Drop into Borough Market from London Bridge and you’ll be welcomed by a coffee truck and the enthusiasm of Phoenix Tanner, a professionally trained dancer and barista. In this interview, Phoenix outlines when he got into coffee through a chance meet, and how it has served as a backboard during his studies in contemporary dance.
When did you start your career in coffee and how did you come across the industry?
I met Edwardo at a small festival in the South of England - he runs The Colombian Coffee Company. I initially taught Edwardo ballet in the summer, then when I went to university in London, I started working at his Borough market stall and Roastery. Since then (2017), I have been learning about the speciality coffee world.
What's the status of specialty coffee in London?
You’ll always find a mixed bag in a city as big as London! Generally it's pretty amazing though. Every borough has a speciality coffee shop, and if not I bet you someone is looking to open one.
What types of people are suited to working in the industry?
Literally anyone with firm, delicate hands. If you think you don't have this physical quality, coffee will teach it to you.
If someone is new to coffee and looking to start out, what would you recommend they start with?
I think across the board of any job, employers want more than just the one skill they are asking for. If you have worked in marketing, that is gold to any cafe/roaster - they can teach you to make coffee and you can teach them marketing. I guess coffee shops are great places for skill exchanging. Look at me: Teaching someone ballet ended up with me being taught about coffee!
What's next for your career? What's on the horizon and what goals do you have for the coming three years?
I recently graduated my BA in contemporary dance so I expect that I’ll be working less as a barista in the coming years. Working in coffee shops has taught be so much about business, international trading and operations that I hope to take into running my own dance studio and coffee shop.
Find Phoenix on Instagram at @phoenixtanner