A coffee break with...

Lee Hyde
Beverage innovation manager, Monin

What does your job typically entail?
As senior beverage expert for Monin, the biggest part of my role is working closely with our customers – offering consultation on their drink and menu strategies and ensuring they’re keeping up with the latest beverage trends. I work with coffee shop operators, bars, restaurants, pubs and even our retail and wholesale customers.

My team is also responsible for tradeshows and events, the creation of social media assets for our marketing team, helping with new product development and offering our expertise across the business. No two days are the same at Monin!

How did you get into the industry?
I worked in bars while studying at university in Leeds and quickly realised I had a real passion and love for it. I ended up leaving my course early to pursue a career as a cocktail bartender.

After many years in the industry, I decided it was time to step out from behind the bar and work for a brand. Monin was the obvious choice for me, being a brand I am truly passionate about.

What’s your favourite part of your working day?
My favourite part of the day is arriving at our development studio in Hoxton Square in the morning. It’s a really great space and we’ve got a wonderful team there.

I love grabbing a coffee – my favourite is a flat white with Monin Macaroon syrup – and catching up with everyone before getting stuck into the day. First thing in the morning is when we tend to have all of our best creative drink ideas too.

And your least favourite?
Anything that involves admin! I’d managed to avoid the need for any admin for most of my career in bartending. I much prefer the hands-on, creative elements of the job, rather than sitting in front of a laptop or doing paperwork.

What’s your favourite food and beverage?
My favourite meal is a spicy Chinese hotpot. I love the social element of sitting around the table and cooking various foods to go in the hotpot – and I do love a bit of spice.

Favourite drink is a hard one to answer – it depends on the occasion and the mood. A well-made daiquiri is perfect for a sunny day, a nicely balanced negroni is ideal before dinner and Scotch whisky is the best way to end a good night.

And your least favourite?
I avoid anything with mushrooms in – I’m really not a fan. Least favourite drink is another tough one because I like most things, but I do struggle with poor quality or badly made coffee.

What is the biggest factor currently affecting the industry?
In the UK, we’re experiencing a pretty sizable staffing crisis across all types of venues. This is leading to an overall reduction in experience and skill, which is then leading to many operators having to simplify their offers. The hospitality industry has come such a long way over the last 10 to 20 years, so it’s a real shame to see it start taking steps backwards.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone working in the industry?
The most important part of the job is definitely customer service. Staff that are friendly, polite, helpful and efficient play a huge part in the success of a business.

Of course, the drinks need to be spot-on too and you should always be striving to learn more and improve your skills. Tick these two boxes and you’ll thrive in this industry.

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