Get to Know:

Elysia Tan

Co-founder of Homeground Coffee Roasters, based in Singapore

Interview with Elysia Tan, Co-founder of Homeground Coffee Roasters

Co-founder Elysia Tan placed second runner up in the 2022 World Brewers Cup Competition, but it certainly wasn’t her first rodeo. After having already competed four times at Nationals and once at Worlds, she knew how to better prepare for success. 
Can you walk us through what it was like preparing for the World Brewers Cup in 2022?
When preparing for Brewers Cup, you invest a lot of time into preparation and you have to kind of give up your social life and not spend time with your friends and family. And because you still have your day-to-day job, you only have time to practice after working hours, which leads to late nights. 
But, since it was my fourth time at Nationals and second time at Worlds, this round was less about coffee skills and more about mental strength and learning how to better deal with stress and nervousness. I ended up developing my own routine for coping with stress, which incorporated running. Because Brewers Cup routines are ten minutes, I’d get my body used to being nervous by going to a nearby park and sprinting for ten minutes, walking for another ten, and then repeating this routine 3-4 times a day. This would get my heart rate up and condition my body to know how to prepare myself to recite my script when my heart is beating very fast. All-in-all, my preparation over time became more about preparing myself physically and mentally.
Another thing I learned to manage was my stamina. While preparing for a competition, as much as you’d like to drink as many coffees as you can and work for many hours, there’s only so much your body can handle. Brewers Cup, to me, became more about ten minute storytelling rather than just brewing a good cup of coffee. What the judges are looking for is an ambassador that can communicate specialty coffee to anyone they meet, and I think storytelling skills are very important to do this effectively. So, when I was preparing for the competition I wasn’t just studying coffee; I watched a lot of videos about how to present and improve storytelling skills. These were the things I did outside of just coffee training.
How did you first get into specialty coffee?

When I was young I actually wanted to have my own cafe to create a safe space where people could come to relax, have conversation and de-stress. To achieve this goal, I first started with baking and then turned to coffee. I quickly realized that there is so much more to coffee than pouring beautiful latte art. Overtime, I learned about the different coffee origins, processing methods, brew methods, etc., and that’s how I went from part-time to full-time in coffee. After that, I decided to start Homeground.
Can you tell us more about Homeground's company ethos and mission?
We believe that sustainability in the specialty coffee industry is definitely about paying direct and livable wages to coffee farmers, but it’s also about reaching out to more people to encourage them to make coffee at home. We feel that instead of fighting over the same pie, we need to make that pie bigger; the only way to do that is to get more people to appreciate specialty coffee. We feel that home brewing is the best way to get people into it, and that's why we named ourselves Homeground.

One of my favourite examples that I always like to use is:
Let’s say today we go to a club and you see a cute person. You’ll probably want to get to know their name and number. It’s the same thing with coffee. If I like this coffee enough, I want to know where it comes from, the name of the farm, the elevation, etc. If I have no interest, why would I bother to learn more? Our goal at Homeground is to get more people interested in coffee, and we do this through the way we curate our coffee selection, brewing recommendations and the content we share on our social media!