Binny Varghese: The Sprudge Twenty Interview


binny
Binny Varghese

Welcome to The Sprudge Twenty Interviews presented by Pacific Barista Series. For a complete list of 2022 Sprudge Twenty honorees please visit sprudge.com/twenty.

Binny—aka Barista on Bike—is known in the Indian coffee community for working with farmers as a coffee processing expert, additionally, he is a trainer in various coffee-related skills, also a marketing expert. Overall Binny is a complete package for advocating for coffee farmers in India. He has recently shot a documentary on Indian Speciality Coffee scenes titled “C for Coffee,” and he also has a podcast “Coffee Protocol Podcast” which brings together interesting coffee people and their deep insights. Binny is someone working really hard to bring Indian coffee to a more recognizable stance in the world.

Nominated by Neeraj Kumar Pathak

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.

Do you have a coffee-making ritual?

Yes, I do. No weighing scale, no gooseneck kettle, no temperature control PID water heater. Just some good coffee (not 90 plu) some water off the boil and a French press maybe. This is what I do at home (without getting too technical). I keep all the technicalities for when I work.

What is the quality you like best about coffee?

The fact that coffees can be so vivid, and the possibilities of some really interesting stories associated with those coffee beans, whether it be people, origin, or something else.

Best song to brew coffee to at the moment.

Dekha hai Aise Bhi – Lucky Ali

Do you have a favorite item of clothing to make coffee in?

A comfortable pair of shorts, loose t-shirt, and my hair band.

What was the last cup of coffee you enjoyed?

A coffee from Ratnagiri Estate, roasted by Blue Tokai Coffee.

What is your idea of coffee happiness?

Knowing that everyone in that value of chain of the coffee has been paid well, on top of it, the coffee tastes good and makes you smile. That to me is coffee happiness.

What issue in coffee do you care about most?

1) State of the farmers, 2) The imbalance of knowledge in the coffee value chain, 3) Trying to tackle the spread of incomplete or wrong information about coffee, 4) Making specialty coffee for everyone, and not just a thing for the elite.

What cause or element in coffee drives you?

The fact that coffee is so simple yet not so simple—the goal is to make coffee simple for everyone.

What issue in coffee do you think is critically overlooked?

Apart from the people who are “in” specialty coffee—and sometimes even some of them—most average people who drink coffee completely forget the fact that growing coffee is not profitable for many small farmers.

Did you experience a “god shot” or life-changing moment of coffee revelation early in your life?

Yes, I remember twice specifically that I had a really nice cup of coffee and it was not at all bitter (like burnt and bad bitter that would need loads of sugar ). First at a cafe called Meraki in Surat, and the other at a cafe/roaster in Jaipur called Curious Life Coffee Roasters.

If you could have any job in the coffee industry, what would it be and why?

This is tough! Probably a bit of everything. A cafe owner for the first half of the day, a roaster for a couple of days a month, a barista in the early evenings, an instructor/trainer for few days of the month, and a farmer for a couple of months in a year during the harvest.

Who are your coffee heroes?

The average small farm holders.

If you could drink coffee with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Perhaps our Prime Minister in India, who has the real decision making powers here. I would want to sit with him, show him how amazing the coffees from India are, and discuss what we are missing here. I would tell him how we need to showcase and market our coffees better to the world, including making trading easy. But this might be difficult… I have heard that he likes tea!

Do you have any coffee mentors?

Neeraj Sheoron, Founder of Curious Life Coffee Roasters, Jaipur, India and Lucia Solis, coffee fermentation specialist.

What do you wish someone would’ve told you when you were first starting out in coffee?

The work will be awesome—with a LOT of challenges like any other industry. There will definitely not be a lot of money, but potentially a lot of fun. And yes, not everyone will get it, especially here in India.

Where do you see yourself in 2042?

Still working in coffee, maybe running a shop somewhere quiet, definitely still educating and mentoring people who would be interested and hopefully still riding my motorcycle around to coffee farms, and working at farms. I hope to still be traveling and drinking lots of really good coffee (and also some good beers).

Thank you!

The Sprudge Twenty Interviews are presented by Pacific Barista Series. For a complete list of 2022 Sprudge Twenty honorees please visit sprudge.com/twenty.






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