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Robbie from Peoples

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What sets Peoples coffee apart? 
We are a 100% Organic and 100% Fair Trade, quality driven speciality coffee roastery. Our focus is on showcasing small farmer co-operatives, working to both produce exceptional coffee and improve the quality of life for their community. 
What made you fall in love with coffee?
Ethiopian Harar. I knew that I wanted 'get into' coffee because I didn't want to do anything else to earn money in the city, it was the most craft-centric, hands-on thing I could think of. But when I started working for Peoples and first tasted the Ethiopian Harar on the coffee table. That was the moment I fell in love with coffee - as I realised coffee was this incredibly complex thing that didn't just taste like coffee, it tasted like ALL of these other things. It touches hundreds if not thousands of hands - every single one of those peoples livelihoods relying on it - and every one contributing to that cup.
What do you love most about the coffee industry? 
The community is pretty rad unbelievably rad, my new found friend Ayush just recently put me up in India for over a week for free without ever having met him. Based on one email! He then took me into the mountains for 3 days all expenses paid without question! Pretty unbelievably hospitable. He said, "we got to support our community you know? I know that you would have done the same for me". And I genuinely hope that I would have! 
For me though, the thing that I love the most is that I can contribute to the positive part of this industry, and thousands of peoples lives, simply through making some strong ethical decisions in the way we trade.
How long have you been in the coffee industry? 
 
6 years now
Where do you see coffee heading to? 
 
Unfortunately, it is a pretty grim outlook as far as I can see. All signs lead to coffee production being pretty much decimated in the producing countries that we currently love by as early as 2030. I see coffee production like what we are seeing in California (Blue Bottle buying $60/pound Californian grown coffee, sold for $18US a cup) increasing, but definitely not filling the gap that is left by large producing countries. I see average coffee quality decreasing rather than increasing. Speciality coffee becoming extremely expensive and luxurious more akin to wine, but even less accessible! I have been thinking for a long time that now would be a good time to get into vertical/urban farming of coffee and other climate change sensitive crops. Obviously, altitude and climate controlled! I think coffee production will begin to follow the weather changes and we will see a lot of coffee being produced in regions that we would have never imagined before. It is going to be an interesting decade!
What is your history with coffee?
 
Basically, I moved to Wellington to go to university. I used to work on farms and do building work, so I wasn't particularly well prepared for the employment market in the city, so while I was at uni, I decided I really wanted to get into coffee because it was the most craft-oriented thing I could see. I was hired as a barista in a silver service restaurant to be trained up, hated working there, accidentally found a temp job doing deliveries at Peoples and the rest in history!
I started as a barista at Constable - our flagship, then managed constable whilst doing all of the training, then eventually just got sucked into Sales and Account Care! 
I am still lucky enough to do all of the training and most of the R + D / Quality Control with Rene.
What is your most memorable moment in the industry thus far?
 
Probably still that first cup of Harar. That, and John Gordon paying me out in front of the whole Barista Champs audience for saying that I didn't like Naturals - when I secretly (not so secretly anymore) do love them.
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