I have enjoyed an exciting and fast-paced journey in my hospitality career, having worked in the Coffee Industry for just a little over 5 years. When I first started working in a coffee house in Vancouver, Canada, I did so because I was looking for a job that would allow me to get to know local residents and insert myself fully into Canadian life, and not one that could offer me a fantastic stepping stone into a new and exciting career.
Prior to this, I had jumped from job to job, working in marketing and advertising (which I hated), then to a more people-focused job of working with disadvantaged young people (which I loved, but was poorly run due to a lack of Government funding).
I have always been a very social person and loved meeting and interacting with people. I was always told I should do something working with people, but at no point was a career in Hospitality put forward as a credible option. In the UK, being a bartender or a barista was something that you did because you were a student or in between jobs, not a career.
Canada exposed me to a world of food and beverage that I had not experienced in the UK, and I was desperate to learn more and continue to work in the industry that I had fallen in love with wholeheartedly.
Even with this newfound passion, sadly, I still felt embarrassed when asked by friends or family or new acquaintances what I did for a living. Being a barista was a dead-end job, with no real career progression or prospects and I worried greatly that I was trapped between choosing a job that I really enjoyed and one that I hated but paid well.
It did take a few dead-end coffee jobs in the UK before I realised that I was wrong. I wanted to work in Speciality Coffee, not just be a barista in a cafe that didn't really care about quality. I researched where I could train further and hoped this would be a good way to network. Through this dedication to myself and my passion, I met and trained with one of the most influential Coffee Roasters in the UK and found work at Soho House. It was here that I was introduced to a world of Coffee Professionals, and I knew I had found a path to be a professional in my chosen field.
Back when I started, I didn't think I could earn a good living and have a passion-filled career as a Barista. I was completely wrong. I feel there are a lot of people out there thinking they would enjoy working in Hospitality in the UK, but unsure of where it could lead or if it could be a life-long career. My advice would be to dive in - the UK right now is alive with a vibrant food and beverage scene. Whether it's in the cities, or in countryside gastro pubs, if you're interested in coffee, craft beers, wine or spirits there is a fascinating career path in front of you that you can be proud of. Get to it.