Lao Tzu once said that “a leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves”. This quote reminds me of Peter Allane Ong‘s journey to where he is now and how the foundation of his career in speciality coffee has been built over time through hard work, dedication and humility.
Originally from the Philippines, Peter Allane Ong has been working in the hospitality industry for about 15 years now. He started his career as a barista and worked his way up to operations manager of The Barn, a specialty coffee roastery and cafe in Berlin.
Allan’s coffee journey started when he was offered a position to manage one cafe based in Dubai. Quickly becoming an SCA certified barista, he moved on to head barista roles and imparted his knowledge and love for coffee onto many others.
Nearly ten years later, he is now responsible for the daily operations of The Barn – from training new staff to working with suppliers to maintaining the quality of their coffee. One thing that Allan wishes to teach to aspiring baristas is that the coffee industry is not just for people who compete and get recognized.
“I want this next generation of coffee people who are just starting out to keep the fire burning within them. My wish is to motivate them and show them that the coffee industry is not only for the world stage but most of its foundation is behind the bar and spreading what coffee is really all about – from farm to cup.”
Allan explains that the most challenging aspect of his career in speciality coffee is how he is contributing and having an impact on the industry. It is inspiring to hear that as it means he is someone who always strives to work on himself and find ways to improve.
“I found out that small steps make a big impact on your career by sharing your experiences and journey, sharing your knowledge and always being a good example, being a bridge to connect people to people and just continuing on with what you’re doing.”
As a trainer, Allan believes that in order to be successful, you need to start with the basics and follow the procedures systematically. This allows you to avoid missing out on anything, and helps you learn at a slower but steady pace. He also believes in training together with his team.
“Be open to the idea of learning from your team. Nurture the passion that they have, motivate them. I train them not only in coffee but occasionally about values and how to be a good person.”
The reason why that Lao Tzu quote reminds me of Allan is that he has worked hard to spread his coffee knowledge and passion and has, no doubt, enabled those around him to go on and share the same message. And all that from the backstage. We asked Allan to share a piece of advice with the I’M ΝΟΤ Α ΒΑRISTA community.
“Continue on what you think you can contribute to the coffee industry even in your own little way, build your connections, always be open to criticism and share positive thoughts. Be a bridge to connect people from the industry and always be a blessing to others.”
We wish to inspire all of you through his words and actions and hope that Allan will continue to be a light in the coffee industry for many years to come.