2 years ago, I worked in IT for a Swiss private bank.
Brewing in the office
I'd wander wearily to the Canary Wharf office each morning, wondering if I could grab a coffee and still make it to my desk by 9 a.m.
Usually the answer to that was "no", but I kept an Aeropress, Porlex hand grinder and some decent coffee in my desk drawer.
In fact, most of the time, I was brewing something tastier at my desk that I could get in any of the cafés nearby.
My line manager would often make a condescending remark about my fondness for "hipster" coffee, but as I waited for my PC to log in, and started sipping on my brew, my mind wandered to the possibility of escaping the dreary 9-5 and making a career of my caffeinated hobby.
After a morning of unnecessary meetings, I'd make my way to the nearby Notes coffee shop for lunch. The coffee was usually a little better at Taylor St, but Notes had more options for food, and it was easier to find somewhere comfortable to sit.
Even in this fairly corporate environment, (with business appearing to be the main topic of conversation among my fellow café-goers), the opportunity to get away from my desk, and enjoy a fairly decent cup of coffee was invaluable.
It allowed me to reflect, over time, on the nature of my work, and how I really wanted to spend my career.
I ended up working in Finance IT having studied Computing at a London university.
In my second year there, I'd taken a summer internship with the bank, and from that was given an offer of a place on their "prestigious" Graduate Scheme.
Always interested in solving problems, Computer Science had been an obvious choice for my undergraduate degree. There were all sorts of logical problems to solve, and through my time at university, I grew more and more able to build robust solutions for "real-life" problems, or at least those that can be solved programatically.
But my job at the bank didn't enable me to solve the kinds of problems I was interested in - problems that had a direct positive impact on the "average" user's life.
Instead of (ultimately) serving large corporations and wealthy individuals, I had a desire to be connecting people to the world around them, and helping those less able to help themselves.
Dreaming of something new
I spent much of my time dreaming of starting something that didn't mean completing pointless tasks with no tangible benefit to real people.
Over time, I began to formulate an idea of what this might look like.
As I continued my journey into the world of specialty coffee, spending hours after work and on the weekends reading about coffee producers, relevant socio-economic factors, and the history of coffee production, (all while enjoying well brewed coffee), I formulated an initial plan for my way forward.
In December that year, I left my job.
I went against much advice, and conventional wisdom. I abandoned a career with good prospects, and associated benefits, in favour of building a more meaningful working life.
I knew that I wanted to work in coffee, and that, one day, I'd take some barista training.
Initially, however, I decided that I'd merge my existing skills and knowledge; of IT and coffee, and build a company that enabled me to lean on my strengths while exploring something I was still fairly new to.
Mostly, I just wanted the opportunity to pursue a new mission - rather than looking to build a corporate career with a company I didn't care about, I had a strong desire to spend my days doing something positive for and with coffee.
To that end, I set myself a new career goal - "to bring joy through coffee".
As much as it sometimes makes me cringe, it made it easier to filter out opportunities and ideas, and focus on the things that help me to fulfil that mission.
Curated Brew, I hope, is fulfilling, and will fulfil that mission. We send out fantastic coffee to our members each month, bringing them, (I believe), the joy of a good brew.
In the long term, I hope that we can expand this role, bringing clear benefit right along the seed-cup chain.
These things take time.
Sometimes I wonder, "did I make the right decision?"
But I look, and recall, that in just 2 years, I've come along way.