Meet the team: Luke Terrey
We know that sourcing the high-quality coffee we do simply wouldn’t be possible without the skills and hard work of our team.
That’s why we’re kicking off a new series of articles where readers can meet our team members, learn more about them and their skills, and understand how they help us source the amazing lots we do.
Today, we’re starting with Luke Terrey: one of our Sales & Account Managers and a Coffee Liaison who works with producers all over the world. Luke spoke with us to share some more about his history in the coffee industry, as well as giving some valuable insight into what he does on a day-to-day basis at Condesa.
Left to right, Madhav Jeyachandran, Tyler Ritchie, Bill Parionas, Luke Terrey, Paul Hallit
A journey in coffee
“Since I started working in restaurants at 18, coffee has always been the first thing I think about when I wake up, so it was only natural that I decided to find my way into the business.” Luke says.
Luke’s career started in the hospitality industry, initially with a focus on wine and restaurant management. However, after some exposure to coffee, he felt that his skills and experience would translate well into a role in coffee sales.
His first role in the coffee industry was for a company that imported and sold fluid bed roasters in Australia, giving him the initial opportunity to connect with roasters and learn how to roast.
Along the way, he tried to learn as much as he could about the coffee supply chain and how roasteries were operated and managed. He also spent time learning how to strip down, clean, and fine-tune espresso equipment – valuable skills which he has shared with others in the years since, too.
“This sometimes meant long hours driving to regional areas to service and repair grinders, espresso machines, or roasters,” Luke explains. “Part of it was certainly teaching business owners and staff how to understand coffee within their business.
“Ultimately, it’s given me a lot of sympathy for the roasters we work with,” he adds. “I feel that I’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
Questions for Luke
What is your favourite aspect of working in coffee?
“It’s the characters you meet and the places where you meet them. Coffee attracts people of all kinds, and I revel in my role as a liaison between the people who grow coffee, and my clients who need it.
“We meet at cupping tables in busy industrial workscapes, over breakfast in charming cafés, in boardrooms backlit by PowerPoint presentations, and online.”
What advice would you give to people about working in the coffee industry?
“Get your hands dirty. Try to leave your preconceptions and preferences outside the cupping room and approach coffee with respect for the communities that produce it.
“Also, switch to good decaf after 4:00pm!”
What are some challenges you find you encounter on a day-to-day basis?
“Each of my clients markets themselves to a different audience and understands coffee differently. I need to convey their expectations to the producers, sometimes through an interpreter, frequently on challenging schedules.”
What is the one thing you would like people to know about Condesa?
“Condesa represents coffee in a number of different ways, and not just in terms of its flavour profile. Our colleagues in producing countries buy coffee from farmers who range from smallholders with a couple of trees to entrepreneurs trying to feed their families and co-operatives supporting much larger communities.
“We buy it all without prejudice, because we are invested in supporting the futures of coffee-growing families, their wider communities, our roaster partners, and of course, ourselves.”
“We’re a team of dedicated professionals who collaborate to make coffee supply look easy, though it almost never is.”
Luke & the Ayni Project
“With the help and support of my friend, Ernesto Guzman of Inka’s Commodities Trading, I was encouraged by Stephen Bannister to build a benevolent project in Quillabamba, Peru,” Luke explains. “The Jose Olaya Cooperative Cooperative has 286 members, and Ernesto suggested to me that they had every foundational element needed to produce excellent coffee.”
Luke adds that after realising that these producers needed more substantial investment, he was eager to give back to the community. The initiative was dubbed the Ayni Project, in honour of the Andean spiritual concept of reciprocity with nature and within communities.
Condesa funded the first year of the project, commissioning the construction of seven sun drying terrace structures, complete with raised beds. The project produced wonderful organic coffee for its first harvest, and for the second year, a number of Australian roasters stepped in to add their financial support.
Today, construction is underway for another seven drying stations for members of the co-op, providing a number of critical benefits for coffee-producing families in Quillabamba. By improving the quality of coffee grown here, producers will be able to increase their income; these raised beds will also help producers prevent their beans from being affected by rain or condensation, allowing it to dry more quickly and evenly.
Farmers will also be supported to grow micro and nano lots, and can dry them separately at these stations when necessary.
Luke says that while he is incredibly proud of the Ayni Project, in terms of the future, he believes that many of Condesa’s most important initiatives come under the wider umbrella of environmental sustainability.
To this end, he says that he’s proud that ECOM and Condesa are working hard to measure carbon emissions across all areas of operation. He also reiterates Condesa’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050, in line with the Science Based Targets of the Paris Accords.
“Many of our shorter-term goals will contribute to this objective,” Luke concludes. “I’ll be doing whatever I can to contribute to this, and I’ll let all my clients know that we can support their aspirations, and our own, in the journey towards carbon neutrality.”