Project Description

The Netherlands
Merijn Gijsbers
Alpro & Het Koffiegenootschap


Please tell us a little bit about yourself:

I’m 31 years old and live in the Netherlands, close to Eindhoven. I work as a barista, trainer and consultant for my company Het Koffiegenootschap, and as Alpro’s in-house barista. Growing up in the hospitality industry, getting a BBA in hotel management was a logical step. During this study I took a traineeship at an Italian coffee roaster. That’s where my coffee-path truly started. I’ve been working with coffee for about 10 years now, meeting new, inspirational people every day; coffee drinkers that are looking for a delicious coffee with a chat and a smile, coffee icons to learn from, and students that keep me focussed on the how’s and why’s of good coffee.

What are you excited to do while you are in Seoul?:

Enjoy every single minute of this coffee adventure!

Please list the coffee competitions you have participated in, what year they took place, and your results:

– Dutch Barista Championship, 2016, 6th Place
– Dutch Barista Championship, 2017, 1st Place

Is there anyone you would like to thank or recognize, or who helped you to prepare for the WBC?:

Yes! First of all a BIG thank you to head-sponsor Alpro, for making this possible. Together with Moniek Smit and Koen de Buck they were the ones giving me that little push I needed to start competing. Ben Morrow and Esther Maasdam of Manhattan Coffee; this lovely coffee-couple was my backup in this competition and roasted the delicious beans I’m using at the WBC. Uschi Zimmermann of Panama Varietals for her help on the coffees. Ron de Wit, of Rons Coffee for making sure logistics ran smoothly. Andrew Taylor, for making me a better presenter. Henk Langkemper of Espresso Service West, who provided me with equipment and support. Gijs van den Berg of Mocca d’Or; thank you for letting me borrow your Black Eagle. Willem Huisman of Brita and Ronny Billemon of Pentair/Everpure, because without good water, there’s no good coffee. My family and friends, the Dutch coffee community, national judges and national SCA chapter for their support and feedback towards this fantastic happening. My students, for keeping me challenged and sharp. And John, my partner. I always thank him last, although he’s my number one support, and has been for the last 12 years! Thank you for your patience, postponing plans so I can do this competition, and for your hard work whenever I was away for a job or training.

How do you see the coffee industry changing in the future?:

I think that, just like numerous other industries, we face an incredible challenge in climate change. I’ve spoken with coffee farmers that worry about their plantations and are working very hard to make the best out of it. On the other hand, I think that the future of coffee is bright. With our increasing knowledge and technology we can work towards more sustainable ways of producing coffee, more resistant crops, improved farming techniques and better income for the people in producing countries. Together we can secure our future cup of specialty coffee! Every day I meet people that are new to specialty coffee. And every day they get inspired by the delicious flavours of this drink and the people that provide it. I don’t think this binding component in coffee will every change. People will always love good coffee, techniques are advancing and knowledge and high quality coffee are more accessible than ever. We’re not there yet, though. By working together, sharing information and thinking ahead, we can push this community forward.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?:

Happily together with the love of my life, and most definitely working in coffee (the other love in my life)! I can not imagine ever leaving this industry. I will still be teaching classes and working as a consultant to help other industries synergize with our wonderful field of work. But most importantly I will be researching, discovering and becoming inspired to improve my coffee knowledge. If time has taught me anything, it’s that you never stop learning!

What are your interests outside of coffee?:

Food, Photography and Travel