Where's Michael?

Back in September I started to finish my bachelor’s degree in horticulture. I took my last college course 22 years ago before dropping out and pursuing a carreer in IT using technical certifications in lieu of a degree. Now, after spending a few years in a coffee producing region, I’ve decided to finish my degree in horticulture.

The goal is to be able to work with coffee farmers and help to improve their operations in production and processing.

I’m just a couple weeks from finishing my first semester and I’ve both loved and hated it. For some background information about my previous go at university; I started taking college courses while on active duty with the Army. I was pursuing a master’s physician assistant program. This was in the late 90’s and the medical industry was just starting to experiment with widespread use of computers in hospitals and I was found to have a knack for working with them and was asked to become a trainer for their deployment program in the hospital. To make a long story short, I did the math and realized I could get a few technical certifications and work in IT and get paid very well, without spending the time and money finishing my degree.

That process of obtaining certificates and grinding through lower paying jobs for experience paid off in spades as I ultimately became very successful in my IT carreer. The problem was the silly office politics and drama drove me crazy. One of my last jobs in IT was my dream job working for a large company that could afford to do very cool things with technology but unfortunately I’m just not one for office politics.

What does this have to do with coffee?

With coffee, I’ve followed a very similar process of obtaining certificates through vocational training and grinding through jobs to get experience. Even though my first job in the coffee industry was actually in my own business, it was still a slog of me doing everything for little to no real pay, as I worked to get it off the ground.

However, what I’ve found in the coffee industry is that given my desired track of working with producers and processors, a relevant degree is likely necessary. I haven’t had much luck working with organizations that work with producers and processors. Most of these organizations want a degree or substantial experience right off the bat. Volunteering has also been a challange. I haven’t found a lot of organizations in the area that will take a volunteer.

But I’m very lucky in that my wife is quite successful and that has afforded me the time and opportunity to go back to school. In doing so, she focuses on advancing her carreer and I focus on building a new foundation for mine.

So please forgive my reduced engagement here and in social media. But look for bigger and better things in the future!


Michael C. Wright

Michael is an American expat living in Southeast Asia where he writes about many things coffee-related. A roaster by trade, Michael is also a licensed Q Grader, licensed Q Processor Pro, an Authorized SCA Trainer (AST), and most recently: a student pursuing a degree in horticulture.