Johanna Wechselberger’s grandmother was so into her coffee, she was willing to risk her life for it. As an Austrian Jew during WWII, she often had to hide in the basement. But that didn’t stop her from roasting her coffee – back then, people would roast raw beans in roasting pans over the stove – a laborious process that would fill the entire house with the aroma of roasting beans.
Wechselberger still has that pan, which fits in nicely with all the espresso machines, coffee filtration devices and countless other coffee paraphernalia strewn all over her coffee studio, where she teaches professional, home and barista courses to aspiring coffee vendors and aficionados.
The apple (or, in this case, coffee cherry?) has certainly not fallen far from the tree. Wechselberger has dedicated her life to improving both her own knowledge and skills, and passing them on to others.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” the 52-year-old Wienerin said. “I’m so much further along now and still learning. It’s an ongoing process of getting better and better and better.”
It all started when her then-husband brought home a fully automatic coffee machine one day and told her to make him a cappuccino.
“I was like, cappu-what?” Wechselberger recalled, laughing. “But once I get into something, I really get into it.” Soon she was bringing various discarded coffee machines home and repairing them herself, until they were all over the house – much like her studio today.
Since then, she’s won barista competitions, judged international coffee competitions, opened up a café, established her own roastery, written three books on coffee – and trained more than 4,000 people at Vienna School of Coffee.
It’s not a stretch to say Wechselberger not only drinks but lives and breathes coffee. Whether it’s about optimal extraction methods, the challenges around teaching the art of latte, or what’s really meant by the first, second, third, or fourth waves of coffee culture, her dedication to, and love of, the expanding world of coffee are abundantly clear.
Her grandmother would surely be proud.
Learn more about the Vienna School of Coffee, the Barista & Roaster Trainings, Coffee for home, office, the coffee shop, and much more at their website.