Barista Magazine

DEC 2018 - JAN 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 72 of 107

proper job where I began to learn a lot about coffee was for Love Cof- fee Roasters in Lund in the south of Sweden. I worked there for about two years when they opened their fi rst café. The owners of Love were so good to me, dealing with all of my annoying questions, helping me compete, and then putting up with me being an impatient young barista who wants to do everything all the time, quickly. I still think of Lund and Love Coffee as my spiritual coffee home—they informed so much of my view on how to treat customers, how to approach coffee and competition, and it was there that we did the fi rst-ever The Barista League. SA: TBL exists for the coffee community, which means you work for the coffee community. What about this industry of people do you like so much? SM: Like music, it can kind of be an industry for people who don't necessarily fi t in ... passionate people who didn't necessarily want to become doctors or law- yers or something. On a different note, I actually think one of the parts of coffee that I love is that there is such a breadth and depth of things to learn. You can go deep into one aspect like espresso and then emerge and realize there is a whole industry and supply chain before the coffee even lands at the roastery. I really love that you don't have to get stuck in any one segment of the industry, especially with it being so young. There are lots of opportunities for people to move in any direction they want to. SA: And for you, one of those opportunities was barista compe- titions, right? What did you enjoy about the experience of competing? SM: I could write a novel on this but I will keep it short. With some distance I actually love the preparation the most. People say it is the best thing you can do for professional development. I am not sure I agree it is the best thing you can do, but it certain- ly pushes you hard, and if you can train with people you enjoy hanging out with, the process can be really fun. At the end you feel like you have been through a war together, and some of my best friends now have been my coach- es for competitions. It also does make you a much better barista, especially in the fi rst year or two that you compete and really have to evaluate why and how you do everything that you do. If I summed up a negative of the competition it would be this: You are backstage at nationals or worlds and you are surrounded by 10 to 60 of the best and most engaged, passionate people in the coffee world, but at the end of the week you realize you haven't spoken to any of them. You are too busy and stressed and anxious to actually connect with people. The amount of pressure on competitors makes it very centered on the performance on stage and less on the gathering of people and what you could learn from each other or help each other with. SA: I always assumed that you created TBL in part as a reaction to your experience at barista competitions, but it all came about sort of at the same time, right? You were making these events when you worked at Love, but now you've been able to grow TBL into its own business that you can operate without working a job on the side— 73

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