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Understanding and Overcoming Burnout in Coffee

Following up on last week’s post about mindfulness, burnout is a growing concern in many fields, and the coffee industry is no exception. Whether you’re a coffee professional working long hours or a coffee lover overwhelmed by the pursuit of the perfect brew, burnout can creep in and take the joy out of coffee. This blog post explores why burnout occurs, how to recognize it, and, most importantly, how to fix it.

coffee burnout

Why is There a Burnout in Coffee?


High Expectations and Perfectionism

The coffee industry is driven by a relentless pursuit of excellence. Coffee professionals strive to perfect every aspect of their craft, from sourcing the best beans to mastering complex brewing techniques. This constant pressure to achieve perfection can lead to significant stress and burnout.


From your local coffee shop to online tutorials and social media posts, there is an ideal image we are trying to reach by comparing ourselves to others. On the one hand, it can create good inspiration and influence, but on the other hand, the reach for perfection can also result in exhaustion and unhappiness in achieving a goal. I experienced it myself when I first started brewing and then roasting, I had all my mentors and models in mind and the goal was to get a brew or a roast as close as possible to that “ideal”. Fast forward years of trials and experimentations, I came to that level I set when I started but I also realized that the goal was not to reach a similar quality or flavor profile as my role models. The goal was to create my signature. Keep that in mind if you are in your early years of specialty coffee, it will save you on anxiety and FOMO.



Demanding Work Environment

Many coffee lovers and professionals are deeply passionate about coffee, often blurring the line between work and personal time. This passion can lead to overcommitment, where individuals take on too many responsibilities and neglect their well-being.

Working in a coffee shop or roastery can be physically and emotionally demanding. Long hours on your feet, dealing with high customer expectations, and managing multiple tasks simultaneously can quickly lead to exhaustion. Sometimes you don’t want to be there, it can be hot (or cold), dusty, sticky, and physical tiredness adds up to a burnout or a breakdown. The solution is similar to last week's blog about mindfulness, by slowing down and doing a quick physical/emotional/mental check to know if you are over 100% of your capacity.


roaster tired

Economic Pressures

Economic pressures, such as low wages and job insecurity, are common in the coffee industry. These financial stressors can contribute to a feeling of burnout, as individuals struggle to balance their passion for coffee with the need to make a living. Numbers don’t lie, people who used them do.


What Does Burnout Look Like?


Physical Exhaustion

Burnout often manifests as physical exhaustion. Coffee professionals may find themselves feeling constantly tired, with little energy to get through their workday. This fatigue can also spill over into personal time, affecting sleep and overall health.

memli coffee

Emotional Detachment

Emotional detachment is another common symptom of burnout. Coffee professionals and enthusiasts may start to feel disconnected from their work and the people around them. This detachment can lead to a lack of motivation and a decrease in the quality of their work.


Decreased Performance

As burnout takes hold, performance can suffer. Coffee professionals may find it difficult to maintain the high standards they once set for themselves. Mistakes become more common, and the quality of coffee may decline.


Loss of Passion

One of the most distressing aspects of burnout is the loss of passion. Coffee lovers who once found joy in exploring new flavors and brewing techniques may find that their enthusiasm has waned. The excitement of discovering new coffee experiences is replaced by a sense of obligation or indifference.




How to Fix It?


Set Realistic Expectations

To combat burnout, it’s essential to set realistic expectations. Acknowledge that perfection is unattainable and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. Focus on progress rather than perfection, and celebrate small achievements along the way.


Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care is crucial in preventing and addressing burnout. Make time for activities that recharge you, whether it’s exercise, reading, or spending time with loved ones. Ensure you get adequate rest and maintain a balanced diet to support your physical and mental well-being.


Establish Boundaries

Creating boundaries between work and personal life is vital. Coffee professionals should set clear limits on their working hours and avoid taking work home. Coffee lovers can benefit from setting aside specific times for their coffee hobby, ensuring it remains a source of enjoyment rather than stress.


Seek Support

Don’t hesitate to seek support from colleagues, friends, or mental health professionals. Sharing your experiences and feelings can provide relief and new perspectives on managing burnout. Building a support network within the coffee community can also foster a sense of camaraderie and understanding.


Embrace Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices can help manage stress and prevent burnout. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindful coffee tasting can bring a sense of calm and focus. By being present in the moment, you can appreciate the simple joys of coffee without being overwhelmed by the pursuit of perfection.


mindfulness

Redefine Success

Redefine what success means to you. Instead of focusing solely on external achievements, such as awards or recognition, consider the intrinsic rewards of your work. Find satisfaction in the process of making coffee and the connections you build with others through your passion.


Take Breaks

Regular breaks are essential to prevent burnout. Coffee professionals should take time off work to recharge, and coffee lovers should periodically step away from their hobby to ensure it remains a source of joy rather than stress. Even short breaks during the workday can help maintain energy levels and reduce stress.


Invest in Education and Training

Continuous learning can reinvigorate your passion for coffee. Attend workshops, read books, or take courses to deepen your knowledge and skills. By expanding your expertise, you can reignite your enthusiasm and find new ways to enjoy and appreciate coffee.


learning

Burnout in the coffee industry is a real issue that affects both professionals and enthusiasts. By understanding why burnout occurs, recognizing its signs, and implementing strategies to address it, you can reclaim the joy and passion that coffee brings. At Memli Coffee Lab, we believe in supporting the well-being of our community, ensuring that every coffee experience is one of enjoyment and fulfillment.

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Good article. Even as a home coffee brewer it is easy to get swept up in the latest grinders and brewing equipment. I’ve found in the past few months that simple mindfulness while grinding, brewing and drinking have calmed some of that constant FOMO.

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