Profiles

Boram Um discusses becoming an Eversys brand ambassador

Boram Um

Swiss coffee machine manufacturer Eversys is expanding its line-up of coffee ambassadors with the announcement of 2023 World Barista Champion Boram Um joining the team.

When Boram Um won the 2023 World Barista Championship (WBC), his name joined the honour board of the 22 barista champions before him, but he has also joined a community of brand ambassadors who celebrate and advocate for Eversys coffee machine around the world.

It was 2017 WBC winner Dale Harris who first exposed Um to the brand, and discussed how specialty coffee shops were embracing its super-automatic machines to improve operational service in a new wave of automation appreciation.

“I was drawn to how Eversys’ advanced technology and automation is improving coffee quality. That sparked my interest in understanding how the market and specialty coffee service is changing, and how it will impact the future of our barista profession,” Um says.

“Spending hours behind the bar pulling shots doesn’t really allow you to connect with the customer. We lose a lot of the essence of our specialty industry when we can’t explain what’s going on behind the scenes.

“Our philosophy [at Um Coffee Co] has always been, ‘let’s push our baristas out of the bar as much as possible to have that connection with the consumer’. However, I think using automated machines in the specialty industry will be a huge step in unlocking our services, gaining a deeper customer connection, extracting better coffees, gathering key information about Brazilian coffee, and sharing how it can be produced more consistently.”

One of the biggest differentials for Um as a WBC ambassador, is his connection to origin as a producer and barista. He says this combined experience gives him the advantage of sharing his knowledge of coffee and sensory experience with consumers.

“The educational part of customer connection and service has always been a crucial part of our operation at Um Coffee Co. One of the main reasons behind that is because Brazilian customers have a huge connection with coffee,” Um says. “It’s almost outrageous that we would go up to a customer in Brazil and say we’re going to teach them about coffee because they think they know absolutely everything. We have to break down old barriers and knowledge about coffee, and share information on new varietals and ways to process coffee, and it’s something we’ve been doing in our cafés. I think it only opens more doors to producers to get access to market and consumers.”

Since winning the WBC in June 2023, Um has been in demand for TV interviews on mainstream channels that would previously never have talked about specialty coffee, at expos, and travelled to the United States and Canada before joining the Eversys team at Host Milano in Italy for his first official Eversys ambassador duties.

Um is determined to use his title to help bring more high-end, high-quality Brazilian specialty coffee to the world.

“It was one of the biggest barriers we were able to break with my WBC performance, on top of our teamwork. I wanted to show the market that there’s a different side to high-end Brazilian coffee, and how it connects different people,” Um says.

His global title is a far cry for Um’s previous work in the finance industry. Despite living in a producing country and constantly being connected to the agricultural product that’s embedded deep in Brazil’s cultural identity, Um says his family had no direct relationship to coffee. That all changed however, when his father started a coffee farming business “because he wanted to retire”.

“Obviously, he failed miserably,” Um laughs, “but there’s a reason why my dad decided to start work in the industry – there’s so much potential in terms of production and other connected businesses.”

Um and his father are not traditional Brazilian coffee farmers, and have been open about their “unconventional methods”. At Fazenda Um, they introduced raised African beds to dry coffee on their farm to the dismay of sceptical neighbours. Now, after their success, all Fazenda Um neighbours use raised African beds. Um and his father even started experimenting with controlled fermentation at a time it was still considered to be “defect coffee”.

“We’ve been called ‘crazy’ so many times in Brazil when we apply different techniques. I think it’s been a good way to bring a refreshing outlook and take to Brazilian coffees. Having my dad with this entrepreneurial mindset and really tackling coffee production in Brazil pushed me to succeed further in the industry as well,” Um says.

At the beginning of his coffee career in 2014, Um started working in quality control. He took his Q grader exam, and helped his family export beans and understand them better. That’s when he realised how many barriers there were to achieving high-end specialty Brazilian coffee.

“I needed to better understand the coffees I was producing in order to sell them. So, I decided – together with my brother – to open a café in São Paulo in Brazil to teach the Brazilian customer about high quality coffee. If we could do that, in a country that has a proud coffee heritage, then maybe we would have the edge that we need to serve our coffees abroad,” Um says.

He worked for about three to four years in the café before dabbling in coffee competitions.

“In 2015, I watched my first WBC. I knew there were other coffee competitions going on, so we pushed our employees and baristas to start competing as soon as they started,” he says. “Since 2016, we have had baristas competing at a national level, but we reached a limit. We always placed third on the national stage. We realised there was a knowledge gap missing. That’s when my brother and I decided to start competing.”

Training was intense. Um and his brother fell down a rabbit hole of education and references from different coaches and coffee professionals around the globe.

“One of the biggest advantages was being able to connect to different coffee communities and professionals in Japan and Canada. That’s how we started building our team to compete at Worlds. I think that was the biggest advantage – getting to know other successful baristas and trying to improve everything we could,” he says.

His first competition in 2019 was focused on anaerobic fermentation to bring out complexity of his Brazilian coffee. He placed 16th on the world stage. The next year in 2022, he placed seventh.

For his 2023 performance, however, Um displayed new processing and drying techniques to highlight the full potential of Brazil’s quality, and it was this routine, combined with his technical prowess and engaging presentation, that sealed the WBC win.

Eversys Marketing Director Andre Eiermann has been following Um’s career progression for the past few years. They spent almost a month together in 2022 in preparation for Um’s 2022 WBC attempt in Melbourne. The next time they would meet, was when Um became World Champion.

“Boram truly understands the entire coffee value chain. I admire his dedication and teamwork, which I got to see first-hand in his Melbourne preparation. This value perfectly fits with Eversys,” Eiermann says. “He is very detailed, data driven, and thorough in his work. He is humble, authentic, and friendly, and will be a great ambassador for Eversys. A partnership has to have chemistry and embrace the human connection, and we have that in Boram.”

Eiermann adds that while baristas may still be apprehensive about the role of automation in their line of work, having Um on board the Eversys team will go a long way in demystifying any doubts.

“When you’re pulling 1000 to 2000 shots a day, I don’t understand what’s cool about dosing, tamping, looking at the scale at all the time or holding a steam wand when you could be looking at the eyes of a customer, smiling at them, and communicating with each one that enters your café. That’s why it’s important to have people on board that are great when it comes to human connection,” Eiermann says.

“We want to have a real barista behind our equipment that helps us to improve and think like a barista. There is nothing better than connecting a World Barista Champion with our research and development team with no filter in between. We can’t wait to see where this new partnership takes us.”

For more information, visit www.eversys.com/en/

This article was first published in the November/December 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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