Maybe it's a bit of a weird thing to say, but I can truly say that coffee has helped make me who I am today.
The industry. The people. The discipline required. The art. The study. The knowledge. The techniques. The taste. The stress. The serenity. The chemical highs hehe. Such fun. and such... hard... work...
Working in coffee, growing with and learning about coffee, has given me some of the most incredible opportunities in my life:
It has carried me across the world from my first barista job in 2008, Palmerston North, New Zealand at Cafe Cuba (I remember clearly my first role on my first moments working there, I was asked to polish cutlery and foolishly polished only the handles as the supervisor laughed at me, awwwwww! Shanny)..
To Melbourne where I unknowingly entered into a badass barista bootcamp at Chez Dre where I first discovered a light-roasted naturally processed Ethipoian Yirgacheffe bean, extracted to perfection (The busiest day I recall was using up 16kg of coffee across 4 espresso grinders in a single six-hour shift, and we didn't serve a coffee that was more than 2 seconds off it's dialled-in recipe, or looked different in extraction in any way... daaang).
Connections I made through coffee carried me down the Clarence river in New Zealand on a 10 day white-water rafting adventure that is still a highlight of my adult life.
Coffee brought me to Perth in 2014, where that I discovered a passion for teaching people and sharing the joy of all I'd learned.
It carried me to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where I managed a team of barista trainers for Kofi and trained a staff of 100+ people about the world of specialty coffee. I organized farm trips and got to pet a monkey. I taught about light roasting and cupping. Created fun latte art competitions, rode on a small motorbike with 3 other women, saw some really weird things, created curriculum for coffee education, man those where some fun and crazy times!
I then moved to Germany where I had fun creating coffee systems that upgraded Mercedes Benz (Stuttgart) internal coffee offering to specialty standard (in a brand new canteen they were opening, expecting to hold many hundreds of people for lunch every day). Hehehe from the moment I arrived, my team had no idea what specialty coffee was and I was met with blank faces. We had to open in a week!! We has three slayer machines and a lot of fun. The team ended up being a passionate bunch of baristas who would share their coffee progress with me long after I left.
Mates.. Some of the experiences and opportunities I have had are just astounding. The external stuff and the adventures that I have been blessed to have lived are immense, and I am hugely grateful for all that I have seen and experienced along the way, but none of it is as special as what coffee has and is continuing to teach me about myself.
In the beginning, I assumed much and I thought I knew a lot . I have learned how to remain calm and serene in the face of immensely stressful, high-pressure service situations. I have learned how to put my shame and fear of public speaking aside, to focus instead on what joy and beauty we can share and learn about together from coffee. I have learned how to communicate. How to pay close attention to sensory experiences (Coffee made my music better! I play jazz hehehe). It showed me how to inspire people and get them to see and feel what I do. Coffee has allowed me to interface with life in completely new ways.
The deeper I dig, the smaller and more insignificant I become. And the more beautiful and fascinating this world becomes.
Some last brews for thought:
You are only as good a barista as the last coffee you served.
And for me, I love living this coffee life one day, one moment, one brew at a time.