Muki Yeung is an icon of the Australian coffee industry. From starting out as a McCafe and Gloria Jean’s barista she is now working in an industry dream job as a Specialty coffee trader at origin, in Kenya. Along the way in her career she has championed various roles in the industry including roasting, account management and competition judging. Her collaboration with the industry and consumers, her achievements and experience, and her passion for working on social projects has contributed vastly to the industry.
Read about Muki’s inspirational journey, below:
What and where was your first job in the coffee industry?
My first “coffee”job was at a McCafe, pumping out large takeaway coffees with 2 sugars and caramel frappuccinos. My first “real”coffee job was as a barista in a shopping mall café. They had a La Marzocco GB5 (not super common at the time) and their coffee was from a local Sydney roaster. One of the weekend baristas was a super passionate coffee person. He sparked my interest in coffee, teaching me about extraction, taste and latte art. From there I went on to work for a local small batch Sydney roaster and my coffee career progressed from there.
What is your occupation now and what inspired you to pursue a career in your chosen field?
I have relocated to Nairobi, Kenya and am now the Specialty Coffee Trader for C.Dorman Ltd, a Kenyan green coffee exporter with 70 years of history. I’ve been inspired by the hard working people at origin ever since my first visit to Brazil in 2015.
What accomplishment/s are you most proud of?
Working in my current role. Never in my wildest dreams as a barista in a shopping mall, or a roaster assisting weighing beans, would I have thought I would be where I am today. While I got here through my own hard work and perseverance, I could not have done it alone. I am extremely grateful to the many mentors, friends and family that supported me along the way.
What’s next for you?
Spending the next 5-10 years in origin. Working on coffee quality projects with coffee producers, connecting them to buyers, educating consumers. I hope to focus on more gender-based social projects.Next for me it is simple. Keep learning, meeting incredible coffee professionals, share knowledge, collaborate and give back.
What are the main changes you have noticed in the coffee industry over the past 5 years?
The persistent undervaluing of coffee by the consumer. Coffee is only cheap because the consumer expects it to be. Considering the crazy amount of work and hands involved it takes to get coffee from seed to the supermarket shelf or your cup, as well as the ever increasing cost of labor, resources and cost of living, it isn’t sustainable to keep it where it is. For you to save a few cents on your coffee means that someone down the supply chain is paying for it. In my opinion the main change is the way coffee professionals are supporting each other. Everyone chasing the same goal. Make the specialty coffee industry sustainable and stronger.
What do you like most about MILKLAB / what is your favourite MILKLAB coffee?
I myself am lactose intolerant and usually drink my coffee black. But back when I used to be able to drink milk, I would occasionally treat myself to a “coffee milkshake”. I now make it frappe-style with MILKLAB Almond, Soy or Macadamia Milk, a pump of vanilla syrup, some ice, two espresso shots and a little dusting of cinnamon. Perfect pick me up for a hot summer’s day.