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Marcos Zoya
Independent Barista Trainer and Coffee Consultant — Madrid, Spain

I wasn’t made for the regular school classes. I found them boring and stressful. My mind at the time was like a locomotive out of control. I still can’t understand why the kids are forced to sit at a desk for eight hours per day listening to things they don’t care about. They want to explore and discover, not be told what to learn. I was more interested in drawing and writing than in learning about math. The years passed and eventually I found myself sunken in the routine of going to a job I didn’t like just to make some bucks to make it through the month.

I was the frontman and it was the perfect way to channel all the anger, express myself and vent all the steam.

The only thing that saved me from that dark time of my life was music. I had a few metal bands where I could unleash my creativity and all the frustration. It was my therapy…Still is. I played in a melodic death metal band called Hollow for many years. We toured a lot and had the opportunity to meet incredible people. I was the frontman and it was the perfect way to channel all the anger, express myself and vent all the steam.

My partner and I share our life with Tulina, a rescue dog we met and fell in love with.

Another thing that’s been key to my well-being is my love for animals. I have found true friendship and loyalty in them. Nowadays my partner and I share our life with Tulina, a rescue dog we met and fell in love with. She's on wheels, and she’s the loveliest creature in the world. Such a pity she has to deal with us!

Tulina’s energy is so breathtaking, it helps me to focus and keep calm. When something is wrong with your energy, she can tell and lets you know you’re losing your balance by sitting beside you and looking into your eyes. She’s super shy, and loves to hide in places like under the bed, where she feels safe. Nobody could tell us how exactly she became like this, but the important thing now is that she’s happy and makes us happy!

Ten years ago I met Vanesa, who is now my partner for life. She told me to break up with everything I knew in Spain and move my arse abroad. That changed my life. The challenge was enormous. I found myself in Dublin, not speaking a word of English, no apparent way of making any money or doing anything profitable. The jobs that I had before as a salesman were dependent on my ability to speak and express myself and suddenly I was totally helpless, not knowing the language. It was even difficult for me to sign in for the gym.

I loved coffee at the time but I knew nothing about it. To me, the best coffee was Starbucks or f*cking Nespresso. I remember spending nights just reading and experimenting with coffee. The first job that I got in Dublin was as kitchen porter and dishwasher in the canteen of a huge computing company. It was rough. It’s really hard to work as a dishwasher for these places—it’s hot, tiring, dangerous. But, maybe for the first time in my life, I had determination and a clear goal: don’t give up and, somehow, learn about coffee. 

I think playing is the key to the learning process. When I was allowed to play, I learned a lot.

I expressed my interest to my bosses, and as I was learning more English and growing in my role, they eventually offered me my first coffee course. Finally, I saw a window—a field where I could experiment and play around. I met mentors who taught me valuable life skills: sharing, asking, being validated as a professional and respecting others. Finally, I ended up becoming an Authorized Specialty Coffee Association Trainer (AST) and was able to share my passion and my beliefs with everyone. 

I think playing is the key to the learning process. When I was allowed to play, I learned a lot. That is my mantra when it comes to teaching about coffee. Create a safe environment where anyone can play, ask, try, fail, share and learn together.