From scrubs to brewing coffee. Meet Kyle Grebe, the coffee drinking doctor who recently won the Eastern Cape Region’s Cup Tasters competition with his first attempt.
Tell us a bit more about yourself? Who do you work for? How did you get into coffee?
I’m originally from Cape Town, moved down to Port Elizabeth in 2016, tried to leave but the wind keeps blowing me back. I actually work for the government. I’m working as a surgeon in the PE hospital complex and currently training to become a Cardiothoracic surgeon.
As doctors we drink a lot of coffee and as an intern at Khayalitsha District Hospital, there was a sacred culture around coffee breaks, with Dr Sa’ad Lahri, the head of the emergency department teaching us about different brew methods. Seeing the difference, a good cup of coffee makes to team morale and motivation made me want to explore it more.
I started an Instagram page called @Beanstalking_PE to connect with the passionate people in the coffee industry, and those connections lead me here.
Tell us a bit more what this win means to you?
Over the past two years I’ve been watching the coffee community from the outside, wondering how I could become a part of it. Last year I went to watch the competition thinking I could meet a few people and learn a few things. Not knowing one year later I would enter Cup Tasters and actually win it! It still feels unreal!
Did you train? And what specific methods did you apply approaching the competition?
I spent a lot of time at Holiday Coffee, tasting different coffees with Chris and the team. A week before the competition I started watching YouTube videos of World Cup Tasters’ competitions and listening to interviews of previous winners for advice on techniques and strategy.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
Besides being a surgeon, I’m also into health and fitness, I train about four times a week, both cardio and weight training. I love the outdoors; hiking and swimming whenever I get a chance.
The Eastern Cape Region Coffee Competitions were such an exciting event this year, tell us more about your experience and how it felt like competing? Please tell us more about your set?
It really was an exciting event! Was great seeing the people I’ve come to know over the past year go out and give it their best! Also meeting new people at the event. It was stressful competing in my first competition, but once I started I was able to focus on the cups in front of me drown out the doubt and actually have fun with it.
What is great about coffee in the Eastern Cape?
There is something special about the Eastern Cape coffee community, I think it’s the authenticity that comes from small, family owned businesses, that is welcoming and makes you feel like you are part of the family, even as a customer. We’re all Coffee Companions…😉
What is your favourite coffee at the moment, and why?
The Rosetta San Francisco Natural, it’s a Honduras Catuai, natural processed! It has a dynamic complex flavour with strong blueberry and chocolate notes. Each cup is a unique experience, but always amazing! And when pairing it with Nutella…. Wow!
Is there anyone you would like to thank or recognize, or who helped you to prepare for the Eastern Cape Region Coffee Competitions?
I would like to thank Shaun Aupiais for convincing me to enter, and sharing his passion for coffee, Chris Faragher of Holiday Coffee for having faith in me and always pushing me out of my coffee comfort zone. I would also like to make a shout out to my girlfriend Stacey Middleton for all her patience and support, waiting hours while I decide which new brewing equipment and coffee gadgets I want to buy.
What’s next for you and where do you see yourself in five years?
My eyes are definitely on Nationals, I will be going in prepared, I will be doing a palate development course, tasting coffees from all regions, and practicing as much as I can. In five years’ time I hope to have combined my two passions Surgery and Coffee, using both fields to create a network that will facilitate at risk teens to reach their full potential.
Thank you Dr. Grebe and all the best for the future.
(Photos: Shaun Aupiais)