Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Stitch Coffee’s Nawar Adra

This week, we caught up with Nawar Adra, founder and director of Stitch Coffee, to find out how he’s been faring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are you reading?

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

What are you watching?

Wild Wild Country

What are you listening to?

I normally listen to coffee podcasts like the Specialty Coffee Association Podcast to keep up with changes and trends.

What are you cooking?

I’m currently learning how to make pastries at home. Other than that, I mainly cook Italian and Lebanese fusion – stuffed eggplant with Lebanese halloumi cheese and herbs with Italian tomato sauce is one of my favourites.

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

Stretching in the morning and going for an afternoon run has been very helpful during COVID times. Other than that, we are working almost seven days a week to provide Stitch’s fans with their daily coffee rituals, which keeps me busy.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

I believe COVID has shifted coffee consumption more towards home brewing, which is exciting. I never thought coffee would be so popular online until facing this pandemic. We realised that consumers are not afraid to trust our roaster’s notes and selections. That level of consumer trust in the coffee industry has finally made me feel that I really made the right decision to be part of this community.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I learned so much more about myself that I would not have acknowledged before. My ability to maintain calm and responsive to the changes around us has surprised me. I believe being innovative in a crisis is what will help the industry to survive and continue striving.

Investing in ‘ready to brew’ products such as coffee drip bags and steeped coffee was a great decision for us at Stitch, with more customers working from home and looking for a convenient offering. Making specialty and ethically-sourced coffee as easy as commercial instant coffee is the future for our industry in order for us to continue thriving and engaging new customers.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

I think keeping your head straight, rather than down all the time, and doing business as usual. The industry needs to have an open-minded approach and not be afraid of trying new things. It’s really incredible to be a part of the specialty coffee niche, which is currently less than 10 per cent of the coffee market.

We know that we can’t rely solely on wholesale and or retail – it’s important to find ways to reach new markets. Convenient brewing and ‘ready to brew’ products are new ways for the industry to ensure our products are reaching consumers at home, as well as in travel, leisure and lifestyle. Looking beyond the routine and being responsive with a stewardship approach is invaluable.

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

Since I moved to Australia, most of my time has been spent in Sydney and Melbourne, which is one of my favourite places. I would love to see more of Australia, but I believe there are so many beautiful places in this country, so it will always be hard to pick just one.

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

The last time, when I took my partner to visit my home city, Tripoli, in Lebanon. It was fascinating to take someone originally from Korea to Lebanon, especially while the demonstrations were happening. Back home, we don’t have many Asian tourists visiting, so playing host in my hometown with them was an exceptional experience in seeing how people reacted.

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

I really want to travel to Istanbul again. I went there when I was 15 years old, and I don’t think I was able to understand and discover the magnificent city enough. It’s on the top of my list to go back to Istanbul and truly experience it now as an adult with a different perspective.



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