Régine Léonie Guion-Firmin is a freelance SCA trainer who works with small farm holders and co-ops in order to boost direct trade. Her true passion lies in coffee education at origin which has seen her travel all over the world imparting her love and knowledge wherever she goes.
Régine will be hosting several sensory and barista courses at Truth in early March. Her journey to coffee started with a grandmother and a cat. We caught up with her to find out more:
What is your first memory with coffee?
I was born and bred in Paris, but I am originally from Martinique, a gorgeous Island in the French Caribbean, in Central America. I spent most of my summer holidays there, and I was always following my Grandmother everywhere.
Martinique used to commercially produce coffee until the 50’s and 60’s then this market has been replaced for specialty bananas, which is more lucrative.
However, people still have their coffee trees in the back garden, pick the cherries, dry them, manually hull the beans ,then roast them in a pan. My Grandmother would do the same, and every morning I used to wake up to that delightful smell of roasted coffee and freshly made cup.
One morning, I was 7, I stole my Grandmother's cup of coffee and drank it all at once. What an amazing experience! I was hooked.
When my Grandmother came to grab her cup of coffee, she found it empty! She asked me about it, and I told her that the cat drank it… Obviously she did not believe me. I realised this when, the following morning, I politely asked her to have a cup of her delicious brew and she served me chicory- which was absolutely awful!
When I asked her for a real cup of coffee, she told me to ask the cat for one.
Today, I send coffee to my Grandmother.
Can you give a brief history about your journey with coffee?
I started 7 years in London in a small commercial Coffee Shops chain. Within a few months I became assistant Head of Training. I started to be interested in specialized coffee education which brought a start my SCA education a few years later.
Once I became an AST, for Barista Skills and Brewing, I started working with specialty roasteries. There I fell in love with Sensory skills, Green Coffee, and decided to add these two modules to my curriculum.
After this, I got my first freelance AST job, then later got contacted to start a SCA school in Nairobi, which I am still running, and started travelling around Europe, Central America and Africa to run SCA courses.
I love it!
You recently made it to the semi-finals of the French Brewers Cup. For all the baristas out there competing; do you have any lessons / advice you would share?
READ THE RULES and HAVE A COACH! Which I did not do.
Learn from your mistakes, and from other contestants, champions or not. Never give up, there is always another competition.
Competitions improve your technique, your speech, and make you more confident.
What are your future plans in the industry?
As I am working with several small holders farmers and co-ops in Colombia and Africa, I would like to help them to export their green beans directly to small and medium specialty roasteries in Northern Europe. Cutting out all the middle men, and helping small holders to improve their revenues, be able to invest more in their farm or co-ops, produce better coffee, and enjoy life.
So many of them have never had holidays.
Coffee-education at origin is something very important for me. There is big demand for it from the local communities. Unfortunately no one wants to do it because very often it is volunteer work. As a trainer one can gain a lot from it therefore one my coffee-education goal for the next few years is to train 5 to 10 East African future ASTs (Authorised SCA Trainers), for SCA Green Coffee, SCA Sensory Skills and SCA Roasting.
All this for a better living at origin.
To book a spot in one of Régine's courses please email: email@example.com.