Published by Tanya in Coffee Insurrection Hero · 29 April 2022
Tags: Utrecht, the, Netherlands, CoffeeTrainer, CoffeeCoach
Tags: Utrecht, the, Netherlands, CoffeeTrainer, CoffeeCoach
1-Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.
My name is Wendelien van Bunnik, 33, and I live in Utrecht, the Netherlands with my husband, 4 year old daughter and cat. I’ve been in specialty coffee for about 13 years now. I am an independent coffee trainer, coach and consultant; a company that I have started after becoming Dutch Barista Champion, Dutch Aeropress Champion and World Aeropress Champion in 2019. Before that I had been working as the Head of Education & Training at a specialty coffee roastery here in The Netherlands for almost 10 years.
2-When and why did coffee become important to you?
When I was in my third year of college – I studied English Language – I discovered a tiny coffee place close to my Uni where they only did take away coffees. Every morning before class I’d go there and get a double espresso, and the barista would offer me a choice between the two blends of the day. This espresso was probably the first coffee that I actually enjoyed drinking, even though I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 15. I ended up working at that place, it was my first barista job and I haven’t looked back since.
3-Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
I don’t remember a specific cup, but I do remember the time when I actually started to distinguish flavors between different coffees, which was when I was working my second job as a barista. We had a lot of different origins there, and I pretty quickly started to prefer the Kenyan and Ethiopian coffee we had there.
4-What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
With my business, I’m trying to reach as much people that are looking for coffee knowledge, but don’t feel like they belong in the specialty coffee scene yet. Sometimes, our industry can seem quite exclusive and highbrow, which can cause people to feel like they need to be of a certain skill or knowledge level to be allowed to take part. I know this from personal experience. My favourite thing about my work is when I get messages or DM’s of people saying that I make them feel safe enough to ask questions. And I love answering them too! I absolutely love sharing my knowledge with people and watch them improve and grow.
5-What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
Not surprisingly: the Aeropress. Mainly because it’s an ‘idiotproof’ brewing method, and delivers great coffee every single time. But also because it’s the perfect marriage between percolation and immersion brewing, and last but not least it’s fun to brew with (even the cleaning part is fun, popping that spent puck).
6-Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
That must have been the cup of coffee that I got served when I was at Finca Santa Clara, in Antigua, Guatemala. Not because it was the highest quality cup ever, but because it was something magical to drink coffee at the farm where it was grown, with the people that produced it. I still get goosebumps when I think about that moment!
Pic @Zsuzsa Zicho
7-Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
When I get the option, I’ll usually go for Ethiopia or Kenya. The brightness, fruitiness and variation in flavours keep surprising me!
8-Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
There are so many great ones here in The Netherlands. Two of my favourites right now are Manhattan Coffee Roasters and Keen Coffee. They buy incredible microlots and roast them really, really well. And they’re nice people, too!
9-What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
That there is no one in the industry that has all the answers. Yes, some people may be around for longer, or read or experimented longer and therefore know more. But the more you learn, the more questions you’ll get. And that’s the reason I love it so much! I’m happy to know I’ll get to keep learning and teaching new things for the years to come.
10-How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
As much as the pandemic is hurting our industry in so many different ways, I think it’s great to see that it has caused a rise in enthusiastic home brewers. Because of the lockdowns and working from home, a lot of people have taken an interest in how to drink better coffee. It has also forced us to find more connections and knowledge online, which I love. Through the internet, I can reach a lot more people then I can offline! It’s also made me realize how much I have taken many things for granted, like being able to go to my favourite coffee bar for a coffee and a chat. When Covid just hit, I was still working as bar manager, and I really missed serving my regular customers. They kept coming for take away coffee though, which was heart warming to see.
11-How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
I really hope that in 10 years, the specialty coffee bubble has expanded. By being less highbrow and more open and inclusive, I hope we will gain the trust of a larger majority of consumers that will actually impact the coffee chain in a positive manner making it more sustainable and fair.
12-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully I will have contributed a bit to our scene, by reaching as many people as I can that are willing to learn about coffee. To do that, I’d like to compete at the World Barista Championship at least one more time. The championships are great way to push yourself to the limit and help you grow in so many ways. And this helps gain the confidence you need to make a difference in the world.
13-Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
If you are like me, and there’s always a little part of you that’s insecure about if you belong in the specialty coffee industry, I’d like to say to you: you do belong here. You don’t have to have a certain amount of knowledge, experience or skill to be part of the coffee community. At least, not in mine. Ask all your questions, especially the stupid ones. That’s not only how you learn, but there will always be someone that’s grateful for asking the question they’re to scared to ask. Be brave, and surround yourself with coffee people that make you feel better, not worse.