Home Coffee shop Emery School of Coffee, a M’sienne startup for coffee training

Emery School of Coffee, a M’sienne startup for coffee training


Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks has always been my favorite drink whenever I visit the cafe. I first came across it when a friend of mine ordered it, and loved how good it looked and even more how it tasted.

Cadence Sim, founder of Emery Coffee School (ESC) seems to have the same preference as me.

“It was love at first sight. I enjoyed the complex undertones of bitterness in the coffee, and the sweet gooey caramel and hot milk,” Cadence recalls.

Little did she know then that she would soon learn the Starbucks coffee trick and business. Before founding ESC, she had traveled the world around coffee, starting at Starbucks as a barista.

A barista working at Starbucks will receive a coffee passport explaining the different types of beans carried and offered by the brand.

“I learned a lot about operations and customer service skills at Starbucks. However, opportunities and opportunities to learn more about coffee were limited,” Cadence said.

Shortly after, she came across a three-day course offered by Illy Coffeea renowned Italian coffee company, and joined it.

Although she had the opportunity to learn about semi-automatic machines, she still had so many unanswered questions. These included the amount of coffee beans, the type of coffee used, and factors affecting coffee flavors.

It was then that Cadence decided to research appropriate avenues of coffee education. Soon after, she came across the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).

Cadence coffee and training lab / Image credit: Emery School of Coffee

According to the Founder, the coffee skills program under SCA is well structured and is based on research, findings and industry practice.

After finishing her Starbucks journey, Cadence then joined a wholesale company that teaches customers how to apply mixes to various beverages.

“From there, I discovered that I really enjoyed teaching and decided to focus on coffee education,” she explained.

“The art of making coffee is not an art in itself. We need to take a more analytical and scientific perspective in order to get the most out of every grain. »

A lot of research, experiments and data collection are carried out to explore the new flavor potentials of green coffee varieties, agricultural technologies and processing techniques.

A barista can further control the dosage, infusion time and production again depending on the origin, processing and roasting information obtained.

Breaking down barriers in competitions

In addition to being a barista, Cadence has also become a Certified Q Grader (professionals qualified in the sensory evaluation of green coffee) and a Quality Assessment Speaker with the Coffee Quality Institute.

The institute is an NGO that focuses on agricultural research and empowering the lives of farmers through coffee education.

Additionally, the Founder is a Certified Global Judge with World Coffee Events (WCE) for their World Barista Championship, World Latte Art Championship and World Coffee Championship in good spirits.

Image credit: Emery Coffee School

“Participating in world coffee competitions as a judge and training abroad helps a lot as I can check out what is going on there, get my hands on the latest information and better understand the coffee scene and culture. in different places,” Cadence shared.

In order to obtain a judging position in competitions, candidates must have a good knowledge of coffee.

They must be able to prove themselves as reliable and consistent candidates in judging, scoring and passing the calibration round.

Then they will have more opportunities to participate in regional or national competitions. From there, they will also be able to build their experience and portfolio before applying for judging certification.

According to Cadence, the global coffee competitions are held in different countries each year, with around 50-60 countries competing per category.

Image credit: Emery Coffee School

Drawing on her experience in the industry, she also shed some light on the gender distribution within the professional coffee scene, as it seems that many professional baristas tend to be male.

“Female judges are not underrepresented on the world stage, but female competitors are. There are more male competitors than female, but we have a good number of female judges serving on the judging panel,” Cadence said.

She also had some clients and organizers who took her for the opposite. This is largely because they assume that most trainers, judges or business owners are male.

“Although it’s a little frustrating, I’m usually not bothered. They’ll be a little surprised when they see me, but I’ve never failed to earn their respect with the works I deliver,” Cadence added.

A business without a plan, just a flow

In addition to being a cafe that serves coffee and pastries, ESC also offers training programs for anyone looking to up their game in the coffee industry.

Some of the programs include:

  • Sharing, appreciation and team building sessions for corporate clients;
  • Leisure coffee workshop on roasting, espresso, brewing and latte art for coffee lovers;
  • Professional certification pathways, known as the SCA-sanctioned Coffee Skills Program;
  • Industrial training for cafes wishing to train or improve barista skills;
  • Competition coaching for regional, national or international coffee competitions; and
  • Coffee advice for those who want to open a coffee shop or expand their coffee business.
Image credit: Emery Coffee School

“There was no game plan, and there is also no game plan at the moment. We just go with the flow,” Cadence said.

At first, the founder just wanted to try out her idea. Therefore, her first location for a cafe was a simple setup on the first floor of a building, just so she could save on overhead.

She started the training programs with a machine and a grinder. If there were no students, she served coffee to the locals.

Eventually, the founder started getting requests to incorporate breakfast options and other food items into her menu.

“As the requests started to get overwhelming, we decided to try a hybrid model of having both a training lab and a cafe in the same location,” Cadence explained.

Therefore, the team set to work on redesigning the space, and lo and behold, ESC was designed.

“School of Coffee means a place to learn coffee of course, but it also means the coffee school of thought that we want to champion,” Cadence said.

Five years after its launch in 2018, the café has managed to establish itself within the community.

The team now has steady streams of coffee customers and a good reputation for its training services in the industry.

Image credit: Emery Coffee School

Currently, they have grown to have an independent location for their office, training lab, and cafe.

Going forward, ESC plans to expand the retail side of the business, which includes establishing outposts, new outlets, or a roastery. Eventually, the cafe also plans to expand its reach globally.

  • Learn more about Emery School of Coffee here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Emery School of Coffee