10 Minutes With Kim Thompson

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Kim Thompson
Founder/Managing Director
Raw Coffee Company
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

What other coffee jobs have you had?

Previously a Nurse in New Zealand, Diploma in Alternative medicine, mother of three daughters, ran a café here in Dubai for two years prior to starting Raw. No real prior experience, just loved coffee and was naïve enough to think I could do it.

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?

It’s a combination of the learning and the people; always learning something new, how one little seed from a tiny fruit can have so many facets, so many variables. But mostly its the people—my team that I work with, our regular customers, the people we meet at origin, the suppliers, and coffee people I have met at the coffee events and trainings.

Kim with three women from the Talook Women's Coffee Association in Yemen.

Kim with three women from the Talook Women’s Coffee Association in Yemen.

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

Alive would be good! (I’m now on the wrong side of 50.) I have been in Dubai now for 17 years. I’ve just bought some land in Bali so hopefully alternating between a hammock and a small espresso machine near a beach would be nice.

Who and what inspires you?

I am most inspired by the men and women I work with every day here at Raw. I work with a team of guys from New Zealand, Nepal, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Colombia, Brazil, and Venezuela. Most of them live here while their families are back in their home countries. They send all their money home to send kids through school, pay for siblings to go through school, or support extended families, and they only get home once a year. I’m really grateful to them. My girls say they have all these multi coloured brothers, and I know I have 14 people looking out for my back. We have all learnt our trade, our skills along the way, as we are quite isolated here.

Kim with her wonderful team at Raw Coffee in Dubai.

Kim with her wonderful team at Raw Coffee in Dubai.

What are you drinking right now? 

Right now, today, my favorite coffee is a Grade E Kenyan made through a Chemex, really bright and floral and gets better as it cools, just delicious.

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

One of my most memorable experiences was taking my youngest daughter for her 18th birthday to the Harrar region in Ethiopia for an eight-day camping trip. I had visited this co-operative previously and loved the village but didn’t have a translator so missed so much. So we hired a driver and translator and just wandered around in different directions each day, drinking loads of coffee, talking about their issues, observing the harvesting, and for my daughter, to experience seeing young women her age and acknowledging just how lucky she was to have so many choices (she picked up social justice at [university] after this trip, so it worked). We took up their Harrar coffee which we had roasted for brewing, a hand Hario grinder, and V60. They made traditional coffee for us, we made ours, they weren’t too impressed but it generated a lot of discussion.

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

I’m not sure—it’s a pretty consuming industry. But I love the gym, enjoy yoga, like cooking and drinking other fermented fruity stuff and being with family and friends, travelling if I get the chance.

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.