Introduction - What is a coffee Consultant?
Have you ever heard of the term "Coffee Consultant"? Strange as it may sound, to most coffee lovers out there, this is one of the most highly demanded and respected professions in the coffee industry for a variety of reasons.
Very simply put, a Coffee Consultant is a person hired by a café or roastery (or larger companies, such as McDonald's or Starbucks) to provide consultation on multiple coffee-related subjects, depending on their specialty.
This could be anything from coffee roasting, for small cafes to large-scale barista training for an entire chain. It comes down to the company’s needs and the consultant’s capabilities.
Consultancy work is one of the most rapidly advancing careers in the industry at the moment, and one of the most important reasons for its demand is the stunning results it offers.
It also helps a lot that more and more people with all the required expertise step up to fill that demand!
Today’s subject is one of the most successful global coffee consulting agencies up to now, led by a World Barista Champion.
The name of the agency is Samurai Coffee Experience, and before delving more into what makes it special, let’s take a look at its founder and CEO for a split second, Hidenori Izaki…
Who is Hidenori Izaki?
Surprisingly enough, world-renowned Baristas are not as widely known to the coffee community as one would expect. Not to your everyday coffee-lover at least.
However, amongst professionals, and people of the industry, champions hold a special position for their skill and competence.
It is no wonder for former world champions to move into Coaching or Consultancy work for all things coffee, as their mastery makes them absolutely perfect for this role.
Hidenori Izaki is one of those cases. For those who don’t know who Hidenori Izaki is, we have put together a fairly comprehensive article all about him, so if you are interested, you will find it all here (link here).
In short version, Hidenori Izaki is the winner of 2014’s World Barista Championship. He is also the coach of Sasa Sestic, 2015’s World Barista Champion.
After winning the championship, a professional peak for any Brista, he founded Samurai Coffee Experience, the coffee consulting agency we will examine shortly.
All one needs to know before moving forward is that Hidenori loves making coffee and for the past decade or so has been trying to move further and further up.
He would like more people to learn and enjoy the wonders of specialty coffee and this is also the goal of Samurai Coffee Experience.
What is Samurai Coffee Experience?
As far as Coffee Consulting agencies are concerned, there are thousands of them all over the world. Most of them operate locally or on a national level, but what they all share is advanced knowledge, both practical and theoretical, of our favorite beverage.
However, there are several traits that make the Samurai Coffee Experience (SCE) uniquely different. For starters, we need to highlight that a company led by one of the best baristas in the world can do a lot of things!
For that reason, in SCE, there are three main activities taking place:
1. Coffee Consulting
So, as a Consulting company, this one comes as no surprise. However, consulting is a very complicated job with a lot of branches.
Namely, we have coaching, training (and yes, there are differences between the two), variety testing, equipment trials, etc.
In coaching, for example, Samurai Coffee Experience has the advantage that it doesn’t just train people to make coffee.
It trains champions to compete in the World Cup. Hidenori spent several months with Sasa Sestic before 2015’s Championship, and as the champion confessed, this had a large impact on his victory.
There is simple barista training, of course, but this is mainly done for smaller stores, and it takes far less resources and time.
Apart from training and coaching, SCE has worked with several manufacturing chains from all over the world, such as Nestle, Tefal, and Simonelli, all for equipment optimization.
2. Product Development
When it comes to developing a coffee product for a company, understanding all the variables is key.
You have to consider where the beverage will be sold, the weather of the place, the local preferences, the humidity levels, the cost, the market, the optimal marketing mix, etc.
In other words, it is no easy task. Normally, companies do that on their own since they have all the necessary information, but this is where a consultant really comes ins where a consultant really comes in. Especially if the company isn’t mainly dealing with coffee.
This is something that you want someone with extreme mastery of the subject to take care of, and McDonald's of Japan hired SCE to do it. Both the "new latte" and the "premium roasted iced coffee" were extremely popular at the time.
Overall, it was a very good move to ally with a master barista to make something out of their element, don’t you think?
3. Online Education
This one intrigued me the most when I found out, but it ties back to the goal of Hidenori and the company as a whole.
Normally, you wouldn’t expect a consulting company, that makes a number of its profits from selling hard-earned knowledge, to give even a portion of it away.
Have you ever heard of the Barista Hustle? For those unfamiliar, it’s a global online education platform for baristas covering many fundamental and advanced subjects.
What put a smile on my face is that Mr. Izaki supervised the Japanese version of it, and I do believe his insights will help many aspiring professionals out there.
Having read this far about the Samurai Coffee Experience, I can’t help but be curious… What are your thoughts?
Personally, I thought to myself that consulting was by far one of the best jobs for a Barista World Champion, and good lord, I am happy someone really competent is doing it.
Imagine all the amazing beverages that could end up in your cup just by doing that!
To be honest, I am also pretty amazed that the said champion is dealing with the bulk of the coaching and the company’s operations with little help.
I mean, for sure, the marketing and organization team around him does a splendid job, but very few people could tank working 200 days abroad annually, even for something they love. Besides, all the coaching and large-scale cooperation are done by a single person.
In conclusion to everything, I really hope, if nothing else, Samurai Coffee Experience has caught your attention, and if you come across a beverage of their inspiration…Well, now you know all their backstory.
Everyone, please stay healthy, and may great coffee find its way into your cup!