When you think of a coffee roaster, what tends to comes to mind is a plethora of flannel shirts, beards and beanies, preeching their coffee values to whoever will listen. Sound familliar? Well, not in Glasgow! Silly caricatures aside, the truth behind the two billion cup a day coffee industry is that roasting positions are typically held by men, even though the backbone of its growing and harvesting workforce are 50-70% women. So what about the women in power? The CEOs, the girls who grind, the decision makers in this ever growing coffee empire? Today we talk to one of them; Lisa Lawson, Founder, Roaster & SCA Authorised Trainer at Dear Green Coffee Roasters about a typical day in her life. Flat white anyone?
Hey Lisa, Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I run Dear Green Coffee Roasters. On any given day, I can be working in any part of the business – from roasting, to running Specialty Coffee Association training classes to mopping the floor, admin and loads more. The business is now in its 7th year and I’ve got an amazing team working with me, so it’s a pretty exciting time for us as we continue to grow. I’m also currently in the midst of organising Glasgow Coffee Festival which is basically just a big coffee party which I started in 2014, its now even bigger and we’ll be hosting again in the beautiful Briggait in May!
How did you get into this business?
It still doesn't feel like I am in business! I just wanted to do something I loved and then it grew arms and legs. It’s been a HUGE learning curve with many curve balls and loads of fun! In reality I saw a gap in the local market for awesome coffee. I put a deposit down for a second hand coffee roaster with a credit card whilst I was in a job I hated – it was a risky purchase which came good thanks to lots of hard work, passion and support from people who believed in me and loved my product!
If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be running a cafe or zooming around the world, backpacker-style!
Do you have a life motto / mantra?
I have loads of life philosophies, I believe that being nice and having integrity in what I do serves me well. I pay Glasgow Living Wage and source coffee to support quality and sustainability in farming communities, and this gives me job satisfaction. I also like supporting start-ups as much as possible because I know how difficult it is to get off the ground. Plus it’s much easier to be nice than it is to be an asshole! I’m trying to find a mantra for a work/life balance too but I’m not quite there yet! ;)
Take us through a typical day. What time do you get up at?
I’m really not a morning person so I fall out of bed at about 8am and drink a coffee on the way to the roastery so that my brain functions by the time I get there! I can be doing anything from roasting to training, quality control tasting, research or catching up with staff, customers or suppliers. My ‘to do’ list is usually pretty long and varied so to switch off I go straight to yoga to prepare me for another exciting day at Dear Green tomorrow!
How do you keep yourself organised?
I generally thrive on a good dose of organised chaos! I seem to get lots done but I have no idea what I did before I had a smartphone to keep me in check. I'm still loyal to pen and paper and I rely on an awesome team at Dear Green.
Biggest misconception about the job you do?
Well a Glasgow ‘Roaster’ has its own connotations! But that aside there are so many others! In the past people asked if I roasted meat or if I run a cafe. People also expect coffee to be bitter, a common misconception! High quality coffee which is roasted and prepared well will taste sweet, balanced and delicious! Explaining that coffee is a hand harvested seed from a cherry and that it doesn’t come from Italy can be a fun conversation too!
A few pics from the UK Barista Championships - Glasgow heats! Lisa chatting all things green beans on the lunchtime @lamarzoccouk panel and Danny competing! It’s been an amazing day so far 🙌 @sca_uk #ukbc2018 #ukbc #deargreen #deargreencoffee #coffee #specialtycoffee #specialitycoffee #shestheroaster
How do you keep yourself going through a hump day?
This one’s easy – coffee! Sometimes washed down with a cake I’ve picked up from one of our customers! My week is so busy, it tends to go by super quickly that I don’t notice the hump. The magical powers of coffee definitely help!
How do you wind down?
That’s tricky, I haven’t quite nailed that yet, I’m always on the go! ;) Exercise, food, nature and good company do help! I do classes at Ashtanga Yoga Glasgow and I go running in Pollok Park. I also love cooking, hanging out with a brilliant network of friends and family and escaping the city! I go to loads of gigs when I can – especially at the Barrowlands, which is just around the corner from our roastery. Gin helps too!
What's your favourite thing about what you do?
Hands down, it’s the amazing product, people and industry – it’s rewarding to add value to a product’s supply chain and bring pleasure to consumers and farmers in doing so. Giving back to coffee producing communities is as rewarding as seeing a barista pour their first latte art! Having amazing colleagues and customers and getting to drink brilliant coffee every day is pretty awesome too!
Any advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
DO IT! Take the risk or regret it forever! ;) Finding a vocation you love and working for yourself is so rewarding in ways that you never knew were possible! Know what you're good at and have confidence in your ability! Never give up when the going gets tough, the twists and turns get easier and are worth the journey! Can’t write this without a whole string of cliches! Soz!