– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
Hello, I’m Melanie, passionate about coffee, healthy food, social and environmental issues and music lover.
I love travelling the world, curious by nature and therefore interested in different cultures and history.

– What’s your story in the coffee industry?
Since 10 years I’ve been active in the specialty coffee scene. Started working in a small coffee bar in Ghent, Belgium, where I learned the barista and latte art basics. In 2009 I became the the first female Belgium Barista Champion after months of training. Since then I’ve run serval coffeebars as a manager, trained lots of staff and discovered I love teaching and spreading coffee knowledge. On the side I love to do some volunteer work for coffee events in Belgium.

– What is the story behind Tropix?
In 2016 I started Tropix Barista Paradise, with the same mission as my previous business Crema, spreading coffee knowledge by organizing barista workshops and coffee consulting, but on a more personal level.
In addition to that, Tropix is concerned with social and environmental issues concerning the coffee industry. We love to inform and help coffeelovers to buy coffee conscious, helping them to understand what impact they can have as (coffee)consumers on the environment, life-standarts of farmers, their local economy,…
The name Tropix comes form coffee, being a plant that enjoys a warm tropical climate, and is also a reference to my Jamaican roots.

– What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
My specialty is teaching and being able to adapt my teaching to all levels (coffee lovers, home baristas and professionals). Also, I love to take lessons myself, to keep up with the new techniques and knowledge in the ever evolving coffee industry.
With Tropix I don’t have the classic, commercial business approach, but a mission of taking responsibility towards my fellow humans and environment. Education and leading by example is the key to bring this message across.

– What was your first coffee experience?
When I was sixteen, during the exam period, a friend stayed over to study. The next day she wanted coffee to help her focus and concentrate for the upcoming exam. Since at home my mum and I were tea drinkers, we only had instant coffee to offer our guests. I also tried a cup of instant coffee with the hopes it would help my performance for the exams. Needless to say I didn’t like it at all, and had to drink this with lots of milk and sugar.

– How/when have you discovered about specialty coffee?
Late 2007, when I started working in a coffee bar called “Barista” in Ghent. I had no idea of the great, interesting coffee world. It was the Latte Art that captured my attention, but thanks to my mentors Bart & Peter Deprez, they made sure I focused on (espresso) coffee before I pursue Latte Art skills, making sure I got my coffee foundation set first.

– What was your best coffee experience?
I’m very fortunate to have had many great coffee experiences at home and abroad. But the one coffee experience that really stood out for me was during my trip in Australia, Gold Coast. Thanks to the hospitality of Timothy Sweet, Barista Kayla and Uncle Joe’s coffee, I had a great coffee tour visiting the coffee farmand Mt. Tambourine, with Uncle Joe brewing his Gold Bean award winning coffee with double V60 filter extraction. Delicious and inspiring.

– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
My kitchen is a small coffee lab as well. Mostly I’ll use the V60, quick and easy, but prefer Chemex to be honest. I also use the aeropress and when I really have the time, I love to plug in my GS3 espressomachine and train my Latte Art skills. Perfecting a coffee recipe for me is brewing the coffee with different methods and analyzing which method suits the coffee in question best.

– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, vietnamese style,…?
Black!
On hot summer days I love an iced coffee or cold brew, also black.

– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
Regular I guess, I will have 2 cups a day mostly.

– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
Thinking about it now, I realize that working in the coffee industry was my “real » first job.

– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
Music! has always been very present in my life, in different forms (dj-ing, as a dance instructor, learning drums, percussion,..).

– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
What a difficult question, there are sooo many coffee places I love to recommend, trying to pick just one out would just not feel fair. So I would like to recommend one of my favorite shops in Brussels (Belgium) : BelgoMarkt. It’s a store that only sells products by local suppliers, to boost the local economy and reduce transport(carbons). Often the products (food & non-food) are organic and the market also stimulates customers to bring their own containers and shopping bags. This is for me an example store / supermarket, where it’s a great pleasure to shop.

– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
Depending on the topic: Perfect Daily Grind, Sweet Marias, world coffee research,.. and last but not least, James Hoffman’s blog, Jimseven, is always interesting to read.

– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
If you like to drink coffee, especially on a daily basis, why not join a barista workshop to know more about this beautiful product. People are often amazed about the complexity and possibilities of coffee. Don’t get overwhelmed, just enjoy and explore!

Thomas
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Thomas

Thomas Wyngaard Founder at OK Coffee, started in the coffee industry at OR Coffee Begium, now Director of Saison Coffee in New York City.