Always seeking the full cultural experience, Brodie Vissers, known as the nomad barista, explores the world through two of his passions—traveling and coffee.
Uniting his love for both has led him to some random places across the world as he learns about how coffee is interpreted in various cultures.
We caught up with Brodie in Toronto to talk travel, culture and specialty coffee—here's what he had to say.
First off, to go back a bit, could you give us a brief background about yourself and tell us what ignited your interests in coffee and travel?
For sure! Coffee and travel definitely go hand in hand, but for me, maybe not the way you might expect. Travel definitely came first, particularly ignited by living in a small town in my earlier years, which I think can go one of two ways – you either stay in that small town your entire life, or you get so overwhelmed by the need for adventure that you take off as soon as you get the chance and head straight for the most extreme experience you can come up with.
In my case, that meant moving to China for close to a year, and I've been hooked on moving around ever since. Coffee came later, and to be honest, even during intense terms of university, I never really drank it until I first moved to Hamilton on a job placement and met a few friends performing what I thought were the most insane coffee antics in their homes. They had scales, grinders, water thermometers, special pouring kettles, coffee from unique origins like Ethiopia and Honduras. I immediately saw it as a perfect marriage of science and art, and I was hooked, again.
We know you are big on design and building communities around food and beverage; how does coffee and coffee making bridge those two together?
Design is a really great point, and like I said about coffee being an art, I was always drawn to the way that specialty coffee roasters focus so much on the branding of their coffee companies, from the bags to the architecture of cafés their brewed in. I think my first experience with specialty coffee pretty much sums it up, back in that attic living room in Hamilton where a few of us would just get together, discuss deep issues, and sip on incredible coffee. Later on I realized how the coffee we drink here in 'more' developed countries can have a direct impact on 'less' developed communities around the world, and I think it draws us all closer together and reveals ways how we can actually help each other out.
From southern Spain to East Asia coffee has taken you to some far away places, what have you learned about coffee in some of these smaller/remote towns and communities?
What I find so exciting about the emerging specialty coffee industry, especially in my travels, is that it's so deeply connected and everyone wants to support one another to grow together. I remember on a bike trip across Spain, I had no idea what I would find in terms of good coffee, but a one chance connection lead to the next, and I ended up meeting some under the radar roasters and cafés that are only now starting to surface on the bigger scene. Specialty coffee is totally a subculture, haha. But I think even more impactful than that are my experiences in places like Mexico, Indonesia, or even Myanmar, which have coffee origins that are sometimes looked down upon in terms of quality or seen as more suitable for making 'blends', but I was blown away by experiences in even the smallest roastery/cafés. I tasted flavours that I would have never expected given the stigma, and I'm always fascinated by the way that different cultures traditionally do coffee, even if they break all the rules that we've learned in this evolving subculture.
From all your travels so far what has been one of the most memorable aspects of your travels to date?
I would say in the past, I've had a much less conventional way of traveling than most of my friends (not everyone!), in the sense that some days I wouldn't have a clue where I was going to sleep that night because I refused to pay for hotels or couldn't find an Airbnb, but I will also say, those were some of the most memorable experiences – when I either found someone on Couchsurfing to put me up, or was 'forced' to sleep in an outside stairwell of the Hiroshima Airport, for example (that's another story). This aspect of forcing myself outside my comfort zone, even unnecessarily, has definitely helped me learn how to adapt to many scenarios and trust that it will always work out, one way or another.
What is your favourite place/country that you have been to and want to explore more of and why?
Oh wow, there are so many. I actually struggle a lot between wanting to return to places I've visited to deepen my appreciation and experience in that given place, or picking somewhere completely new to investigate and explore. Barcelona is a city that I always return to, either to visit or to live, and each time I always get something new out of it. That being said, it's always been in my head that I'd live in Japan at some point in my life (I know for a fact I'm not the only one), but I'm just waiting for the right time to come, and I know it will, lol.
Would you have any advice for travelers looking to explore their passions, whatever that may be, through travel?
Absolutely. I've actually gotten this a lot from people in the past: "How can you afford all of these trips??" or "I wish I could just go off and live in ____[insert foreign country]___ like you." And, I know there's not just one strategy to making this happen, but at the same time, I really do believe it comes down to priorities. Growing up, I knew my priority was to travel whenever possible. So when I wasn't traveling—I wasn't eating out, I wasn't buying new clothes nor was I partying. I was saving everything I could to buy that plane ticket, and then sleeping on couches, and avoiding tourist traps that had the propensity of draining your budget. I've now found ways to fund most of my travels by making them work-related, and I'm extremely grateful for that. I know that's not possible for everyone, but I also believe that if you set your mind to it in a positive way, and put yourself out there, you get a LOT back.
Lastly looking ahead, which part of the world do you plan on going to next and why?
Speaking of Barcelona, I'm actually moving back there at the end of January, haha. I just love the city, and feel very connected with my community of friends, the architecture, the Mediterranean, the language, the lifestyle, and surrounding nature. We'll see if I can stay there longer this time, but I also have Central and South America heavy on my radar for the rich Latin culture and abundance of coffee growing that I'm dying to investigate for myself. I know it will happen this year, and I still can't believe I've never been, but everything happens in it's own time. That's the key.
To connect with Brodie visit his channels below!
Also make sure to check out our last Venque Traveler post here: