Tzanetos Dalietos is an archetype example of no matter how exceptional the obstacle you face is, you can always bounce back.
In 2019 he experienced a horrific accident that set his career back. However, his mindset persisted and despite not being able to compete in the 2019 brewers cup, he has picked himself up and is ready to continue with his exciting coffee journey. However, whilst this trigger event has catalysed Tzanetos to where he is today, his journey started years before.
As a young adult, Tzanetos worked at his family-run bar and instantly grew a liking for communicating with customers. He recalls genuinely caring about meeting their expectations and providing a service he was proud of. At this point, his experience had nothing to do with coffee but he was already instilling an ethos of celebrating the art and skill behind any customer’s drink. Moreover, he began to work in a nightclub which accelerated his love for meeting new people. This time of his life was tough for Tzanetos as he was simultaneously working nights and studying during the day. This intense period made it clear to him that his future vision did not correlate with academic studying. He wanted to do something people centred whilst still constantly learning and growing within a craft. This of course, is when Tzanetos discovered coffee.
He found a job in a coffee house as a barista and this was his first flavour of the profession. When describing tasting his first cup of Kenyan coffee, Tzanetos reminisces over the
“vibrant and amazing tastes”.
It didn’t take long for him to be inspired to create his own home set up. Interestingly, he explained that nowhere in Greece had speciality coffee shops and thus his exposure to more sophisticated kinds of coffee was limited. Hence, he started to consciously develop his sensory skills and sought out knowledge from friends as well as his own research.
As aforementioned, one event changed Tzanetos’ life dramatically; tragically he was hit by a taxi whilst riding his bike and as a result suffered serious injuries. On top of the expected trauma he was facing, Tzanetos was informed that he could only drink coffee once a day.
He was stuck in the house for months, half his face was paralysed and the zeal he had grown for coffee was suddenly disrupted.
Today he still lives with the long term effects as his vision and hearing are both slightly impeded by the accident. Taking an optimistic stance, this time did allow for much reflection and Tzanetos spent hours researching coffee methods and enhancing his knowledge as much as possible (despite the vast majority of his consumption being decaf)! He starting reaching out to people and gaining a web of connections. These efforts were truly enhancing for Tzanetos’ coffee career and explain why he puts so much emphasis on reaching out to those around you.
After much time spent in recovery, Tzanetos was more determined than ever to make his mark in the coffee world. Thus, he started to get involved in competitions. He expressed the importance of presenting a true version of yourself on stage and authentically letting your character shine through your coffee.
“Whilst on stage, you have to be you- attempt to showcase the coffee and yourself together”.
He spoke of a realisation, thanks to a close friend and mentor Stefanos Domatiotis, that if you fail to do this you will be overwhelmed by fear. Once, he learnt his speech and then choose to completely erase it. He knew that it didn’t effectively portray his coffee story and therefore would not be as effective. Tzanetos explained his first experience at a competition and noted how strange it feels to be backstage with fellow competitors. In particular, the experience of seeing the crowd for the first time made him feel like he was going to freeze:
“you cannot be on stage and be relaxed, but you can choose how to express this”.
Therefore, he quickly learnt how important it is to be flexible. When he once accidentally skipped out several lines of his speech, he immediately rectified this by talking about himself, his character and his journey to be standing on that stage. He encourages people to be confident with the reasons for competing, whether it is to showcase your talents, gain experience, or of course, win the competition. If you are in tune with these internal motivations you will be as relaxed as possible when on stage.
Today, Tzanetos values nothing more than connections and continuous learning. His position as a recent recipient of one of our donations came about as a result of him reaching out. Due to several people guiding him through his coffee journey, like great friends Sotiris and Stefanos, Tzanetos feels a responsibility to give back to the community. Therefore, every day he ensures to make coffee at its very best. He makes an effort to give his customers different types of coffee to try- otherwise, how will they learn? For Tzanetos, work ethic is the key to success.
Set your sights on something, make it your goal, and then tell yourself that you will master it.
Practice is absolutely essential because when you make coffee your repeat the same movements over and over. Tzanetos emphasises that given this, it is imperative that people are taught correctly in the first place, hence his feeling of responsibility to share his knowledge. Practice, practice, practice until it becomes a mechanical movement. Moreover, Tzanetos expressed that you can learn something from every single barista you meet, even if it’s how not to do things! This philosophy feeds into his growth mindset and ensures that he is continuously developing.
Tzanetos has a vision to create an informative and educational website as a more tangible token for the coffee community. When asked what advice he would give to baristas in need to help he stressed that
“Reach out, because no one can do it by themselves”.
Ultimately, for Tzanetos it all comes back to human connections: find someone who can bring out the best in you, and your aims will prosper. His journey is completely inspiring; Tzanetos’ ability to bounce back from the devastating accident with such zeal and enthusiasm can inspire many individuals to persevere, no matter what your personal obstacle may be.
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Wendelien van Bunnik
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