Mindaugas Ryskus and His Cosmos / An Invigorating Conversation About Different Relations with Coffee, Active Lifestyle and Creative Passions
Recently, I got a new challenge – my very first interview in life. And to make it even more challenging, my ‘hero’ was the best-named barista in Lithuania – coffee guru Mindaugas Ryskus. Before entering the agreed meeting place Cofmos Coffee, which Mindaugas himself recently founded with a team of dedicated professionals, I must confess, I was quite worried. Thus, the first thing I did at Cofmos Coffee – ordering a drink, which could calm me down a bit and give an initial feeling of the place and its values. While I was enjoying my warm drink, Mindaugas was swirling around, serving up other customers. I have to admit, that the first impression about him was a bit intimidating. Shaved-head, military style looking guy with lots of tattoos. But as soon as we started our conversation, a big smile on Mindaugas face instantly denied my very first impression. All my agitation disappeared. And I do not know whether the coffee was triggering or it was the special aura of the speaker but I did not need to pull a single sentence out of him. He created an excellent, open and deep, value-based atmosphere.
by GRETA UBAITE
photos DARIUS MARKUNAS
To start with, Mindaugas discovered coffee at the age of 18. Interesting enough, this happened quite by accident. At first, he wanted to become a bartender since he was thinking that it would be easier to combine work with studies that way. However, he somehow ended up working in one of the biggest coffee chain stores in Lithuania. From that point, his journey towards professionalism in the coffee industry has begun.
Mindaugas says that his activity regarding professionalism in this industry is conditional. Due to the fact that the industry itself is constantly changing, growing and unbelievably interesting, want it or not, it automatically begins to feel more like a hobby. The coffee itself for many human beings associates not only with a drink but also with the environment, kind of ritual to start conversations, to get acquainted with (reminds a bit of my introduction, huh?). Therefore, it is not surprising at all that people who are working in this field are not just ordinary interlocutors but also forming like-minded groups or even becoming good friends with each other.
It should be mentioned that Mindaugas travels a lot, not only for business matters (he was resident in Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, founded the business in Spain) but also as a way to explore his inner self, finding some peace of mind when discovering local cultures and diverse surroundings in nature. The need for adventures and nature are deriving from his early childhood. Mindaugas grew up in Nemencine (a small town in Vilnius district). His father is a forester, so the addiction to nature is in his blood from the very young days. Mindaugas calls himself a bit of a savage. This also embodies his desire to get on adventures, to explore the world, to meet people of different nationalities and environment, which surrounds them. He has his own, distinctive philosophy of being on the road. While travelling, Mindaugas tries not to follow map directions or reviews of regular touristy places. Also, leaving technology behind and dedicating himself to here and now moment. Such kind of travelling helps to discover completely unexpected places, local communities, get to know their culture better from the inside.
An active lifestyle and attention to himself is quite a natural thing for Mindaugas. Since childhood, one of the main passions and living companions for him is sport. Football, professional rowing in Lithuanian team, Muay Thai, yoga and especially cycling, are an integral part of his life. Why cycling? Because while cycling, Mindaugas says he can perfectly combine all other sport-related skills and emotions that he experience. For example, combat sports are useful to discharge accumulated stress or anger, but the same energy could be well offloaded by choosing off-road bicycle tracks.
Mindaugas says that he likes to compete, but the approach towards doing that has gradually changed throughout the years. According to him, it is not necessary to compete with contenders. At first, it is important to challenge ourselves in order to strive, to improve. Therefore, these days Mindaugas is investing his efforts in strengthening his professionalism in the field of coffee. Isn’t that wonderful, that Mindaugas can easily guess what kind of coffee a client will choose as soon as he/ she enters the place? According to him, this is confirmed by 99%.
For him, it is easy to scan people. According to Mindaugas, it was determined by his passion for the movies and theatre. The most favourite movies he watches several times: the first time to understand the general context, second – to analyse characters’ body language and facial expressions, third – to observe ancillary measures, such as lightning, costume, space and so on. Mindaugas himself has had an interest for acting in theatre since his youth, and he intends to engage in this activity again. He likes to be at the centre of attention, communicating with the audience. This helps a lot when participating in the coffee championships, representing himself and his work.
It is definitely clear that Mindaugas has a broad spectrum of activities. However, he admits that one of the main challenges, which has been bothering him for a long time now is multitasking. Such meditation like travelling or yoga helps a bit to thrive in the exact moment and concentrate on other things. Otherwise, we live in such times, when multitasking is one of the most essential skills, as regards professional development. So, maybe the philosophy which Mindaugas relies on “just go with the flow”, defines his current point of view very well.
But how about his coffee business? Cofmos Coffee is his third coffee business-related project. Before that, he and his colleague had a business in Spain, Sotogrande. Warm climate and resort atmosphere attracted business partners to settle there. However, the main difficulty they ran into was the difference in attitudes and values of visitors. Luxury and materiality-based lifestyle was opposite to the values, which Mindaugas had in his mind. Also, a resort has a limited, seasonal time for doing business. In the end, doing business in the resort gave a lot of experience and helped to appreciate our Lithuanian atmosphere and people.
“Cofmos Coffee is one of the best examples, which allowed us to dive into the local, conscious, sustainable way of living”, Mindaugas claims. Here, one of the main accents, regarding appetizers and drinks is based on low energetic value. Not that they have less energy themselves, but this is about being conscious of how much energy has been used to produce them. Have they been grown naturally or artificially? How much nature resources have been used; is it harmful to animals and so on. All Cofmos Coffee coffees (which you can buy on the spot for home usage) are prepared by Mindaugas himself. Another example, which Mindaugas has contributed to while residing in the Netherlands, is a development of a Nightwatch – natural energy drink. It is created by using only herbs, fruits and flowers. Also, it supports Quichua tribes, which grow and collect guayusa (caffeinated leaves), preserves their culture and traditional farming methods.