My name is Stephen Houston, and this is my coffee story.
I came across Bailies when I was looking for a new job. They were looking for a ‘Roastery Assistant,’ and they also would train me, so I was sold!! During my first day, I got handed a batch brew of a Kenya AA from Kamwangi, and it was incredible! I’ve been obsessed ever since! Nowadays, my life has been divided between being a new dad, sports, and coffee.
I used to compete in Kickboxing, and now in Jiu-jitsu, my time in competitive Kickboxing was a great experience. I use a lot of the training ethos in my coffee career too. You have to work very hard to achieve skills. When I first started, I could barely throw a punch, and within a year, I had two fights under me and had learned a lot in terms of skill, but more importantly, when you put your mind to something, you can achieve it.
I also believe the discipline you need for competing has really helped me in my coffee career, to train smart and learn when to focus. When to relax, it has helped me become a stronger competitor and, overall, a more confident person. I was recently nominated and voted as a member of the advisory council of the Coffee Roasters Guild this year. Also winning the Irish Brewers Cup Champion (2017 & 2019) and the Irish Aeropress Champion (2019).
This is my latest Aeropress Champion recipe Inverted
Total time: 1:45
2 Paper Filters
35g of coffee: 32 clicks on a comandante Washed Ecuador (or any Central American)
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Water: 84°C / 183°F
Rinse two filter papers.
Start the timer and pour 100g water in 30seconds. Stir well for 20seconds.
Put a filter cap on by 1:05.
Slow press to 1:45.
Add 50g of 84c water and 50g room temp water. Stir well and serve.
As a roaster, I think it can be hard to get into roasting because it’s hard to get the job opportunity, whereas there are, probably, more barista jobs. That can become a great platform to learn, share, and gain valuable experience and skills in service, extraction, and coffee in general. I didn’t have any barista experience before I started roasting, it might have been a bit more beneficial at the start, but I quickly fell in love with coffee and pushed myself to learn more!
My biggest challenge would be how I am making a difference in the industry. I’m still learning every day and feel a little overwhelmed at times, but it’s crucial to remain focused and work at it, one small step at a time! I’m always motivated and inspired by seeing the amazing worldwide coffee community that we are all part of. It’s an incredible mix of people, places, and talents! It fills me with motivation to keep doing what I love!
During the last time, I managed to work hard to get systems in place for someone to take me over while I was off, and I’m so grateful! So, now I can share more with my wife and my newborn son! It means I get to spend these first few months with my boy, but also in my limited free time, I can work on some exciting projects for the Coffee Roasters Guild!
Whenever I am not at home or cycling, you can find me at Bailies. So, if you are around, I always love to have visitors to Belfast, we can hang out at the roastery and drink some tasty coffee!
Article by Natalia