Why Build a Career in Coffee?

By Timothy J. Castle, President, Castle & Co.

Are you thinking of making your way in the coffee business? If so, why? Can you answer that question?

If you can’t, maybe stop reading until you can.

What do you want the coffee business to give to you? If you’re still reading this, you may already have an idea of what you can give to the coffee business, but let’s be honest, what do you want back in exchange? If you can’t be up front – at least with yourself – in answering that, you’ll be wandering around this wonderful, fascinating, exciting, rewarding industry for a good three to five decades and you might not, likely will not, get that one thing that you actually (in the back of your mind) wanted from it.

That’s the weird thing about this coffee business, well, one of the weird things about it, you can spend your whole life working with coffee, and before you know it, you’ll spend those aforementioned decades in this business without really stopping to catch your breath. Maybe it’s because the folks are so interesting – the reader and the writer, to name two – and that delicious, magical complex drink we’re working with is so enjoyable and interesting as well. Or maybe your family was in the business – sometimes for a generation, sometimes for several – or maybe you fell into it from contact with a friend or from the Peace Corps, or some other exposure to coffee.

Building a career in this industry is a little different than simply living out one’s life in this business. This is not to say that consciously setting out to structure an arc of accomplishment over the span of a few decades is easy. In fact, it is especially difficult in an industry that is changing as quickly as ours; but there are more tools to do this today than there were thirty years ago, and certainly a lot more resources. This is especially the case for someone eyeing a career more closely aligned with the sensory evaluation of coffee.

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