Coffee Stories

A chat with Stathis Koremtas

By 12th April 2020May 29th, 2020No Comments
I started working in local coffee shops in 2003 just after I graduated high school, to support myself during my time at university. I kept working as a barista for some time after my graduation as I was looking for a more relevant job, but I realized that I actually liked this job! As I got deeper and deeper in the industry and in coffee, I realized that what I really loved to do was making coffee, so I decided to focus on this and take it to the next level. The rest is history.

My daily job routine consists of various tasks. Some days I work at the TAF coffee shop, I also do planned quality control visits at coffee shops in our network and I run barista training seminars at the TAF training center.

I’d say research is my favorite thing. I just love to be in a continuous quest for new things and challenges, so this is why I love the preparation period for the competition. For me, it is a way to break the routine all baristas inevitably fall into. I believe that it’s essential for a barista to learn more every day and try new things whenever they can, not only because they can become better but also this is the way for the coffee industry to evolve more. We all have a lot to learn about coffee.

Success is linked to my favorite part of this job which I described above. It is challenging yourself with new things every time and getting the most out of it, expanding your horizon a bit more every day. We are lucky to be in an industry that offers us so many opportunities for constant learning.

The biggest challenge in my career is that I always pursue the “new”. I always try to think out of the box and combine worlds that are not directly linked to coffee to have an innovative result.

When I got into specialty coffee, a whole new world opened. I couldn’t believe that coffee, something that I had been drinking for years, could taste like this and have such an extreme range of flavor characteristics. My whole perception of coffee has changed, and that made me learning more and experimenting with other fields like chemistry, water composition and helped me to become more complete as a professional.

Stathis Koremtas

A taste experience that is totally fixed in my memory was Stefanos’ coffee when he was preparing for Rimini. It’s a taste that my senses will always recall.

It is a difficult choice to make between moments and memories linked to such an exciting thing as the coffee industry and the coffee itself. My first time of winning the local championship in Greece back in 2016. It was the first so fulfilling and rewarding experience the coffee industry gave me, I was genuinely thrilled.

I think I can say that so far, it is the topic I worked on for this year’s routine in the championships. I worked on ways to make it easier for people with visual impairments the making of quality coffee. My attention on this subject was drawn when during a trip to Shanghai with my mentor Stefanos Domatiotis I assisted him in conducting a seminar for people with visual disabilities. It was something very new for me. What I tried to do was to get into their shoes and figure out ways to overcome any possible barriers and obstacles those people were facing whenever they brew coffee in any of the typical ways. I am hoping that what I came up with can be used to help or at least be the starting point for further research on the topic. It was an eye-opening experience for me also.

My daily inspiration comes from customers. I am highly motivated to introduce as many coffee consumers as possible to the world of high-quality coffee. This is why, for me, it is very important to be able to have direct contact with the customer and be able to talk them through the process and give them as much information on the coffee as I can, maybe making their day just a tiny bit brighter. I feel that this is the role of the barista, after all!

I think the biggest challenge I faced was having to decide between doing what I love and doing what I had studied for years. People often see our profession as an “in-between” job to support yourself until you get a “real” job. Although I realized that this was not the case for me, I was still a bit reluctant.

I gave this decision a great deal of thought. And I concluded that doing what I love, gave me higher chances to be very good at it or at least keep me going! Plus, when you do what you love, you are a happy person. I couldn’t be more pleased with the decision I made back then.

Other than coffee, I am married to a wonderful woman who supports me every step of the way. We have 2 young children, so as you can understand that personal time is quite rare for us! But my family is the most important thing for me, and I enjoy every single moment with them. I always make some time to exercise, though, because it is something I enjoy a lot. A healthy mind in a healthy body, per the ancient saying.

The most important thing is to train ourselves to evaluate a coffee and be able to trace anything that went wrong and affected the result in the final cup. Numerous factors can affect the coffee in a cup: temperature, grind size, recipe, and so forth. I suggest that if we don’t like something in our coffee, we should change one thing at a time so that we can locate what needs to be modified.

It would be a great pleasure to meet everyone! When people visit the shop to meet the rest of the team and me, it makes me really happy, and it makes me do what I do with even more passion.

It is very sad what is happening all around the world, it is indeed a very difficult and challenging situation, but we should all stay calm and follow the #stayhome instruction. It is the only way to protect ourselves and others. So since going out is absolutely limited to the basics, of course, I brew my coffee at home. I use the Gem dripper, it is a device that makes brewing at home very easy, because of the lid with the hole in the middle that guides pouring towards a certain direction so that you can have a consistent result every time.

This story was edited by Maja Wisniewska, a coffee blogger and content editor of I’M NOT A BARISTA.