As a newbie to 200 I'm still meeting the teams and individual staff that make us who we are. Today I had the pleasure of meeting Tereza, a passionate barista in Queen Streets Cardiff store. Passionate doesn't really do it justice…
Finding her love of coffee
Tereza is zesty and charismatic barista, born and raised in the Czech Republic where, she proclaims with much distain, “Coffee was terrible! Fine ground coffee with boiling water poured over it.” It wasn’t until 17 that Tereza had her first blue skies coffee experience. “When I was 17 a friend of mine actually made me my first cup of coffee I liked, an espresso-based drink. Until this day I don't know what it was. In a Moroccan style coffee shop, he wore checked shirts, looked cool, just casually chatted to people and made coffee. I was inspired from there, he knew his stuff and it looked amazing.” She was sold.
Time to leave Czech Rep & sample the UK
I then tried to keep up with Tereza’s travels and, I must confess, there were so many places in such short a time I won’t do her justice so I’ll focus on the key ones. Tereza planned to travel the world for three months, thinking Uni was the following step. “I originally moved to Hampshire and ended up staying for 7 years. After a year of being there I moved to Bristol, handed in my CV to Café Nero without knowing much about them and only a little about coffee and got hired.”
The coffee career begins
Tereza clearly enjoyed Nero, “It was a fantastic atmosphere with great banter and great people. It was amazing. I was there 6 months then moved back to bars and stuff again but always missed coffee. I then moved to Cardiff and went back to Nero for 2 and half years, it seemed the natural place to go” she explains.
“Nero do a great motivation program to support and grow you and become store manager, but I then became more interested in speciality coffee”. So Tereza made the brave move to leave her comfort zone and follow her passion, travelling to places like Brazil, Japan and the US and saw them “doing coffee differently”. Inspired this changed her direction and she was keen to learn more about coffee.
Specialist coffee wasn’t right…
It wasn’t long until Tereza had volunteered at the World Barista Championship in Dublin. “I knew I wanted to find out more about speciality coffee and this seemed like a good place to start. But I actually didn't enjoy it at all!” This shocked me as I expected obsessive enthusiasm, but she goes on to explain “They had the newest Black Eagles, best coffee, most skills and it was really pretentious. I just didn't like it”. So much so that it made her question if she wanted to follow specialist coffee if that’s the world she would be entering.
More travelling and self-discovery, and 200 Degrees
What to do this situation? Jump back on the plane for some more travelling! It was time to hit Germany’s speciality coffee scene in Berlin. “There’s more than 45 speciality coffee shops there. They're really chilled and relaxed and it made me realise it was another side of the same coin.” So, armed with this new realisation that it didn’t have to be pretentious, she returned to Cardiff and approached Uncommon Ground and 200 Degrees who have specialist elements but no pretention, and got offered both at the same time!
Having worked in both for a brief period, 200 won out and Tereza became a permanent member of Steve, our Cardiff GM’s team. Tereza clearly has huge respect for Steve “He was great and has supported us and helped us to expand our understanding and ourselves.” This has included allowing time for Tereza to continue her expansion of knowledge.
As part of this self-improvement she embarked on the most respected and recognised training course she could find for coffee, the SCA Coffee Diploma training program. She chose Clifton Coffee in Bristol and Artisan Coffee School in London. “Here you build up points to become a coffee professional. The courses were good and great for socialising and networking, lots of supporting materials in advance too so I can make sure I'm prepared. However, there is still long way to go and one can't ever learn everything.”
And so, began Tereza’s teaching career in 200 Degree’s Barista School in Cardiff. She gives me a whirl around her beloved school and has developed a program that sound fun and informative. She’s very conscious about how to bring the content to life and is brisling with ideas to improve almost every aspect. You can book a course right now.
Volunteering in the Coffee Farms
More recently the travel bug bite again. “In November I went to Guatemala and volunteered at the coffee farms where you help the farmers on a daily basis. Farming, sorting through the green coffee beans, preparing it for market and some roasting, grinding and packing. We made fresh coffee on freshly roasted beans, it was amazing!” Just a little passion and excitement there then.
200 Degrees is special
So, what of her time so far at 200 Degrees? “I love how casual 200 degrees is and how relaxed we are. For customers it's so easy to come in and chat. Some specialist coffee places can be scary. There's no forcing our knowledge on customers but we can talk to them about coffee on their level if they want it. I also really like the fresh food and sometimes cakes when there's time. The fact the chef has the freedom to do that is amazing. We can also come up with our own recipe for coffees which we share internally and have some healthy debates about them across the team and stores.” I think this pretty much sums up what 200 Degrees represents, and Tereza seems to be living proof.
What you love the most
Having asked what she loves the most about her job the answer is “Our team. And I really like our coffee machine and give it a hug when I come back from travelling and get straight on it, my hands are weirdly soft when I’ve not been making coffee so the Black Eagle is fired up. I enjoy teaching now too which I didn't think I'd ever enjoy. Feeling I've helped people out is amazing.”
Finally, I ask what the future lies. I find, unsurprisingly, there’s plans for learning more (including Spanish which she’s actually already made great headway into), becoming more qualified in coffee, and sharing that learning with the people she trains in the 200 Degrees courses. But a longer-term goal is lingering in her mind… “My dream (read that as ‘plan’) is to become a Q Grader of which there's only about 4000 in the world that would allow me to travel to the farms more often and share the story of the farmers.”
Well I don’t know about you but I’m inspired.
Some images are from Teressa's instagram account @czech_barista_tee. You can follow us too @200degs
Author: Matt Douglas
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