The Boss Barista Takeover with Pressure Profiles

Listen to the first episode of this Berlin-based show about representation and community in the hospitality industry

  
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Welcome to the Boss Barista takeover!

A few weeks ago, I put a call out to coffee folks, fans, and drinkers across the globe to pitch ideas about the podcast they’ve been dreaming of making—and today we’re turning the mic over to the third in our series of guest creators.

Today’s episode comes from Linn Tsang, who is kicking off her podcast called Pressure Profiles. Pressure Profiles is a Berlin-based interview-style show where Linn chats with baristas and other hospitality professionals about representation and community.

I had prior connections to the first two sets of creators in the Boss Barista Takeover—I knew some of the team behind Cafetera Intelectual, and Amanda Whitt from the Updose Podcast is a colleague from my time in New York—but Linn is a new friend, made through this podcasting project. Her perspective is urgent and insightful, and I can’t wait to hear more from the folks she interviews, and learn how the hospitality scene in Berlin is being shaped and molded by changemakers like her.

Next, you’ll hear Linn introducing the series and her guest. As always, you can find a full transcript of this episode at bossbarista.substack.com. Be sure to listen until the end to hear more about this takeover project, and to learn how you can get involved!


Welcome to Pressure Profiles, a show born out of the need for representation and community in the hospitality industry. A new conversation, linked to hospitality in one way or another, will be released on a monthly basis. I want to provide a diverse and open-minded platform that can inspire people in the industry. My name is Linn Tsang, and I’ve been living and working as a barista in Berlin for three years, but my relationship with hospitality is lifelong.

In our first episode, I talk to Amber, a close friend of mine who’s also living in Berlin. We connect about her journey in the coffee industry, and discuss subjects like exploitation, unionizing, power structures, and sustainability. And COVID-19. Thank you for listening, and a big welcome to today’s guest, Amber Ehler!

Linn: Welcome!

Amber: Thank you!

Linn: How are you feeling?

Amber: I’m good. I mean I’ve been better, the weather is not great but, yeah I’m good. How are you?

Linn: A little bit stressed I think. All cards on the table, we had 50 minutes of technical issues. I’m recording from my bedroom so I’ve put up a mattress on one end and closed all the doors and just made myself a cozy little space here.

Amber: Yeah, it sounds cushy.

Linn: It’s cushy. We haven’t actually introduced you, Amber. Properly.

Amber: I’m just your friend. 

Linn: You’re my friend, but also, if it wasn’t me introducing you—because I would introduce you as my friend who I met through my partner, working in coffee.

Amber: Mhm.

Linn: How would you like to introduce yourself?

Amber: I would introduce myself as... So, my name is Amber. I’m Eurasian, my mother is Malaysian, my father is German, but I identify as Eurasian because I was raised in a couple of different countries but in neither of their home countries. I currently work part-time in hospitality, more so in specialty coffee, and I have been for the past three years, which is the amount of time I’ve been living in Berlin. And I am also a tattooer, which is something I would like to do full-time in the very near future. Yeah, I guess that’s how I’d like to introduce myself, pal.

Linn: Yeah. And you’re also allowed to start tattooing again right?

Amber: Mhm, very exciting news. So I think from the beginning of this week, actually, so everyone that I know has slowly but surely been taking appointments and rescheduling their previous bookings. Yeah.

Linn: Amazing. You started your hospitality journey in London, right?

Amber: Yeah so, I think it was 2015. Just for context, I moved to London when I was 18 to go to university, and I went to study illustration—and I had a really great time the first year, and a really bad time the second year. And for, like, six months, I didn’t really draw, and I was obsessed—not obsessed, but I think when you are growing up, most people get taught by their parents or parental figures that, the thing that you have to do after you finish school, is to find a job. And there are specific types of jobs that are acceptable and seen as mature and adult jobs.

So, for a couple of years, I was trying to fit myself into that mold. I did a couple of marketing internships and I was extremely unhappy, and I got offered this account manager position at this jewelry company and then weeks before I was supposed to take the role, I said, “No, I can’t.” I just started looking for café jobs around my area where I was living in London.

I found this establishment called St David’s, and it was like a brunch—they labeled themselves as a brunch specialty coffee place. I met the woman who used to own it. She’s no longer the owner of the business, but her name’s Sian. And she gave me the job, and I was there on and off for two years. That’s where I learned about specialty coffee. They, at the time, used Square Mile, and I got to go to Square Mile and they trained us.

Linn: Oh really? I didn't know that. 

Amber: Yeah. That was when I came into contact with specialty coffee. I mean, I wouldn't say the training was intense. It was the light, introductory kind of stuff, like steaming milk and filter and espresso, and the idea of single origins and blends, that kind of stuff. 

Linn: Mhm.

Amber: When I moved to Berlin, that's when I guess I started taking coffee more seriously. Because I would say that—or maybe it was me just not knowing of that community in London—but I perceived when I moved to Berlin the coffee scene was more serious in Berlin. 

Linn: In what way?

Amber: I guess I never really knew anybody in coffee in other places in London. Maybe it is actually just me networking, but in Berlin, when I started working in specialty coffee, I met so many people who weren't working in the same company as me who really loved coffee. It was a thing that you talked about, and something that you discussed, and yeah, it was more integrated in people's lives. Like it was definitely more of a passion, but yeah. That's, I mean, in hindsight that probably isn't the case with London. Like obviously there are people living in London who take coffee very seriously and it is a passion. 

Linn: Maybe we can feel that way because I think the Berlin coffee scene is quite small. 

Amber: Yeah. Yeah. That's true. 

Linn: There’s like a very, I don't want to say clique, but there is that small scene within specialty coffee, with people who are very, very passionate about it. 

Amber: Yes. I would say core figures of the community. Like there's obviously a very close, tight-knit community, but there are definitely core individuals who I guess would always see or recognize, or who always have something to say—which is not necessarily a bad thing, but are always very active in the conversation of coffee here. 

Linn: Yeah. Did you feel like you got into that scene or that subculture? 

Amber: Sadly, it’s, I don't know. I feel like my journey with specialty coffee is very unfortunate. Like I wouldn't say that I've completely closed my mind to it, but basically, when I moved here, I started working for a company that, I guess from an outside perspective, seemed like the place you wanted to work. It was the establishment to go to if you were really serious about learning and working with it.

I would say the first six months there, they were a dream, because I was being trained heavily and it was stressful, but it was a really—it was a really steep learning curve, going from somebody who air-quotes “made” specialty coffee than actually was really fucking knowing what I was doing, and the product that I was working with. I think, when you're in coffee, one of the biggest things about it is that you quickly develop a strong bond with the people that you work with. I really enjoyed that, and it really made me feel like I was part of something.

That was great, to have a shared interest with these people who took it really seriously. And, you know, that was wonderful. But I think as that job progressed, I became really unhappy, because this facade that this establishment and this company had upheld of itself was essentially false. As time went on, you learn the malpractices—the malpractice that I've found within that company was not exclusive to that company.

It's in most establishments, especially coffee establishments in Berlin, unfortunately, have some sort of malpractice. It really goes against this idea, this concept that they're selling to people, their customers, or prospective customers—then it's all about the ethics and being fair and making sure that everything in the chain is taken care of. There's full transparency and it's not, it's just marketing. Well, from my experience, it was just a marketing tool.

After I left that company. I worked for another place that used the term “specialty coffee.” I mean, it wasn't a specialty coffee establishment, but that was part of what they were selling. And, they too, didn't take it seriously. It came down to essentially one person who had a very big ego, who was kind of misogynistic and basically undermined the value of specialty coffee and what it actually meant for people coming there who drank it.

And then I worked for another establishment, and it was kind of great, but then corona happened, and then I lost that job. It's like, specialty coffee in the end didn't really do much for me. Like it didn't really—I felt like I got hurt or burned by it more than I actually learned and grew with it, which was unfortunate, because obviously you and I know a lot of people who still work in it, and it's not that they're not experiencing this type of malpractice or dissatisfaction—but they still love it. I kind of do want to still love it, but I feel like sometimes I just need a bit of a break to not think, or have to be around it, that I can reset and just find that interest that I had at the beginning. 

Linn: Yeah. 

Amber: Did that answer your question? I'm so sorry. 

Linn: It does answer my question; I have a lot of stuff. I took a lot of things that you were saying I wanted to ask about. Do you feel like coffee was a passion that you wanted to pursue, but it just—the industry didn't allow for it, basically? 

Amber: I mean, yes and no. Yeah, like I said, in the beginning, I'm a tattooer and I always... Tattooing is always something that I wanted to do more of. But the interest that I have for coffee at the beginning and yeah, initially I would have stuck with that job, stuck with working with it, forever, potentially, part-time. I really didn't enjoy it. 

I really enjoyed working with the product. From an outside perspective, making coffee all day seems very monotonous, but it isn't—that's the thing about specialty coffee, it's so different, and it's so different every time you get a new coffee, and learning about what people are doing with it and the way that people can experiment with it. Yeah, I could have, I really could have done it forever.

I know that yeah, the experience really left a bad taste in my mouth for it, but it's also—I think it’s the industry, but also a little bit of me, too. I could just keep going until I find a place where I feel like I'm finally in an environment that's safe and nurturing and educational, but I'm choosing right now not to do it. It's a bit of both the industry and me.

Linn: Yeah, I've definitely been in your shoes, not necessarily with coffee, but probably also with coffee at one point. I was working in hospitality since... Like, I grew up in a Chinese restaurant. Like the family business was just there from the get-go. As soon as you could start working on the side, that's pretty much where all of my family went and started working as a bartender or as a waitress or in the kitchen, pretty much where you fit. I was doing waitressing and bar jobs for so many years until I really felt like I had enough of it.

I felt like I can't do this job anymore, because it feels so undervalued. I left that industry and I was, I got my degree in social work and I thought that was going to be the next step for me, to just stay in social work. And then I, out of a whim, basically decided to take a year in Australia. Of course, then I fell right back into hospitality, because it's an easy way to get a job in a new country when you know the skill. But then I fell in love with coffee and I fell in love with specialty coffee. So I was definitely at that point where I felt like I needed to leave the industry, I needed to, for my own well-being. I found a new part within it that drew me back in. 

Amber: That's beautiful. 

Linn: But I also think it's so different from—depending on, of course, the place of work—but also the cultures within different countries are so different. 

Amber: Yeah. 100%. I mean, I haven't worked in Australia, but I, from what I've gathered from you and Utty and Narumi, it's legitimately a career there—like you and people really value coffee and hospitality, because it's a genuine exchange between customer and non-customer, employee. 

Linn: Yeah. It's also, I guess, the third-wave coffee scene has been there for a long time. And it's very ingrained in everyday culture. Whereas I think in Germany, in many parts of Europe, it's more like a subculture, or like a subdivision within hospitality: “Specialty coffee, what is that? And why is it different from just a regular coffee?” 

Amber: It definitely is a subculture here. You're right. There's still so many people I feel who are questioning, like really the customers who come in and judge before actually really hearing what you have to say about what you're actually representing. Cause customers almost always think they're right. You know, that's obviously not the case. 

Linn: Yeah. What you touched upon before, as well, within this specialty coffee scene, there's a lot of, there is a lot of highlighting, like good quality, right? So you learn a lot about good-quality product, and how come it's good quality, and what makes it good quality. We pay good money for it, to support the farmers and all of these things. But there's definitely a lag here. There's a problem with sustainability within the companies, because that's where it ends. Sustainability within the companies is a high turnover, low pay. And it's—that's not sustainable, right?

Amber: No, it's not sustainable. I mean, it's just, that's exploitation—just in a different part of the chain. 

Linn: Yeah. There was actually… Have you heard about High Density? 

Amber: No. Pray tell, what is this?

Linn: Monday or Tuesday, The Barista League put on the first event of High Density, basically talking about different subjects within specialty coffee. High Density, it was short but dense. They had a lot of really good speakers. All of these are watchable on YouTube

Amber: Okay. Sweet. 

Linn: You can basically go to YouTube, search for High Density or Barista League. You’ll have all of these events. Most of them are between 10 and 20 minutes. There was also a really interesting one, a woman named Vava—I cannot pronounce that—Angwenyi. And she was doing a talk on learning the colonial producer narrative, and she also has a book called CoffeeMilkBlood which I really want to read. Yeah. 

Amber: Yeah. I mean, that sounds super relevant. Cause I mean, it's also a whole other can of worms. There is a whole white-man's-savior-type approach to the way that establishments like to market their coffee—like selection process, like those horrible Insta Stories where it's like, you're helping this family and this family buy food or create their own business. It's like, people caught off-guard working, sharing their day—and it's just like, oh yeah. I mean the sensitivity and the perspective has not been thought of at all, but also, thank you for exposing yourself and the way that you really see what you're doing. Yeah.

Linn: Yeah. I think it was Vava or Ever Meister who was talking about white savior-ism. There's a lot of good stuff on there. 

Amber: It's really inspiring, I guess.

Linn: Yeah. I was telling myself that I need to go back and rewatch these every now and then, just to remind myself that there are really inspiring things happening within the industry. 

Amber: Mm. I feel like you're obviously, definitely more into, I would say—it's a really big passion of yours. Like you work in it right now. You were very active in what's happening in the coffee world. Like, are you more positive? Do you feel positive about the industry that you work in, or is it 50/50—or how do you feel about the state of coffee? 

Linn: That's a huge question. I can try to, obviously I, it's two-fold, I am positive in some ways and I'm very negative, or I feel very negative about some parts of it. Also, I think I have a passion that is constantly being fed by having a partner working in the industry, because his passion has always been driving my passion. 

Amber: That's wonderful. 

Linn: Yeah. It's hard sometimes to get away from that when it's like, “Hey, what are you tasting in this coffee?” I'm just having a coffee, leave me alone. “But what do you taste?” It’s just a coffee. I’m not at work. Just have a break okay? But it's really inspiring at times. Yeah. What was the question? Do I feel positive?

Amber: Do you find that you feel like you're positive most of the time? Or is it something that you have to practice—do you have to switch off from some of the news sometimes? Or what you see from companies, or what you hear from your friends when they aren't happy—or is it generally easier to be like, “Oh no, I love this. Like, this is great.”?

Linn: Yeah. I think that I see a little bit of positive steps in the—because I can only talk about the Berlin industry right now. There are some positive steps being taken, but overall it's a conversation that is heavily focused on how exploitative the industry is. That makes it hard to keep thinking positively, especially when you know how much your friends are being exploited, or underpaid or undervalued. You face so much microaggression and hostility. I mean, you have a really interesting story. And not to put you on the spot, but you have a very interesting story about how a former employee of yours tried to exploit you more because they thought you needed a visa, right? 

Amber: Yeah. I mean, it's horrible, obviously—but nowhere near as bad as somebody who actually was really trapped by having to perform, because they were having their visa hung over their heads. I think, yeah, it was a very eye-opening exchange. Essentially what happened was I had picked up some managerial responsibilities, just to cover for some shifts from my manager at the time.

That happened for a month and a new store was opening, and they asked me if I wanted to become a manager. And I said yes. I asked to be kept as part-time, or part-time hours, around 30 hours a week. We had a few emails back and forth about what the pay would be, and I'd ask for a certain amount of pay. One day the, I don't want to say big boss, but one of the owners came in to speak to me and the one that I was emailing, and we had a conversation about what the job would entail, hour-wise and pay-wise.

Basically, we got into it because he was not willing to pay me what I had asked, which I did not think was especially outrageous or extortionate. I don't think I was being, I don't think I was taking advantage at all. I think that was really some wage that I thought that someone who's in a managerial position for a really well-known establishment should get paid, especially if the norm is that most people work a serious amount of over hours. So, I mean, if you're going to put me on a salary, then you might as well make sure that the salary reflects what the work you're actually going to make me do, and what is expected of me.

I guess we went back and forth about it because I was basically telling him why I should receive this amount of pay. He was very, I guess he was getting quite flustered. Towards the end of the conversation-slash-semi-argument, he just said, “Well, why should I pay you more when you come here for a work visa and then just leave after a year?”

Also to put it into context, I have a German passport, a European passport. At that time I had been working at the company for a whole year. So, I mean, just as a boss for a company that wasn't really that big at the time, you should know I'm not on a visa—also the audacity for you to say that you don't want to pay people what they're worth, and what the work is worth, just because they have a visa, is nonsensical.

It's xenophobic. And it's really exploitative. The fact that another person can say that out loud to somebody in an argument about their worth is ridiculous because—any human who holds some drop of self-awareness should know that's not an okay thing to say, especially in fucking 2019, when this happened. And yeah, that's what he said.

I think I was really taken aback, but also not surprised, which is very sad, but it’s—I took that comment really as a confirmation that this establishment was really rotten, and it made me feel, yeah, it made me feel really sad, because there were so many people in this company that were on visas and that company really makes them feel like they were really doing them a favor by giving them this visa, and then really taking advantage of them, people working like, a crazy amount of days in a row, and being told that's what they needed to do. That's what was expected that they should be doing.

That's what everyone did in that company, that it was okay. And a lot of these practices are illegal, but they get away with it because people who are on visas or who are new to the country don't really have access to information about the law and what their rights are as workers. That was my experience with somebody who is clearly not interested in caring or knowing about the workers that they employed. 

Linn: They didn't even have the audacity to check in on, “Who am I talking to? And what is their role in this company?”

Amber: 100%. 100%. Yeah. We were all just numbers, really? Just bodies. 

Linn: Yeah. I think regarding wages, I have heard a lot of people talk about how they're not allowed to talk about their wages. 

Amber: Yeah. It's funny. I feel like that's also a really funny thing, because—not funny, but it's which company has employees that actually don't talk to each other. I don't actually understand this reasoning behind, “Oh, you shouldn't talk to your other colleagues about what you get paid.” I mean, for an industry that prides itself on transparency, if you're—if you're really feeling okay with the way that you pay people, the conversations between them should be fine. And also they're going to happen regardless you know? 

Linn: Yeah. 

Amber: That's just how it is. People want to know, people should be checking in with their colleagues just to make sure that they're also getting a fair deal out of their working relationships. 

Linn: Yeah. I was looking into this because I also worked at a place where we were told that we weren't allowed to talk about wages between ourselves, but I looked at my contract and it didn't actually say, and it's probably because it's not his right to ask for that. Or it's not an employer’s right to ask for that. If you're not, I think there are some exceptions for really high CEOs in companies. We were told we weren't allowed to talk about it, but of course we did. But I also think there is a German culture where it’s like, you don't really talk about money in that way. I think it's more prevalent here, but in the same time you have the law that, it prohibits you to pay people unfairly. 

Amber: Yeah. Which is the stinker of it all, isn't it? Because people act, there are employers who still don't pay their workers legally, where it's like the minimum wage. 

Linn: In the end, we actually ended up talking about our pay at my former job of mine. We ended up realizing that we were all being paid unfairly, the person with the least amount of experience and the youngest was being paid the most, more than the head barista. 

Amber: Oh, that's so stinky. What?

Linn: Yeah. Yeah. I was told that my pay was the only pay that I was going to be offered and it was a good pay, take it or leave it. Then I find out that this less experienced person is earning way more than me for, I don't know what reason, maybe their skin color, I don't know. 

Amber: That’s so rotten. 

Linn: Yeah, I do. I do read a lot of Boss Barista. She writes a lot about subjects like these. Google Boss Barista, and there's a special one that is a really good thing that she wrote, it’s called, “Don't Trust Your Boss.” There's been a lot of, especially during corona, I think there were a lot of walkouts and things happening in the States where people were demanding what they should have a right to.

There were a lot of people that just ended up losing their jobs, and the gist of it is Boss Barista, Ashley Rodriguez, she's saying at the end of the day, you can't ghost your boss, but your boss can ghost you. Like there's a power structure there, where an employer can do so much that will ruin your life and your financial situation. You can't do the same in return. 

Amber: No, which I know. I think the power that—the thing that's great about Germany, once you do know the rules of workers' rights and unions, you can really use that to your advantage to protect yourself. I guess you have to get through those obstacles, like actually understanding and unionizing. I think you need something over 50% of the workforce having to actually sign up to actually have a union, but yeah, you're right.

But then also, we can't really reciprocate this, like that type of damage to our bosses, but I think that's where the power of word-of-mouth comes into play. We all know the reputation of people in this industry because we talk to each other, and the way that we support each other is by not supporting these people. Because obviously it's very dangerous for someone to come straight out and be like, “This person or this industry, this company, does things this way and it's really bad. I can show you how they've done it.” Then it's dangerous for you, because then I'd know, you can't really get employed in the future or it goes south and people don't believe you. 

Linn: Marked as a troublemaker. 

Amber: Yeah. Like blackballed a bit—but community, you just start having these really open, honest conversations within your community. It rightfully spreads, this information that should be known, so that people can understand where they should be supporting and where they should not be. 

Linn: Have you been a part of a union? 

Amber: Sadly? No. So, I mean, I didn't really know anything about unions in my first place of work here. And then I got let go. At my second establishment, they've just had a union, which is wonderful to hear. I'm really happy for the people that I still know in that company because I think it's been a long time coming. I think that having a union is really the best way to protect yourself as a worker. 

Linn: Did they just create a union within the company? 

Amber: I guess it's been in talks for a while. They were talking about having a union, maybe shortly after I was let go, which is a year now, a year and three months. And, they've been doing, I think in the past, a lot of the people who wanted to start the union were doing a lot of conversing with their colleagues. But I, again unfortunately—this company has a very big issue with their working hierarchy.

There's definitely a gap between the people in upper management and the people who actually work in the shops. That relationship is extremely hostile and not very safe. So I think there was a lot of conversation happening—but not stealthy conversation—but conversation that would let people know that there was a union and that they should join. That it was something that was in their best interest, but not speaking too loudly about it to be targeted by upper management, which is also horrible. I think they unionized last month, or they made it official, and they have their first meeting, which is awesome. 

Linn: It's interesting because I didn't really hear about unions here as well, but from my background in Sweden, it's very… It's always recommended to be in a union. Regardless of what sector you're working in and regardless of how much money you earn, people will ask you, even your employers will tell you, that you should join a union. 

Amber: That's really cool. 

Linn: It's just part of the culture, really. Here, I didn't even know that there were unions for people working in hospitality for a long time, but there are unions that you can join regardless of where you're working in hospitality, and they will help you if there are any issues. If you need to press charges, for example, they will help you. 

Amber: In a utopia, like in a utopic world, what would happen would be—especially if you're not German—you come to Germany, you're a very willing, likable, optimistic, prospective employee. Companies who want to offer you the contracts should be like, “Oh, by the way, here’s a leaflet about a union. It would be great if you joined.” But no.

Linn: Yeah, that would be a really nice thing.

Amber: Right? 

Linn: Yeah. I do, I feel like a hypocrite, because I keep talking to people about, “You should join the union,” but I haven't actually done it myself. I guess it is also always an issue of you being paid very little and then you have to pay a little bit of that for a union monthly, you know? I am still thinking, and I still should join a union or get another type of—you can get legal insurance as well.

I think that would also help you in that case. And, that would help you in other parts of your life as well. If you have any issues with your housing, I think you could, instead of paying for different types of protection, you can pay for legal insurance, if I have learned this correctly—but definitely I need to figure out what I want to do. I want to get some sort of protection. The problem is that I don't feel enough like I'm being exploited. Like, I don't feel like I'm in a bad situation. That's why I don't feel like I need some protection or support, but that can always change, right?

Amber: Yeah, it's true. It can always change. I guess every time we have talks about a job, you’ve always spoken very positively and warmly about your working relationships, and the place that you work at, and just how much do you enjoy them.

Linn: Yeah. Can't wait to go back to work. Yeah. I haven't been at work since... We were open one day in December. 

Amber: Oh. So you're still fully closed?

Linn: Ah yeah, still fully closed, but we're meeting tomorrow to see, and potentially ordering some coffee. 

Amber: Nice. Will it be in full swing? Is it all seven days, or will it just be a certain amount, like a limited amount of days, like limited opening hours? 

Linn: Yeah. I doubt that we would be able to be open seven days, because our area is very dead right now. It's, there's so many offices in that area, and they're now all working from home. 

Amber: Yeah. Yeah. True. True, true. 

Linn: So it's not like when I walk around certain areas in Neukölln, it's really busy still. When I go past my work, there's no one there. Yeah. Hopefully, that changes now that things are opening up again. 

Amber: How do you feel about the future? Like with the pandemic and the summer coming and working. Do you think that it'll be different for you? Do you think it'll be the same? Do you think it’ll be better than what you remembered or what you had experienced before? 

Linn: I think this year changed everything. I think it's just changed the way that we value things. 

Amber: Of course. 

Linn: I don't know if that's going to lead to something good or something bad, but I definitely really miss having that purpose of going to work and doing something that I really enjoy. At the same time, I filled my time with other things, right. 

Amber: Yeah. You have a lot of beautiful new hobbies. 

Linn: Yeah. I have all of these hobbies that are taking up a lot of time.

Amber: Scoby mama. 

Linn: Scoby mama, plant mama. What about you? What do you feel? 

Amber: So I went to work for a day, which is obviously not very much. Yeah. I mean I haven't been working since the 31st of October. So I went into work actually to make coffee on Sunday. It was a very humble amount of time. It was like six hours. And I found it extremely difficult. I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to front. I was in limbo. I was like, “Oh my God.” And I think that's, I can't do this. What have I done? Why am I here? Real existential moment.

I think that's really very much to do with my personal journey, because I feel like in the months where I wasn't working, I was really trying to understand what I wanted to do—and obviously, that's tattooing, and why I hadn't been able to do it before, which had a lot to do with me being my worst, my most intense critic, and putting up all these obstacles. Because in the end, I felt that I wasn't worth it, and I didn't have any talent, which was horrible—but also really good to go through, because I was like, no, you are worth something, your work is worth something. This is what you love to do. You should do it.

Why not go for the thing that you love? What do you have to lose? And I think, in that process, I slowly closed this chapter of working in a place where I'm at, because if I'm being completely honest, it doesn't bring me any joy besides the fact that I can keep a roof over my head and buy groceries and pay my bills—which is, you know, a great thing.

Linn: Yeah. So it's, something that helps you, being able to do the things that you do want to do?

Amber: Mmm. What it is, is that pyramid, the hierarchy of needs—it takes care of my most basic needs, which is basically making sure I can sleep, eat, and be inside, you know? 

Linn: Yeah. 

Amber: Yeah. I mean, also my workplace is slowly changing gears into what they want to represent and offer the community, and it's less to do with coffee now. It's more food-based, and I 100% support that. I think that's a really great idea. The type of food the place that I'm working at is making, and the concept that they have, is really wonderful. I also would prefer not to work in a restaurant, because that's not where my passion lies. I love to eat food. 

Linn: Yeah. 

Amber: I like to make food for my friends that I—I'm obviously not going to be making food there. If it's not about the coffee then, I'm not really that essential there. I kind of also don't find a massive amount of fulfillment being a server. I guess I'm just not really social in that way or that's not really my calling. So yeah. I feel like that chapter is slowly closing on itself, because I'm realizing that I can do what I want to do, which is great. 

Linn: Yeah. That's great. Hopefully, it will stay open now for tattooing and all of that.

Amber: Fingers crossed. 

Linn: Yeah. Fingers crossed. If people wanna find your tattooing and your prints, where can they find you? 

Amber: They can find me on Instagram. My handle is @tendre.tatoueuse. It's T E N D R E full-stop T A T O U E U S E. 

Linn: We'll also link it on Instagram, I think. 

Amber: Sweet.

Linn: We'll make sure, because I was also interrupting you while laughing, but definitely make sure that you're findable. Is there anything that, any place that you recommend, any cafe or restaurant or someone in the industry?

Amber: I definitely would recommend Nano. I really liked the vibe there. I think the coffee's great. We use Nano for our batch crew, and it's really beautiful. Really clean, very juicy, very sweet. Also I mean, their baked goods selection isn't popping off, but this is like a sick granola bar, though, that’s vegan. All the vegans out there, and you should go get a filter and this granola bar—it'll do you wonders.

Linn: Yeah. Is it gluten-free, you think? 

Amber: F*ck. I, I wouldn't be surprised if it was gluten-free, because I feel like I saw a lot of like acronyms, and I was like, “Whoa, this really is baked Mecca over here.”

I guess another recommendation would be to check out Soydivision, who are an artsy collective. They're a community of Indonesians who live here in Berlin. And apart from making really great art and events, they make some sick food, and they have beautiful pop-ups, it's really reasonably priced and the portions are humongous. And Ariel, who's the guy who basically runs that, is a really amazing human being. 

Linn: That's awesome. Yeah. I'll just stand behind those recommendations. I haven't been at Nano too much or know too much about them to be able to say much, but I've usually had good coffee there. They're all nice. They seem to be wanting to make sure that they are treating their staff fairly. 

Amber: Yeah. 

Linn: So, Nano Café close to Kotti, Kottbusser Tor. And Soydivision, that sort of jumps around. 

Amber: Yeah, they used to be by [inaudible] kiez, but they're actually in Wedding now. They needed a permanent place, but yeah, they're in Wedding somewhere.

Linn: Cool. Thank you so much, Amber.

Amber: No worries.

Linn: Really nice talking to you. 

Amber: And you.

Linn: Awesome.

Thank you for listening to the very first episode of Pressure Profiles. I want to remind you that these are conversations between people with emotions, frustrations, and personal experiences. That said, I welcome all criticism, but please make it somewhat constructive.

Pressure Profiles is a project of passion, and you are invited to be a part of it. If you want to have a conversation with me or someone else about the hospitality industry, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Pressure Profiles on Instagram. Thank you.


That was Pressure Profiles!

Over the next few weeks, you’ll hear more stories from guest creators—some will be launching their own podcasts, and some are doing one-off audio projects. Thanks to Chobani, all creators will be paid for their time.

If you liked this episode, let Linn know! Follow her @pressureprofiles and share what you loved about this interview.

Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.