When we look at sneakers, we can often build connections to lots of different creative industries whether that’s between sneakers and music, sneakers and art or even the craftsmanship itself. For the upcoming launch of the Air Jordan 1 ‘Dark Mocha’, what better place to look than the world of coffee.
Much like the Air Jordan 1 and its on court success, coffee has become steeped in history through its makers and the sheer levels of craftsmanship when it comes to specialist coffee and the different blends and tasting notes you can discover.
To celebrate the upcoming launch of the Air Jordan 1 ‘Dark Mocha’, we took a trip south of the river to Bermondsey to visit WatchHouse’s new Roastery. The team their have become masters in creating a space for each community they call home without losing focus on coffees rich history.
Whilst at WatchHouse, we caught up with the team including UK Champion, Matteo to discuss more about the art of coffee.
Footpatrol: Matteo thank you for spending some time with us. We have been excited to hear more about what you do! Before we get into that though, how have you been?
Matteo: I have been great! Despite the challenging year we have been through, I always try to stay positive and look forward.
FP: So for many people reading this they may be wondering as to what it was that made you get into becoming a Brewer, could you tell us how this all began to come together?
Matteo: I’ll try to tell you the short story otherwise it will take ages. I have always had a passion for coffee since I was a kid. In Italy for my family coffee is tradition, a ritual. Waking up in the morning with the smell of coffee, the family size moka pot after lunch was a must.
At the age of 15 I started to work at seasonal jobs in cafes and that made me approach more about what it means to be a Barista.
In my journey I tried several jobs, coffee related and not, because I needed to explore more of the world and its opportunities.
Moving from Italy to London after my graduation was an enlightenment in my life. I found the possibility to explore more and enrich my passion for coffee. Here is where I could find my passion for manual coffee brewing, understand more of what’s behind this method and the vast range of flavours within coffees.
FP: With this year being a challenging one for many of us, trips outside to grab a coffee have almost become a must to the daily routines. For those who are stuck inside, is there any tips or advice you have for them to make the best brew from home?
Matteo: I believe that using the coffee tools you own with confidence is the most important tip I can give. There are so many tools available right now and you don’t need the most expensive ones to achieve an amazing cup of coffee. Start with getting something basic and with time explore more, and don’t forget to relish the moment because coffee at home tastes better when you enjoy brewing it.
FP: What makes the best bean is there something to look out for when you are buying any or is it more down the process you use to make the coffee itself?
Matteo: I always like to understand what’s inside the coffee bag and get to know the history behind the coffees. That is something Specialty Coffee Roasters can give to me with a system of traceability and full information about the origin, the region and also the name of the people that produce it on the farm. Then if we start to talk about varieties and processes, there is an infinite range of coffees, every one with different characteristics and flavours. The taste is very personal, some people like fruity coffee, some chocolate and nutty. I suggest people go to their local cafe or roastery, ask the barista or the staff member for information and suggestions about the coffee they are selling and how to brew it. Everyday you can discover something new.
FP: You are also the UK Brewers Cup champion as well right?
Matteo: That is correct, I’m the current UK Brewers Cup Champion and I will represent the UK in the next World Brewers Cup Championship.
The UK Specialty Coffee Association, every year organizes a series of competitions, one of the categories is the Brewers Cup. This competition highlights the craft of filter coffee brewing by hand, promoting manual coffee brewing and service excellence.
I took part in the last edition in 2020 with the WatchHouse team, just before the first lockdown in March, and with hard work and determination we achieved the higher step of the podium. Furthermore, like the UK, other countries around the world have their Specialty Coffee Association chapter with their national competitions and every Champion of every country will compete in the World Brewers Cup Championship. It was supposed to take place in Melbourne Australia within this year, but for obvious reasons the event has been cancelled and the competition postponed to Athens in June 2021.
FP: How does that feel and what did the competition entail? It must have been nerve racking.
Matteo: In this competition, competitors prepare and serve three individual beverages for a panel of judges. The Championship consists of two rounds: a first round and a finals round. During the first round competitors complete two coffee services – a compulsory service and an open service. For the compulsory service, competitors prepare three beverages utilizing whole bean coffee provided to them by the competition. For the open service, competitors may utilize any whole bean coffee of their choosing and must also accompany their beverage preparation with a presentation. The six competitors with the highest score from the first round will go on to compete in the finals round consisting exclusively of an open service. At the end of the final round, one of the competitors is named the UK Brewers Cup Champion.
The whole experience was incredible, we worked hard for several months and the journey from the beginning to the end has been really full of emotions. The preparation for these competitions requires a lot of time and a very accurate attention to details. We spent a lot of time, almost every evening and every day off from work, to train hard. Of course as time, stress and tiredness accumulate; anxiety and adrenaline increase by the day.
It is very important to stay focused, have a team that supports you and use the emotion to your advantage.
FP: Besides being champion, you are of course part of the WatchHouse family. Could you tell us a bit about the history of the brand and how you found yourselves looking to compete in such big competitions?
Matteo: WatchHouse started 6 years ago in a little 25 square metres historical shelter for the guards of the St Mary Magdalen’s Church graveyard, with the ambition to cultivate a great relationship with customers, serving great coffee and giving an amazing experience.
With the years the ambition continued to grow, leading the company to new places, enriched with professional people driven to achieve the same goal. When I joined WatchHouse I was looking for a healthy place to work, to improve my knowledge about coffee and undertake my coffee competition career. At the beginning I didn’t even know how to start the competition path, but I knew that the people inside the team were willing to help me.
Here I found a new family and together with the WatchHouse Competition Team we want to achieve great things, have fun and learn more about coffee all together.
FP: After speaking with you briefly before the interview we talked about how WatchHouse’s ethos is very team orientated, could you tell us more about what makes it such an important aspect of what you guys do as a team?
Matteo: It ‘s very difficult to achieve something alone. Even if you are the most skilled person. We believe that as a team we can achieve goals. I’m the living proof, as a first time competitor it is very difficult to go to a competition and win in the first year. There are people competing with years of experience on their back, that know the tricks and have the mentality to approach the stage. There are so many aspects you need to take care of, a lot of small details that are important for the mind setting. What we do as a team is training together, we share information, we plan everything to cover absolutely every detail and we act as a unique calibrated entity.
FP: Before we let you go, we want to thank you Matteo and the team for having us in your Roastery and sharing with us your story. Is there anything that you would like to share with the Footpatrol readers that you want to tell them?
Matteo: I want first of all thank you very much for coming over and listening to our stories. It was really fun. I would like to say to everybody that hard work pays off, sometimes it is hard but it’s really important to never give up on your goals. Find people with your same aim and team up together, it is more enjoyable and the chance is bigger to achieve your dreams.
I also would like to say that inside a cup of coffee there is so much more than a brown liquid. There is a lot of hard work from the people that make your cup of coffee, from the farmers to the cafe staff. Be kind to the Barista and to all the people working in the coffee industry, we are still human beings that work hard for our goals and sometimes we dream to be on top of the world.
The Air Jordan I OG High ‘Dark Mocha’ will be coming soon to Footpatrol!