Get to Know:

Jeannie Lee

from Agro Roasters

Interview with Jeannie Lee, Production Supervisor at Agro Roasters

Jeannie placed second in this year’s Canadian Cup Tasters Competition, and we sat down with her to learn more about her background and competition experience.

What was the preparation like for Cup Tasters? How long was it and what exactly did you do?

I trained for over a month by tasting coffees with my friend Kunie who also competed and eventually won first place in Brewers Cup! We met every weekend and cupped coffees, and gradually increased the difficulty as time passed. On top of training on the weekend, we also cupped regularly here at Agro for the purpose of quality control and strengthening our palates. I also watched a lot of YouTube videos of the previous competitors to gather ideas as this was my first competition! I thought that watching the videos could help me learn about the rules before making my own routine.

Competitions are definitely a lot of hard work. What value do you think comes out of preparing for one and would you do it again?

Entering the competition and placing second really helped to boost my confidence and it also reignited my passion in the industry. Participating in the competition also gave me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger and become more involved in the coffee community. It was just so nice to see everyone and chat, but of course, I was still really nervous and had shaky hands! All-in-all, I would love to participate in Cup Tasters again because I had a lot of fun. 

How did you get into coffee? What made you decide that it’s something you’d like to commit to full-time and eventually compete in?

I was a nurse in Korea before I got into coffee, and learning has always been a big part of my life. I took a barista class for fun, and that’s how my life in coffee started. I wanted to learn more about coffee and got a job as a barista, and loved it so much that it never felt like I was actually working. As much as I loved being a barista, I really love my current role at Agro as well. I manage production and roast at Agro, and I love how this job allows me to learn different sides of the coffee industry and understand it on another level. Coffee is also how I met my amazing husband Nelson who pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and compete in Cup Tasters! I wouldn’t be able to do it without his support.

Want to learn more about Agro? Check out our Q&A with Head Roaster Zachary Cox.