Hong Kong Homies is a series where we get deep real fast with Hongkongers.
Jan Yeung, 31, Barista
I quit my day job and decided to become a barista several years ago. I fell in love because coffee never fails to surprise you. I am now a certified barista and operate a company selling Fairtrade coffee beans.
My biggest advice is to do what you love. While it’s important to make a living, it’s worth spending time to figure out the things you love and believe in. You’ll know once you’ve found it. You’ll find that every challenge and every late night is worth it.
I come across many baristas at work. You can tell right away who loves coffee, because they are constantly reading about coffee, studying coffee and asking questions about coffee. If you love something, you’re driven to learn more. It’s how I worked out double filter coffee produces a robust drink with a great aroma!
The luckiest thing that’s happened to me – I hope this doesn’t come across as cliché – is meeting my wife. I met her in university, where we were both in the volleyball team. My life continued pretty normal: I graduated and found a regular day job.
Things changed when I decided to become a barista: I traveled to Australia for a year to learn about coffee, studied coffee and started my own business. These were big life events, but she supported me the whole time, believing in my dream.
I know it hasn’t been easy for her: For a time, I had no regular job. Some couples, despite not encountering many major events, fight a lot. For us, even though we have gone through many big life changes together, we have hardly fought. I am very thankful to have her in my life.
I’m hoping that one day Hong Kong’s coffee culture will be similar to its cha chaan teng culture. People mostly still think of coffee as this leisurely, weekend afternoon activity.
But I think it should more be like cha chaan teng, or how it is in Australia: people drink two to three cups of coffee a day, it’s relatively a quick thing – you grab and go, it’s part of daily life.
It sounds pretty serious for something about food, but coming into contact with Fairtrade coffee beans has really changed my values. It’s prompted me to reflect upon how our society works and to change my own ways of living.
I used to be really pessimistic about the future. I thought we were doomed in terms of the environment and that it was too difficult to get people to change.
But now that I’ve discovered Fairtrade coffee beans, I’ve found a way to contribute and make a difference. And it’s made me more hopeful. Even if it’s just a bit.