10 Minutes With David Walsh

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David Walsh
R&D Manager
Marco Beverage Systems
Dublin, Ireland

What other coffee jobs have you had?

I’ve never really had any other proper job “in coffee.”

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?  

About 4 or 5 years ago, I was attending a Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) Brewmaster course, and I was asked a similar question. I responded that I didn’t work in coffee and went on to explain what I did—at the time I was a researcher in a university. Anyway, one of the other participants later made some comments online, (I think not intending that anyone would read it) that interpreted my saying this as a dismissal of coffee as a profession, and putting myself on a pedestal of sorts. The truth, however, at the time was that I was fascinated by coffee, and was very interested in working in coffee.

All that said, I don’t consider myself as working “in coffee,” moreso I work in a support industry.

I spent some time with David about a year ago at Barista Nation Paris, where he was instructing a brewing course. The French baristas hung on his every word.

I spent some time with David about a year ago at Barista Nation Paris, where he was instructing a brewing course. The French baristas hung on his every word.

What’s great about my job is leading a team of very talented people in identifying a problem, conceiving a solution, and bringing that to reality (the third part is the hard part). Coffee just happens to be an interesting space to be creative about.

Why? First off, coffee (the product) is great—it has enough depth to get geeky and obsessive about, but is simple enough that you can just enjoy it for what it is. Plus, it’s addictive—even though this may not be how we want to market our product, it should not be underestimated. It plays a large part in ensuring ongoing demand and keeping us all in jobs.

Lastly, the people at the bleeding specialty end, tend to be disproportionately friendly, passionate, and enthusiastic. They are a good crowd to have in your mind’s eye when thinking about how to make something better.

David's is a familiar face in the arenas of specialty-coffee. You can find him at the Marco stand at most of the big trade events, or wandering the floor looking at the newest, coolest technology.

David’s is a familiar face in the arenas of specialty-coffee. You can find him at the Marco stand at most of the big trade events, or wandering the floor looking at the newest, coolest technology.

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

Ideally? Well on the professional side, continuing to solve problems. Hopefully increasingly bigger, more interesting problems. My two sons should be in their teenage years which no doubt will keep my wife and I on our toes.

Who and what inspires you?

People who do more and say less. I sometimes get annoyed by the specialty-coffee dialogue, which places a high value on ideas, a bit like the TED talk model. Superficially, these are great, grand ideas, but after you have watched enough TED talks, whose ideas have come to nought, you begin to realize there is no substance. The same occurs in the coffee dialogue; I have in the past been guilty of this. Now I make an effort not to engage in this practice, because ultimately you are leveraging your credibility.

What are you drinking right now? 

Tchembe, Natural Yirg from CoffeeAngel, roasted by Bailies, sourced by Ninety Plus.

Crazy/memorable coffee experience you’d like to share?

The WBC after party on Bogota, hands down.

James Hoffmann called this photo "probably the best photo I will ever take." From left: Juan Valdez, UK Barista Champ John Gordon, Juan's donkey, Conchita, and David.

James Hoffmann called this photo he shot at the WBC after party in Bogota, “probably the best photo I will ever take.” From left: Juan Valdez, UK Barista Champ John Gordon, Juan’s donkey, Conchita, and David.

 What do you do when you’re not doing coffee?

I’m being climbed upon by my 3- and 5-year-old sons, or studying for my Masters.

 

 

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.