I didn’t manage five blog posts last year.
2018 has arrived, and with it, the usual obligations to mark the arbitrary anniversary of the previous orbit by making fresh starts, resolutely state your goals for the next trip round the sun and reflecting on the time past since last time we did all this. Since I’m starting off on a cynical note (no change there, then), I should also add that 2018 brings us one year closer to the Extinction of Arabica Coffee, and thus, the end of the world as we know it. Scientists predict that coffee crops will fall victim to global warming as soon as 2080. I would be 97, but I would still be devastated if that’s true.
My new year’s resolutions probably won’t be to post more on this blog. I feel it may already be in its dying days. I do aim to write more and practice writing, but I might not be comfortable with posting the results of that practice.
What is with all this negativity you ask? It’s not really negative, I am just reevaluating my role in the world of coffee. For years (and years and years, as is evident from the decade of previous blog posts), coffee has been my mission in life. I studied it intensely all over the world and in all sections of the industry. I’ve started four coffee businesses: online, mobile and physical. I learnt my barista skills from the best and then taught others the same, I’ve taught myself to roast beans, I’ve campaigned for direct and ethical coffee trading and annoyed the Fair Trade movement. I learnt how to do minor repairs to espresso machines. I’ve been on an advisory panel for that rather large coffee company with the green aprons. I have coffee beans permanently edged into my skin. I quite literally wrote the book on coffee.
However, I just couldn’t get my coffee shop business to work: be that down to lack of capital, failures in marketing, unsuitable location, too many other commitments to juggle or, most likely, a combination of all of those – the unfortunate fact remains that I have to make a living somehow. I couldn’t do it from my own ventures, and I can’t do it from working at other people’s coffee ventures either, even if I wanted to. I am exceedingly lucky in that some of the ‘soft’ skills I learnt from years in coffee shop customer service and through business planning, as well as some of the most vocational research skills from the PhD., lent themselves well to my current role at the Science Centre, and I thoroughly enjoy it.
As always though, the dramatic change of becoming an employee again has been a wrench, even though my experiences so far have been completely positive. But it’s not coffee. Even after all the stress, heartbreak and financial disasters of business ownership, even with a great job to go to, even now, I still catch myself assessing the location potential of every ‘For Lease’ sign I see. I frantically scour social media to keep up with how other coffee businesses are doing and get unattractively jealous when new places open up.
Old habits die hard, and caffeine is very habit-forming.
The wonderful thing about education is that you can never lose it, and no one can take it away from you. In that sense alone, I will always be Dr. Coffee.
I’ve still got Wheelie Good Coffee as well. No more market stalls until March at the earliest, but I’m roasting away and you can buy my beans online or at various places around Regina.
My next book is coming out this year as well. That became a home for these last ten years of coffee adventures: all the business trials and tribulations, and all the fascinating coffee fieldwork expeditions eventually resulted in my first proper publishing deal! Which I think is fantastic thing to come out of it all. The next six months or so are going to be business with Official Book Promotion, and I can’t wait!
‘The Science of Coffee’ may be feature as a topic in some of the future programming at work too! But until then, maybe it’s time to retire Dr. Coffee at least partially. I’ve got other plans to brew.
Stay caffeinated folks!