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Coffee and a Chat with Aissatou Diallo, DRW Trader

Aissatou Diallo started her career in coffee when moving to London almost ten years ago. She has since held positions as a coffee roaster, roasting on a 70kg Loring, and in quality, sales and management in green coffee.

Having joined DRWakefield as a Coffee Trader in February 2023, we caught up with Aissatou to hear more about how she is getting along and what she, and her adorable miniature poodle, get up to in her spare time.

Hi Aissatou,

Thank you for joining us for this Coffee and a Chat. 

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Aissatou Diallo, I was born and raised in Clermont-Ferrand, in the Auvergne I have a Master’s in languages and civilizations, applied to business.

I moved to London in 2014, so almost 10 years ago. My mom is Portuguese and my dad is from Guinea, so I grew up with a lot of different cultural influences, which is one of the reasons why I love London and its beautiful mix of people and cultures.

How do you find the coffee scene in France compared to the UK? 

I would say that the UK speciality coffee scene is more mature as speciality coffee has been around for longer. France is now catching up with amazing roasters, and coffee shops all around the country. As an example, there are now a few speciality coffee shops in my home town, which was not the case a few years ago. There is now a keen interest for speciality, high-quality and traceable coffee in France and I’m excited to see how the industry evolves in the coming years.

Could you tell us about your role and time at DRW?

I joined the Trade Team in February 2023, so only a few months ago. Part of my daily job includes looking after the needs of our customers, helping build relationships between roasters and producers, daily cuppings, attending industry events, etc. I like the fact that it is quite varied and very busy – I don’t have time to get bored!

I’ve already had the opportunity to travel to Rwanda in June with some of our customers, to visit the cooperatives and producers we work with. This was definitely one of the highlights of my 5 months as part of the DRW team. I also attended WoC Athens in June, which was a great way to reconnect with the industry, meet our producer partners and see some of our European customers.

It’s been lovely joining a team of passionate individuals, with such different backgrounds but with the common goal of building long-lasting relationships with roasters and producers.

What were you doing before you joined DRW and how were you introduced to specialty coffee?

Only a few months after I moved to London, I started my career in coffee as a coffee roaster. I was trained on a Loring 35 and started roasting immediately after on a Loring 70, which in hindsight was quite scary! After a few years, I moved to a well-known industry leader, where I perfected my roasting skills as a production roaster. I then started working for a green coffee exporter for 5 years where I began in quality but later moved on to sales and management. 

What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?

I am a big fan of vintage clothing and second-hand fashion. I actually have my own coffee shop and vintage clothing store in East London called Coffee and Fripes (‘fripes’ is the French word for second-hand clothes), where we sell speciality coffee, vintage clothes handpicked by myself, and vegan treats. Check us out on Instagram by clicking here.

I also love trying all types of food, travelling, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. And hanging out with my miniature poodle, Cali 🙂

What is your favourite origin and why? Is there an origin trip or moment during your coffee trips that is particularly memorable for you?   

It’s hard to choose just one favourite origin! All coffee producing countries have something I would say that 2 favourite coffee origins have always been Rwanda and Ecuador. I love the red & dried fruits notes, sweetness, and citrus acidity of Rwandan coffee. I also like how coffee production has been and still is, empowering women in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. I also love Ecuadorian coffees – you can find very complex, beautiful coffees, with unique taste notes.

I think one of the highlights of all my origins trips has been my recent trip to Rwanda and our meeting with the women producers of the KCRS cooperative in the Rulindo district. Hearing their stories, understanding more about their challenges, and witnessing their resilience and the energy they radiated, was truly inspirational.

Are there any books, podcasts, music etc that you’ve been enjoying in particular recently?

I’ve just finished reading ‘This is your mind on plants’ by Michael Pollan, one of my colleagues at DRW lent me. This is a fascinating and enlightening book about humans’ relationship with 3 different psychoactive/mind-altering substances throughout history: opium, caffeine and mescaline. You can find it here on amazon. 

I’ve also been watching the show “Call my Agent” on Netflix: a show about the agents of a Parisian talent firm, showcasing their daily lives, their struggles, and their famous clients. It’s really funny, witty and it gives you a glimpse of the BTS of the filming industry.

Do you have a mantra you live by?

‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’. I believe that we can all make a difference through our actions and the choices we make every day.

How do you take your coffee?

90% of the time, I will go for a washed coffee, brewed on a V60. But I also enjoy an iced oat flat white from time to time 🙂