Today’s Notable Young Professional is Adam Pesce, Director of Coffee at Reunion Island Coffee Roasters. We caught up with him to find out how he achieved his incredible title and what advice he would share with other young professionals…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I am the Director of Coffee at Reunion Island Coffee Roasters, so I work with our team to develop the coffees we roast and the sustainability programs that support them.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
I’m one of the lucky few whose family’s business is actually an amazing company and not just the path of least resistance. So getting into coffee was an easy decision, but it was travelling to visit the farmers we work with that opened my eyes to the idea that quality and sustainability aren’t mutually exclusive ideas, but rather that they go hand-in-hand. And that concept has been the driving force behind the company ever since
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
I’m 10 years into my career at this point, so there’s been a few thus far… drinking a bottle of great rum with the farmers we work with in Guatemala in January was a good one. We sat around the kitchen table long after the generator went off for the night, drinking a bottle of Zacapa 23 until it was gone, talking about the past nine years of working together, coffee’s future, and life in general. Moments like that are what makes all the travel totally worth it.
Opening our café a couple months back was a pretty great moment too. That was a dream I had for as long as I’ve been in coffee, and we worked doggedly for months to make it a reality. So stepping outside on opening night and looking at the space, full of friends, was as good as it gets.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Doing much of the same work I’m doing now. Coffee never gets boring. Anyone who has dedicated themselves to it, whether they be a barista, roasters, buyer… we’re all on these quixotic journeys to make coffee better. For me, the goal is to deepen our work with, grow, and expand the relationships we have with our farming partners to improve the quality of our coffee and the quality of their lives. I think if we do that, Reunion Island will continue to grow and remain a company we can be proud of.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Love what you do. It doesn’t mean that some days won’t be hard, or painful, or never-ending. But if you love it, and your work doesn’t feel like work, that probably means you’ve found what you’re meant to be doing for the rest of your life.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I’m on the board of Grounds for Health, and we do cervical cancer screening, prevention, and education programs for women in coffee-growing communities. If you’re wondering what cervical cancer has to do with coffee, it is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in developing countries, and coffee is grown exclusively in developing countries. So GFH’s work helps keep the women in those communities alive and empowered.
Covenant House is an amazing place – Canada’s largest youth homeless shelter. I go there once a week with my dog Indy; he’s a therapy dog, and we hang out with the kids. To see the way he can transform a room and bring smiles to peoples’ faces is pretty special. I also help out with their Sleep Out fundraiser, which gets young professionals sleeping out on the street for a night to raise money and awareness for the work the House is doing.
7. What does the word notable mean to you?
Never resting on your laurels and always pushing yourself to do better.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
In the summer, any park with a patch of grass. But I also do love The Federal too. It’s comfortable, always tasty, and staffed with just the best people.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser?
Am I supposed to say Notable? Probably thedailybeast.com.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
I’m a big CBC guy and I think Tom Power’s (@tompowercbc) Twitter feed is filled with solid musical suggestions, Canadiana, and dad jokes.
4. What’s your favourite cocktail?
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
I get FOMO a lot when I’m travelling. Then I look around at wherever I am in the world and it quickly fades away.
6. What would be your last meal? And don’t hold back…
In my backyard, with my friends, eating: ribs, corn, slaw, potato salad, beer, whisky, pie, ice cream, coffee.
7. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
See question #3.