10 Minutes With Morten Münchow

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Morten Münchow
Owner of Coffee Mind
Trainer at London School of Coffee
External lecturer in Food Science Department at Copenhagen University

What other coffee jobs have you had?

When I [was a student] I had a study job as Assistant teacher in “Theory of Science for students of Biology,” and with biology as my secondary study, and philosophy as my main, I really liked the subject.

My only actual full time coffee job I got with my association with Cafe Europa and that lead to two years’ employment as a roast master at Kontra Coffee in Copenhagen from 2005-2007. During those years I was thrown into the art of coffee roasting and production logistics.

In 2007, I started as a freelancer but I had a normal part-time job as a teaching assistant at the medical department teaching research design and statistics for medical students in their fourth year of study. Basically, what we did was to read a lot of research articles and my job was to make them understand the articles with focus on the design and all the statistical concepts in the articles.

Practical session on cappuccino foam measurements at NBC 2009

Practical session on cappuccino foam measurements at NBC 2009

I had a part-time job for two years at the Food Science and the Dairy technology research unit to investigate cappuccino foam, and the results are still in the writing. I created a measurement method that is able to measure the quality of cappuccino foam, and I presented that during Nordic Barista Cup in 2011. The project was related to my involvement in the creation of a danish barista milk named CafeMælk.

Part of an advertisement campaign of the Danish Barista milk for which Morten was on the inventing team in Denmark

Part of an advertisement campaign of the Danish Barista milk for which Morten was on the inventing team in Denmark

I took on a job at Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) in 2012 to participate in research on entrepreneurship, and at the same department we will soon investigate business models in European coffee roasting startups to elucidate how people can get some inspiration and assistance in the early difficult phase where unknowns are plenty and certainties are scarce.

Morten with a roasting client in Korea.

Morten with a roasting client in Korea.

I have to mention that in 2010, I worked for two months as a barista at Cafe Europa in Copenhagen. I had been training baristas for many years at Kontra Coffee, as I managed the training department for some years and I have spent quite some effort to develop teaching materials for baristas—basic and advanced—but never really worked as a barista myself. So Jens Nørgaard, my good friend and owner of Cafe Europa, allowed me to take on the role as a barista in their bar. I have a lot of technical knowledge about the hand craft of the barista, but to me a barista has turned that knowledge into skills and is able to create high quality and keep the work area clean and maintain a good customer relationship under pressure.

A recent position is creator of the certification system for coffee roasters at Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) where I am currently developing a new level three certification system. It is great fun and I feel that it is a natural extension of my elaboration of my own teaching material for coffee roasters that I have developed over almost seven years now as a teacher at London School of Coffee.

Morten at Kontra during a cappuccino foam chemistry course.

Morten at Kontra during a cappuccino foam chemistry course.

Recently I have done projects at the sensory department at Food Science in Copenhagen where we will merge the industry’s quick but often biased approach to tasting coffee with the statistical state-of-the-art method used at the university. We have just got funding for six months of research and I’m looking very much forward to bringing the the specialty coffee business the tools we will develop to help primarily roasters choose between profile development experiments on a more solid basis than is done today. Please keep an eye on my blog for updates on this.

Practical session on cappuccino foam measurements at NBC 2009

Practical session on cappuccino foam measurements at NBC 2009

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?

I just love coffee. Really. I’m completely into the cup when I drink it—every day and every cup. I have really noticed that my emotional life gets more and more connected to what is in the cup. I get extremely excited and happy when the taste is pleasant and interesting, and I get seriously sad and annoyed if I can taste green coffee defect, roast defects, and/or brew defects in the cup (all to often they appear in concert!). My experience of coffee bypasses my cognitive/discursive brain and is hard-wired directly to my emotional life.

The perfect part for me is that it unites two passions: quality control from a scientific point of view on the one hand, and entrepreneurship strategy and psychology on the other. Even though coffee has a heavy physical/technical aspect, it also has a strong emotional aspect for some reason.

Scene from a coffee sensory research project that Morten taught in Food Science at Copenhagen University in 2013

Scene from a coffee sensory research project that Morten taught in Food Science at Copenhagen University in 2013

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

Still doing my own coffee teaching/consultancy business and coffee research. I also hope to work explicitly with entrepreneurship both inside and outside the coffee business with focus on the psychological/existential aspects of entrepreneurship. In addition to working with entrepreneurship at CBS, I recently graduated as an Integral Development Coach so that I can teach people to fire up their inner world and direct it into the outer world—to find their talents and interest and share it with the world. By merging this with entrepreneurship, I would like to work with integral entrepreneurship (in short doing entrepreneurship in body, mind, and spirit from self, nature, and culture).

Who and what inspires you?

To meet people who work hard to make their own talents and interest their livelihood. And luckily the specialty-coffee business is made of these kinds of people!

At the moment I’m inspired by: Sakyong Mipham (Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies for Modern) to offer the deepest level of my personal operation system; and on a more daily basis, I’m inspired to work in line with the instructions of Mark Forster on how to have an efficient approach to my daily activities. Also Alexander Osterwalder‘s (Business Model Generation) and Steve Blank’s (The Startup Owner’s Manual) approach to entrepreneurship is a daily inspiration on how to run and develop my business.

Morten at Kontra during a basic barista course

Morten at Kontra during a basic barista course

What are you drinking right now?

In my cup is Guatemala Finca La Perla. Earlier today I also had some Kenya Ndaroini.

Crazy coffee experience you’d like to share?

My first and most crazy experience was at Nordic Barista Cup in Iceland where one of the competitions took place in a cow barn where the baristas had to milk a cow directly into the pitcher and create a cappuccino right away!

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.