A new year meant getting a new job. I had spent my Christmas camping with friends along the Great Ocean Road, there had been many an adventure including a slightly drunken walk home on which I thought I was being approached by a rather aggressive looking wild dog. As it got closer I began to freak out until I realised it was actually a wild Koala, an amazing sighting. Returning to Melbourne it seemed fitting that my next role would involve working in close quarters with them (Koalas not dogs).
Both future Mrs Hatch Coffee and I secured positions at Melbourne Zoo, working for a catering contractor, Liberty Catering. My past experiences of zoo catering in the UK led me to expect tinned burgers and instant coffee, but thankfully my initial predictions were erroneous. The company did everything in house and they actually had real chefs! They had their own bakery, a bistro and most importantly several high end coffee outlets spread around the zoo. It was in one of these said outlets, ironically a small wooden hut, were I cut my teeth as a fledgling barista. Being a complete novice I was constantly pestering my peers with questions and day by day my confidence grew.
I loved every minute of working in that coffee hut, it was located right next to the Meerkat enclosure so there was always plenty to see. We were desperately trying to save as much money as possible ready for our onward adventures so I would take every available shift; this meant that I would get to work with a multitude of colleagues. I met some amazing people and some very skilled barista’s, each one would have their unique style and idiosyncrasies; all of this informed my own style and to this day I still incorporate certain mannerisms I learned in that hut. Although the biggest lesson that I took away with me was that Meerkats like to be sprinkled with cold water on a hot day.
Leaving Melbourne, and my job at the zoo, was a bittersweet experience. I had been given the opportunity to meet some amazing people who had helped to further ignite my passion for coffee. It was a tough decision to move on but in the end we decided that the world is a big place, full of adventure, and we needed to continue to explore it.
To be continued……