'Roaster on Roster' is a series where we feature our partner roasters on the MORNING marketplace and spend some time catching up with them about their projects, inspirations and also their lives outside of coffee.
This International Women's Day we interviewed Maria Pavani of Tres Marias Coffee Company. Today, with over 10 years of industry experience under her belt, Maria is leading the way for women in the coffee industry as a professional and entrepreneur.
About the roaster
Maria might be familiar to many who are part of the coffee championships circuit. As a certified sensory judge, she's often spotted slurping coffee with a clipboard in hand at many regional and world coffee competitions.
She wears many hats, the main one being the Founder of Três Marias Coffee Company - a roastery based in Dubai, whose name takes inspiration from the Belt of Orion. It represents their ambition to be recognisable and distinctive in the world of coffee, and they’re quickly becoming just that.
Três Marias is one of the leading coffee brands in the United Arab Emirates, they have been innovating high-quality coffee products and bringing new formats to the market - from roasting experimentally-processed coffees and launching instant specialty coffee, to producing ice coffee pops and now capsule coffee.
1. Can you share with us how your journey with coffee started and how it came to now with your business - Três Marias, in Dubai?
My first experience working as a barista was while I was living in Portugal with my mother. I was working part-time behind the bar in a busy coffee shop in Central Lisbon.
After I finished my studies, I decided to go back to Brazil and explore the opportunities there. I got a summer job at a cafe that was just starting to roast their coffee and that was my first venture into the specialty coffee world - understanding Brazil as a coffee-producing country, the processes, varieties etc.
Soon after, a friend of mine who moved to Dubai got me an offer as a head barista for a five-star hotel. I took up the offer and moved here in 2013, where the market was almost untouched with only one specialty coffee roaster then. I saw this as an opportunity to invest in my career by deeply studying coffee and understanding the whole supply chain.
In 2019, when the UAE market was already somewhat established, I decided that I wanted to have my voice on how I approach coffee, and that was how Três Marias Coffee Company was born.
2. Why did Três Marias decide to put coffees into the convenient capsule format?
Specialty coffee capsules are a new world to explore and because we (at Três Marias Coffee) strive to make specialty coffee accessible through innovation, accessibility and community; capsules as a product fit naturally with our core values as a brand.
The challenge with specialty coffee is to help people understand that coffee could have more flavours other than overpowering bitterness, and capsules are a great way to introduce that.
So I feel there is an opportunity here, and we wanted to lead the market towards it.
3. What’s been the most exciting achievement so far working in coffee?
Last year, I officially became a certified Sensory Judge for the World Barista Championships. I have been working on this project for years, and I am very happy I finally got my certification.
This will allow me to travel more to different countries to judge their national barista championship. This month I am going to Turkey and Portugal, to meet the amazing team of professionals on the world stage and choose the best barista in the world.
This makes me proud.
4. In your time as a tasting judge in many coffee competitions, was there a particular coffee you’ve tasted that left a lasting impression to this day
When we are part of competitions as sensory judges, we focus on not allowing the ‘’wow factor’’ and personal impression to affect our judging of each section on the score sheet. We try to stay true to the taste that the barista tells us to expect and what we find in the cup with our sensory skills as the measure.
But having said that, I remember tasting a coffee that I never tasted before last year at the UAE brewers' national championship, and then another outstanding coffee on the world stage in Milano!
5. Are there any issues in coffee that you think may be critically overlooked by the casual coffee consumer?
Definitely. This year we started to feel the impact of climate change a lot more with the prices of coffee going up.
This is something that we, as coffee brands and coffee professionals, should communicate about. It is important to share about the supply chain and that prices raised are from the increase of green coffee pricing and not because roasters want to increase their profits.
6. If you could have a coffee with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I lost my grandmother during Covid so I did not get the chance to say goodbye in person.
I still remember visiting her in Lisbon just before the lockdowns happened and had the chance to bring some Três Marias Coffee to drink with her. I wish I knew that it was my last cup with her.
So, I would definitely love to relive that moment again.
7. What’s next for Três Marias as a company?
That is a very good question. I think we have done so much in the past two and a half years, that we’re now working internally as a company to understand how to grow with better procedures as a team.
For coffee products, we have two new launches this year, one which I believe will help Três Marias reach new heights. We are all super excited about it!
We see ourselves growing to other countries as well, but we’ll move step by step.
Other women-led Partner Roasters on the Morning Marketplace include Bettr Coffee from Singapore and The Coffee Academics from Hong Kong. Shop their coffees here!