Just over a year ago I traveled to Den Haag to take a course to become an authorized SCA trainer. Sitting across from me in the class was the reigning Dutch barista champion, Wendelien van Bunnik. Wendelien directs the education program at Single Estate Coffee, a coffee roaster in Maasdijk with a café in Den Haag. I recently caught up with Wendelien over email to hear about what it was like to win the World Aeropress Championship and why there’s more to the Dutch coffee scene than just Amsterdam.
Before becoming a coffee educator you were an English teacher. Does that traditional educational background influence the way you approach coffee training?
I think so yes! There’s a big difference between having a certain skill yourself, and being able to transfer this skill to others. During my (short) time as an English teacher, I learned that you must never forget how long it takes to learn a new skill. Once you’ve mastered a skill, it’s very tempting to forget the work you put in to learn it. So when I was in front of a class as an English teacher, I already learned that it’s not about the teacher, but about the learner’s process. The difference in speed and way people learn in general is so different for everyone. It’s up to me as a trainer to figure out how people learn the best, and to remain patient and focused on their individual process. Especially in my early days, I stepped into the pitfall of thinking training was about me as a trainer, having to demonstrate my skill (and impress every one of course). Although obviously, you need to be able to demonstrate skill, it’s 100% not about the trainer, but about the learner and the goal they want to achieve….