Exploring a coffee scene with the locals
Following up the talk by Taiye Selasi at TedEx about the massive difference that it makes to ask someone: 'Where are you from?' and 'Where are you local?', I took a look at the current job occupations in coffee industry and how being a local does not rely to your nationality only.
I speak of my own experience when I say that traveling and working within the European borders has been always essential to me in order to discover and learn more. I always tend to live in a certain area for a longer period of time, coming up to two years, rather than stay for a couple of months only. It is due to my thirst for the real feel of the place that would come through my own experience, based on my own preferences and decisions without the condition of following someones recommendations. Well…
This made me think of the current situation in the coffee industry as a whole. True enough, we are not the only industry that has got international staff members, we are undoubtedly one of the most welcoming industries to foreigner workers though. That being said, coffee industry is very competitive and puts a lot of pressure and expectations on everyone, no matter your nationality and where are you coming from/to.
Since one of my main interests is the growth and support of the European coffee community I spend a lot of time exploring foreigner cities and go through many cafes and other industry venues, talking to many professionals coming from all around the world.
We are searching for the local connoisseurs to show us around, to bring us to the best cafes and tell us about their secret hidden gems they go for a breakfast to. We ask them for the best french pastry shop, the best nordic roasts and the tastiest Australian-style brunch spots. We ask the international locals.
What we really do though is exploring a platform. To us, who do not know the area, the international locals will present what is important to them for a certain reason, what surroundings they enjoy, where they find the combination of international tastes that suit them, creating a content that is internationally local. At some point we accept findings and experiences of someone coming perhaps from abroad, travelling or living there, who has a load of impressions from certain places. He shares that with us, he has got his impressions based on his own experiences, he might compare those with the local scene and most definitely he prefers some things and rejects other things and all together it creates his own local mixture of international feelings. It will be an application of international understanding within the local platform.
What do we really do then when we explore the local coffee scene with the help of the local baristas? We let them project their own history within the place and within their previous locations onto us.
This does not mean there is anything wrong with that. Right the opposite. Comparison brings reinvention of ideas and inspiration. It gives us blank pages, fresh starts. It is useful to appreciate what other people achieved and take their good and bad experience as a point to learn from.
We have our own load of experiences and with the extra one from a local we create a whole new mix for another visitor, in another place, discovering another local coffee scene.
Bring it then!