Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 100 of 109

101 AR: So at this point, you're looking to learn how to make coffee. How did you pick up those skills? IR: In 2006, I went to the SCAA [Specialty Coffee Association of America] Expo in Charlotte, N.C., and I met some great coffee people who taught good classes. I thought, "Why don't I volunteer and help design more classes for them?" I started volunteering in 2007, and in 2008, Ellie [Hudson] said, "Let's do a teacher training." We launched the IDP (Instructor Development Program) in Atlanta. During that fi rst IDP, it was nuts what we tried to accomplish. In 2009, the Zimbabwean government seized two thirds of the farm, which meant for the 2010 crop Rob only had one container of coffee. He had to sell it to someone else who could pay way more than I could, and I ended up with no coffee from our farm. The mission of our busi- ness was to be seed-to-cup, and without our farm's coffee, I became discouraged. Around that time, Ellie asked me if I could come work full time for the SCAA. I sold the coffee-shop portion of the business, sent the proceeds back to the farm, kept the wholesale operation, and eventually sold the whole company to our roaster, Adam, who had worked tirelessly for us from the very beginning. I was free to work for the SCAA. AR: When did you start working for Ally? IR: In 2015, I realized I needed not to travel as much, and at the same time I felt I had achieved most of what I hoped to achieve with the SCAA. I still wanted to focus on improving the tests for the pro- grams, but the organization had more pressing needs that I didn't feel fi t my talents and skills. Out of the blue, a coffee and health start-up offered me a job, and the work they offered was exciting and interesting. I was inspired by the founders, and helped them launch. After that, Ricardo [Pereira] at Ally approached me with the opportunity to develop robust, innovative learning programs for their clients and the greater specialty-coffee community. AR: Would you say you have a philosophy behind your teaching? IR: The other day I needed a drill bit to fi nish a project, and I went to three hardware stores, but that size drill bit just didn't exist on its own, only in kits of 10 bits of different sizes (all of which I had already). I had to buy a whole kit of bits I didn't need, just to get that one. Learning at work should not be like that. A packaged curriculum that covers everything is like a drill bit kit, and it is good for someone who doesn't have any other tools. However, for people who have been doing a job for a while, they just need that one drill bit to do the job, not the whole pack. I believe in fi nding out from learners what they need to perform better, studying the organization and what it needs, and providing resources to help employees learn and apply what they learned back at work to help their organization achieve its goals. AR: What are some of your goals as education director at Ally? IR: I want to do learning forums here at Ally around issues that are often mentioned to me about which people want to learn. That's what's great about Ally—they want to be their clients' ally to succeed. I get to ask our clients what they're interested in and need, and then provide it to them. Marketing, social media, green buying, food-saftey informa- tion, and business skills are all topics clients ask for regularly. I am also thinking about doing a program for wholesale trainers, because many roasters fi nd themselves in need of delivering training to their customers, and they want to build their skills in this area.

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