If you were to ask me who in the coffee industry inspires me, Nicole Battefeld-Montgomery would be top of the list!
I think its fair to say the coffee industry is pretty male dominated and I first came across Nicole when looking into who represent’s women within the coffee industry.
I soon discovered Nicoles podcast series ‘she the barista’ where she is joined by coffee professionals from around the world. I enjoyed the podcast so much. This podcast focused on Nicole finding out about her guests but I found myself wanting to find out more about the host!
I thought it would be awesome to have Nicole on the blog but I am a bit of a Nicole fan girl so I was in two minds as to whether to reach out or not as the saying goes about meeting your idols. I went for it and I am so glad I did as Nicole was lovely and agreed to collaborate on an interview for the blog.
Please read and enjoy!
For anyone that may not be aware can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Nicole Battefeld-Montgomery. I started working in coffee directly after I finished school in 2006. I wanted to work for a year to save some money and ended up working for a small coffee shop in my hometown of Goerlitz, in East Germany. I will always remember this year because I truly fell in love with the art of hospitality.
To learn more about food and to expand my horizons, I started a chef apprenticeship a couple of years later. This brought me to Berlin, Germany where I worked in Michelin-star restaurants. This experience was extremely hard and stressful, with long days and nights – however, it shaped my will to become one of the best in whatever I do. Unfortunately the lifestyle wasn’t quite for me, so I quit my job as a chef and went back to what made me really and truly happy: coffee.
Since 2014, I have been working full-time in specialty coffee and have truly found my destiny. No other job has ever fascinated me as much as being a barista and working with coffee, and the people who love it.
In 2016 I started competing in coffee and since then I placed 2nd, 1st, 3rd in the german Barista Competition and 1st in the German Coffee in Good Spirits Competition and 2019 I placed 5th in the World Coffee in Good Spirits Competition.
I work as a trainer, barista, green bean buyer and creative researcher in Berlin.
What does a typical day involve for you in your role at Röststätte?
Oh my god it is so much!
Usually I work a couple of hours at the bar to connect with the customers and it is so incredibly important! I check if the people at the bar are happy and try to improve workflow whenever I can and I mainly try to create an environment that is extremely professional and at the same time very approachable for our customers.
After my bar shift I work on profiling coffees for customers, I write down recipes and flavour descriptors, I check our roast profiles and set up cuppings, I work with projects to cooperate with bartenders and restaurants to improve their coffee offerings, I am working on very innovative methods on how to store and brew specialty coffee, I work with companies to advertise specialty coffee ( many interviews), I sell machines and I give classes and try to educate our staff as good as possible. Next week for example I am giving a water class for the people that work with us to understand brew profiling better. I do a lot…
What are your passions outside of coffee?
It’s hard to say because I am so lucky that I actually work my dream job. I roast on my days off. I guess that’s a hobby. Otherwise I loved to go bouldering but Corona made me lose most of my muscles as the gyms are closed for over a year now.
When I really need a break from coffee, I paint. But I really have to be in the mood.
You are a successful barista competitor and champion! How did you get into competing and what have you learned from competing?
I started in 2016 and placed 2nd and was really surprised. I just went for it and it was really fun, I mean we all ( my team and me) never competed before and had no idea what we were doing.
I got quite obsessed with winning and worked very hard to win the barista championship in 2018, but it wasn’t very healthy for me.
I learned that for me, the joy I have on stage and the opportunity to share my passion is more important than winning. People watch me and they are so fascinated by the way I talk about coffee, that I realised I have the gift to motivate others. Competition was a door opener but I still had to go through so many doors that I am very happy by the opportunities it gave me but at the same time it made me realise that coffee really is more to me than just a measurable drink. It is emotion.
Your podcast series ‘She’s The Barista’ focuses on women within the coffee industry. What inspired you to start your podcast and what are your experiences as a women in the coffee industry?
Well I started the podcast during lockdown because I finally had time for such a great project. I wanted to learn more about my heroes in the coffee industry, all the women I admire and that motivate me to work harder and to do more. I wanted to know how they approach competing, how they handle the pressure, if they have come across any disadvantages being a woman in this industry.
After the recordings I was so glad that it really became a motivating empowering podcast with the strong message that if you work hard enough, you can really become whatever you want. The topic of patriarchy is very important and very real but it is hard to find the right approach talking about it because I don’t think we are weak and need help, I think we are strong and are a generation of remarkable women that change the world by their courage , their power and their hard work.
Is there anyone in the coffee industry that inspires you or that has influenced you?
I am the biggest fangirl of Aga. She is my hero and I am so proud that I actually competed with her in 2019. She shows me that there are no limits and if she can do it, why shouldn’t I?
What are your views on today’s coffee scene and culture?
I feel that we are moving at such a high speed towards more and more specialised coffee practices, may it be fermentation or brewing, that the commodity customers sometimes get lost and can’t keep up. We mustn’t forget to still take the time to communicate with the regular coffee drinkers, even if it is just talking about varieties or origins or processing because I would say that 99% of people do not know the difference between a washed and a natural coffee.
People are very interested in our job and my main talks are actually about the fundamentals of coffee knowledge in over 90% of my classes. It is not the most fulfilling thing in the world to constantly talk about the same topics, but it is important.
We must avoid snobbyism at all ‘costs or we will lose our future allies. Customers that want to learn more about coffee.
I really love the science behind and learning about coffee roasting. What would be your advice for someone who aspires to enter the world of coffee roasting?
I have once heard a great analogy about roasting:
Roasting is like driving a truck. You have to have a license and you have to stay really focused to not crash, but it is quite boring.
Every single barista that starts working at our shop wants to learn roasting. But what I feel is much more important is to learn how to taste.
To look at the charts and to be able to understand how taste and roasting are connected. So I rather analyze roasts now and adjust roasting curves.
So I think tasting is much more interesting and only if I learn that ,I can roast a good batch. And I am still learning all the time, you will never be done learning.
I myself just bought a second hand IKAWA lately and am experimenting with new profiles at the time. I have had a colleague that bought a ROEST for at home to learn roasting and I could try it one time and was quite astounded by the adjustments you can do whilst roasting. So for the immediate learning experience I think that’s a great machine to buy. The ikawa is just so much smaller and handy and super clean.
If you were not involved in coffee what would be your dream job?
I always wanted to be a television presenter. Or work at a pig sanctuary. I love pigs. They are the best.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we should keep a look out for?
End of june Roeststaette Berlin will release a new way how to store specialty coffee. It involves freezing it so keep an eye out for our coffee freezing kit at the end of june!
You can check out Nicole’s website at http://www.nicolebattefeld.com where you can also find a link to the ‘She’s the barista’ podcast