blog humans of coffee

Humans of coffee: Winston Thomas

Who is Winston Thomas?

Winston Thomas is a god serving, people loving, coffee consuming individual. I live in Strand, a small town outside the greater Cape Town.

What is your best childhood memory?

My family used to own a house right by the sea at a place called Buffelsjagsbaai or also known as “Buffelsjag.” We’d go there every long weekend and for holidays every year. Most of my favourite childhood memories took place here. Playing sport with my brother, fishing, snorkelling, running around the beach etc. I remember my father taking myself, my brother and a few friends to a little bay where fishing boats would go out. Each with a mini fishing rod in hand we’d walk through knee high water to a spot of rocks and catch fish called “harders.” The house no longer exists. It was built right behind a sand dune and over the years the dune eventually moved over the house. There was nothing we could do about it, a natural disaster so to speak. So I like to think that a lot of my childhood memories are buried there, with the house. My parents still visit every year but it’s been almost 8 years since I’ve been back.

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If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

Everything that has happened in my life thus far has led me to where I am today. Every experience, whether good or bad, moulds you. So no “do-overs”. But if I could turn back time I would have loved to serve my grandfather a cup of coffee. He passed on a few years ago, before my interest in coffee. I can picture him sitting on his “stoep” sipping on a freshly brewed aeropress or pourover. Although I’m sure he would’ve insisted on adding sugar. He would’ve been so proud of me.

What do you feel most proud of?

I’m proud of myself for taking the plunge and leaving behind a stable career in Civil Engineering/Construction and pursuing a career in coffee. I never grew up with dreams of a specific career in mind so I was always trying to figure out which direction to take. And this was often influenced by people, relationships and obligations. It was only after forcing myself out of my comfort zone after a series of unsettling events a few years back that things started to make sense to me. To this day I have no regrets. Placing 2nd Western Cape Barista Comp and 8th at National Barista Comp in my first year and winning National Aeropress champs is a proud achievement. I still have many goals that I want to achieve but I’m proud of how far I’ve come since I first walked in to Origin a year and a half ago.

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If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?

Smartphone – Keeping in touch with family and friends. Access to music, reading, media etc. Smartphones have become a necessity.

Surfboard – I’m by no means a professional surfer. I might still be considered a kook, but at the end of the day there’s nothing like catching a good wave. Paddling out, dropping in and even bailing. As long as I’m out there on the board.

Aeropress – One of the simplest ways of brewing a good cup. Gives you a lot to work with. Durable and easy to clean.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

“He was the change he wanted to see in in the world”

Without getting too far ahead of myself, I’d like to change the world. Make a significant difference. Whether it be through coffee or some other way.

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You have an awesome Instagram feed. What do you enjoy most about Instagram?

Thank you. To be honest I was sceptical about joining Instagram at first. But it soon made sense to me. I like how Instagram connects people of similar interests. You meet new people, discover new places and spaces. Then there’s so much to learn. And so many opportunities. That’s if you use it in the right way of course.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee, brew method or coffee origin?

My favourite coffee origin would have to be Kenya, hands down. There’s always a possibility of this changing. But Kenyan coffees are at the top of my list at the moment. As for brew methods it really depends on my mood. It’s pretty hot right now so I’ve been enjoying our Kenya Gathaiti in an Aeropress over ice. Rosetta Roastery also makes a mean Kyoto cold brew. And there’s Espresso Lab’s SP9 brewer which makes a delicious cup.

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In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

Because I live outside the city I don’t often get a chance to visit my favourite coffee shops when I’m not working. So obviously there’s Origin Coffee Roasters (without being too biased). You’ll find me behind the machine or at the brew bar most days or sitting in front of the bar every now and then on my off days. Second on the list (and this is in no particular order) would be Rosetta Roastery in Woodstock. Hands down one of the best spots in the country. Thirdly, Espresso Lab at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. This is where I had my first professionally brewed Aeropress and my first time tasting Nordic styled light roast. I was blown away and it literally changed the way I viewed coffee. Last but not least there’s Flatmountain Roasters, also in Woodstock. I’d have coffee there before some of my shifts at Origin. It’s like chilling at a friend’s house. You simply lose track of time. Great coffee and great bunch of guys.

What does a perfect day look like?

A perfect day would begin with a slow brewed coffee at home. Either Aeropress or Pourover. The morning ritual of making coffee is unexplainable and so rewarding when you take the first sip. This would be followed by a surf either solo or with friends or a hike. Breakfast and a milk based coffee would follow. After this I’d like to work a few hours behind the espresso machine. Dialling in, pouring coffee, interacting with customers and joking around with my fellow baristas. Mid-afternoon would be popcorn and movie time. And to end it off a braai (my brother being the designated “braaier”) with family and/or friends.

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