Event: Koffee Kurapak

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Koffee Kurapak, which can be translated to Coffee Talk, was another #koffeewithks event organised by Kaleidoscope BN (@ks.bn) (who also organised Brunei’s first Coffee Convention) with TedxGadong. It was held on Saturday, 8th October 2016 at iCentre and saw an intimate gathering of 20+ coffee enthusiasts.

Speakers of the evening consisted of three key people in Brunei’s coffee industry:

  • Fairuz, General Manager of Coffee Bean Brunei with 17 years experience in the industry
  • Tiong from Kapra Coffee, Brunei’s independent specialty coffee roasters, and
  • Firdaus Omar, who was part of the team that brought Gloria Jeans and It’s A Grind to Brunei and now owned TwentyFive Sendirian Berhad (@twentyfive.bn), a start-up focusing on supporting Brunei’s coffee scene

The 1h 30 mins session started with 30-minutes opening remarks from the speakers and the remaining hour was spent on answering questions from the audience.

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Opening remarks:

Fairuz shared his 17 years experience in the coffee industry, from starting as a part-time barista at Coffee Bean Malaysia to opening a franchise in Thailand and to now being a general manager of Coffee Bean Brunei.

Tiong shared history of Kapra Coffee and what lead them to open the coffee roastery in Brunei. He also shared how he was intrigued by specialty coffee and the concerns on freshness and ethical sides of coffee trading.

Finally, Firdaus highlighted the apparent growth of Brunei’s coffee industry and called for cooperation between cafes and coffee shops in Brunei to improve skills of coffee brewers which will ultimately benefit the consumers (that’s us, guys). Firdaus also shared several initiatives in the works to elevate the coffee industry in Brunei:

  • First is the ’33 cups of coffee brewers’, where Firdaus’s company, TwentyFive Brunei will attempt to identify and feature coffee brewers in Brunei to share knowledge with each other.
  • Second is conducting Brunei’s first coffee survey in an attempt to address the lack of information on coffee consumption in Brunei and to understand the potential for growth of Brunei’s coffee industry. Other countries have ran surveys to study coffee consumption in the country such as Malaysia, United States and more extensive studies have been done by Euromonitor.

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Q&A session

The questions asked during the talk ranged from the technical aspects of coffee (specifically on nitro cold brew, the decision making processes involved when creating a coffee blend) to matters beyond coffee drinking – the environmental and ethical issues.

The following are some of the key takeaways (imo) from the session:

  • Why talk about coffee?
    • Firdaus explained that coffee is a complex, unique beverage which many people enjoy and the gamut of coffee is wide, having extensive flavour profiles – that in itself makes an interesting conversation topic
    • Talking about coffee, according to Tiong, should also be extended to the ethical concerns of coffee trading and how buying coffee beans from appropriate sources can help farmers improve their livelihood
  • What can we do beyond talking?
    • Fairuz has shared an initiative taken by Coffee Bean Brunei, as part of their ‘Caring Cup’ programme, where Coffee Bean collaborates with technical schools in Brunei to train students in the coffee service industry
    • Firdaus, after a short discussion with Fairuz and Tiong during the break, proposed latte art throwdown where baristas can compete in a friendly manner to see who can make the best latte art and in this way they can learn from one another and hence improve their skills
    • Firdaus suggested that University students coud conduct studies or research on the growth of coffee industry in Brunei and and its potential in contributing to the country’s economy
    • Firdaus shared that setting up an association for coffee industry players could help provide a platform for knowledge sharing
  • What are the initiatives taken in the coffee industry to address concerns on environmental sustainability?
    • Firdaus shared that some coffee shops such as It’s A Grind Brunei give out used coffee grounds which can be used as compost
    • Initiatives have been taken by some cafes and coffee shops to encourage more people to use sustainable, reusable cups
    • Tiong also shared how climate change is affecting the supply of coffee and studies or researches are being carried out by several bodies around the world to limit the effects on coffee supply
  • Where do they see Brunei’s coffee industry in the future?
    • Tiong noted that in matured coffee industry such as Malaysia and Singapore, conversation has shifted from the brand of coffee and which cafe makes the best coffee to the origins of the coffee itself – so instead of competing with one another, cafes and coffee shops see that it is more beneficial to collaborate (I assume in working together to procure certain coffee beans)
    • Firdaus is of the opinion that in the future there will be more specialisation in the field and he hoped that the survey can help identify where the trend is moving

It was a really good talk. Definitely learned A LOT. The above is my attempt at summarizing the event – the event itself was much MUCH more stimulating and engaging – but I hope I have captured most of the essence here. Hopefully more coffee talks like this can be organised at least on an annual basis and hopefully more people from the industry (cafe owners, coffee sellers, home brewers etc) can join in the dialogue. It would be interesting to see how the conversations evolve, hopefully covering all aspects of coffee including technical matters to socio-economic issues, and how much would have been done in Brunei’s coffee industry in the span of a year.

Also, I think you will be glad to know that several actions have in fact already been taken pursuant to the talk:

  • Coffee survey: You can find the survey here. The survey will run until 22nd October 2016 and Firdaus hoped to share the results by end of October.
  • Latte Art Throwdown: Brunei 1st latte art throwdown to be held on 31st October 2016. More info here.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to let me know if I have made any mistakes in this post 🙂

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