1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.
I’m Fi O’Brien, Head of Brand / Creative Director and Co Founder of Girls Who Grind Coffee. I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia, but now living in Frome, Somerset, UK.
2- When and why did coffee become important to you?
Coffee has always been a massive part of my life - partly from growing up in Melbourne, where coffee and coffee culture is intrinsically intertwined with our day to day life. Going to cafes was something I always loved to do, whether it was to catch up with friends over a coffee, escape the world or to gawk over the beautiful interiors. When I opened my first cafe back in 2000 it opened up the door to delving deep into coffee culture 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”?
Probably a cliché but my first natural process coffee had me questioning everything I had ever known or understood about coffee.
4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
Creative freedom is a big one for me personally. I’m not very good working for others so know I can come to work and create something that is also making a difference is something you can’t beat! Also knowing we have endless supply of incredible coffee to drink all day is most definitely a bonus!
5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
Got to be V60, love the nuances you can extract from different processing methods with simple recipe changes.
6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
Eeep that’s a tough one! But it’s a toss up between a stunning Natural Process, Chinese coffee from Xingang Farm, Yunnan or a Thermal Shock process Colombian from Yenni Esperanza, both absolute mind benders!
7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
Oh all of them to be honest! I find it incredible and exciting that coffee from the same origin can be so varied in flavour profile. Saying that I do love a juicy Kenyan!
8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you are working at/you use at work).
Since we are in the business of celebrating women in coffee I would love for you all to check out Noni Coffee Roasters, Stroud, UK - owned and run by an incredible one-woman-band.
9- What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt while working in the business?
So many things, to be honest. The importance of focusing on your own business and not what everyone else is doing - it’s hard to keep those blinkers on at times but a really important part of staying on your own journey and creating the things that are important to you. That it is ok to make mistakes, you learn from them all! And how awe-inspiring female producers are, their strength and determination to create change is unbeatable.
10- How is your work and the specialty coffee world coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
For GWGC there wasn’t too much change to be honest. We had our online store well established. There was obviously a sway from wholesale sales to online retail sales due to customers drinking at home rather than at the cafes but we were able to adapt to that fairly quickly. Our biggest challenges are actually shipping delays due to Brexit mostly!
11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
Well, hopefully with a lot more equity and diversity if we have anything to do with it!
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Such a hard thing to look forward to, I feel like Covid has made it really difficult to plan ahead and see beyond the week you’re in. I’d love to say with GWGC growing exponentially with a huge team of legends working towards the greater good. We have such big plans for GWGC including having concept stores/cafes in major cities so seeing that come into fruition would be great!
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
I’d say my best bit of advice would be to wear your heart on your sleeve when it comes to brand and ethos. Truly believe what you stand for and everything else will follows.