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Daily Inspiration: Meet Mehmet Sogan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mehmet Sogan.  

Hi Mehmet, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Coffee flows in my blood since my childhood in Paris, France where I observed how connecting it can be. From the cafe at the terrasse to a warm cup of coffee, it was always a connecting moment between people and culture. 

After I got my master’s degree in thermodynamics, I started to learn about coffee farming in Colombia out of curiosity during a road trip. What was a little trip that ended up being a fortune? I then worked as a barista/bartender in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before getting trained in coffee in London, UK. 

I started Memli Coffee Lab in 2016/2017 with three main values. The first is to showcase each coffee’s intrinsic flavor through our roast. The second is to provide a fully transparent and traceable approach for each coffee. The third is to share knowledge and expand education in coffee because we don’t know what we don’t know. 

We then moved to the US in 2019 to propose an innovative approach to coffee roasting with a focus on sensory, experiences, and education. Starting off a little balcony as a home roaster with our little 1kg roaster, we slowly grew organically in the midst of a worldwide pandemic by keeping our principles and adapting to the circumstances. We slowly gained a small but very loyal following that helped us to expand our roasting capacity with a 10kg drum roaster and soon a 15kg roaster. After 2 years, we expanded Memli operation in Southern California in 2021/2022 where we acquired our own little space where we pursue our endeavor to quality and education. Our objective is to develop flavor profiles that convey specific memories, places, or moods. Our roast style highlights the “terroir” of each coffee, making sure the DNA is not lost during the roast so that you can enjoy the pure quality. We are proud to showcase the full traceability of each coffee we source. This results in a series of outstanding coffee from all over the world you can enjoy and improve your sensory skills. 

Coffee has allowed me to meet people around the world and share my passions. Since my childhood, I always experienced coffee as a bonding moment between us. There’s always a cafe wherever you go and there’s always a story behind it. Via Memli Coffee Lab, I want to share my passion for coffee, as well as share my knowledge with you to find the coffee you like. 

Together we will help you become a better coffee connoisseur by consistently sourcing the finest specialty grade coffee and taking you with us on our fully transparent journey. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road has been lively, sometimes bumpy, sometimes scary, sometimes exciting, and rewarding. Struggles were multiple, the uncertainty of the world in the last couple of years can be doubting. I managed to learn to accept and adapt to uncertainty. Our world is consistently changing and regardless of the situations (pandemic, inflations, crisis, etc…), we must accept and adapt if we want to change things for our future. In fact, I’d never guessed 10 years ago that I will be living in California after my first trip to the USA in 2013, some dreams take time, but they eventually happen. 

In terms of struggles, I first encounter entrepreneurship and management issues. As an ex-engineer, I already had a strong technical background but I was lacking more commercial and management skills which I learned along the way with mentors, seminars, and experience. 

Also, as a startup, the financial struggle was something I experienced the hard way with lots of sacrifices and strategic planning with my partner. 

Last but not least, the emotional struggle is something we don’t hear often. As an entrepreneur, we often ask ourselves the questions: Am I doing the right thing? Does it make sense? Why did I even start? That’s why a little reminder of your bigger purpose from time to time is helpful. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
From sourcing to delivering, we reveal the true origin of your coffee resulting in quality coffee, consistency, and traceability. Our mission is to offer sensory excellence by drawing a specific picture with coffee flavors. To do so we highlight each coffee’s terroir through our roasting approach and provide complete transparency and traceability for each coffee we source. This results in a series of outstanding coffee from all over the World mindfully roasted to connect you to the coffee you like. 

Quality terroir: our objective is to create a coffee that conveys specific memories, places, or moods. For example, we have a morning coffee, a pre-workout coffee kick, an afternoon tea break, a coffee that reminds me of Argentina, a beach coffee, a dessert pairing one, etc. 

When I pick a coffee, I start with the end in mind, the mood I want to convey. I then start sourcing origins with a particular flavor profile in mind and choose the lot that represents the best what I envisioned. Our roasting approach highlights the quality of each coffee’s terroir, making sure the producer’s craft is not lost during the roast so that you can enjoy the authentic quality. This includes a special focus on 1. variety 2. climate and soil conditions, and 3. processing method. Every batch is carefully roasted for the end use: filter or espresso. 

Transparency: we value honesty and transparency in every aspect of our daily life. How we buy green coffee is a salient point to us, and traceability in coffee should be accessible to all. Price is generally quoted in $/lbs. 

Keeping our engagement of transparency and traceability with our partners and coffee lovers is one of our strongest values. From the green coffee grade to our sourcing partner and our purchasing price, we do our best to highlight our fully transparent approach. 

Education: we started Memli as a coffee tasting workshop in London. Sharing knowledge is part of our core value. Through workshops, we introduce different aspects of coffee. That’s why our mission is to shed some light on coffee, sensory, and experiences. The Specialty Coffee Workshop is more than just a Tasting, it is a full experience where you start rediscovering your sensory skill. Every workshop is slightly different and unique with a diversity of coffee selection but also different people with different questions, interacting with each other to create their own moment. Besides coffee farming roasting and brewing, you will also learn about the coffee culture, the cross-modal perception of flavor, the industry supply chain, entrepreneurship, and more. Also, we have started a podcast channel – Coffee Sensory Podcast where we discuss how certain aspects of brewing, roasting, and farming affect the cup quality and flavor profile. 

What do you think about happiness?
Food, sensory, culture, and coffee. I find it mind-blowing how we know little about our sense of smell and taste. I also find it amazing how different people from different cultures perceive the same ingredient/food/spice differently. That’s why most of my enjoyment comes from traveling, eating, and being mindful of my senses – living the now. 

After a couple of years of hosting tasting classes, I am happy to change someone’s perception of coffee and showcase specialty coffee to a larger audience that can slowly change the lives of farmers across the world. I feel proud and happy to link the hard work of the producer with the sensory benefit that can create a meaningful sensory experience for the coffee drinker. 

Sensory and gastronomy are closely linked to emotions and memory which affect our decision-making process and ultimately impact our lives. 

Pricing:

  • Washed Guatemalan coffee – $17 for 10.5oz
  • Natural process Ethiopian coffee – $18 for 10.5oz
  • Rare natural Colombian Mokka – $23.5 for 3.5oz
  • Coffee Tasting Workshop – $46 per person

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Mehmet Sogan

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