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Coffee and a chat with Phil of DRWakefield

Phil at Cafe Granja

Meet Phil, one of our Senior Coffee Traders who’s been with us since leaving university.

What inspired you to become a coffee trader? 

It started back at Harper Adams University. I enrolled on a four-year course which included a one year internship. In your second year. Luckily enough there were two companies which I had interest in. One was Disney (yes, you read that correctly) and the other was Taylor Winch – a subsidiary of a multinational based in Kenya and Tanzania.

Being in my early twenties, the opportunity to help ‘run’ a large coffee export warehouse employing over 200 people, in Moshi and Dar Es Salam in Tanzania was too good to turn down.

Following a successful year of growing up, learning some of the basics of coffee and finding out that not all coffee comes in a jar, the idea of becoming a coffee trader became a goal.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

I have a few…to trade a commodity that offers different grades, cup profiles and origins. Being able to work with producers to supply roasters, who join DRW on their coffee journey. Seeing the joy that a raw commodity can give, once it has become a finished product.

Phil in Colombia

Do you have a favourite coffee origin?

Ethiopia, a challenging origin to buy coffee from but the most rewarding. Ethiopia is an exceptionally beautiful country to travel around and has some of the kindest people I have had the pleasure to work with.

How much has your job changed during lockdown?

Having not worked from home much before, it really brought it ‘home’ how structured you have to be with your daily routine. Looking through our purchases and sales trying to limit our risk exposure has been key and at sometimes quite enjoyable.

How do you think the industry has changed the most through the pandemic?

There seems to be a greater understanding within the industry of importer roles. Relationships have grown stronger with regular communication with customers which can only help going forward.

A large percentage of our customers have decided not to cancel contracts which ensures that producers are not impacted further during the pandemic.

Phil in Daterra

What have you missed about not being in the office?

Having the ability to cup with the team and share thoughts on new coffees that are coming in. People’s opinions on coffee is extremely subjective and it is great to understand people’s views on why or why not they like a coffee even if I disagree!

What do you get up to outside of work? 

I love sports whether it’s playing or watching. My two favourites have to be cricket and skiing, I aim to play as much cricket as possible which has been pretty tough during lockdown, hopefully when I return to the crease I won’t get bowled first ball, it wouldn’t be the first time!

With skiing, my passion came when I spent a year living in Chamonix. I really enjoyed being in the mountains with the fresh air, navigating some moguls. I must admit the older I am getting, the shorter I ski and the longer the lunches become - who doesn’t love a vin chaud!

Are you reading anything you’d like to recommend? 

That Will Never Work. The story of how Netflix went from a concept to a company.

What’s the best film you’ve seen this year?

I’m not sure whether I should admit this but….. Moana.

Phil at the Partners Exchange in Daterra

Do you have a mantra you live by? 

Be a warrior not a worrier.

And finally, how do you take your coffee? 

A black filter coffee, preferably made by someone who has greater brewing skills than myself - which is not difficult!