Just by looking at Raina's cheerful smile is enough to bright up one's day. Her bubbly personality makes her very approachable, an asset the F&B industry needs. Order coffee from her and you'll get your coffee served with a side of good mood.
Originally from Incheon, South Korea, she came to Singapore almost two years ago to further pursue her career in coffee. She tells us how she started and the principles she abide to that helped her get to where she currently is.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what is your role in PPP Coffee?
I came to Singapore almost two years ago. When I was looking for a job overseas, Singapore came to my mind as I remembered fond memories of this country when I was travelling. I was less worried relocating here as being an Asian country as well, the environment was not too far off from Korea.
I joined PPP Coffee as a senior barista in Chye Seng Huat Hardware. Apart from manning the cafe and making coffee, I also guide new joiners and teach them our ways of operation as well as take care of the cafe's. Although I've worked as a barista in South Korea for more than 5 years, being able to be part of a first generation specialty coffee company here in Singapore has a special meaning to me. Even to this day, I'm constantly being able to learn new things and everyday I'm loving coffee a little more.
What’s your first impression of coffee? Do you remember your first coffee?
I used to only drink mocha as it was sweet. Chocolate and whipped cream, best combo ever. It was only when a colleague from an ex-company urged me to try an Iced Black did I discover a whole new world within coffee. I always thought coffee was meant to be bitter, however I was surprised by how refreshing and clean that cup tasted. There was definitely some bitterness, but more than that, there was a pleasant acidity which I did not expect. It reminded me of being surrounded by nature. It perked up my whole afternoon. Since that day, I fell in love with coffee entirely.
Definitely an Iced Black. If I were to go for a filter, single origins from Kenya or Ethiopia will usually be my go-to choices.
Tell us a bit about when you first learnt to brew.
I started my coffee journey in a coffee chain in Korea. I remember it was my first calibration day after training. I was determined to figure out the settings on my own that I kept downing cups of double espresso. When I was finally done, I realised I had drank almost 2/3 of the beans in the hopper, that makes it about 15 double espresso. Although I eventually figured out the settings, I was so over-caffeinated that day it was terrible.
What is the biggest difference you see between cafes in Korea and in Singapore?
Cafes in Korea don't usually sell food. They sell small bites like pastries and sandwiches, but mains like what CSHH does are uncommon. It's nice to have proper mains in cafes so people can have a meal and hang out over good coffee.
What’s your current go-to brewing method when at home?
I start my day making coffee using a drip bag. Sometimes I have it hot, sometimes I make it iced. My personal favourite is Suke Quto. Drip bags are so versatile and easy to brew you can hardly go wrong, even without a kettle or scale. Plus, they brew so quickly with hardly anything to clean up it is perfect for mornings.
Lastly, any advice for those who want to work in a cafe or progress as to being a barista?
Coffee is not just about making attractive latte art. It is a good skill to have, however do remember that a good cup of coffee starts from having good beans and being skilful when it comes to calibrating, tasting and brewing. It is essential to consistently enhance your knowledge on both the coffee and the equipments we work with.
Additionally, being in F&B would also mean we're the customers' first touch point to the cafe. We are the ones representing the brand. It is important that we have the correct mindset to customer service to uphold a good relationship with the cafe-goers. Be constantly ready to learn as that's the only way we can improve.
Mentioned in this article
If you've drank PPP Coffee anywhere else apart from our cafes, it is thanks to the efforts of Hock Soon (and of course, his team). As a Wholesale Account Manager, he makes PPP Coffee accessible to all, living our mission to 'connect people with coffee'. Not only does he sells, he teaches too, so that every cup of PPP Coffee served to you will do justice to the farm and its farmers. Outside work, you might catch him shopping around for a sandpot and a Turkish Ibrik that he hopes he can add to his home setup one day.
'I wasn't really a coffee drinker.'; When someone who breathes and lives coffee starts his conversation with this sentence, we know we're in for an exciting story. Meet Leon Lee, our Wholesale Account Manager. From 'coffee is gross' to 'OMG COFFEE PLEASE', he shares with us his 10 years and going coffee journey, from making your coffee to teaching how to make coffee.