In the next instalment of Aspire Meets, we join Barista Lindsay Harrison from Manchester’s popular coffee and brunch spots, Federal to find out about his hospitality journey.
Lindsay Harrison used to hate coffee, but then working as a warehouse assistant lugging tonnes of the stuff around will do that to you. It wasn’t until he tasted the product at the roastery, actually tasted it, that he about-faced and set off on a new course.
Wanting out of the warehouse, Lindsay applied for a job in a cafe ten minutes from his home in Brisbane, Australia. “I didn’t take to it straight away,” says Lindsay. “I was quite stressed…I was eighteen and I’d never done anything like that before, so I was quite stressed in the interview. I was even stressing out so much I nearly cost myself the job.”
Lindsay scraped through the interview, got the job and was suddenly thrust front of house, where he began to enjoy interacting with the customers and learning more about the coffee process from seed to cup.
But the world of coffee is big and diverse, and Lindsay soon learnt that there was much more out there for him to taste, to learn, to experience. He wanted, in his own words, to “drink coffee in every country possible”. What’s more, “a good barista is always in need somewhere.”
Lindsay arrived in Manchester, planning to use the city as a base for travelling across Europe (“the international airport was a bonus”). Eventually, following a stint working at a nightclub, he found his way to Federal Cafe Bar: an antipodean-inspired coffee and brunch spot that has quickly become one of Manchester’s most popular independent operations.
The option to travel almost anywhere in the world, and be confident of finding work, is a unique attribute of the hospitality industry and one of its major draws. It is this, as well as the opportunity for growth and progression, that appeals most to Lindsay about a long term career in the sector.
“I enjoy progression in all aspects of my life, I don’t just want to stay where I am” he tells us. “I still want to go further and see what I’m capable of doing, really challenge myself.”
Right now the challenge for Lindsay is learning more about the theoretical side of coffee (“most people don’t realise how much theory goes into it, there’s so, so much before you’re able to enjoy a third wave speciality coffee latte…”) in order to discuss and educate customers, before taking the next step in his career as he embarks on management training at Federal.
Is the endgame to eventually open his own coffee shop? “Yeah I’d love to have my own coffee shop… I think it’s definitely in the future for me.”
Passion for people, the product and an ambition to go further: now that’s a potent brew for success.