10 Minutes With Yannis Apostolopoulos

In the coffee lab

Yannis Apostolopoulos
Business and Sales Development Director
W.S. Karoulias S.A.
Athens, Greece
&
Member of the Board
Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE)

Chelmsford UK

 

What other coffee jobs have you had?

Surprisingly enough, this is my first coffee job.

Yannis and his team.

Yannis and his team.

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?

Coffee is for me the ideal industry to work. Almost all my life I’ve been working in wines and spirits. It is all about people enjoying moments of life and socializing. Coffee business is the same and moreover you can contribute to making a difference to all the people in the supply chain. Coffee people are amazing.

Yannis earning his Q-Grader Certification with Tracy Allen.

Yannis earning his Q-Grader Certification with Tracy Allen.

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

Still in the coffee business! Leading a big coffee company, educating consumers about good—speciality—coffee, educating coffee professionals, driving sustainability in coffee, helping farmers by providing education and infrastructure to improve their products and their everyday life.

Yannis with 2014 Greek Barista Champion Chris Loukakis of Taf, Giovanni Fucilli of Nuova Simonelli, 2011 World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendez of El Salvador, and others at the Greek Barista Championship.

Yannis with 2014 Greek Barista Champion Chris Loukakis of Taf, Giovanni Fucilli of Nuova Simonelli, 2011 World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendez of El Salvador, and others at the Greek Barista Championship.

Who and what inspires you?

First of all, I need to mention the support of my wife and kids to every step I make. I get inspired by meeting people from around the globe with different culture, habits and needs. Finally, there is one person that really inspires me and drives my judgment with his saying, “The system must generate congruent behavior.” He was my Professor in Harvard Business School: Prof. F. Warren McFarlan, Baker Foundation Professor, Albert H. Gordon Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus.

Yannis with his mentor from Harvard Business School, Professor F. Warren McFarlan.

Yannis with his mentor from Harvard Business School, Professor F. Warren McFarlan.

What are you drinking right now? 

I am drinking a coffee from Finca Val Paraiso, a specialty by Cortese Caffe from Caturra variety, cultivated on “La Naranja” fields at Acatenango in Guatemala, at an altitude of 1,500 meters. It is characterized by its distinct acidity and fruity flavors.

Yannis at his first SCAE Board member. He is up for re election this year; voting begins on Monday.

Yannis at his first SCAE Board member. He is up for re election this year; voting begins on Monday.

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

While calibrating on a cupping table one time, all of us found a natural processed coffee from Ethiopia to be fermented, but then a guru of cupping explained to us: “No it’s not fermented—IT’S THE PROCESS.” Since then, [that has been] our motto when tasting a coffee with similar profile.

Yannis and colleagues.

Yannis and members of the Barista Guild of Europe, including barista champions Javier Garcia (Spain), Chris Loukakis (Greece), James Hoffmann (UK), Kalle Freese (Finland) and others.

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

I try to spend as much time as I can with family and friends, especially traveling with the family. My elder son had set the target by saying to his Mum a year ago: “Look Mum, my brother and I want to travel around the world, just like Dad, and we start now!!!”

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.