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Could you give us a short bio about yourself?

My name is Matthew Ian Perger. I am 21 years of age and I was born in the small town of Bowral, NSW. I love good food, wine, coffee, jazz and cooking. I was aiming to be either a professional drummer or industrial designer until specialty coffee took hold, and I’m so very glad it did.

Give us a short snap shot of the day in the life of Matt?

I wake up at a silly hour of the morning; eat way too much cereal. I then head to Axil and warm the roaster, dial in some espresso and filter coffees. I deliver some tasty beverages to the people of Hawthorn. I then head over and roast up a storm for our wholesale customers and the cafe. When my work is done I retire to a messy house where I’ll either cook a large piece of meat, or I’ll source dinner from one of Melbourne’s fine establishments!

How did you get to where you are today?

I spent almost every spare waking moment for 2 years thinking about how I can make coffee better. I am fiercely competitive (which may be very apparent by now) and I have a genuine passion for experiencing tasty things and sharing those things with others.

What are some of your career highlights?

Becoming the NSW Barista Champion (2010), the Australian Barista Champion (2011), one of the Baristas at the 2011 TED talks as part of Coffee Common and coming third in the World Barista Championships (2011) have all been great highlights.

I shouldn’t forget my other highlight which was finishing a roast of a Yirgacheffe that smelt like shortbread and earl grey tea!

What do you like the most about this industry?

The Specialty Coffee Industry is full of people drunk on life. It’s open, friendly and transparent. It’s also pretty new, so our market hasn’t reached saturation. This means we can all help each other out and not worry about direct competition.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?

The coffee itself. The more I learn about coffee, the more it becomes apparent that I know not nearly enough.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to start a career in the hospitality industry?

Start. Right now. Approach a cafe (not on a Saturday, please) with obvious passion for coffee, a thirst for knowledge and a slightly crazy glint in your eye. You’ll be one of us in no time!

Where is your favourite place to drink coffee? (Cafe or city)

Three Bags Full. On the bench next to the espresso machine. Scheming with Jamie Thompson, their head barista.

And finally, what is your drink of choice?

Easy. A (good) Long Black or Filtered Coffee.

Matt is the head barista at Axil Coffee. You can follow him on Twitter (@MattPerger).

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