top of page

Crafting the Memli Coffee Legacy - An Intimate Chat with Co-Owner

Updated: Jan 16

Today, we're brewing something special as we sit down with Linh, the visionary co-owner of Memli Coffee Lab. Yes, most of you know me, Mehmet, as the coffee roaster of Memli. Yet, nothing would be possible without the guidance and direction of the second co-owner of Memli. Now you will have the full picture of what Memli is about, MEM-LI, a woman-owned coffee and lifestyle brand.

In this heartwarming interview, Linh unveils the rich stories and passionate endeavors that percolate behind the scenes of one of the most beloved coffee brands. Join us as we explore the journey of Memli Coffee Lab, a journey that transcends mere coffee-making to redefine the art of coffee culture.

Memli Coffee tasting

Throughout the years, we've met lots of amazing people. Each one of you always amazed us with your enthusiasm for specialty coffee and your interest in the branding part. It's mostly the first thing we get compliments on before even the coffee. Today you'll have the Behind-The-Scenes of Memli Branding

Where Passion Meets Precision. Discover the Secret Ingredients to Memli's Success: Linh's Insights on Innovation, Inspiration, and the Irresistible Aroma of Dreams Brewing into Reality.

M: What is your role at Memli Coffee?

L: Anything that revolves around coffee is my role. It starts with branding & marketing. Anything that we do, communicate, or create, needs to match our values and vision. I'm making sure that our actions follow our words. For instance, minimalism is one of our core visions. From the design of our bags to the logo, and website, every single thing, as little as they are, should have a purpose. True minimalism can be sustainable, by only using, and doing what serves a purpose, saving space, time, and cost. As St-Exupery said:

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

For example ink. Back in the old days, pigmentation and colors were expensive and color was a sign to showcase wealth. Nowadays, colors are amazing to communicate feel but too much of it and it becomes abundant and extravagant. Are we removing life by keeping a minimalist design? I don't think so, it's all about perspectives. It depends on what you want to highlight. We believe in the beauty from the inside out; the details of the coffee and putting the coffee quality first by keeping a simple yet efficient design. We don't want the packaging/bags to distract the coffee lovers from the main goal. Where focus goes energy flows. That's why we change the color of the label to represent the best flavor profile but keep our focus on the beautiful beans inside.

drip pack

The second major role I have at Memli is accounting, making sure we don't go belly up. It's more factual but we can also apply the minimalist values to a black/white subject like accounting. First, I make sure we don't buy additional stuff you don't use. Then, I brainstorm on how can we achieve similar results with the same assets without impacting quality.

As a Accoutning 101, the 3 essentials of business accounting are making money, spending less, and better use your asset. Everything else falls in these buckets with some exceptions.

But accounting is not just checking what comes in and what goes out. It shows much more! That's where I come in with my expertise for the analysis part. Which part of the business should we focus on, boost, or take off? What are the variable costs that we can modify?

panama gesha

Glancing through a P&L or a Balance Sheet can give you the whole picture but it's with more detailed analysis that you can advise and consult for the better future of a project.

One example is the thickness of the info card. We used to print the info card on pretty thick and sturdy paper. However, by decreasing the thickness by 20%, we realized that we didn't lose any perception of quality, but saved almost 50% on those cards, which allowed us to reinvest in the beans! Once again, it goes full circle (like our logo :) ), the focus on the inside. We are working on those small things and avoid buying things we don't need, like a bag inside a bag, inside a box, and another box, and it all looks very grand but at the end of the day, for us, it's all about the coffee. We are more on the simplicity and elegance side.

My third major role is more on the opportunity and strategy side. Since I am not the coffee expert of Memli, I have the opportunity to have a "step-back" approach where I can see the big picture whereas you (referring to me) are more focused on coffee sourcing, charge temperature, and all those details. By keeping a distance from coffee, I can see where we want to expand. Keeping our same values, I ask myself, how do we transplant those principles into a lifestyle brand, creating new projects but keeping the original value, back in the circle.

Imagine if Apple made hotels or if LV was launching a gym, you'd have a clear picture of how it would look.

The same goes for Memli, if one day we open up a Gym, manufacture new cars, or launch an airline, it will be immediately easy to spot the Memli touch. All came back to the circle after all.

M: What were your inspirations when we created Memli?

L: Short answer - Minimalism, Wabi-Sabi, Asian-Philosphy, Scandinavian design, Nature, Travel, and Gastronomy.

  • The minimalism, I've explained it in the previous questions and everything will come back to it ultimately.

  • Wabi-sabi is sort of a Japanese version of minimalism with some unique features of course. It is centered on the acceptance of imperfection, of what it is. If things are good the way it is, nothing else needs to be added. To put it in a nutshell, less is more.

  • Gastronomy plays a huge part in what we do, and I got inspiration from all over the world, especially from certain chefs who stick to their integrity. I respect and admire chefs who highlight a certain ingredient, process, or flavor. The finesse of French and Japanese cuisine, how intricate they are in the process of creation and execution, with a great understanding of balance is very inspiring.

  • Growing up in an Asian family, my dad was big on feng shui and the importance of balance of elements which ultimately influenced my way of balancing taste and flavor.

Feng Shui is part of my whole life because it can be incorporated everywhere.
travelling oaxaca
  • Traveling the world was, is, and will be one of my favorite lessons. Regardless of age, I am always finding myself as a student of life, wherever I go, even if it's for the thousandth time. The aspect of traveling that inspired me when creating and developing Memli is seeing how people perceive things, linked to gastronomy, the way they taste, cook, and different ways of doing things. We pick up different things along the way: from Peru to Seoul, Oaxaca to London, we are always learning new flavors, sourcing methods, and sensory techniques. But what drives us and speaks to us is the transparency of sourcing, the hospitality, and humility in cooking. We incorporate all these inspirations into Memli with different lots, experiences, and workshops.

  • Being in nature is very important for me. It's kind of a meditation side, it helps our vision, and we are never too busy enough to spend some time in Nature. Sometimes, observing nature makes us humble and helps us to have a clear vision after a busy season.

When it's drizzling and the snow settles down, you have a better picture of the landscape.

nature inspiration

M: Let's talk a bit about coffee, what was for you the best coffee experience or the most memorable?

L: Cospir Coffee in Busan where I got the signature drink experience and feeling of being on a world barista stage. It was both interesting and inspiring. Having an intimate conversation with the barista is one of the most memorable coffee experiences, asking about different flavors, and interacting with the guests. The more I go to coffee shops the more I think it is the barista who makes the experience memorable.

busan coffee cospir

In terms of coffee quality, Tim Wendelboe, Cappucino Al Freddo was one of the top-notch ones, I had 4 drinks at that time, it was 5 or 6 years ago and I still remember it. He truly knows how to highlight his coffee even in a cold beverage, you could taste the perfectly balanced coffee in the cappuccino al Freddo

Roastworks in Oslo for the quality of the cardamom buns.

Fabrica in Lisbon felt very cozy with genuinely nice people. A moment is memorable because of the people. When the coffee taste showcases dedication, hospitality, and quality, that's called art.

M: Which is your favorite coffee from us?

L: Panama NinetyPlus Lycello Gesha. I remembered the Asian-inspired flavors, that brought me back to my childhood. It was one of the moments when I fully understood what you meant by aromas and taste being the best vehicle to take you to a memory.

cup of coffee

Unfortunately, I am mostly disappointed by Gesha coffee in a coffee shop because it's treated like any other drink and it never feels special. However, we do not have Gesha often, even though we almost have some year-round, I like to treat it as a special bean because it is!

My everyday favorite coffee is Ethiopian Natural. It's not an intimidating drink. Gesha can be, it's pricey and the complexity is very interesting but not everyone understands it. Ethiopian natural is very balanced, sweet, and universal.

M: What does the logo mean to you?

L: Of everything that is going around in life, at the end of the day, that circle brings us back to the core beliefs. The lifestyle of Memli is about carrying the same values of balance, and quality whether we are traveling or eating out, we carry those values around with us and we want people to carry their own values regardless of what they are doing. It's easy to forget those when you go through life. When you have that core you can do whatever you want, it always goes back and never disappoints you because it's you.

coffee tasting

M: Very interesting, how to define your core?

L: As a person, it's your foundations, something very important, like the 4 legs of a stool, if one is missing, you can't sit. Those are your non-negotiables for you as you carry on in life.

As we always say, It's how you do anything that we do everything.

For me it's easy, I'm quite stoic, and sticking to a value is of of the most important things in life for me, otherwise, I will lose myself. We don't compromise even if that means taking the longer route or the harder path.

M: Interesting, can those values change through time?

L: Good questions. As you build your values through life, you have more experience under your belt and gain wisdom. What you see as a kid, something might change. The root cause is still the same and may alter a bit but the root doesn't change.

M: But Imagine you've been taught that a banana is an apple. You create your beliefs based on that and then you start traveling and realize that it was a lie

L: When you were a kid, regardless of what everyone told you it was still a banana. Then you go outside and it's not a banana. But what is the core root that you believe? Why did you believe them? Because of trust - trust in someone with authority. Deep down your values didn't change, you value trust, and you never lost that trust. You want to confirm that trust when you go out and around. If you are not strong enough to defend your beliefs or trust, you can easily be manipulated. I suggest watching Iteawon class - a masterclass of integrity, dignity, and values.

For instance, different regions of the world or within the same country call fruits or food differently based on dialect or culture.

Same thing with you, youself haven't changed, the environment has. And the universe will always change, The Universe doesn't explain why that's why it; 's important to center yourself among values.

Business is a good example, when you demonstrate integrity and dignity, it's the business partner's role now to demonstrate that back to you. If they failed or tricked you, or if it didn't match, you lost business but you didn't lose integrity and dignity. The moment you lose it, you sell your soul and nothing matters, except the dollars. Which can help you achieve certain things, I get that, but at what cost?

M: Where do you see the coffee industry in 10 years?

L: I think and hope people have more knowledge and appreciation for coffee like wine or food is today. We are already seeking to better understand food and I can foresee the same with coffee. There is a distrust in the food supply chain coupled with the impact we have when supporting small businesses with short supply chains which grow our community.

Coffee will certainly become more expensive. It will become or actually is already a luxury item but it is not treated so yet. There will be a larger quality gap between specialty and commodity.

M: Where do you see Memli in the future?

L: In 10 years, we think of expanding Memli in different sectors, a sister shop, coffee or not carrying the same value.

If you plan too much it, you won't have time to put it into action.

Stay tuned, that's the best I can say.

memli coffee

26 views0 comments


bottom of page