Published by Tanya in Coffee Insurrection Hero · 14 October 2021
Tags: NukhetCubukcular, Istanbul, Turkey, Interview
Tags: NukhetCubukcular, Istanbul, Turkey, Interview
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and whats your job.
I'm Nukhet, from Turkey. I have been a roasting assistant until the pandemic started and after a long time as a barista, I have been working from home for a while.
2- When and why did coffee become important to you?
As I have said before in podcast and interviews, I started my research thanks to my old cafe owner, who gave me a chance. Before him, I always felt like a bad sheep: it was the same at school, walking in the streets… basically everywhere. Before I was just collecting bad experiences such as being excluded and being unemployed, mostly because my family is Christian in a Muslim country, and because my way of expressing myself is tattooed. And then, when I started to work in the coffee shop, I noticed the effort baristas put in their workflow, and this became so important to me, that I decided to pursue that profession. But why exactly coffee matters to me? Coffee is a fruit picked by hands, under difficult conditions, with hard works and aching bones from the farmers… and working as barista I realized that I was serving coffee to an elite group that simply could wake up, go to a shop and enjoy their “specialty” life. That’s when I understood that who grow coffee was more important to me than coffee. For me it was impossible not to fall in love, seeing the real workers in farms, the real workforce behind this hypnotic drink that’s black as my soul... And still, every time I sip a cup of coffee I can almost feel in it every soul that helped me enjoy my coffee ritual.
3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than just a cup of coffee?
I remember it as if it happened yesterday. I was working at a roastery with my friend, and I was helping the owner to prepare a Turkish coffee for the cezve ibrik championships, and we got Finca Las Margaritas from Rigoberto Herrera Valle Del Cauca Gesha. And we started to roasted it with different profiles, cupping it, and brewing it with the cezve … but the moment I still remember clearly is when I grinded that coffee!!! My mind exploded and I said “I don't know nothing about coffee. I need to drink more different coffee, always.”
4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
When I was a barista, starting the morning shift in silence, preparing for the day, was the best thing of all. Now I make designs, working internationally, and often I related with people that live in different time zone, so finally I can sleep in the morning now (:
5-Whats your favorite brewing method and why?
I really love the Origami dripper: the cup is usually sweet, with a lovely balanced acidity, and I still learning after two years using it. And then, there’s the Orea, my favorite for two months now, and İ still get excited before every brew. Even when I see it in my kitchen, my heart goes beating fast: it's small, it's immortal and it's fast; and if you brew careful, you can brew a large dose with fine grind and no agitation in the end.
6-Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
Working from home, in a country that is not so rich… well, I have to sadly say that some days I don't have much coffee to choose from. But luckily I’ve got my friends, and they have never let me down since Covid started. But I love to say that the best coffee is the next coffee that will be in your cup. And apart from this, I cannot really choose just one coffee…. I had so many amazing experiences! Let’s talk about the Rabbit Hole’s Robusta beans, for example… it's just so interesting. The Robusta tree is strong and before tasting it, I’ve always asked everyone “What's you opinion about specialty Robusta?” and then Rabbit Hole did it!!! And it was the best roast profile I’ve ever tasted.
7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
Mocha Mattari, from Yemen, is for me “the specialty coffee” for cezve and pour over. But I’ve found so many amazing different coffees from Colombia; and Ethiopia is always my best friend; and Mexican barrel aged is so delicious… And you know what? I really can't pick. If a coffee is clean and fresh, with a balanced acidity and a nice mouth feels… well, it can be one of my favorites too.
8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
İ have to say I can't recommend so many roastery from Turkey. İ can say Probador Colectiva, William's Roastery and Fam Coffee Family are the best for me. Plus Petra Roasting Co. and Boxx Coffee Roasters. These are the ones I wanna buy coffee from, every time I’ve got the money.
9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
There is a lot of poser ignorance, and often people used coffee for fame... but with time, I’ve learn to simply erase them from my life. Usually, I try to accept people in every way they are: we are just human and we are the same. But coffee it's not a race. People work hard for real coffee. And these posers don't do any charity or give back for what they get, and this is what makes me mad. But I’ve also met a lot of great human beings, really hard workers, full of knowledge and joy, people that most of all enjoy to share with the community… So this is what basically I’ve learned from working in the coffee business: someone see it as a business, and someone see it as a lifestyle.
10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
In Turkey all the restaurants and cafes were closed for 14 months, so things were (and still are) very hard. İ couldn't find any job long time, and that’s when I started to turn bad thing into good things, starting to draw and make my art. So for me now everything is in a way kind of balanced.. For what concerns the coffee shops, when they opened some months ago, a lot of people didn't follow rules, they didn’t wear mask… but on the other hand, when they wear it we can't see smile on worker's face, and this is some kind of border I feel nowadays around cafes in my country.
11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
I really can't imagine what is going to happen. Two years ago someone said to me “You gonna drink cascara cocktail at home” and I couldn’t believe it. And climate changes is going bad I think, but maybe the specialty Robusta, that is stronger and more affordable, will help us. I love science fiction movie a lot, so this is why I can't imagine what's going on one minute later in our world. We are just hanging in darkness and everything can happen. Everytime.
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope I’ll be in Germany or in USA, working at a roastery together with quality people; and in the meantime I hope I’ll keep drawing... but who knows. Covid taught me that making any kind of plans in our life's is just not real. I’ll go with the flow, making the best of what is gonna happen. I’m sure that my everyday hard work will take me to the next step…
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
Be yourself is hard. I'm 33 and last time I was looking my life, I was 22. İ was start this coffee business as a runner, just take dirty dishes to kitchen. And so İ started to work, and to study hard, and I became a barista… and then I became a roaster assistant, and now I draw everywhere in the coffee community. I know that sometime people read some articles, and they think they know everything but it's not real. And if you just started your career as a barista, knowledge will not grow in a minute. So be calm. Listen to professional coffee people, but in the same time make your own research and use it with your own brain. And if you can donate where the coffee comes even 1$ for sustainable coffee life, believe me: people will be happy, and they will work harder everyday.