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Rob Butterworth of Bury St Edmunds-based Butterworth & Son introduces us to Lauren Small, manager of his café, Guat's Up!

An introduction to Lauren Small:

This year, to add another viewpoint on the coffee industry, I have asked Lauren to write some articles for my column.

Lauren is the Manager at Guat’s Up! and is training at Butterworth & Son to learn about roasting and coffee sourcing. Her mother is from Bury St Edmunds but Lauren was born and raised in Uganda and spent time in South Africa, too.

Guats Up!'s Lauren Small (27333785)
Guats Up!'s Lauren Small (27333785)

She is relatively new to the industry so I asked Lauren to write about her journey into and through the speciality coffee scene. I am sure her enthusiasm and passion will inspire many others.

'Save me a sip'

This was a daily phrase of mine from the age of 6. My dad, a chain coffee consumer, would leave me the last and strongest sips of his daily coffees. Needless to say this resulted in a very caffeinated childhood.

Now, 13 years later, I am a barista with a passion for coffee quality and a determination to explore the industry from every corner of the world.

Born in Uganda my upbringing was somewhat unconventional. With the Nile at my front door and the Elgon Mountains up the road, agriculture was everywhere. . . with coffee beans forming up to 30 per cent of Uganda’s global export, it’s not a surprise that coffee became a core ingredient of who I am.

Growing up, drying coffee beans on the side of the road was such a common sight it formed a sort of backdrop to my childhood.

At 13 my family and I packed up our lives in Uganda and moved to a small, wildlife-based town in South Africa. This took me from green beans to double espressos.

With four main roads, quality coffee was hard to come by in this little town. I remember finding “free world coffee works” through my dad who had developed a habit of spending every morning after the school run chatting with his friends in this little espresso bar. Due to his regularity, my dad and the bar’s owner became friends.

This relationship helped me when I was 16 and decided to leave school. This was my personal choice, which meant it was up to me to sort out my next step.

It started off as a daily interaction. I would go with my dad to the espresso bar each morning, and I would have two double cappuccinos, with one to take away. This habit allowed me to develop a keener pallet when it comes to quality coffee.

From this daily consumption I too began building a friendship with the shop owner.

I remember one morning I came in for my usual, and I started asking about how he made it. I watched him as he talked me through each step and before I could even think about it, I asked if he would train me.

So that’s how it started. That’s how immense curiosity grew into a dedicated passion and that’s how my ever expanding journey began. . . one extraction at a time.

Rob owns Butterworth & Son coffee roasters and tea smiths, based on Moreton Hall, and Guat’s Up! café in Guildhall Street.

His job takes him around the world visiting coffee farms to source great coffees.