Former Kent cricketer combines coffee roasting roles.

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Ivan Thomas says he feels like he has “fallen out of one dream job and into another” as he continues to pursue a career in coffee roasting, and urges others to follow his path as part of the PCA’s 2021 Futures Week.

Thomas, 30, spoke to the PCA this time last year about how he used connections made through the PCA to gain experience in an industry that he feels passionate about.

Since then, the man who left the professional game in September 2020 has secured a job with the fast-growing Grind coffee roasters, whilst also establishing his own company, Kaffiend, which has plans to begin trading in the near future.

However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Thomas. The seam bowler laid the groundwork for his future successes whilst still on the books at Kent, and he has also made the most of unexpected interview opportunities, as Thomas explains: “Initially, I had applied for a finance role at Grind, as I was just keen to get into the coffee industry in any way I could.

“I went to meet them in autumn 2020, and during the interview I was just talking about how much I loved coffee, and how passionate I was about it. About an hour into it, they asked me if I realised that it was a finance role and that I wouldn’t actually be roasting any coffee.

“They then told me that a role had just come up on the roasting side of things, so I went and met the head roaster, interviewed, got the job and now I’m completely involved in that side of things.

“I think the passion that I showed was the main thing – I must’ve said some things that impressed them and made them think that I was worth hiring.”

Through putting himself out there and displaying what is a clear passion for coffee roasting, Thomas has secured a job on the production side of the business. The 30-year-old has landed on his feet after leaving the other career he had always wanted: playing professional cricket for Kent.

Getting used to the day-to-day nature of the job has brought its challenges, but Thomas also looks at the many positives that have come with his transition.

“I used to not understand why people would just live for the weekend, but in my very first week I found that I just couldn’t wait for Saturday. Real life certainly hit me pretty quickly in that respect.

“It’s very different to professional cricket, but it brings stability and forward planning. In cricket, you never really know where you’re at and it’s very difficult to plan ahead. Now, I’m able to plan trips abroad, which has been really cool, even though the working hours are very different.

“The job itself has been amazing. I’m learning loads, and I feel like I’ve fallen out of one dream job and into another.

“Grind is a great place to work. We had a 10-year anniversary recently, and we’ve just had a large investment of £22m. It’s grown rapidly over the last three years.

“When I started, we were in a tiny little place, but in April we relocated to a massive industrial warehouse. We’ve just moved into America and we’re looking to triple the amount of coffee we’re roasting. It’s all very exciting.”

Thomas’ passion for coffee doesn’t stop at working a sought-after job with a fast-growing business in Grind. Setting his sights on even loftier ambitions, he has dived into the process of setting up his own roastery: Kaffiend.

“When I initially started pursuing a career in coffee, I couldn’t get employed by any roasters. At that point, I figured that I would just try to employ myself.

“I invested in all of the equipment, converted my garage into a roastery and started up a little business called Kaffiend.

“The future plan is to operate my own roastery full-time, but right now I’m able to learn my trade at Grind where I have a bit of job security, so it’s a nice balance. I should be able to sell my first proper beans before Christmas, if all goes to plan.”

Having explored his career options during his playing days, including attending a number of PCA events and working closely with his Personal Development Manager (PDM) Tom Jones, Thomas finishes with a simple message for current and former professional cricketers during Futures Week.

“You have a lot more time than you think you have, so using it wisely is really important.

“That doesn’t mean you need to do as many courses as possible, but you should take the opportunities offered by the PCA in terms of work experience. You don’t need to find things you love, but you can tick things off the list, which is definitely something that I did.

“As soon as that spare time goes, you realise the value of what you actually had.”

Futures Week shines a light on the area of personal development and career transition among PCA members. The two-day Futures Conference forms the centrepiece of the initiative and both are part of the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP). Click here to find out more.