Ema // BREW Barista
We had sunshine filled conversation with Ema in Nida resort. She is an authentic and colourful persona, our barista at BREW, currently serving coffee in Nida behind the BREW bike . She is an inspiration when it comes to work ethic, finding passions and sharing knowledge. Sunshine and waves directed our conversation towards her experiences about traveling, her hobbies and of course, reasons why she loves coffee craft.
So you are a person of many stories, full of authenticity and ideas, tell me a little about yourself.
Hmmm... Well you are saying authentic, but I think as long as I can remember myself growing up I was the odd one out. Although, I think travelling contributed massively to who I am. I‘ve been in many different parts of the world, went to Europe, USA, Canada, Morocco, Colombia and Cambodia. I was surrounded with people from very different countries and cultures. So it changed me, helped my personality evolve, and thought me valuable lessons.
Tell me what kind of experiences you consider as the most defining ones in your life?
Most of my trips were about tourism, I just went to different places, tasted different foods, laid on the beaches and enjoyed it. But, I really loved my trip to Canada. I realised that winter sports rock! I started skying there. It was breathtaking to be surrounded by mountains and trying out this sport for the first time.
Emotionally the biggest impact left my trip to France. It was my therapy workation. (laughs) I went there to recalibrate. I wanted to make some decisions regarding my personal life and it was one of the core experiences which molded me into a person I am today. I went there for grape picking and mental detox. It wasn‘t easy. I remember, we needed to pick the leaves first, so the grapes can be exposed to the sun and ripen faster, and for the first week of picking those leaves, I was just crying 8 hours a day, leaving all the weight off of my shoulders in that vineyard. It was just me and the vine.
I was learning about myself trough all of it. Had realisation that the world has so much to offer the moment you choose step out of your comfort zone. I was inspired to be more confident, to dream a little more courageously, and learned that making decisions for yourself is not selfish, but rather very important for your mental health, it was a good therapy and unforgettable one.
I know that there are so many different things that you do! Tell me about your hobbies and how did you discover coffee, what are you passionate about?
I fell in love with coffee in London. I remember watching baristas behind the bar, doing their thing and I was mesmerised. I told myself „I want to stand behind the bar one day“. Then the moment I came back to Vilnius, I realised that we have such a prominent coffee culture here. We are surrounded by good quality coffee and knowledgable baristas. Even in London, I couldn‘t find so many specialty coffee shops. I was intrigued to know why coffee is so special, why do we have so many coffee spots, and it sparked my desire to learn about it myself. That encouraged me to start learning barista craft, and here I am in BREW.
I am also passionate about pottery. I found this desire to make pots back when I was studying arts. I remember going to a little shop with my friend, and spotted a little handmade soap dish, I said to her “it would be the best life, making pots with your own hands, selling them and not having any worries about life”.
So, that didn’t come true until I started learning pottery in “Turning Earth Studios”, UK. It is something I am learning to do still. Not only for myself, but to eventually sell those little creations that I make. I have a dream of going to Portugal and learn from the best.
And last but not least, I have an interesting project going on called “Odos džiaugsmai”. It was born trough my own experience of having super sensitive skin. I used a face cream the only one, which suited my skin and never irritated it, but it got discontinued! I talked about it with my boyfriend, and he came up with the idea of having our own internet platform where we can sell products, that we select, knowing the ingredients and products we try ourselves, so people who have the same problem, can enjoy skincare too.
It sounds like a lot of work. What does it bring you? Do you think these hobbies contribute to your passion for coffee in any way?
I would say I enjoy every niche fully. I am not the kind of person which could work hard without having a passion for it, for the sake of financial stability. So, I am hoping that one day all of it will grant me a secure lifestyle and won’t rob me of joy, because I love the things that I do.
Pottery and “Odos džiaugsmai” are both very isolating jobs, not in a bad way, I just spend time with myself, which helps me to recharge. Coffee on the other hand, is a very social job, and I wholeheartedly love that too! Especially in BREW when we have such a big community, every person has an interesting story to tell. These things bring balance in my life, between spending time with people that inspire me and spark my curiosity. Other times I just enjoy solitude while making my pots or browsing for high quality products of skincare.
How long have you been in UK and why did you decide to come back from London?
I lived there for 4 years, but falling in love brought me home. When I came back for Christmas, I ended up meeting one guy. In such a short trip of being home in Vilnius and then going back to UK realisation hit me that I was in the wrong place, cause my heart stayed in Lithuania. After I had a first private course of learning pottery, decided to go back to Lithuania. That‘s how love and doing things I enjoy brought me back. On the other hand, we broke up with the guy eventually. (giggles)
How do you learn about coffee mostly? Do you watch your co-workers or find information in other ways?
I am super curious, so I learn about coffee trough experimenting. Trying many different ways of making one single origin I search for the best recipe.
Another way of learning is trough Youtube of course, people who love coffee know a guy from UK named James Hoffman. Fascinating coffee geek. Gives many valuable advices. And passion, I am inspired by people who love what they do and are very particular about it.
I have also participated as a spectator in Vilnius Coffee Festival and decided to try and participate in it myself in 2020, cupping coffee. It thought me more about learning to differentiate coffee aftertastes, and also inspired me to learn even more.
I remember when I was just watching the competition it was such a surreal experience, because cupping feels very competitive in the best way possible. Every time someone guesses which cup is different from the other 3, people start to cheer so loudly in the background, it gave me such a thrill, that I even shed a tear and decided I want to be a participator next time. (laughs)
What is the most fascinating part for you about working as a barista in BREW?
For me the most fascinating thing about this job is how intricate it is. First thing, coffee is grown in specific parts of the world, from people who pick the cherries and process it, then we roast it in our coffee shop and then lastly us baristas serves it for the customer. So that’s one part of the whole journey. Then you can experiment with coffee from a chemical perspective. Knowledge, coffee machine, water, time, weight everything is important and what cup of coffee customer will receive as the finished product.
Tell me, how would you like to inspire other baristas?
I would just encourage every single barista to experiment and read more stories about coffee and how special every coffee can be. It adds a little more flavour to each cup.
What would you like to say to those who are reading this interview?
I would love that every person who is reading this would be encouraged to be curious, and always have a chat with us baristas behind the bar. I personally love sharing stories about coffee, and why I think it’s such a special morning ritual. Let’s keep building friendships and spark curiosity in each other!