With Joshua Tarlo, head of coffee, Kiss the Hippo.
What does your job typically entail?
Every day is really different. Usually I’m jumping between tasting new coffees from farms around the world, working on the roast profiles, or training the next generation of baristas. A lot of what I do is about working with the coffee team to create all the different products that Kiss the Hippo offers.
How did you get into the industry?
When I was 16, I got a barista job at a local café. I really fell in love with what a café can be – a centre of community and connection. From there I learned how to roast in Australia, and eventually got involved in the green coffee side of the industry – the bit before it’s roasted – back in Canada.
From there I moved to the UK to run coffee programs at roasteries like Kiss the Hippo. I found that sourcing and selecting coffee is all about building relationships with people around the world, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I really enjoy acting as a point of connection between producers in Latin America, Africa or Asia with folks who appreciate coffee in places like the UK.
What’s your favourite part of your working day?
Working directly with our producing partners is always rewarding. In general, though, I really enjoy how dynamic this job is. No two days are ever the same. We’re always shifting gears and jumping into new situations, which means things are always interesting.
And your least favourite?
It’s a great place to work and with a dynamic job and so many exciting things going on there comes a lot of time demands and the challenge of balancing everything. With so much happening, days can feel like a whirlwind and definitely leave me ready for bed when I get home.
What’s your favourite food and beverage?
If it’s not coffee and a pastry, it would have to be tacos and a pint. I really enjoy food that’s fresh, complex and brightly acidic, and tacos are perfect for that. And there aren’t many things better than having a cold pint with friends on a hot day.
And your least favourite?
Once when I was sourcing coffee abroad, I had the opportunity to try a local delicacy: cow udder. It was an experience, but not one that I would recommend.
What is the biggest factor currently affecting the industry?
The climate emergency. Of course, climate change affects everything, but the coffee industry is especially at risk. Coffee is produced in the tropics. If we don’t begin to decarbonise our economy right now we are on track to pass two degrees celsius of warming. That level of warming will cause extremely erratic weather in the coffee lands, which will make growing it incredibly difficult.
The strain that will put on the industry is incalculable and is predicted to cause an almost complete collapse of coffee as we know it. That’s the reason it is fundamental fo us at Kiss the Hippo to work on lowering our carbon footprint.
What one piece of advice would you offer someone working in the industry?
Work with people and companies that are passionate about making a difference. By being fair to producers, lowering emissions and giving consumers enriching experiences, we can build a better coffee industry – and do our part to make the world a better place.