– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
My name is Edgaras Juška. I am a coffee professional at famous Prufrock Coffee and head roaster at Vagabond Coffee Roasters. Originally I’m from Lithuania and living in London for about 3 years. I went through many different amazing searching trial-and-error experiences in my yet short life and now I landed behind the Specialty coffee bar. I think I love this experience and unique opportunity to challenge and perfect one of my senses – tasting. Actually two (smell as well). In 2015 I won 3rd place in the UK Roasting Competition and that pushes me to move forward into even more fun fields of perception. I do love music. That’s another very special sense for me which I was perfecting seriously since I was 8.
– What’s your story in the coffee industry?
Let’s start with some exciting coincidences first. To cut long story short, I had a dream to go to travel/live in South America. Yeah yeah it’s romantic, lovely, amazing, and so on. But there was all the time a question in my head – what I’m gonna do there? And it’s been frustrating for years…until I stepped into Vagabond Cafe for the job interview in 2013. I was introduced about nice perspectives and interestingly – roasting coffee opportunities. I had no idea what my future boss was talking about. Soon I got myself converted into coffee making subtlety. I became a head barista and trainer. Then I entangled myself into coffee education fever. Spent countless months self studying and with the help of SCAE Coffee Diploma program. I can clearly see when exactly all my hesitations about Latin America became nonsense. I finally cracked the dilemma and all questions has been answered when I realized where does the coffee come from. That was life-changing discovery! 2015 was breath-taking because firstly I became a roaster and investor in newly established roasting company (Vagabond Coffee Roasters) and later I became a Prufrocker. This is unbelievable experience to me: to brew amounts of great Specialty coffees (and exceptional ones too) from many amazing roasters around the globe, learn from such legends as Gwilym Davies and Jeremy Challender and many others (hats off!). But let’s move to another question.
– What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
I consider myself a coffee professional, more accurately – brewer and roaster. I think I’m unique case because of the obvious situation. I have all opportunities to learn roasting, develop little roasting business and constantly hone my brewing skills at the same time and learn from the best in the world. I have also scientific background: Chemistry (BA), Optoelectronics (MA). I love interdisciplinary things. It’s just amazing that I can merge all these experiences together to even better understand coffee brewing, extracting, roasting, agronomy side etc. Also to understand what does make us so excited and happy when we experience brewed coffee. Tea, beer, wine, foods too. I’m also very excited to share my knowledge in a form of training class. I have extensive teaching experience not only in coffee. I suppose all mentioned attributes make me different as I always try to meet every sensory experience seeker with friendly communicative attitude and explore and show coffee world through scientist’s, brewers’, roasters’ and trainers’ point of view simultaneously. All the time a combination of a few.
– What was your first coffee experience?
I wouldn’t like to sound very dull but I have had similar first coffee experiences as many other Specialty coffee people. Nothing new. In and out, coffee was bitter and weak, unbelievably sugary and stomach irritating bilge for me. In Lithuania it was popular to drink that pre-ground turbo blend from supermarket. Scalded necessarily. I call it « brown coffee ». Of course, that was unpleasant and even strictly unacceptable experience. repeatedly. Slowly I became more and more honest with myself – never put that nonsense in my mouth. And here we go, you’re reading this line here. LOL
However, I have my second first coffee experience when I had my first cup of Specialty coffee… it was absolute WOW! Instantaneously I became enlightened – merciful idea that coffee can taste good suddenly changed my life. Later I learned that coffee can taste even better…
– What was your best coffee experience?
A friend of mine who is not in coffee at all wanted to introduce me « one really cool Specialty coffee shop » once. She brought me to the Workshop Coffee Co. in Clerkenwell in London. I must note it was a combination of few things that totally knelt me down – all senses were pleased by the peculiar baristas’ movements-dance performance behind that enclose bar reinforced by loud Massive Attack beat accompanied by slowly emptying cup of Githyga filter. I’m not that good to describe such a perfect combination poetically but it was simply strong. I suppose that is exactly what everybody refers to: environment, lights, performance, music, feel, vibe, great cup of coffee, nice baristas etc. It was long time ago.
– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
It’s difficult. Just because I have two coffee jobs I do not have time to brew at home. I dedicate some time on my day off for going to other coffee places to drink coffee and have a complementary slab of delicious cake and simply enjoy myself. At the moment my home is the roastery and Prufrock. Literally. I use espresso, Kalita, V60 and Thermos (George Howell, UK Brewers Cup Champ 2015) a lot though.
– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, vietnamese style,…?
As I develop my personality and sensory skills, my preferences changes all the time. There was the time, when I was filter-only guy, then short black coffee, then espresso, then back to filter, then looked back to flat-white… I think if I go to drink coffee it so much depends on my mood. It doesn’t really matter the style. Coffee is great in any case if you brew it smart, innit?
– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
I suppose myself a heavy drinker indeed.
– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
As I mentioned, I didn’t drink and didn’t like coffee before I got a job in a coffee shop. It’s a long story actually. In my last 15 years I was busy in so many different ways of self expression. Starting with a serious scientific career, a pop science educator and creator of various educational programs in the most attractive museum in Lithuania, perspective musician for many years, freelance web developer and finishing with trader position in World famous Camden market in London. Then I moved to coffee…
– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
Yes. I do enjoy observing people. I’m musician as well. I do like reading about astrophysics and particle physics. I adore exploring the world of various music (my recent discovery is Bill Laurence and Mehliana project)…
– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
I need to find such a place first and then recommend. : ]
– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
There loads of sources nowadays. They all are my favourite and I can’t exclude any particular one. : ]
– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
Don’t be afraid to try differently tasting coffee. You might really like it.