If you caught up with us at the London Coffee Festival, or at any of our recent cuppings or other events, then you have probably already met our Spring intern!!! If not then please may we introduce the amazing Freda Yuan!! Freda is a vibrant, multi-talented coffee enthusiast, Q-grader, barista and MBA student from Taiwan and we are delighted to have with us for her MBA placement.
We asked Freda to tell us a little more about herself, her experiences in coffee, and speciality coffee in Taiwan:
Coffee Bird: Tell us about yourself!
Freda Yuan: I am from Taiwan. I lived in Melbourne for 18 months and whilst working as a cafe waitress I was really amazed by the cafe culture in Melbourne. I kept asking to be a barista instead but the cafe was too busy to train people. I went back to Taiwan because my visa was running out. By then, I was always trying to explain to locals barista what is a ¾ flat white. I was always in search of the best coffee. I found I wasn’t enjoying Taipei and I was wanting a new challenge, so I decided to come to London because I knew there were a lot of Australians opening cafes here and I wanted to learn from them. My first job was at Taylor St. Baristas then Alchemy. I enjoy being a barista but I was also eager to learn more the business side of coffee. By that time my working holiday was soon ending so I decided to study for an MBA in London and also connect with London coffee scene. And now I am still here!
CB: How do you like your coffee? What’s the best you’ve ever had?
FY: I was a flat white girl! However, after I becoming a barista, I started to drink more black coffee. Milky coffee is very filling. After a day of quality control, drinking milky coffee is just too much. Now I drink espresso or filter coffee in order to taste the original coffee flavours. The best coffee I had, and I still remember the flavour, was the filter my boyfriend made with a Kalita. The coffee was a Colombian Geisha Cerro Azul roasted by La Cabra.
CB: How are you enjoying London and the coffee community here? Any favourite cafes/roasters?
FY: I learnt most of my coffee knowledge in London. The London coffee community is very vibrant and fun. A lot of personalities and events, which is why I like about it. Furthermore, London is connected to Europe which has so many great roasters and cafes to explore. The diversity I found is the reason that keeps me in London. I don’t have a favorite roaster or cafes. I appreciate the coffee that I am tasting and the hard work of the entire supply chain to make it happen.
CB: How does it differ here from the speciality coffee community in Taiwan?
FY: This is a hard question! I don’t want to offend the Taiwanese coffee community. I personally don’t know much about it. The roast style is different. In Taiwan, people tend to prefer coffee roasted just before the second crack. However, there are more and more people who are beginning to enjoy a lighter roast. The majority of the cafes in Taiwan are small, and they all have a small 1kg or 2 kg roaster to roast on site. In Taiwan, there is Starbucks, but the independent cafes are also very popular. We drink espresso-based coffee, but also a lot of filter because of the Japanese influence.
I am nervous about returning to compete [in the Taiwan Brewers’ Cup Championship at the end of April] and only knowing only little about the coffee scene in Taiwan. There are a lot of technical obstacles that need to be addressed. For example, I am not familiar with the grinders in Taiwan, the power supply in Taiwan is 110v so I cannot bring my equipment from London, and I have no idea how the water will taste in Taiwan, which could affect my coffee drastically.
CB: How is it working at Coffee Bird?
FY: It is been a great fun. I have met so many people from the whole coffee industry and we are all obsessed with the same thing: Coffee.
I’m also learning a lot from the supply side. Marta [Coffee Bird’s CEO] is passionate about coffee farmers and offering a better price to buy their coffee. This for me is just inspiring.
CB: What are your ambitions for the future?
FY: I am still trying to figure that out! My direction is clearly involved with coffee but I am not sure where I will stand along the value chain. I knew I didn’t want to be a barista, so I did a Q-Grader exam. Luckily, I passed. Now I am happy that I can use that knowledge at Coffee Bird. There is always so much to learn in coffee. I hope working for Coffee Bird will broaden my horizons and further inspire me.