As part of a series to introduce our dedicated staff at Bellwether to our customers, we talked with Alessandro “San” Bellino to find out how he successfully integrates his experience as a business owner with his current role here at Bellwether as the Customer Success Manager.
San started his career in coffee as a barista in Brisbane, Australia, his hometown, more than 15 years ago, and encompasses the true entrepreneurial spirit of a coffee-industry business owner. Read more about San’s coffee journey below, including how his mobile coffee shop became one of the coolest small businesses in America!
How did you get started working in the coffee industry?
I became interested in the coffee industry through my dad. He is an Italian immigrant and worked in the service industry so I grew up surrounded by Italian espresso culture, drinking espresso throughout high school and college at espresso bars with my dad and his friends. My very first job out of high school was a barista.
What did you learn from being a barista?
I think being of service to people taught me about engaging with people. Through my experience of growing up drinking coffee, I learned that coffee shops are a place for people to gather, discuss, and enjoy something together. My goal was always to engage more people in the specialty coffee industry and empower people to be more interested in coffee.
What’s your favorite way to prepare coffee?
My favorite brew method is a flat-bottom pour over. It’s sweeter and a little more detailed than a conical-shaped filter. But cupping is my favorite way to taste coffee!
What are your top 3 favorite coffee-producing countries?
Colombia, Uganda, and Sumatra. I enjoy Colombian coffees because they can be so interesting and drinkable. I have not had a whole lot of Ugandan coffee, but I love what I have tasted so far and I’m excited to try more! Sumatran coffees can be so unlike any coffees I usually taste – I remember one I cupped recently that had notes of strawberry, pipe tobacco, chocolate, and tropical fruit all at the same time, and I think that is just so entertaining!
Tell me about your first coffee business.
My first business was called The Coffee Trike, which was a mobile espresso drink tricycle right outside the main train terminal in Boston. I owned the business and was an adult tricyclist for four years. A lot of my success (including being named one of Business Insider’s 50 Coolest Small Businesses in America!) in this business was luck and ignorance, not knowing what could go wrong was actually my strong suit. I did whatever I needed to do to make it work.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wanted to start their own coffee business?
Creating a space that customers feel comfortable in is the most important thing. It’s important to serve coffees that you are proud to serve and can articulate where they come from, but it’s really special for people to have a place that they feel comfortable.
What is your role at Bellwether now?
I’m currently the Customer Success Manager at Bellwether. One of my favorite things about my role here at Bellwether is to help our customers successfully integrate the Bellwether Roaster into their business, and to continue to support them by providing information, resources, and recommendations to aid them in creating a successful coffee program they feel proud of. I love learning about our customers and their business and helping them choose coffees from our Marketplace that suit their needs and preferences.