Amilka Lee: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #60

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Amilka Lee: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #60

Coffee Insurrection
1-Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.
My name is Amilka, born in Cuba in 1974 and raised in Spain. I work for my own company, Coffee Lovers Roasters, focused on coffee sales, coffee training and consulting for other companies in the industry.
2-When and why did coffee become important to you?
Since I was 16 years old I have worked in Hospitality. In the year 2000 I opened my first coffee shop that was working until 2010, my coffee supplier at that time invited me to participate in a course to improve my skills because my coffee sales were very large, about 15 kilos per week, which Bearing in mind that at that time I used 7g per dose of a blend that was 80% natural arabica and washed with 10% robusta, that is about 2,000 coffees per week. So, I learned more about coffee and qualities and decided to change the blend to 100% washed arabica and in a few weeks sales increased to 25 kilos per week just by learning a little about coffee and putting more love and care.

That was the moment when I decided to continue learning and in 2016, after a lot of training, I changed my professional path towards training. Later, as a natural evolution, I learned about roasting and in 2018 the creation of my company.
3-Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
Of course! It was in an espresso tasting, new origins came to my supplier, where I had to decide on a second coffee origin for my cafeteria. This time, I wanted a single origin, not a blend. At that time in Spain the profile of the cup that was liked was chocolate, nutty and sweet, but in the tasting there was an Ethiopia from the Sidamo region that left me impressed with its aroma of flowers and bergamot, sweet and with a medium and bright acidity. . Without a doubt, that moment was a before and after. From then until today I think that Ethiopian coffees are the best and most surprising, they never disappoint.
4-What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
When I work as a barista, it's about starting the day by having everything ready for my customers and making their day as well as that of my co-workers. When I work as a trainer, it is about trying to ignite the spark of coffee and inspire my students to grow in the world of coffee and when I work as an advisor it is about sharing everything I have learned from the industry over the years.
5-What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
The one I like the least is the Mokapot, because it is the one that is always used at home, but my favorites at home are V60 and Kalita when I go out to work in the morning. When I have more time I use moccamaster.
6-Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
Without a doubt, Panama Geisha from the Hartmann Estate, pure apricot!

Amilka Lee
7-Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from?
DR Congo coffees more specifically from North Kivu.
Personality and character.
8-Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
I suggest Reykjavík Roasters in Iceland, for its style of roasting and its philosophy within the world of specialty coffee.
9-What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
That there is no finish line. Once you've immersed yourself in specialty coffee, each door you open leads you to another.
Also that I am only a tool to highlight the work of the farm.
10-How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
For my company, the situation with covid has been an economic challenge, but also the driving force to make the leap to work more closely with the farms.
The new challenges that the world situation puts before us is that coffee as a commodity product must have more transparency about what the producer is paid and the costs derived from transport.
I want to believe that the consumer cares more and more about where they spend their money and that some of the money spent goes back to their community or to improving the lives of the people where the goods are produced.
11-How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
If we don't screw it up with an unjustified price and baristas without passion or training...I think the 10-year plan is promising, as long as we share knowledge with the consumer. To pay more for a product, it must be accompanied by information that justifies it.
12-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Roasting coffee for my small cafeteria and my retail customers somewhere near the sea.
13-Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
Like I said before, there is no finish line...
It doesn’t matter what you like to do, there is for sure a place in the coffee industry.

Amilka Lee

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