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Tales from Europe with Colin Harmon

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Atomic was lucky enough to host Colin Harmon from 3fe Coffee in Ireland at our Kingsland HQ. Colin spent a very balmy Auckland evening with us offering insights into the world of coffee in Europe with a side of business and a smattering of wit. His Irish accent only adding to the charm of this talented coffee expert and businessman.

Dubliner Colin came from a career in finance, soon realising it wasn’t his calling. From here, he began researching the coffee business from the ground up. Working as a Barista with 4.50am starts he learnt the craft of espresso from Karl Purdy a former Irish Barista Champion. Colin threw himself into the world of coffee creating his own blends, setting up a mini cafe in his apartment and competing in The Irish National Barista Championships; which he won on his first attempt.

After this success, Colin then spent time training and consulting, prior to pursuing his dream of opening a cafe in Dublin and pouring his own blend. In 2009 he opened 3fe (Third Floor Espresso), testing the waters to see if Ireland was ready for specialty coffee. It was. With his simple mantra "make nice coffee, be nice to people and they'll probably come back" at the heart of the business, 3fe now supplies over 50 cafes across Ireland with coffee roasted in the heart of Dublin.

Colin now works along side Nuova Simonelli and Victoria Arduino to create innovative products that help produce some of the best coffee in the world. Colin also produces the Tamper Tantrums Podcast where he discusses everything coffee with other like-minded industry types. Definitely worth a listen.

So what's the future for coffee? Or as Colin put it what is the "Fourth Wave"?
Perhaps it's Bespoke Coffee Houses were you pay $10 for milk that is steamed from any number of mammals, nuts, legumes or fruits and coffee that is extracted to your exact preferences.

Maybe it putting a greater focus on the coffee experience through roasting, brewing and interaction with the end user. This would see the barista's role morph in to somewhat of a sommelier, treated with the respect they command as masters of their craft.

Or in a world where we are seemingly more and more time poor, getting a quality coffee in seconds could be just the ticket. Innovative brewing methods are popping up such as freeze dried coffee in a vile which is said to be just as delicious as a well brewed filter coffee in a fraction of the time.

So as café owners, baristas, roasters and all others in the industry we shudder at the very uttering of a “new wave” of coffee. There are two things we need to come to grips with. Firstly, waves or trends in our industry are now part of the “hyper future” – the ever increasing pace of creativity followed by innovation in our industry. The better we get, the faster good, new ideas come. And secondly, as this fourth wave is experienced, there is a resounding move toward a “something for everyone” approach in coffee. From several different angles or sources, which can only be a positive for the industry and consumers.

A big thank you to Colin, his trusty sidekick Michele, Nuova Simonelli, Victoria Arduino and Espresso Mechanics for their efforts in bringing Colin to share his insights and invaluable knowledge into a business for which we share his passion completely.

Photo Credit: Dankoff Coffee Specialist

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