Acacia Hills, Tanzania for them to try out on their next single origin brew.

the glasshouse common man coffee roasters

5pm: For my last stop, I’ve decided to say hello to another Tiong Bahru Bakery team, this time at Raffles City. I have a brief chat with Sean (the barista), then use the rest of my time to check on my emails, do the necessary service reports and plan out my upcoming week whilst enjoying a delicious piccolo.

tiong bahru bakery raffles city

6pm: By now I know I am probably way over my caffeine limit of the day and already feeling the jitters, so I jump on the bus from the Capitol Building, which goes directly home and finally I can call it a day!

a day in the life...common man coffee roasters

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East Africa – Transformation Through Coffee

Posted by Keith Yee on

East Africa – Transformation Through Coffee
It was the middle of June and ripe coffee cherries were abundant, thriving at the peak of harvest season in the heart of East Africa. Without second thought we seized the opportunity to journey across the ocean and meet our producing partners and friends, good people with an adamant drive to transform farming communities through specialty coffee in this part of the world.
Our first stop was Burundi – landing in the capital city of Bujumbura – and visiting the team at Long Miles Coffee Project.  It’s the busiest time of the year with their washing stations running round-the-clock operations, farmers delivering coffee cherries daily and going straight into the sort, process and drying.
Sorting coffee cherries at a transit center to track quantity and quality of farmer’s harvests, before reaching the Bukeye washing station.
Raised drying beds at Bukeye washing station. Some beds are allocated for natural process coffee, others for washed process coffee.
Heza washing station perched in the middle of Gitwe hill.
Post-sorted coffee cherries running through a McKinnon wet pulper, outer layers of the fruit is removed and then separated by density.
While it all happens, various roasters and coffee buyers from all around the world are travelling in to taste and select fresh crops to eventually go onto their coffee programs in the coming months. To current day, the LMCP team works with farming communities of 12 neighboring hills that are within vicinity of the washing stations, Bukeye and Heza. Each hill expressed their distinct merits – and among hundreds of lots – we’d find the occasional off the wall coffee of astounding qualities, simply blessings for the tongue.
Various lots from the washing stations that were milled at the LMCP headquarters in Bujumbura, ready to be roasted and sampled.
Tasting through different lots and hills in a traditional coffee cupping.
The team at Long Miles is confronted with new challenges every harvest, yet there’s nothing under the Sun they wouldn’t better just to realize potential for their growing communities. As production scales so does the difficulty of managing a consistent process. This year we’re seeing new takes on controlled, measured, and monitored processing to ensure our coffee continues to be delicious and more.
Visiting Burundi held us spellbound, and we’ve recognized its contagious gift. As you step into the Long Miles office, it doesn’t take long to realize the potential for Burundi, the coffee, and the people.
As we said our goodbyes, the memorable coffees and luscious local avocados, our journey didn’t stop there as we took to the southern highlands of Tanzania to meet a remarkable couple that founded social enterprise and specialty producer, Communal Shamba.
Overlooking ripe coffee crops in Songwe, Tanzania’s southern region.
Keremba and Mkunde, the founders of Communal Shamba.
Keremba, passionate for agricultural development and Mkunde, an expert in medical research, both decided to return to Tanzania after living in Australia for many years. The goal is creating sustainable impact for farming communities in rural regions of Mbeya and Songwe. Enrolling themselves as farmers into the local farmer co-operative ‘Mkulima Kwanza’, they emphasize on collaborating with growers, connecting them to an international market for specialty coffee.
Here is Keremba with contributing farmers from Mkulima Kwanza. The farmer’s daughter, Rebecca, helps her father with translations now and then. Her generation of young Tanzanians study English in school.
Coffee cherries are being sorted before drying. The ladies at the producer level that help with farming and processing are known as the ‘Mamas’.
Communal Shamba is one of the youngest producing partners and exporters we’ve been so fortunate to meet. Last year was the first production, with just over 1 ton of ready-to-export green coffee, the least possible amount needed to start the ball rolling. Understandably, farmers take time to build trust in supplying their coffee cherries to a very new, completely foreign processing facility.
Let’s not forget to mention, they are the only recognized natural processing facility in Tanzania. The first year has proven the benchmark potential for a specialty grade, natural product for southern Tanzania. This resulted in an increased dollar value for better picked, sorted, and processed coffee. Inevitably motivating new farmers to collaborate with Communal Shamba.
This year’s production is projected at least a ten-fold increase to 10 ton of ready-to-export green beans and possibly more, allowing them to reach out to a wider international coffee buying market. With support for friends in industry – even Long Miles Coffee Project –
Communal Shamba knows how to break grounds for a new coffee community.
This is it, the Communal Shamba processing facility. Drying beds are being built as cherries arrive to cope with rapidly increasing production.
One of the most exciting moments from our visit was making conversation with members of the Mkulima Kwanza co-op, including heads such as the chairman himself. We discussed opportunities and challenges for farmers. A big challenge was the picking as farmers have plenty of coffee trees and many other crops to tend to. Labor is expensive so the picking is often done by the farmer and maybe with help of his family. Sometimes cherries are picked with less attention for a time efficient harvest, resulting in a tedious sorting.
After speaking to the co-op farmers that were helping at the drying beds when we visited, where we conceived initiative ‘Champion Grade’.
An idea was brought to the table of producing a single ready-to-export bag (70kgs) of only a specific ripeness and color of cherries that were at full fruit maturation and sugar development. This meant harder work for farmers, but it was just one bag to see how high the cup quality bar could be set. Humorously the name ‘Champion Grade Cherry’ cropped up and that name stuck. There was an amazing response from Mkulima Kwanza farmers as they take the leap of faith, promising 500kgs – if not more – for this special project.
The chairman of Mkulima Kwanza taking the charge on his ‘Champion Grade Cherry’ pick at his own farm, only a day after our conversation.
These boys are pushing some freshly picked coffee cherries to the Communal Shamba processing facility, while striking a candid pose.
Champion Grade Cherry
As specialty coffee roasters, it’s humbling and enriching to be reminded that it’s good people producing great coffee, transforming communities along the way.
We’re happy and proud to share these coffees with our partnering cafes and of course the people that enjoy them as much as we do.
Burundi: With Ben Carlson (LMCP) and Ben Bicknell (Five Senses) on Ninga hill, where a third washing station will be built and the nursery for Trees For Kibira.
Tanzania: With Mkulima Kwanza, Communal Shamba, and Five Senses.
The talented Tanzanian photographer Osse Greca Sinare, who accompanied us on the trip, captured these beautiful photos. See the rest of his work online – and while you’re at it – the work of our partners, Long Miles Coffee Project and Communal Shamba;
Otherwise, please do find yourself a brew from one of these producers at our stores, because the coffee is delicious.
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A Common Man's Guide to Kuala Lumpur!

Posted by Sarah Rouse on

We are super excited to share with you a project we have been working on for quite some time now, a guide to our favourite spots around KL to eat, drink, shop and basically have a great time!
In the heart of any bustling city, there's an untapped reservoir of talent to be recognised, modern individuals that foster a unique and novel cultural identity. Greater Kuala Lumpur us home to an abundance of creativity and a diversity of passions. 
With Common Man being a resident of KL for over a year now, we aimed to put together a guide showcasing the work and innovation within a short drives vicinity of our home in TTDI.
From unique stores and event spaces, to nightlife and specialty coffee (of course!), we hope you appreciate these wonderful home-grown brands and concepts as much as we do!
At the moment you can pick up a copy at CMCR KL, and we are currently dropping them off at each stop featured in the guide, so keep an eye out, and we hope you'll have fun exploring KL, Common Man style 😎 
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The Synesso S200!

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

In case you missed seeing it up close and personal during Great Coffee in Common, here's what you need to know about the Synesso S200!

Read more about why we think this machine is a game-changer here.

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