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Quit your job, become a...roaster

By Michael Curle
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Aissatou Diallo, 27, coffee roaster at Pact Coffee tells us how she got into bean roasting.

So, when did the great bean-roasting adventure begin?

‘I moved from France to London about a year ago. Before that I worked for Red Bull in sales and marketing. When I arrived in London, a friend of mine was living with people who were working for the company I now work for, Pact. They helped me get a job there packing coffee.’

Blimey. Energy drinks, coffee…are you a caffeine addict?

‘Let’s just say when I don’t have my coffee I can get a bit moody.'

Was it always your goal to work with coffee?

‘I’ve always loved coffee, but to be honest, when I came to London, because I studied languages back in France, my goal was to practise speaking English. Then the position of coffee roaster for the company came up. They weren’t looking for experience; they were looking to train someone up. I applied and got the job!’

What’s a typical day like?

‘First I have to warm up the roaster: a huge machine that you can roast up to 70 kilos of coffee in. Later on we taste the roast from the day before to check its quality. I trained for a month before I started. We learned about mouthfeel and how to think about different flavours. It’s amazing to discover strawberry or chocolate in coffee.’

Do you enjoy it? What makes a good coffee roaster?

‘Yes, our company is a young and friendly start-up, and obviously we get to drink great coffee! To be a good roaster, you have to be passionate about flavour. You have to have great tastebuds and be really focused. I check every single bean. I can definitely tell it’s our coffee from the way we roast it.’

Is there anything about the job that grinds your gears?

‘The lifting - bags of coffee are really heavy! Otherwise, there’s nothing.’

Big, controversial question: do the staff ever drink tea?

‘Ha! Some people, now and again...but not that much.’

Hours: 35hrs p/w

Starting salary: £22,000 p/a

Qualifications: Learn on the job

Or why not become a braider?

Photo: Rob Greig

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