There's nothing we love to see more than home brewers who are just straight up having fun with coffee. Ayanda chats to young Rob Laithwaite, who's imagination has been captured by the allure of the good stuff!
By Ayanda Dlamini
Meet Rob Laithwaite, a young, passionate coffee enthusiast, who creatively documents his dedication to exploring the world of coffee and it's abundant flavours and brewing methods.
The first time I met Rob was of course at a coffee shop, an activity that is customary in Rob’s life. I was a Barista at the time and Rob was that regular customer you knew you would always have good chats with. I had the pleasure of frequently encountering Rob on his multiple escapades, in search for good coffee equipment that he could use to make coffee at home. In admiration for the content Rob puts out on social media, Rob shares with me where his journey began
Your love for coffee, where did it steam from and where did it begin ?
My love for coffee started, probably around grade 10. I started drinking coffee then and I was given a voucher to go to a cupping session at Bean There. I got to try a range of coffees and this turned into a super eye opening experience for me. I came to recognise how coffee can taste like so many different things, with so many differences between the different origins and the learning that comes with that. From there I got into Barista training and spent some time behind the bar. It was such an easy space for me to engage with people, in a way that was welcoming and community driven. It really met my need for community. The community aspect was the priority for me and my love for coffee came with that.
As a professional home brewer, when did you begin to learn recipes ?
I started brewing at home in 2022. My dad and I were working from home. I was studying mostly online at the time and my dad was working remotely. We had been making some Moka pot coffee and came across James Hoffmann’s stove top recipe. We started playing around with that a bit, at the time it was really fun to just get back into it. From there I began to look into getting a grinder and started experimenting more with the V60. At this point for me, it ramped up pretty quickly, I then got my hands on an espresso machine for super cheap, and started experimenting with espresso based drinks and started building up an assortment of different brewing tools. A lot of my recipes are based on videos I’ve seen on YouTube. I enjoyed seeing the content people would put out and always tried to replicate recipes from there and learn as much as I can from there.
What is a coffee wannabe and why do you refer to yourself as one ?
The coffee wannabe or “wannabe coffee guy”, in my Instagram bio description, came from what I observed from people in the industry. It’s typically to see coffee people on social media, with bio descriptions like “coffee professional” or “professional barista” things along those lines. So on my side, it came from the desire to be one of those people and wanting to be a part of the industry. So saying I’m a “wannabe coffee guy” was kind of a humorous way to be a part of that, while also openly expressing my desire to be a part of the coffee space but in a way that’s a little bit humorous, in a way that is not pretentious or over the top.
What’s your favourite coffee equipment to use at home ?
I have to say my V60. I love being able to play around with different methods and tools but, I think the V60 is standard and the one that I know that best. It’s also a piece of equipment I trust myself the most with, if I’m ever trying a new coffee and don’t want to try a risky method, the V60 is my go too. Alongside that would be my Comandante hand grinder and that’s been awesome to play with and I think as a combination, these two pieces of equipment make quite a mean pairing and quite a safe combination to make a good cup of coffee.
Where & who do you draw inspiration from in order to keep inspired to post on IG & why do you post ?
I think my inspiration with regards to my social media and how I portray myself there, has come from the coffee community. I started posting coffee content on my social media as just a fun thing to try, and to see what it would look like and what I’m capable of. As I’ve progressed, it’s been amazing to see how it’s opened doors for me when it comes to meeting people. I’ve been lucky enough to have met really awesome people in the industry, and I’ve been exposed to really cool spaces because of my social media presence. I've definitely grown to be aware of its networking capabilities, which I really wasn’t expecting at all. I think by being intentional about what I’m posting and the effort that I put in has shown me tangible results and that’s also really inspiring to me and really encourages me to keep posting because I know that it can only continue to grow and it’ll continue to introduce me to more people and understand the industry better, and things like that. With that said, the content isn’t why I do it, I don’t have a desire to be a content creator as such, but really just a cool tool for me to keep engaged with the coffee community in South Africa and a broad, it’s just an awesome tool for me to continue to engage with different people.