Aurore Ceretta: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #79

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Aurore Ceretta: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #79

Coffee Insurrection
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.

I am Aurore Ceretta, originally from the south of France and this year’s Cup Tasters Champion of Germany. I left my hometown of Toulouse in 2009 to study German literature and history. Instead of following this path, however, I moved to Freiburg, Germany, to open a café with my husband Philip Weller in 2013. Freiburg is his hometown and the home to our two beautiful kids. We opened our beloved Café Marcel in 2014, just two months after the birth of our first child. It is a small kiosk-style coffee shop in a park in the heart of Freiburg.

To keep traditions alive, we opened our very own roastery Günter Coffee Roasters in 2018, just two months after – you guessed it – our second child was born. Philips brother Mats joined the founder’s team after his work and travels to third wave coffee Mecca New Zealand. As you can imagine, there’s no simple answer to the question about what my job is. One thing is certain, though: I always choose the best timing when it comes to big decisions in my private and professional life – haha!

2 - When and why did coffee become important to you?

Coffee has always played a role in my life. I had my first sip of coffee when I was about 5 years old. My mother would always go for an espresso at a nearby café and I was the lucky kid to sugar it for her and take the first sip. I was her personal cup taster, basically. Thinking back to that, it’s probably why I like the discipline so much. It really grew on me over the years. Since then, cafés always fascinated me and I wanted to open my own. However, in our society as a whole, this is usually not considered something worth working towards, nor is it something you learn in school, so I didn’t follow this idea for a while.

All that changed during my studies in 2010 when I went to Berlin for an Erasmus exchange. I met Philip, had my first experiences with specialty coffee, and nudged him to try it as well. Just like me, he was hooked. It was time to dream about my own café again and we began to make plans.

3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?

Yes! It was during my first ever coffee cupping in Berlin at . Back then I was still a newbie and couldn’t taste much difference between the cups. Back then, I had no idea what a coffee cupping was. Still, there was one cup where I noticed a slightly fruitier taste. That marked the first time coffee became “more than coffee” to me. I loved it!

4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?

At the roastery, I like when my day begins with quality control cuppings, which we do weekly to ensure a consistent coffee experience for our customers.
When I’m at Café Marcel I enjoy the smell of freshly ground filter coffee that spreads through the kiosk from our EK43 in the morning.

5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?

In the past years I became a little bit bored about espresso, or milk beverages. Nowadays, I enjoy my coffee as a V60 or Kalita wave pour over most of the time. I like to be able to easily control so many brewing parameters and it’s a calming ritual.

6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?

I tasted so many great, remarkable coffees that it would be heresy to pick one as the best. It’s simply impossible to compare so many different styles and flavors. A coffee that stayed in mind, however, was a cup I had at the 2016 Berlin Coffee Festival. Stefanos Dimitrios was hosting a ninety-plus cupping event. Back then, fermentation was still kind of a new thing in the scene and some of the coffees must’ve gone wild during processing. A lot of them were just way too much, nearly undrinkable. I still had a great experience and many of the coffees that were on the table that day still live in my head because I never experienced something like them ever before.

Aurore Ceretta

7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?

I really like African coffees from Rwanda and Burundi, or floral, tea-like washed Ethiopian coffees. That doesn’t mean I won’t try or enjoy coffees from any other country, though. All countries in the coffee belt have some gems that taste great and are worthwhile. That’s why, in our roastery, we always try to offer coffees from various countries.

8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).

Yes, gladly! Here are some recommendations: R.D. Coffee by Dénes Rajmond and Seekind in Germany, Ojo de Café by Debora and Cristian in Switzerland, as well as Minifundi, and Astère Coffee in the south of France.

9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?

If you start to dig, you are soon amazed and shook by the vastness and complexity that comes to light. With coffee, it’s no different. It’s really awesome to constantly discover new things, even after working with coffee for many years. For me, the most important thing is the human connection. It has to feel right and natural. It has to feel good. If it doesn’t, even the thing you care about the most soon becomes stale and despicable.

10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?

Covid changed a lot for hospitality. Although everything seems to be normal now, the last years created a huge gap. Many people working in hospitality were forced to look for work elsewhere and the industry is still struggling to find qualified personnel because of it. We had a small café at our roastery as well that we had to close. Now, we only open once a week to sell our coffee and help our customers with their questions around coffee. It wasn’t an easy decision. There are positive sides to this as well, though. We have more time to focus on the roastery and its development now and we finally have the weekends for ourselves again. It’s very important to always look forward and focus on the positives.

11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?

My default is to be quite the sceptic person and I’m always figuring out what the worst scenario might be. Typical overthinker problems, I guess. There are a lot of things that could go wrong with specialty coffee, especially now that it is getting more and more popular. I really hope that the ideals of third wave coffee are upheld by the coffee community, as well as the customers. As a professional cup taster, I hope for more coffea species and varieties to taste, to experience new flavors, and that there is more research conducted about quality and flavors. In the food industry, uniformity, looks and resilience often dominate over flavor, variety and taste. I hope that, similarly to New Zealand and Australia, coffee quality and specialty coffee become the norm in 10 years. It’s unbelievable how much bad coffee is still around.

12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I want to keep pushing for the World Cup Tasters Championship. This year it wasn’t meant to be but I want to try again and again. Other than that, I haven’t made any plans yet. Maybe I’ll be back in the south of France, maybe I’ll be in Berlin, maybe in Freiburg. Who knows? One thing is for sure: I’ll still enjoy great coffee!

13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?

Working in the specialty coffee industry is fulfilling to me, and there is so much to discover. However, opening a café or a roastery shouldn’t be romanticized. Sure, you might be drinking great coffees every day and roast some beans to perfection, but not most of the time. Being an independent entrepreneur is much more than just doing what you want because you’re the boss. It’s lots of work. Hard, tedious work. Work that requires patience, resilience and courage.

There’s challenges every other week that seem insuperable at first sight, especially when starting out, and rewards are scarce. Those challenges will keep you awake at night. It takes a lot of dedication and sweat to build a successful business. I think it’s worth it but it’s not for everyone and that’s okay.

Aurore Ceretta

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