Founders Jiyoon Han (MBA ’22), Luqzan Mustafa Kamal (MBA ’21) and Ethan Hirsch (MBA ’21) elaborate on their love and enthusiasm for brewing. Raseem Farook (MBA ’21) reports.
The spring of 2020 saw the arrival of the Coffee and Tea Club at HBS. Founded by Jiyoon Han (MBA ’22), Luqzan Mustafa Kamal (MBA ’21) and Ethan Hirsch (MBA ’21), the club was launched with the mission of increasing the awareness and appreciation for specialty coffee and tea through brewing sessions and educational events. Since its inception, the club has grown to more than 100 members and has also started hosting virtual coffee tasting sessions.
All three of the club’s founders share a passion for coffee and brewing. “I’m in love with coffee,” remarks Mustafa Kamal. “I still remember the first cup of single-origin coffee [I tasted] 11 years ago. It was brewed with coffee beans from Ethiopia. I felt so intrigued and fascinated when I tasted blueberries in the cup. It blew my mind that coffee, the unassuming beverage that I had been consuming daily, had a completely unexplored side to it. Since then, I’ve been exploring and discovering coffees from all over the world, experimenting with different brewing methods and connecting (and converting) with people who share this love for coffee.”
Hirsch shares Mustafa Kamal’s passion for coffee. “I’ve long loved drinking coffee,” he remarks. “But it was only after living in Brazil did I begin to learn more about the means and methods of growing and roasting coffee, along with the logistics, politics, and economics of a cup of coffee. Coffee has become a hobby of sorts for me, and I’m continually curious to try new types of coffees and methods of making it, all while remaining hopelessly addicted to any old cup of joe.”
Han’s connection with coffee begins at home. She serves as the coffee curator and roaster for Bean & Bean, a coffee business she runs with her family in NYC. Their enterprise, which aims to use coffee as a vehicle for gender equity by sourcing products directly from female producers at origin, was featured last year by HBS. Additionally, Han is a certified Q Arabica Grader (aka “coffee sommelier”) with her mother and has served on the jury for the US Coffee Championships.
When asked about how the club came into being, Hirsch explains that “Luqzan is a section-mate, and we bonded early in our RC year over a shared love of coffee and music. Luqzan and I met Jiyoon midway through our RC year, after being serendipitously connected by a Brazilian coffee connection of mine. It was truly a case of worlds’ colliding, as I quickly realized that I was previously a regular at the Bean & Bean Chelsea coffeeshop that Jiyoon runs with her parents.”
This mutual love for coffee brought the founders together and they soon started experimenting with the idea of hosting curated tasting and brewing sessions for the HBS community. Mustafa Kamal says, “One of the highlights of my RC year was when we managed to organize a group brewing session right before everything went online in March 2020. We tried out coffee from Kenya, Colombia, and Indonesia and traded notes about the flavor and aromas we got from each origin. While we can’t do sessions like this in person now, the club is finding ways to get beans to our members and keep the community together through virtual brewing sessions.”
The club has lined up several of these virtual sessions for its members in the upcoming months. Mustafa Kamal says, “people have their own unique take on what their cup of coffee means to them. And it’s an attachment that is reinforced on a daily basis, so it’s one that is very strong and very personal. I found that the best way to introduce people to specialty coffee is through conversation—simply drinking the coffee together and talking about what each other is experiencing from the coffee.”
Hirsch echoes this sentiment and adds, “We’re excited to share this club with the HBS community, and look forward to interesting events and discussions in the coming months!”
If you’re interested in joining the club, please follow us on Engage.
Upcoming events from the Coffee Club:
- DRC Coffee Tasting: Join the Harvard Coffee Club on a sensory trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the specialty coffee industry’s best kept secret. The DRC is known for its uniquely delicious coffees, which have historically been difficult to access. Enter Mighty Peace Coffee, a social impact start-up that is solving these logistical challenges and re-introducing the country’s best coffees to America, while empowering coffee-growing communities in post-conflict zones.
- Guatemala Cup of Excellence Winner x Barista Champion: Join us for a trip to the Cup of Excellence 1st Prize-winning farm in Guatemala, led by 4th generation female producer Anabella Meneses. Meneses is an ecologist and coffee producer who is constantly experimenting with new farming and fermentation techniques. We will have a US Barista Champion guide us through our brew.
- Zero-waste Costa Rica Coffee Tasting: Join us for a sensory trip to the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. We will taste a honey processed coffee produced by female producer Monserrat Prado, who designed and built her own zero-waste coffee mill. Prado is a first-generation coffee producer, in her 30s (the average age of coffee producers is 55). This coffee was made possible by Bean Voyage, social impact coffee exporters that strive for gender equity.
- Coffee and Blockchain: Blockchain tech is starting to be used to ensure transparency across the specialty coffee value chain. Join us for a conversation with leaders in coffee and blockchain technology.
Raseem Farook (MBA ’21) is a current MBA student at Harvard Business School. Prior to HBS, he was working in Columbus, Indiana, in the automotive manufacturing space, where he helped to launch two new products in the automotive industry. Originally from Chennai, India, he cannot tolerate cold weather and can be seen wearing sweaters in August.