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Youth of the week


CHAN Chunleang, who works at the Mekong Food Group (Cambodia) Ltd, is a Lavazza Barista trainer. He’s responsible for teaching cafe staff how to make a great cup of coffee.

Before he became involved with Lavazza, a popular brand of Italian coffee, Chan Chunleang was just a normal guy who liked to drink coffee. He says it still seems a little strange that a person who never knew anything about coffee has become a coffee trainer.

Chan Chunleang began his working life as a volunteer at the People for Care and Learning organisation. While there, he was able to improve his English-language skills with help from his boss and got a lot of experience.

He gained his qualifications as an English teacher and later became a translator.

At the beginning of his fourth year at university, Chan Chunleang was selected to work at the Mekong Food Group. He had applied to work in the company’s marketing department, and soon became interested in the skills relating to coffee.

Chan Chunleang was trained by his boss for about two months, during which time he encountered a few difficulties. “I had never touched a coffee machine, and had no idea how to use one,” he says.

Because he knew nothing about coffee brands and other coffee-related topics, Chan Chunleang had to learn about it and master the technique of making a good cup of coffee.

After two months of training, during which his personality and his ability to teach became apparent, he was promoted from trainee to Lavazza Barista trainer. Since then, he has
enjoyed passing on his skills to the staff of many coffee shops that sell Lavazza products.

Because of his coffee-making skills and his ability as a trainer, Chan Chunleang  was sel-ected to be a member of the committee that organised the 2010 Cambodia Barista Championship, which was sponsored by Lavazza.

In this competition, coffee shops challenged one another with their styles and techniques for making the best cup of coffee. Chan Chunleang was one of those who tasted the coffee made by the competitors.

Apart from participating in the national competition, he received an invitation from the Indochina Food Group to be a judge of the Lavazza Barista Championship, an international competition that was held in Vietnam last year. As well, he got a chance to train staff at the Alila hotel in Laos.

During his three years as a Lavazza Barista trainer, Chan Chunleang has encountered a few challenges. The biggest one was training the staffs of new coffee shops.

“They had never used a coffee machine before, so I needed to teach them from basic principles,” he says.

Another tricky situation arose when he trained staffs who had learned a different style of making coffee from other trainers.

“I needed to ask permission from the owners of the shops to allow their staff to follow what I  taught,” Chan Chunleang says. He says his task became difficult if the shop owners and their staff did not follow his instructions.

As well as working as a barista trainer, Chan Chunleang is a marketing manager at the Mekong Food Group. He hasn’t thought about his future yet; he just wants to develop himself and try to train as many people as possible to serve great coffee.



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