UCC Coffee Switzerland
Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
My coffee journey started as a Junior Coffee Trader at Volcafe in Switzerland back in 1999. Shortly after having joined the coffee business I had been given the opportunity to live and work for Volcafe in Kenya and Tanzania. I spent most of my time in the cupping room and in the dry-mill. It was extraordinary to cup several hundred coffees a day. At the same time I frequently visited coffee farms and wet mills. It was an unforgettable time and I witnessed the entire coffee chain; no wonder I fell in love with coffee! Currently I am working as a Marketing Director at UCC Coffee in Switzerland. The last three years have been a breathtaking time. Firstly I founded the UCC Coffee Switzerland Academy and became head barista. Secondly I launched our own speciality coffee range. For the green buying, I started again to travel to origin, and in addition I became a Q-Grader and started to judge at COE competitions. To lead by good example, I attended many coffee events to exchange with the coffee community and to share my learnings with the team. Together the coffee business is so much more fun. After having won a local Cup Tasting competition and a barista jam in Munich (both with a lot of luck), it was only a matter of time until I competed in the Swiss Barista Championships. It might look unusual at first sight, but being a marketing director and a barista at the same time is an interesting thing: there is no better way to be closer to your consumers and also closer to the industry professionals who push the coffee industry to the next level. Recently I have started to write my own coffee-book with all my experiences: from origin trips, coffee festivals to barista competition – a full coffee immersion at its best.
What are you excited to do while you are in Seoul?:
I want to explore Seoul, as well as the Korean cuisine together with my family. I have not seen my family enough during my preparation time prior to WBC. And as we have many friends in Korea it will be great to enjoy a spicy dinner with family and friends.
Please list the coffee competitions you have participated in, what year they took place, and your results:
Swiss Barista Championship 2017: 1st Place.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or recognize, or who helped you to prepare for the WBC?:
First of all a big thank you to my wife. Sorry for being away for so long, endless days and long weekends. She was at all times my biggest supporter, although she is not at all in the coffee industry. A special thank you also to my boss Marco Giuoco fromUCC Coffee Switzerland, who keep believing in me all the way and allowed me to practice during my working hours and also for the financial support. I had the great honor to learn from one of the best within the speciality coffee world, Hidenori Izaki. I have enjoyed every second and learnt so much. It was and it still is very challenging, but it is the only way to push the boundaries of our industry and to break out of your own comfort zone. This makes us grow. Fritz Storm is always there as my mentor, he keeps finding the right words to keep me going at all times. Thank you for this great support. Even if you are not aware of it, but you made me feel at ease, even far away from home during my preparation time in Japan. Someone had to turn the green beans into brown ones: Thank you so much Jake. You have done a stunning job so far and I have enjoyed our long discussion during “non-vegetarian vegetation dinner” time. Also a big thank you to Loïc and Daniel from the Swiss UCC team: we grew again as a professional team and as friends, there is nothing more beautiful than that. And finally also a thank you to the UCC Tokyo team. I am so sorry, that we could not talk more, but my Japanese is really not good enough.
How do you see the coffee industry changing in the future?:
I have once compared the speciality coffee industry with the Formula ONE car racing. The speciality coffee industry – especially WBC – is a place where crazy curious, restless and innovative people push today’s boundaries of the industry, similar to Formula ONE racers. What is new today will become mass-market within the next couple of years. I am very much looking forward to how, for example, new processing methods such as “naturals”, “anaerobic fermentation” or “honeys” are going to evolve, and what new methods the speciality coffee people will invent next. At the same time it is great to see how new products such as “cold-brew” or “nitro-cold-brew” create an entirely new coffee category. This new category manages to attract a new and younger audience into our coffee industry. “Youngsters” try a cold-brew instead of an energy drink to start their day. This seems to me to be a more careful choice and it helps us to keep the coffee industry going in the future. My wish is, that we manage to connect the producing countries better with the consuming countries. As a marketing director I love to tell stories, but the coffee farmers are so much better at telling their own stories. This will also contribute to more transparency on a bigger scale. This is from my point of view the only way to move jointly forward in our industry.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?:
Coffee made me travel around the world and made me meet amazing people. Especially the last three years have been a great experience: I have met so many inspiring, skillful and passionate people. At the same time these years have been tremendously intense. Therefore I will slow down a little and will focus my coaching on my little daughter. She loves drinking “baby cappuccino” together with her “boyfriend”. So I will teach her how to prepare an espresso and how to steam milk. Therefore – in five years time – I will enjoy my first cappuccino made by my daughter. And whoever wants to join our “Cake&Cappuccino-Party” is most welcome. But be aware, you might have to travel to a coffee origin country.
What are your interests outside of coffee?:
I am originally from the countryside and I love to be outside in the nature. Before I became a father I used to do a lot of outdoor sports like tennis and I used to run in the mountains. I run ultra-trails, that means long-distance-races longer than a marathon – in the mountain. Yes, this can be enjoyable! Now I feel most comfortable watching my daughter playing with friends in the sandbox or in the swimming pool. It is at the same time relaxing and very fulfilling to see the next generation growing up. So let’s enjoy family.