Q&A with Benjamin Put of Monogram Coffee:
Benjamin Put has an impressive story in specialty coffee, which includes winning the Canadian National Barista Competition four times and taking third in the World Barista Competition twice.
Five years ago, he co-founded Monogram Coffee, bringing his coffee talents to the sourcing and roasting side of the industry. We sat down with Ben to learn more about Monogram!
It’s been about five years since Monogram started. How has it been going?
It's been really incredible. I think we're in that stage where you're a decent-sized company, but you're still small. People are taking more specialized roles, but we're still not the big company.
I feel like these are the awkward years of a company, but I think they're really exciting because you suddenly have opportunities to do more things. People can specialize their roles more, so I think it's been a really exciting time for Monogram.
Why do you and Monogram put such a heavy focus on coffee competition?
Personally, competition is where you have a stage to talk about what is important to you as an individual, what's important to you in coffee and to share that with the broader audience, and people will engage with your idea pretty readily. To me, that's always been sort of interesting. I don't think there is currently a stage for baristas to share ideas and have them listened to. So I think that's a huge one.
I think competition also really keeps you sharp in terms of sourcing and roasting. A large part of it is like, “What coffee are you bringing? How was it? How well was it roasted?”
Then, I think it's also been good for our company in that our staff have learned and developed their skills through that.
Then, obviously, there's a component of marketing to it where if you're a competitive company in terms of barista competitions, there's an assumption that you're producing something special.
Competition has really given a lot to me, so it's been really nice to stay involved and to coach as well.
Monogram very publicly show their mission and vision on the site. Would you mind walking me through it?
The biggest one is that first sentence: "Monogram exists to positively change people's lives through coffee." That will be the mission statement.
We wanted a mission statement that captured a focus and attention on every hand that is involved in coffee. It's not only producers and importers, roasters and baristas and customers. It's everyone all together, and I think a coffee company has the opportunity to create positive change in all those spheres of influence, so that's how we're sort of trying to guide the way we work.
One of our core values is stewardship. The things you've been entrusted with, you should leave them better than you found them. I think that applies to raw products—like coffee—it applies to the spaces we inhabit, but it also applies to people. So my hope is that as time goes on, our employees and our customers and our suppliers are all positively impacted from their time and their connection with Monogram.