It has been 10 months now since I joined the Coffee Industry and these months have been nothing less than amazing for me. Not just in terms of Coffee, Food and Beverage, but these have taught me many more things than just about my job. For me, learning is not only what is taught to me by someone or something; it is something that I grasp from someone, something or some incident. This quality of learning anything from everything is what I have learnt in my recent years.
Many people say that, in life, they want to do something of their own and not do a job under someone. Even I used to think that way but now after working a few months I’ve realized how important doing a job can be. Doing a job is not working for a company, it is working with the company. I never expected I could be making such important contributions to the company or even getting into the company at first.
I would like to share a few incidents through which I took away very important learnings which are very essential for a person who’s starting their career.
1. TAKE RISKS
Around exactly one year ago I thought of taking a gap year from my Architecture course to learn about and take experience in what I LOVE, COFFEE. It took me a few weeks to take this decision and about a month and a half to convince my family. Of course they were scared because I was taking a big risk. They felt I would leave Architecture for Coffee which they didn’t want because I had chosen Architecture on my own and they felt that I would not stay stable on one thing. Somewhere they knew I was not going to listen to them and do what I feel like so they let me take a gap year. I started my job as a Trainee Barista. A time of 6 months passed and I decided to drop out and follow my passion for Coffee. This was exactly the only fear my mother was having at the start and it happened.
Last month when we had a Green Room session at Enterprise, we were talking about risk taking. I already had an idea of how big a risk I had taken but in that session I felt that it’s time to convert this risk into my best decision and ever since I’ve been working with all my passion on whatever I am learning day by day and how I can implement it in my life.
Here, taking risk is for the job and not with the job. If you take risks with the job you might create a bad start of your career.
2. BEING DEPENDENT CAN CAUSE YOU A TRAGEDY
Another risk I took recently was that I helped a needy Artist, who was completely unknown to me, by selling his paintings on my social media for paying his father’s medical expenses. I felt tremendously happy by actually helping an artist in his bad times. But as days passed this guy started to ask for more financial help for the medical expense. I helped him twice till his father was completely recovered but later he started asking for help for himself, for getting a rented room, for food, for travel. Here I understood that he is getting dependent on me. Being like a brother, I helped him but told him that this is your struggle and if I keep helping you from time to time, you will never grow. He still asks for financial help and is sleeping on roads with an empty stomach. I have seen this guy going through his bad times and wasting his time being dependent on me has made him suffer more. From this incident I’ve learnt how being dependent can cause a tragedy.
Similarly, applying this learning in my job I have never been dependent on any of my colleagues for doing a certain thing which I can do on my own as well. Either I let them do it completely on their own or I do it completely on my own or assign them a task for which I have a backup of doing it on my own.
3. SPEAK FOR YOURSELF
At my job, after 8 months I felt that I am underpaid. I was promised by the former manager that in 6 months my increment will happen but till the 8th month it wasn’t initiated. In the 7th month I had reminded the manager but nothing happened. In the 8th month I had a word with the area manager and he told me he will look after it. In the 9th month the area manager told me that my increment will happen in the current month but I was disappointed by getting the same salary for the 9th month as well. This is when I had a clear word with the area manager of being disappointed and in a few days the area manager as well as the operations head responded to me with the increment being initiated. This is when I learnt that even if you give your best, you have to speak for yourself. I don’t know what would have happened if I wouldn’t have spoken. It’s not that they don’t know how you work, you just have to make them realize.
4. NEVER MIX PAYMENT AND LEARNING
As I mentioned in my previous point, I am always ready to backup for my mates in the cafe. I have learnt this majorly from one of my colleagues, Mohit. Whatever might be the time, he makes sure the work is done when he is on the shift. I’ve learnt this quality as most of the time I am with him on the shift. This has made us work for 12 hours in a 9 hours shift. We know our company doesn’t give overtime payment but the times we have spent after shift has made us brainstorm and learn many more things about coffee than we learn during the shift.
I would like to mention here that it doesn’t mean your education is complete when you start your career. The first phase of your career is still a major part of your education and you should never feel that you’re getting less paid to learn. You’re getting paid already and if you can still stay longer and learn more things at your workplace, it’s a win-win situation and the best opportunity to make the most of.
5. UNLEARN AND RELEARN FROM BASICS
I have read a lot about coffee roasting and even seen it in the advanced roasters, but what happens to the beans in the roaster was a mystery. For learning what exactly happens to the beans, I wanted to roast coffee on my own. Luckily one of my friends Kunal got me some raw coffee beans from Coorg last two months ago. I have read that centuries ago we used to roast coffee beans in pans and stirred them with a spoon for even roasting. I thought of doing the same and last month I roasted Coffee at home. How the beans developed is interesting but not the topic here. What is interesting other than that is I got to see what happens when Coffee is heated and why to stir it. That’s the basic principle even an advanced roaster follows and now after doing this experiment I can relate very clearly what exactly happens inside a roaster. What I learnt from this is that UNLEARNING the technology and STARTING FROM BASICS can simplify a lot of things. If I keep on roasting, I might find a solution for roasting the beans in a better way and might develop my own hand roaster.
6. STAY PATIENT AND GENTLE
I would like to share a short story from which I learnt how being patient and gentle is important. At Third Wave a customer approached me at the counter asking what makes us better than Starbucks because the prices are similar. I replied that we serve specialty coffee whereas Starbucks serves commercial coffee on which the guy got angry and said “Oh hello, Starbucks is Specialty coffee, the founder of Starbucks is a really good friend of mine. I haven’t learnt about coffee from someone on the roadside.” On this statement I didn’t say anything and took his order. For the next three days this guy kept troubling us and on the fourth day (his last day in Pune) I did a food tasting of a cookie with him and he loved the cookie so much he felt like writing a review for us and asked for a paper. On the paper he mentioned about the staff and the service and also mentioned that the coffee is better than Starbucks. After reading that I just asked him “Sir, should I say you got the answer for the first question you asked me ?” and the guy smiled for the first time. From this I learnt that hate never kills hate, only love kills hate, you just have to be gentle and patient at all times.
I would like to end it by saying that no matter what life gives you, you have to make sure you learn something or the other from every moment and every small thing around you. Humans can inspire you, teach you, motivate you, but it depends on you what learning you take. So for learning, the source should not be only humans, they’re too complex. Learning from simple things like the air around you, water, earth, your toothbrush, your pillow, the trees, the wind and so on is the real skill of a person. LEARNING NEVER STOPS.
– Anish Kale
21 year old fresher in the Coffee Industry working as a Barista