My life as a Coffee Blender
I am often asked at social events about what I do for a living. Being somewhat of an introverted personality I cringe at the thought of answering. Not because I am embarrassed by what I do, no way, I love my job. It’s because then follows sometimes a line of common questioning, “Wow, how many coffees do you taste each day?” “Don’t you get sick of it?” “How can you do that, the taste of coffee is bitter”. “How do you sleep at night, if I have just one cup in the afternoon I just can’t sleep!” It can get tedious.
No one truly understands what it means to be a coffee expert except other coffee specialists! I will try to explain. This understanding comes from a deeper understanding and love of the product. No, I don’t get tired of my role in coffee. It offers something different every day, whether it’s a sample of new crop coffee from one of 70 plus producing countries or the latest batch of espresso coffee which must be tasted to confirm the quality before sale. Coffee is a product of nature and by that fact alone throwing different tastes frequently, the great challenge of my role is to keep things balanced, harmonious, tasting the same day in day out with a naturally changing raw material, coffee. This is neither boring or mundane, it’s a challenge to all my learning, knowledge developed over the cupping bench day after day year after year, over 37 years in fact.
I have been lucky enough to learn from some of the best coffee men in our business, from George Kepper in our old Alexandria factory to Catharinus Kuipers from DE, the Netherlands. They didn’t make coffee interesting, coffee comes with that inbuilt measure, I know it sounds a bit corny but they opened my eyes to the world of coffee, to the real potential of coffee quality. From green coffee sourcing to roasting, grinding, and the production of finished products. These guys and others made me realise you can never know everything of coffee, you just know you don’t know it all.
And the taste, I’ll explain a bit more about that next time..