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A Career in Coffee: National Apprenticeship Week

“When drinking their daily cup of coffee, most people never consider the scale of what goes on behind the scenes.”

Mollie Harvey, 19, has been Lincoln & York’s Coffee Apprentice for seven months now. With a daily role which is hugely varied, covering everything from business management to coffee innovation to roasting, Mollie is given the opportunity to learn the ropes and experience working at a busy, industry-leading coffee producer.

“After working in the coffee industry as a barista, and then subsequently a supervisor for two years, I knew I wanted to find a career which would allow me to build and develop my coffee expertise. From school, I knew apprenticeships were a great way to gain qualifications and get valuable hands-on experience but had never really considered it an option for me. As you mainly hear about the more traditional apprenticeships, such as construction or engineering, I had no idea I could look for and apply for one whilst pursuing my passion for coffee.

“When I applied for the role at Lincoln & York, I didn’t know what to expect. Originally, they were looking for a ‘Senior Coffee Specialist’. While I only had the experience from my time at Starbucks, I was encouraged by my friends to apply anyway due to my passion for the industry. I was a little shocked when I was invited for an interview by coffee expert and Q Grader, Chris Tough. After several more conversations, Chris reached out to explain the business had made the decision to change the role and offer me the position as ‘Coffee Apprentice’, which I accepted, joining in May 2022. For me, it really demonstrates that putting yourself out there and taking a risk when you apply for a job is worth it, as you never know what might happen.

“My apprenticeship isn’t solely rooted in coffee – at the end, I’ll have a business qualification as well the valuable hands-on experience across all elements of coffee production.

“It’s a cliché, but I really do learn something new every day. I had no idea how complex the coffee industry really is, and just how many different people work together to make it tick. Having started my journey in the world of coffee in a customer-based role, the origin and logistics of where the coffee comes from was never really something I’d given a huge amount of thought to. However, as soon as I started to gain a better understanding of all the work that goes into producing a cup of coffee – from growing, roasting, blending and everything else in between – it has sparked a desire to continue to take my journey further.

“From the start, every day at Lincoln & York has been incredibly varied. The whole team is so welcoming, and I learn so much from everyone here. From my first tour of the roastery through to valuable experience in cupping, blend matching, lab procedures, machine calibrating, and so much more. I feel so lucky – something which began as a part-time job has now turned into a passion.

“Once I complete my apprenticeship, I’m hoping to join Chris and become one of the small number of Q-Graders in the UK. Other than that, I really just want to continue to work within such a fantastic industry, keep learning every day, and see where it takes me.

“For anyone looking to pursue a passion and turn it into a career, I’d highly recommend the apprenticeship route. Take a look at what is out there, and explore the different roles within the industry you’re passionate about. If there is the option to work and learn on the job, fantastic, but  ultimately, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there as it could lead to something incredible.”

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