Immersion is definitely one thing I crave the most, especially when it comes to personal growth.
Alright, alright, alright! We’re moving on to bigger and better things.
My next guest is Brodie Visser. He’s originally from a small town, moved to the big city, and then lived in Beijing, Barcelona, and traveled across Europe. So, he’s living and loving life, I mean, sipping freshly pressed espresso on top of mountains and valleys? Where do I sign up?
Brodie is the founder of The Nomad Barista, nay, he is the Nomad Barista. He has an adventurous soul; born to move around and has been documenting his travels since I met him back in the day. Brodie’s passion for coffee and espresso ignited many moons ago but it wasn’t up until a few years ago, he decided to take a stab at storytelling through his lens.
With 10,000 coffee followers on his Instagram account — or just fans of his bright, charismatic photographs — Brodie and his friends share their stories in recent interviews; YouTube videos, and broadcasting on Instagram Stories. Despite all hard-earned success, Brodie is still just your boy-next-door… but is also that one fucking guy you know who knows too much about coffee.
A little background about our friendship: Brodie and I met like how most modern romances began — on an app called, Tinder. Instead of romance, there was a lot of wine glasses (on my part), a group of language-leaners who humoured me, and comedy bits in a shady bar on Dundas St. known as the Imperial Pub.
So, needless to say, I was not his Tinderella and he was not my Prince Tinder. It wasn’t until a year ago when we reconnected by chance at Antikka Café where I was working on creating a portfolio and he was working on The Nomad Barista.
The limitations are only in your imagination.
I had an open conversation with him and asked him some questions that would help us get to know Brodie and his vast body of work in the popular world of espresso.
Getting to know Brodie
What inspires you?
I’d say watching people follow their passions and being able to turn it into something bigger than themselves is really what inspires me because these are usually the people I end up working with on exciting projects. From there, the limitations are only in your imagination.
How did you first get into photography?
Photography happened during high school, but not in the way you might expect. I never took the class actually, I just remember getting a little point and shoot so we could film each other skateboarding. I started making videos before photos actually, editing and everything.
Over the years, I just started shooting photos of everything in a very run and gun type way. I’d post them on Facebook albums, and sometimes even write blog posts to go along with it if I was traveling. It started with visual storytelling I guess, and it wasn’t until I moved to China back in 2012 that I picked up my first DSLR because I really wanted to be able to tell my story and share my experiences the most effectively. That’s when I think I really started taking it seriously.
I’ve realized over the years that I’m very much an experiential learner, and that has a big part to do with it. I almost need to be thrown into something in order to learn it…
What were you doing before The Nomad Barista?
Before The Nomad Barista, in terms of coffee, it was just an interest formed during one of my co-op jobs in school. I would try to make my own coffee at home, but whenever I went to different cafes, I would always pick the brains of the baristas behind the bar, watch what they were doing, sometimes take photos.
I just wanted to learn more, and eventually, just before a big trip back to Asia, I decided I had to formalize it a little bit and give myself a purpose to the travel — sort of guided storytelling. It started with personal research but quickly evolved into a blog because I really wanted to share what all these people were passionate about around the globe.
Do you have a favourite city? And why?
Honestly, I’d have to say Barcelona IS my favourite city, as cliché as that sounds. Just the lifestyle it facilitates — artistic scene, compact urban form, beautiful yet diverse architecture, the sea, central in Europe, good food options, quite international, warm, the colour of the sun in the evenings… the list goes on.
What was the main objective of moving to Barcelona?
Yeah, I was there on-and-off for almost a year and a half, and every minute was incredible. The first time I moved was just because I knew I wanted to live there at some point, so it was kind of a trial period of 3 months to make connections; get back into Spanish, and get a feel for the city.
I moved back 9 months later on a working holiday visa just because I loved it so much and wanted to build on what I started. One thing led to the next, and by the end, I had started coffee consulting, being a photographer full-time, and being a lot more comfortable with the language. Those were essentially my main objectives. That and bike rides on the Mediterranean!
It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, but just take a step back and ground yourself as often as it takes…
How did being immersed in a different culture shape you as a person and/or affect your process and your work?
Immersion is definitely one thing I crave the most, especially when it comes to personal growth. I’ve realized over the years that I’m very much an experiential learner, and that has a big part to do with it. I almost need to be thrown into something in order to learn it, like speaking a new language or taking on a project that goes beyond my comfort zone. I just started saying ‘yes’ to things, whether I felt prepared or not, and it really helped me grow — it turns on a new part of your brain, almost like fight or flight.
I came to realize eventually that everyone’s an imposter.
How do you stay productive and not feel overwhelmed?
Oh, I definitely feel overwhelmed all the time. I’ve recognized that my working style is very much sporadic, and inspiration/motivation comes in flows, but one thing that helped me, in the beginning, is to accept projects even if I didn’t think I was fully cut out for it (sort of fake it ‘til you make it mentality). And then learning to say no to projects later on that would take away more energy and time than they were worth.
It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, but just take a step back and ground yourself as often as it takes — do things you enjoy, surround yourself with people you enjoy, that kinda thing.
Imposter Syndrome. Ring any bells?
Haha, imposter, yes. That’s definitely me, going back to the fake it ‘til you make it vibe, that’s something I’ve had to come to grips with along the way I think. When I was getting more into the ‘creative’ field, I would constantly compare myself, my ideas, and my achievements to that of others and be disappointed with where I was, but I came to realize eventually that everyone’s an imposter.
If The Nomad Barista didn’t work out the way it did, what would you be doing?
That’s a good question, I never thought of it like that. To me, The Nomad Barista is a project of what I do and serves as a platform. If anything it was a learning experience for me and an excuse to meet people. Sadly I don’t update it as much as I’d like, but the real work happens behind the scenes I think, it operates in parallel.
…you never really know when you’re going to make the perfect brew that will blow your mind.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your social media presence?
I mean, ‘interesting’ is pretty subjective, but maybe instead I can share something that I’ve always been super interested in. I’m not very mathematical, but I almost went into a physics major in university because I was so intrigued about the universe and the possibilities of what advancements in science and theoretical physics could mean.
The stars just fascinate me, as well as the unpredictability on an atomic level. I think that’s what intrigues me about coffee so much, it’s the marriage of science and art, and you never really know when you’re going to make the perfect brew that will blow your mind.
What advice would you give past yourself, knowing what you know now? And why?
Leading on from the last point, I realized that I’m always going to be operating at a different/lower level than someone else, and the sooner you get comfortable with that idea and just keep pressing forward doing your own thing, the better.
That’s it for my conversation with my pal (who keeps trying to get me to drink coffee) Mr. Brodie Vissers! I hope you enjoyed getting to know Brodie, his work, and maybe learn a thing or two. Right now, if you catch him on the ‘gram, he’s back in Barcelona with some awesome content.
If you like this, please follow this publication to be in the know when the next conversation is up. And if you haven’t read my (one) other conversations with Toronto artist Marina Stojkovic, I’ll just put that right here.
Mucho gracias por el amor ✨🌻✨