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Crafting coffee culture: How I found my calling as a coffee roaster

In life, we often find ourselves embarking on journeys, that lead us from one corner of the world to another, allowing us to uncover our passions. When I initially moved to Kuala Lumpur, it was with the intention of pursuing a career opportunity that appeared promising at the time. However, as destiny would have it, my true calling awaited me at Ra-Ft Café/Bistro — a coffee haven nestled in the heart of the city. Little did I anticipate that this unassuming café would serve as the backdrop for shaping my endeavours.

Crafting coffee culture: How I found my calling as a coffee roaster

Photo: Hasibul Hasan

At Ra-Ft Café/Bistro, I was introduced to the enchanting world of coffee by none other than renowned Italian Master Roasters Filippo Tomelleri and Andrea Rossi. Their passion for coffee was infectious, and they generously shared their knowledge and skills with me. From the art of roasting coffee beans to the delicate choreography of milk frothing, I was initiated into a world that a combination of science and art taking place in a coffee cup.

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Every day felt like an adventure, a new opportunity to learn and perfect my craft. I marvelled at the complexities of coffee beans, the subtle differences in roast profiles, and the alchemical reactions that occurred within the espresso machine. My palate evolved as I learned to distinguish between the earthy notes of Sumatran beans and the bright acidity of Ethiopian varieties.

But, as life often does, it presented a new door in front of me, and I decided to return to Bangladesh. Yet, I carried with me not just memories of my time in Kuala Lumpur, but also a newfound identity as a coffee roaster and barista.

The global coffee industry is thriving, and coffee shops can be found in every corner of the world. By mastering the art of making espresso, crafting latte art, and understanding the nuances of coffee beans, Bangladeshi students who are planning to study abroad can became desirable candidates for jobs in local cafes, bistros, and coffeehouses. The demand for skilled baristas transcends borders, and having this skillset can provide a competitive advantage in the job market. Working as a barista not only offers financial support during studies, but also enhances cultural integration and language proficiency, as it often involves interacting with locals and fellow students in a dynamic and customer-focused environment.

My return to Bangladesh brought another unexpected opportunity — a chance to join the East Bengal Coffee Roasters partnership as Director of Operations and Master Roaster. It was a role that allowed me to share my love for coffee and provide sustainably sourced, specialty grade, fresh-roasted quality coffee to my fellow Bangladeshis.

At East Bengal Coffee Roasters, I found a community of like-minded individuals who shared my passion for coffee. Together, we work tirelessly to perfect every roast batch and source the finest green coffee beans from renowned brokers worldwide, focusing on single origin or single estate varieties of the highest quality, so we can serve exceptional coffee to our fellow Bangladeshis. Our skilful execution of the roasting process, along with our knowledge of green beans' nature is essential because it transforms the properties of a green coffee bean to the desired delicious roasted coffee.

Crafting coffee culture: How I found my calling as a coffee roaster

Photo: Collected

My journey, Kuala Lumpur to Bangladesh, from an aspiring coffee roaster to Director at East Bengal Coffee Roaster, has been nothing short of a remarkable adventure. It's a testament to the transformative power of pursuing one's passion, even in the face of uncertainty and challenges. Moving from the dishwashing section to the hallowed space of coffee roasting at Ra-Ft Cafe was the most rewarding journey for me and the basis of my coffee education. But there is so much more to learn and there is no end to learning.

Being a coffee roaster, or even a barista is more than a job; it's a vocation, an art, and a way of life. It's about connecting with people over a cup of coffee, creating moments of joy, and sharing the love and craftsmanship that goes into every brew. It's about turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, one espresso shot at a time.

So, why did I become a coffee roaster? Because it's a journey that allowed me to discover my true self, to embrace my passion, and to contribute to a growing coffee culture in my beloved Bangladesh.

Hasibul Hasan is the Director and Master Roaster at East Bengal Coffee Roasters, Progoti Sarani, Dhaka. He can be reached at [email protected] or via WhatsApp on 01875814787