Interviewing The Coffee Industry - James Gallagher

 Today's guest on The Coffee Life is someone who has recently entered the coffee industry with his new coffee blog. James first introduced himself to me on Instagram and since then I've loved reading all his posts (please go and check him out!) - I've also done an interview about The Coffee Life on his blog which you can read here

How are you?

I'm doing well. I have not yet had a coffee for the day, but one is coming soon. I have two cups each day but there is something special about that first cup. I'm trying Cojones from The GOOD Coffee Cartel which has some of my favourite flavour notes: cherry, raspberry, and dark chocolate. (I like taking questions in the direction of coffee!)

What do you do for a living?

I'm a technical content manager. This is far away from the coffee world but I've found that many people who are interested in coffee do not themselves work in coffee.

In terms of the Coffee Industry, how long have you been involved and what do you do?

I have been involved in the coffee industry since the middle of the year. I do not have an exact date because time seems to have warped quite a bit this year, a fact with which I am sure many of your readers can empathise. I started by writing the occasional blog post about coffee but I quickly found myself fascinated with more details about coffee, from how it is processed to how it is grown. The entire journey of a bean from farm to cup is complex and beautiful.

I have tried to write once per day on my blog over the past month. I am now reducing my schedule to three times a week, which I think will be more manageable. I do not have a massive list of ideas that I want to cover. I write about what I find interesting and what I think I have something to say about. I've written about the Aeropress, scales, the roasting process, and so much more. I also share my posts on Instagram.

How has Coronavirus affected your relationship with coffee during 2020?

I do not work in coffee and so I do not know the extent to which COVID has affected the industry, although I can surmise some of the impacts. I feel increasingly confident that speciality coffee will continue to grown.

This year coffee has brought me happiness. A cup can lift me up on a bad day. I remember waiting for coffee shops to open so I could go out and get a cappuccino (my first one was from Greggs). I've seen a lot of people get into speciality coffee during lockdown (including myself) and the more people who think about speciality coffee, the better.

I have enjoyed spreading what I've learned about coffee with others. I have spoken with many people who are passionate about coffee and it gives me hope that the industry will keep moving. What gives me hope is that the taste of coffee can lift people up. I brewed a cup of speciality coffee for a family member earlier this year and it bought us together. I told  them about the coffee and they enjoyed every sip. I loved that feeling.

In terms of coffee shops, I do hope people return, but I have no unique insights to share on this point.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in the industry this year?

The biggest challenge I've faced is figuring out how to educate myself. I would ideally like to go and visit cafes around the country in my free time and talk to baristas and owners but this is not possible. I've learned a lot through books, interviews just like this one, blogs, and videos, but there is only so much you can learn outside of a cafe. In the back of my mind, I've been telling myself that this is theory revision. There will be time for practical work in the future.

There are many wonderful resources on the internet. I've personally enjoyed your blog and Brian's Coffee Spot as places I can go to remind myself of how much there is to explore in the world of coffee. Book's are great. I'd recommend How to Make Coffee and Craft Coffee: A manual if you are already interested in coffee. I'd love to see more online classes. I attended an online cupping and it was great.

How have you felt about the Coffee Industry in 2020?

As someone who has only just started brewing speciality coffee this year, my perspective is somewhat limited. I am glad that I stumbled upon speciality coffee. I have found a community of people who are passionate about a craft -- an art -- that I can practise myself. It took me some time to find the right way to get started but there were so many resources to help me get started. This is part of the reason I write about home brewing. I want to share what I practise at home. 

I've felt welcomed by the speciality coffee community. One roaster from whom I've tried many coffees, Steampunk Coffee in North Berwick, encouraged me to join Instagram and follow some accounts. Through this medium I have met many great coffee people and have learned more about the contemporary coffee culture. Books are useful but Instagram brings a more visual dynamic to what I learn.

What is something you have missed in the Coffee Industry in 2020?

I was just beginning to explore new areas before the pandemic hit. I have been out to cafes a few times since lockdown restrictions were eased but in many cases I've been deterred from going out, even when allowed. I know there will be other years to explore different coffee scenes but it would have been nice to get out to a few new spots.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Ah, looking forward. I like this question! I am looking forward to hopefully being able to visit new cafes. I plan on going around Edinburgh and visiting many of the cafes who at the moment exist in my life as a social media presence. I love the Scottish coffee scene. There are many great cafes and roasters in Edinburgh, Glasgow and other areas. I'd like to visit new spots and take notes, perhaps even for my blog. I do not know yet.

I'd like to visit one of the coffee festivals in the UK next year, I they go ahead. I am looking forward to learning more about coffee, although that's a journey I am already on. I would like to keep up writing.

Find James!

Website - Click Here

Instagram - Click Here

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