“There are a lot of women who I look up to in this industry,” says Kimberly Yer, Business Development Manager at Nestlé Professional in Singapore. “We are always learning and sharing experiences with one another - we cross borders and cultural differences to just focus on coffee”.
Kimberly never planned to make a career of coffee. “I was an electronics, computer and control engineering student,” she explains. “But, right after school I began working as a part-time barista at a coffee shop. The community and people around coffee made my starting out journey so enjoyable that I decided to pursue it as a career”.
She went from part-time to full-time at the coffee shop and slowly began making connections in the coffee world. By 2006 she was judging the National Barista Championship and involved in the organizing of the annual National Barista Championship. She is now Vice President of the Singapore Coffee Association.
Coffee as an event
“I remember attending a blind cupping event during a regional coffee and tea trade show in Singapore,” Kimberly recalls. “I was really pushed outside of my comfort zone: sitting with a group of established coffee buyers. One of them was encouraging me to identify the origins of the numerous cups of coffee. I decided in that moment that I would never stop stepping outside of my comfort zone when exploring the coffee world. I would choose to challenge myself”.
She is now a regular organizer and judge of various high-profile shows. “I love coffee events,” she beams. “You feel the passion and the heartbeat of the global specialty coffee industry. From different cultures and backgrounds, we strive towards one single goal, which is to elevate the coffee experience."
Life at Nestle Professional
“In my current role I am constantly looking for opportunities to grow our foothold in the local market. At Nestle Professional we are focused on sharing and educating people to the joys and intricacies of coffee,” Kimberly explains. “I also take the chance to speak and connect with customers over their coffee and business needs and it is always a joy to help them identify the solution that best suits them”.
Speaking with customers is very important and Nestle Professional has set up a remote Customer Engagement Center, which enables the team to do product and solution demonstrations, while abiding by the Singapore’s Safe Social Distancing Guidelines.
So what is Kimberly’s advice to others interested in making a career out of coffee? “Reach out to the local community and be part of it by volunteering,” she suggests. “We are a great bunch who are keen to share our experiences. Don’t stop asking questions as coffee is always progressing and evolving”.
The next steps
“We have definitely seen an increased representation of women in the last half a decade,” says Kimberly. “Particularly thanks to the excellent work of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance. But it would be great to see more women in R&D, trading, decision-making roles and as business owners”.
Looking forward, Kimberly remains optimistic. “World coffee events that were supposed to take place in Melbourne and Warsaw back in 2020 were cancelled,” she explains. “Hopefully, the situation gets better and the coffee community can once again get together to promote coffee excellence”.