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Matt Trevelyan
Barista at Over Under Coffee — London, UK

My mum thinks I’m weird because I tattoo myself. She thinks it’s a self-harm thing. It’s so funny. She was like, “I spent nine months growing you inside my body and now you’re fucking it up.”

I taught myself the whole way. I’ve never watched a YouTube tutorial or anything. I just taught myself. I’ve done so many first time tattoos on people. Like thirty or forty, heaps and heaps. I don’t know why they trust me. I don’t look like a very trustworthy guy. People are brave. 

I never did anything creative at school, but I did it out of school. Then I just realized, “Oh, this is what being creative is.” 

I always want to change up what I’m doing. If an opportunity arises, I’m going to go out and do it, you know? I used to be an elite athlete and play underwater hockey. I played for New Zealand for four years, and I won the world championships for U23 Men’s in Hungary. I used to do that, and now I do other shit.

I was brought up with the mindset that if you want money, you have to go work for it. So from the age of thirteen I was just in cafes, washing dishes and stuff, and then the barista started teaching me. Then I went to Wellington for uni and Wellington is a real coffee Mecca in New Zealand. 

There’s a cafe in Wellington, called Olive. It’s like an institution. That’s where I first understood what professional hospitality really was. They knew what they were up to. It was so sick. I got to head barista, so that was pretty fun. I was there for a year and a half when I studied at uni. By myself, I was banging out about 550 coffees a day. It was old school. There’s too much science in coffee over here. In New Zealand, old school coffee–that’s just how it’s done. No one has time machines or anything like that, baristas just know how to make coffee. I don’t even know any of the names and shit, I just turn up and make coffee.

I studied industrial design at uni. It was heaps of fun doing that. I did an internship at an engineering place, but it was a bit too regimented. There wasn’t too much creativity in it. There’s something about that whole 9-to-5 that, as I get older, I stray more and more away from. Something that I rebel against and push against.

I’m just in a place where I’m trying to grow up and understand life. 

Then I went to live on an island in Tonga by myself. I took myself away and that’s when I realized how much my friends are my identity, in a way. I was working at this ecolodge there. It was on a really small island fifteen minutes off the mainland. It was in the middle of nowhere. I was fucking lonely, man. I was so isolated from my friends. 

The most challenging thing I have ever done was moving to London by myself. I originally came over for this coffee technician job that I didn’t get, so that stung me a little bit. And I stagnated. I had the fattest patch of depression in my life. I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It lasted for about six weeks. 

I had to strip it back to ground zero. I had to learn what I really need in my life and who I need to surround myself with. I now feel I’m in touch with my head and my happiness. I just get through it by talking to my friends. I call them culture coaches. They are integral members of my life.

About that time, Over Under was looking for a barista, so I called them up and was like, “Yo, I’m from New Zealand, I just moved here and just got fucked over with this job.” And he was also from New Zealand and said that they had a place for me. So I did a couple of shifts, and then I started chilling there in Earl’s Court. I really like the people I work with. I think it’s the closest I’ve come to New Zealand hospitality over here.

I have recently realized that we have to wake up, and wake up soon.

I just wish more people would take a second to look up, take a breath and spend a little bit of time just thinking about the part they play in society. We are blessed to live on this earth. If we are going to save this place, we need to take a second to realize the part we play and what we can do to change habits and ways of thinking.