My first month at 32cup has passed – time flies when you’re having fun – and it has been quite the experience already. After spending some years just drinking and brewing coffee and gradually becoming more and more intrigued by the wondrous world of coffee, it is quite fascinating to be part of the story of coffee before it ends up in a cup.

In the course of this month, my coffee world has changed drastically. I am getting used to the ritual of slurping small quantities of coffee on a daily basis and trying to recognize flavors from an apparently wild range of possibilities. Cuppings have been a pleasant occasion to meet new people in the field and to hear interesting and very divergent views on coffee. Roasting coffee is part of the almost daily routine as well. As I had never before roasted any bean in my life, small-scale roasting is yet another new and fascinating feature of my coffee world. I’m doing my utmost to get my head around what happens to beans when they are roasted, to understand the process and to get the best out of the samples we receive. My apologies to beans I may have done injustice by not knowing how they work. There’s also a lot of company business that’s still of mystery to me, like what happens why and who is who. So I predict the next months will still see me trying to figure out a lot, but gradually understanding a bit more of what’s going on. Luckily I was a bit familiar with specialty coffee from doing private investigations in the field in the years before I started working at 32cup, so luckily that’s a huge chunk of information I didn’t have to digest all at once.

Inevitably, with moving over to the trader-side in the coffee chain some eye-opening lessons had to be learned when you’re used to just brewing and sipping exquisite coffees as a true ‘coffee snob’. Lesson one: waking up early isn’t that bad when you’re in the coffee business. Lesson two: cupping skills require a creative tongue with a huge catalogue of taste descriptors. Lesson three: experienced cuppers should give a slurping concerto one day. Lesson four: the world of coffee is immense and a whole-lot-more encompassing than I could’ve imagined. Lesson five: it really is even more immense than I first realized. Lesson six: even as a woman, multitasking is a bad idea when you’re roasting.

Undoubtedly, I have learned a plethora of other things too, and the number of things yet to learn is unimaginable. The road is long, but luckily it is paved with coffee.

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Sofie Nys Sofie Nys

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