Coffee Query: Rob Lewis, Roasted Brown
Rob Lewis has been in coffee for 3 years - he's Roasted Brown's head barista.
What got you into coffee and what’s kept you in coffee?
The community! Being in coffee shops with my friends at 18, then later talking to Ferg - coffee shops are part of who I am. I love it. I love the taste, I love customers, I love that we’ve created a space people enjoy and where they feel comfortable.. I love being involved in the growth of the business and making plans with Ferg. I love constantly trying to perfect the taste of a drink - to learn and grow. I don’t know what came first - the coffee or the love of customers!
What have been your favourite coffees, both in filter and as espresso?
It was a Yirgacheffe that was my conversion to filter coffee - it was roasted by HasBean, brewed in a Chemex. I also can’t get over that Kenyan Gathaithi we [Roasted Brown] had. On espresso - definitely the Ethiopian Bokasso [from Roasted Brown].
What’s your home coffee setup?
I don’t actually make that much at home, but I have a small Chemex, an Aeropress, V60, a Bonavita kettle, and a Hario hand grinder.
Where do you want Dublin/Ireland’s coffee culture to develop next?
Just knowing that it’s not people half-arsedly making coffee - knowing it’s done by people who know what they’re talking about and know what they’re doing. Having it go from a handful of shops you can drink good coffee in to having it be a majority of shops!
Who’s someone you admire in coffee?
I’m not one of those who knows the coffee world like everyone else does and studies it.. So, like, Ferg has obviously been the person who’s influenced me the most - he’s trained me, he’s pushed me, he’s critiqued me, he hasn’t let me away with anything half-good, so he’s the one who’s shaped me as a barista! And within Ireland, like, Brian Birdy and Ger [O’Donohoe] - people who would come in and we’d chat and bounce ideas off each other - they’ve taught me when I was in my early stages. They’re always willing to help, which is great! I also remember listening to a Tamper Tantrum podcast with Matt Perger, and I was just so impressed. He’s such a humble guy as well, I don’t know if that comes across, but I’d also say him.
What advice would you give to somebody just starting out in your field?
Taste, taste, taste! Just, every time you’re pulling a shot, just split it into beginning, middle, and end..recognise what’s going on with the shot.. Really, just don’t do it half-arsed. Really try and get to taste right - latte art is pretty, but it’s not the most important bit..I only say that because Timea [my coworker] is better than me at it!