The South of Germany may be best known for its fresh beer and entrenched brewing culture, but it’s also home to an emerging specialty coffee scene. Barista Melanie Weldert is part of this, working with coffee training academy in Kaffeeschule Nürnberg Nürnberg and roastery Rösttrommel. In this interview, Melanie outlines her journey from Colombia to Germany, providing guidance to others looking to join the coffee industry.
When did you start your career in coffee and how did you come across the industry?
You could say that I have always been involved in some way with the coffee industry since I was born in Medellin Colombia. Even when I was a little child, I was fascinated with coffee. But it was only in 2011 when I worked as a barista in a cafe in Medellin called Pergamino - there I became especially interested in the subject of filtered coffee and did my first SCA course in Bogotá.
By chance, I met one of my momentary bosses, Stefan Schwarz, from German roastery Röstrommel when I was in Medellin. He offered me a job as a barista in Nürnberg. Now eight years later I am in charge of the Kaffeeschule Nürnberg, a coffee school which we offers courses for hobby baristas and professionals. I am also in charge of quality control and choice of coffees for Röstrommel. Alongside these roles, I participate mainly in filtered coffee competitions which is my passion.
What's the status of specialty coffee in Nuremberg?
Nürnberg is growing a lot in the area of specialty coffee. There are already several stores and roasters like us that offer a great choice of coffees. I especially notice the boom in enrolment at our Cafe Kaffeeschule Nürnberg school where we offer from Basic Barista courses, Latte Art, brew and SCA professional courses. The clientele has also grown and improved enormously here in Nürnberg - I think that more and more there are people willing to learn about good coffee and buy it.
What types of people are suited to working in coffee?
Anyone who is interested in the subject of coffee is suited to work in this industry. The coffee industry is huge and there are a million options and job opportunities, the most important thing is the interest and love of coffee, everything else can be learned. The easiest way to start is to find a good specialty cafe and start as a barista. What I would recommend, if the person wants to grow in the industry is to educate himself as much as possible - the wonderful thing is that the more one knows about the subject, the more one falls in love with coffee.
Are there some central blog posts or websites that you go to gain more knowledge, develop further skills?
The truth is I follow several people like James Hoffmann, Gwilym Davies, Gloria Pedroza and Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood. I love the videos of European Coffee trip and coffee fusion and recommend as books: The World Atlas of Coffee (James Hoffmann) The Professional Barista handbook (Scott Rao) and Water for Coffee (Maxwell Colonna Dashwood).
What's next for your career? What's on the horizon and what goals do you have for the coming three years?
The next thing in my career will be to continue my education as a cafe specialist. I have several projects with the SCA and will probably participate in the Brew Cup here in Germany next year. I also have projects in Colombia, to educate non-profit people who do not have the income, but have an interest in the subject. For me the most important thing is to be part of the growth of our cafe school in Nürnberg and teach that the most important thing when making a good coffee is to do it with love "brew it with love”.
Follow Melanie on Instagram via @melanie_weldert