Al Keating interviews Cropster founder Martin Wiesinger. Cropster has quickly become a roaster's best friend and a must have in the specialty roasting world. The Coffee Supreme roasting department uses Cropster each and every roast, allowing for greater control and management in the whole department.
1. I’ve just arrived on the planet. Can you tell me, what is Cropster?
Cropster is a company, with the goal to raise coffee quality along the whole specialty coffee supply chain. We believe that by doing so, not only will end consumers enjoy a better cup of coffee, but it will also help producers to make a sustainable and more predictable income.
2. Was there a lightbulb moment that sparked Cropster?
We worked in coffee research projects at origin before we founded Cropster. Where we could first hand witness the positive impact of the specialty movement on small holder producers. Our last project was targeted towards connecting producers to the global specialty market. After the completion of this project we decided to take matters into our own hands. Research is important and will always have a place in my heart, but after a few years we longed for continuity and the ability to dive deeper into the topic. It all started one May 13, 2007, when we sat down and registered the Cropster domain.
3. As Cropster has grown, what has having more resources allowed you to do (besides planning holidays in Middle Earth)?
To lift my head and look at the road ahead. I have to say, that was a welcoming change. It also gave us the freedom to try out more things. I would characterise myself as a product guy, so having more time to pursue ideas is both exciting and rewarding.
4. What’s been the biggest challenge Cropster has faced and how have you overcome it - or are working to overcome it?
Hah, it’s impossible to single out the “biggest” challenge. Work throws mind-boggling things at one on a weekly basis. A lot of these are based on the global nature of the coffee supply chain. Bridging cultures, languages and time zones. But while picking a single challenge is hardly possible, the answer on how we overcame them is easy: “A great team”.
5. Where is this all headed? I mean, wouldn't it be so much easier if humans were just removed from the roasting process...?
Replacing human beings is harder than it sounds. Is it possible? Sure and some aspects will get automated. Humans do possess incredible abilities that are hard to recreate. I’m in favour of enhancing human tasks by taking away mundane and repetitive work that can easily be done by a computer. A whole lot of work around roasting involves reasoning. This is not going away anytime soon.
6. What do you think our industry will look like in 5-10 years?
This very much depends on how we deal with the growing problems at origin. Demand is constantly increasing and yet prices continue to decline. There is also a host of other problems, such as climate change, rising production costs and an ageing farmer population. The coming years will show, if we, the speciality coffee industry, can come together in a joint effort to tackle these challenges. In order to create a sustainable coffee producing sector.
7. What are your favourite coffees to drink?
From an origin perspective I love Kenya. I prefer filter over espresso.
8. Is there someone emerging in our industry that you're keeping an eye on?
We are heading into a new data-driven era of coffee preparation in cafes. Acaia to my knowledge, was the first to popularise the use of flow-rates in brewing. Decent Espresso is entering the espresso market with a technology-focused machine that incorporates computer hardware and software. It’s an interesting trend and I expect other manufacturers to follow suit.
Purely out of curiosity I also follow the development of fully automated robotic cafes a la CafeX. And I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
9. You can have one final brew, who would you share it with and why?
My family, definitely my family. Because, although they don’t fully share the entire spectrum of (nerdy) detail when it comes to speciality coffee. For example, they would say: “That’s all very interesting, but I actually just want coffee.” But sharing coffee is even more about the social experience and they are hard to beat in that regard.
10. What’s your morning routine?
I’m very much a poster child when it comes to routines. I get up at 6 am. Followed by a 30 minute workout. Shower, eat breakfast and drink a cup of coffee (AeroPress). Read and check my emails before heading into the office.
11. And finally, if Cropster was a car... What would it be and why?
I’m not a car person. I don’t even own one. On the other hand, I love bikes. Let’s be honest you can never have enough bikes. So if Cropster was a bike, it would be a touring bicycle. Which is a special type of road bike. Designed for comfortable mile munching ability & load carrying. It gives you the freedom of self-contained travel under your own steam, no matter the terrain or destination!