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Coffee and a Chat with Goda Gedvilaite-Bernote, DRW

Goda’s journey into the world of coffee began serendipitously. Over the past 13 years, she has built an impressive career in specialty coffee, progressing from a barista to a café manager, roaster, and sensory judge. Now, she has joined our team as a trader.

In this interview, Goda shares insights into her professional and personal life, her role at DRWakefield and the exciting coffees she’s eager to introduce to our European customers. We are thrilled to welcome Goda to the team and look forward to the expertise and passion she brings to our company.

Tell us about yourself and how you found your way into the world of coffee.

My name is Goda, I was born in Vilnius, Lithuania and spend my whole life there. My coffee journey started accidentally. I was studying Lithuanian and Spanish philology (language and literature) in Vilnius University and decided to take up a job together with my studies. As I was spending a lot of time in different cafes just drinking coffee, chatting with baristas, doing my homework, or studying, I thought: why not to earn money from it? So, I’ve decided to become a barista and that’s how I found my way into the world of coffee.

What inspired you to join DRWakefield? 

I’ve spent 13 years working in specialty coffee and got well acquainted with the last parts of coffee chain: roasting and making coffee. But I always had an urge to know more about green coffee trading. Meeting the DRWakefield team, I was drawn to their family values, which align closely with my own, making it a perfect fit for me.

Prior to joining DRWakefield, what was your professional background or area of expertise? 

I started as a barista, then progressed to café manager, training baristas, and even working as a roaster for two years. Seven years ago, I started judging in competitions as a sensory judge. The last three years were dedicated to an HR position and team management, as well as a lot of private coffee tastings, consulting, etc.  

If you had a day to explore Vilnius, what would be your ideal itinerary? 

Hmmm, that’s a good one. Vilnius is my home city. I spend all my teenage years in the oldtown cause my school and university were there. I would recommend visiting Vilnius in late spring or summer when everything is green and blooming. I would definitely visit the oldtown, MO Museum of Modern Art, the artsy district of Užupis. Of course I would recommend visiting some specialty coffee places, restaurants, and bars. If you need any specific recommendations, hit me up! 

Walk us through a typical day in your role as a trader at DRWakefield. 

It is still my early days in the company, but I already have some schedule. As we are working on UK time in Vilnius, my first cup of batch brew is at 10AM. Then I check all the e-mails, process the orders from our customers, and catch up with my colleague Mantvydas. Later, I check our coffee stocks and think about our customers’ needs. Once or twice a week, we have a cupping of our coffee selection. It’s so exciting to find beautiful coffees and offer them to specific customers! I usually finish my work by 6:30PM and head back home to family.  

Could you share a memorable moment or highlight from your career in coffee so far? 

It would be very hard to pick out one. I guess this whole feeling of finding the industry that I love is extremely meaningful. Last September I quit my previous job to take some time and think what I want to do next. I even had an idea to change my field of work for good, but it took me only a few weeks to understand that coffee is the right place to be and where I belong.  

We know you’ve been a judge for many years. What has that experience been like so far? 

Judging has been a tremendous learning experience. I get to try extraordinary coffees and meet inspiring baristas. My favorite competition to judge is the Brewers Cup, as it allows me to evaluate coffee’s true potential. I’m grateful for the opportunity to stay updated on industry trends and innovations.

From your perspective, where do you see the specialty coffee industry in the EU heading in the coming years? 

One of the most important things in the coming years is sustainability, and a lot is being done right now. Together with traceability and quality, the specialty coffee industry is moving forward, and I hope that it won’t stop. From a sensory perspective, it is very interesting to witness how many new processing methods are appearing and how many new flavours are created.  

Have you been listening to or reading anything interesting/fun lately?  

I’m a huge fan of spy novels and history books, especially about WW2. Lately, I was reading two Lithuanian authors’ spy novels closely connected with a period when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union.  

Do you have a Mantra you live by? 

A simple one: treat others how you want to be treated. That’s the one that I live by every day.  

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your free time or unwind? 

There are a few things that I love to do the most: swimming, spending time with my husband and family, going to nature, having my own time to read a book, and eating delicious food. I’m one of those people who lives to eat, not eats to live. 

How do you prefer your coffee, and do you have a favorite coffee processing method? 

My kitchen resembles a mini café with an espresso machine and different brewing equipment. But I always prefer a filtered black coffee. Talking about processing methods it really depends on my mood that day. But I guess a washed Ethiopia is something that I can’t live without.  

Lastly, are there any particular coffees in our Vilnius warehouse that you’re excited about sharing with our customers? 

We recently received two natural processed coffees from Nicaragua called Blueberry Candy and Pineapple Candy. It was very interesting to try such incredibly floral and fruity Nicaraguas. I guess their names speak for themselves!