Next up in our Commercial Bay team series, we introduce you to Miet. Hailing from Belgium and having spent most of her short time in New Zealand in lockdown (thanks to our old mate COVID) you'll find Miet behind the bar at Commercial Bay, and more recently out west at our new takeaway coffee joint West Supply.
When Miet isn't slinging shots during work hours, she's often making Aeropress brews and food at home around friends, or out for a swim to clear her head. She's also a wonderful photographer, and has shot some incredible images of the parts of Aotearoa she travelled to before lockdown hit!
Read on for our chat with Miet.
What is your first memory of coffee?
It’s a pretty late one, because my mother didn’t touch coffee before she was 50 years old. It was never in the house, so I never tried it before I was 16.
I was on a city trip with my mom and sister. We all wanted to try a cappuccino, because we saw people really enjoying it and we wanted to know what the fuzz was about it. Since that day I entered a new world ;).
What do you love most about working in the coffee industry?
The diversity. Coffee is diverse on its own. Different kind of beans, different brewing methods. So many different flavours and aromas, it’s so complex and delicate and that makes it so interesting.
But the work is also very diverse. You can totally get in your own little crazy world in your head working with coffee, by being in the flow behind the bar. But you can also meet so many new people while working in a coffee bar.
And how did you end up working with coffee? Where were you before here?
I graduated as a nutritionist, but I didn’t like the job. People don’t listen when it comes to their food, it’s as if their food is their only safety and security in their lives. So don’t touch anyone’s food ;)
Since I was 16 I always wanted to do something with coffee, but I had to graduate first because of my mother. So 2.5 years ago I started with no experience in a well known coffee bar in Bruges. I learned a lot there. A year ago I started a mobile coffee bar with my sister. A coffee truck for every event that wants coffee. Our dream is to start a real coffee bar in Belgium but before that I wanted extra experience and that’s why I’m here in New Zealand with a working holiday visa.
And what made you want to work with us at Commercial Bay?
It's a new working place with new technological features, that a geek like me only can dream of to work with. Kōkako improves their people and their coffee, so that customers only get their perfect cup of gold. I know I’ll learn a lot and when I go back to Belgium I’ll have grown as a barista but also as a person with this experience.
Best coffee moment to date?
Sunday 4 February 2018. After 3 months training and under supervision working with the coffee machine, that was my first day working in the coffee bar with just 2 students. That was the first day I was a head barista.
If you could use only one piece of brewing equipment for the rest of your life, what would that be?
Aeropress. First, it’s small and easy to take with you. Second, you can experiment with different types of grinds, water temperature, traditional or reverse technique… I like the way the real flavours of the bean are released with an Aeropress.
What coffee have you been enjoying lately?
I like African coffee, it has flavours of fruit, flowers, spices. The kind of flavours I like when I drink black coffee. It depends in what mood I’m in, but normally I drink black coffee (pour-over), espresso or if milk based, it’s a cappuccino, because I like the foam that a cappuccino has. Flat white has too little and a latte has too much foam. Also the ratio of milk and coffee is perfect for me in a cappuccino.
If I drink a cappuccino somewhere I always ask an espresso next to it, because I want to taste the flavours of the coffee without the milk. That’s the kind of geek I am, asking 2 drinks at the same time!
What's your favourite drink, when not drinking coffee?
Besides coffee, I like red wine and beer too, also because of the diversity these drinks have. But I only drink this if I’m with family or friends. On a daily basis I just drink water, my stomach can’t tolerate sparkling drinks, I need to be careful of what I eat and drink.
And when you’re not pulling shots, what will we find you doing?
Making coffee at home :D And I like to swim and run. I swam competition for 10 years, and when I swim that’s the only moment when I don’t think about stuff. I just swim on autopilot, like a robot :D I also like food, making it and eat it, of course, and this in good company.