Finding Meaningful Employment in the Coffee Business
The coffee business is more than just the baristas you see in your local coffee shop. In fact, from grower to roaster, the coffee industry employs a ton of different career professionals with jobs that are unique and challenging at every level. In this article, you will learn what is involved with different jobs along the coffee supply chain, and what you can expect from all of the possible careers in the coffee industry.
The Career of Coffee Grower
The most important job in the coffee industry may actually be the coffee grower. After all, without someone to grow the beans (actually the coffee cherries, from which the beans are derived), there is no coffee to sell.
Of course, while there are 11 million hectares of farmland around the world, most of it is in South America, Central America, Africa, or Asia. So if you live in the United States, your opportunities to be a coffee grower are few and far between.
If you are really interested in working on a coffee farm, however, your best bet is probably to move to Brazil, which is the top coffee producing country in the world. Coffee growers in Brazil produce about 16 million units a year. Alternatively, you might move to Southeast Asia, as Vietnam and Indonesia are the next two largest producers of coffee globally.
The Job of Professional Coffee Roaster
The coffee roaster is the person responsible for turning the green coffee beans that the grower harvests into the roasted coffee that the retailer sells. How your coffee tastes and looks is all about how the beans are roasted. Because of this, big coffee retailers like Starbucks are very invested in the different ways that coffee beans can be roasted.
Working for a roaster is a great job for people who love coffee, as you get to be around the smells of freshly roasted coffee all the time. In addition, there are a number of interesting jobs related to coffee roasting that you can pursue.
For example, you can be a professional cupper, which is basically a professional coffee taster. This is the person who tastes the coffee beans sold by the grower after they are roasted to make sure that they taste the way those who enjoy that particular bean expect their coffee to taste.
The best professional cuppers have a strong ability to distinguish between coffee flavors and are highly coveted by roaster companies.
You might also be a green buyer for a roaster. This is a somewhat exotic job that allows you to travel to the different growers in various countries so you can see the source of their beans. The buyer makes sure that the beans that the roaster is buying come from a quality farm, decides how much to buy from each farm, and helps determine the price of the coffee.
The green buyers are the critical liaisons between the grower and roaster.
Training to Become a Coffee Barista
Once the roaster sells their product to a retailer, that retailer may either package and sell ground and/or whole bean coffee in retail outlets, they may brew and sell the coffee for customers in a coffee shop or coffee house, or both. In retail outlets where coffee is served, the server is known as a barista.
A barista is a more skilled job than many people realize. Baristas not only have to be familiar with all the different types of coffee that a coffee shop offers and all the ways to prepare them, but they must also master the preparation so that each cup tastes the way the patron expects.
On top of that, baristas need to be good service professionals, offering friendly and helpful service to all customers – even on busy mornings when you have a line of caffeine-starved and unruly people trailing all the way out the door.
Getting Started Professionally in the World of Coffee
If you love coffee, there are lots of great jobs to pursue, and these are just a few of the major standouts. These jobs in the coffee industry allow you to meet a lot of interesting people as you learn a great deal about the way coffee is made. Perhaps one of these jobs is the right one for you!