Interview with A Shot in the Dark 2019 Winner

André Vermeulen of Bottomless Blessings, a brand new roaster in 2019, made a splash at Creative Coffee Week in July 2019, when our panel of judges picked his coffee out of a field of 43 roasters to take the A Shot in the Dark crown! We caught up with him to see how the competition changed his coffee life.

André, and his daughter, who both attended Creative Coffee Week 2019 to participate in A Shot in the Dark.

Why did you choose to participate in A Shot in the Dark?

At the stage of receiving the invitation, to participate, I just started my roasting journey and I was very hesitant to accept. My wife convinced me to participate because she encouraged me to get the exposure. So at the end my reason for participating was to learn more and to get exposure in this area of the coffee business.

What did you learn from the experience?

What an experience it turned out to be!

Every time I received those green beans it was like a birthday present. To receive beans I never roasted before and to learn more about the characteristics of every bean was just an amazing experience. To know that there was little room to experiment with the amount of beans received, just added to the adventure. And then the blend. I literally changed the blend again half an hour before I went to Postnet.

To be honest, the one thing I realized is that a lot of factors can play a role in a competition like this. The type of day you chose to roast (the climate, the time of day and nowadays the possibility of load shedding), your emotions even and then at the end it is literally seconds that can make the difference between a good and an excellent roast.

So if you ask me I learned that luck can also play a major role. At the Creative Coffee week I naturally learned that the Coffee industry is about much more than just  roasting. I made good friends from which I learned lots of other coffee stuff and experienced a lot of care amongst all the coffee fanatics. I am really excited about my new family!  

What has changed for Bottomless Blessings in the last year?

Well I know that winning the competition gave me tremendous exposure. Suddenly people in town, and even from neighbouring towns,  wanted to taste the coffee at Bottomless Blessings Coffee Roastery and wanted to buy that special competition beans. Business definitely picked up in a big way and I had to hire extra space for the winter to accommodate curious customers. In this all I experienced a lot of favour from the Lord. I believe this was His way to give exposure to the Coffee Shop.

What roaster keeps the beans browning at Bottomless Blessings?

Ermelo is a small town and I have only two employees at this stage. After Esri had been my first Barista for the first year Steve is now, apart from myself, the shop’s only trained Barista. Zoë is a shop assistant and hope to be a trained Barista soon. I am in full-time ministry and cannot be at the shop full-time. But I do all the roasting myself on my trusty Genio and it will probably always be my primary responsibility at the shop. Although I like being Barista also from time to time.  

What are your plans for 2020?

My plans for 2020 is to roast more specialty beans and to start selling beans online. The website will be operational soon. We will also keep on making good coffee and serve our customers with excellence. We plan to include at least one new drink to the menu annually to interest those who gets bored so easily. It will always be our aim not just to serve people with coffee but also to be available to minister to anyone who just need some encouragement.  

Enter A Shot in the Dark 2020 presented by Genio Roasters now. Finals to be held at Creative Coffee Week 9-11 July 2020.