Hey Louis, thanks for taking the time to have a chat with us. Let’s start it off by you introducing yourself in a few words
So, as you may or may not know my name is Louis Vinet and I create things and also work in coffee, and I have a pretty good interest in both of these things.
That’s great because the next thing I want to ask is how did you get involved with specialty coffee? What were your first steps like?
Before I actually started working in coffee there was that time in Timberyard [a specialty cafe in central London]. I think what started an interest in the whole thing was seeing the kinds of people working there as baristas and, although I didn’t do any such work while I was there, it left a good impression. When a time came that I was looking for any old job, I got a proposition from you guys to hang around Near&Far [formerly MacIntyre Coffee in London]. I got some training from your team and I found out I really enjoyed learning things about this delicious bean.
Do you have any favourite coffees, particular origins or roasteries?
I’m still building familiarity with the flavour associations depending on the origin of the coffee, but if I can go by something I’ve tasted not too long ago, there’s this roastery called Koppi. They had this natural [processed coffee] that was fantastic. It tasted like strawberries and the aroma it had was like strawberry cream hard sweets.
(laughs) Ok, so I’m not gonna say the Kirema because that’s too easy, although it was delicious. There was this really nice Workshop coffee from Ecuador called Jorge Tapia which is also the name of the farmer. It was delicious, quite lemony and sweet.
Moving on, how do you usually brew coffee at home? What kind of a set up do you have and which method do you enjoy the most?
I’ve been brewing V60s the most and just recently decided to have a go with my Aeropress because I was running out of filters. I got some pretty decent results, but mostly it’s V60 because I’m pretty familiar with the whole process and if I need to make adjustments to figure out how to make the coffee taste better, I know what to do.
That sounds great. Now, I’d like you to tell us a bit about your art. If you could tell us a little bit about what your influences are, describe your style and techniques you use?
I’ve always been quite keen on drawing things. From when I was a kid, I would collect Pokemon and Dragonball Z cards and just spend time at home and school sketching from them, pencil drawings and playing around with cheap watercolours. I went on to practice art academically in college and chose to do an Illustration course at university. As for my influences, I used to play a lot of classic RPGs by Wizards of the Coast and they always had these amazing handmade character portraits. This was pre-Digital art. I remember in particular the game Icewind Dale that has a really cool animated intro that’s full of inky drawings. Aside from that, comic books and concept art are a huge influence, seeing how people create scenery and characters. I’m interested in a lot of things that don’t necessarily trickle down into the things I make, but I think that’s fine. I always feel that maybe I’ll get a chance to do things more related to the things I’m taking inspiration from sometime in the future. But for now I quite enjoy drawing by hand, pencil, ink and, more recently, doing all this watercolour work, learning how to layer colours.
Do you have any favourite artists or concept artists?
Yeah, I have to say Ashley Wood for one. He’s done the artwork for Metal Gear series since the release of that PSP title [Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops] and he does this comic-y, scratchy, inky stuff that he layers up with half tones and block colours. Another guy who did some MGS artwork is Yoji Shinkawa, who also worked on Zone of the Enders. He’s another favourite. There’s also Yoshitaka Amano who, aside from being the artist for most of the Final Fantasy games, has done some original comics that look fantastic. I think the reason I decided to try out watercolours was because of looking at his work and because it’s all very fluid in appearance. These are all people who do artwork for video games. I’m sure there are other people I’ve taken influence from, who’re more traditional but they’re not at the front of my mind as much as these guys.
Next thing I want to ask is, seeing how music is an important part of our lives and knowing that you also partake, can you tell us a bit about what you usually listen to? Any recent discoveries?
I think like most people who are just generally interested in music as an art form, more than just having something on in the background, my interest is pretty varied. I don’t really have a favourite of anything when it comes to music. I’m quite into soundtracks, probably just because typically they’re associated with the experience you have while watching or playing games so it’s a richer experience. Something I’ve been listening to recently, while working on your stuff actually, was [Stars of the Lid’s] The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid. It’s fantastic and I’m very thankful that it’s such a long album because it does take quite a while to play through and not having to change the playlist every so often helps. It is quite relaxing, I mean, it’s ambient music, it helps me to keep focused on whatever I’m doing. It’s just invasive enough, like there’s enough in there that takes your mind to some strange places without being too distracting. It keeps your brain stimulated.
And what about live music? Obviously under the current circumstances it’s off the table, but let’s say normally, do you like to go to gigs and do you have any particularly favourite venues?
Yeah, at least a couple. So, because of the whole crysis going on right now, I did have some tickets to a festival that were delayed until next year and that was Desertfest, it’s a doom [metal] festival.
Oh yeah, we know all too well! Alex was planning to go to that too but it interfered with his trip to Australia, which in the end didn’t happen either so… Hopefully we can all meet there next year!
Yeah, that’d be cool! Apart from that, recently I saw King Gizzard [and the Lizard Wizard] at Alexandra Palace. I think it was their biggest show to date and it was just ridiculous. You know, their music is like jam, psychedelic and it’s very energetic. I was there with a friend and the second that the music started, the crowd started to shift and pick up its own sort of current, like an ocean. We were separated from then on until the end of the show, constantly drifting in this gigantic mosh pit. That was totally amazing. Alexandra Palace is great for big shows like that. I wouldn’t say it was a favourite venue though. There’s the Black Heart in Camden, which is a super chill bar in the day and it has this cute little venue upstairs that’s capable of giving out really good sound despite its size. I saw Bong [one of Mike Vest’s bands] there. Another favourite is Cafe Oto. I’ve never been there in the day but the handful of times I’ve been there, I’ve seen some amazing things. It’s a place where everyone who works genuinely cares about what they’re putting on. One of my best memories is one of the night managers baking Marshall Allen’s [of Sun Ra Arkestra] birthday cake when he celebrated his 95th through a surprise gig!
That was a night to remember! Okay then, thank you again for finding the time to chat with us, it’s great to have you on board!