Fresh Cup Magazine | March 2019

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Contents M A R C H 2 0 1 9 | VO L . 2 8 . N O. 3 | F R E S H C U P M AG A Z I N E








Café Crossroads

Do You Know?


By Luke Daugherty

By Carrie Pallardy


By Jordan Johnson

Sign Language for the Café

By RJ Joseph





Through design, service models, and employee attitude, cafés can create welcoming and family-inclusive spaces.

Standing Up for a Better Industry Future

Women bear the majority of labor on Kenya’s coffee farms—but at what cost?

Fostering Family-Friendly Cafés

By Michael Butterworth

Coffee Activism, Part One By Anastasia Prikhodko

Cashing Out of Women’s Sweat By Daniel Sitole


On the Cover: Artwork by Cynthia Meadors

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EDITOR’S LETTER “We have to invite the self-reflection and self-criticism in order to change the institutions that are reinforcing these things.”


–Colleen Anunu, Fair Trade USA, 2018 Re:co Symposium

Associate Editor JORDAN JOHNSON

It’s because the partner of a café owner publicly blames and shames victims of sexual assault, calling into question the safety of the work environment.


It’s because marginalized baristas continuously have their knowledge and talents challenged, even after years in the industry.

Ad Coordinator DIANE HOWARD

It’s because all too often, we see homogenization in speaking panels, boards of directors, and barista competitions.


It’s because, even in this publication, images of people of color typically only appear in origin features.


And it’s why you hold in your hands, after months in the making, our Inclusivity Issue.



Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers




Jones Coffee Roasters

Phillips Syrups & Sauces




Elmwood Inn Fine Teas



Di Bella Group

Maya Tea Co.



Bellissimo Coffee Advisors


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In these pages, Fresh Cup delivers stories highlighting rarely heard voices in our industry; ways to create safer, more productive, and welcoming café spaces; initiatives being taken by women, womenidentifying, and non-binary individuals in the coffee community; and more. For far too long, the specialty coffee and tea industry has suffered from its lack of diversity and inclusivity—and will continue to suffer unless we use our platforms to address the matter. Commencing with this issue, Fresh Cup is reaffirming its mission to champion all voices, in all sectors of the industry. We are committed to fostering a better culture of inclusiveness. Of diversity. Of equity. Of safety. And, of course, delicious coffee and tea that bring us all closer together. “This road that we’re on is going to be long,” said Michelle Johnson, The Chocolate Barista, at the 2018 Re:co Symposium. “The bus towards true diversity and true inclusion, we’re all piling on it.” I invite you to hop on board with us.

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Our Contributors Based in Istanbul, Turkey, coffee educator, consultant, and writer Michael Butterworth is a licensed Q grader and a two-time United States Barista Championship competitor. In this issue, he examines how many cafés are excluding families with their design, service models, or employee attitude—and what to do to change that (p. 28).

Luke Daugherty is a freelance writer and longtime coffee professional based in St. Louis, Missouri, home to this month’s featured Cafe Crossroads, Rise Coffee (p. 14). In his 15 years in coffee, he has worked for several companies, including Quills Coffee and Kaldi’s Coffee, as a roaster, SCA-certified green buyer, operations manager, content creator, and barista, among other stray roles here and there.

RJ Joseph is a coffee roaster, journalist, and blogger based out of Oakland, California. Her work in all areas of her life focuses on trying to create better systems for all types of people. For this issue, she provides insight into how cafés can create safe environments for employees and customers alike (p.24). When she’s not pulling shots, you can find her cooking, listening to records, and enjoying long city-hikes.

Ardent tea drinker and bookworm Carrie Pallardy is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, Illinois. She writes about a wide range of topics, from real estate and entertainment to education and global travel. In this issue, she speaks with Melissa Villanueva, CEO/ owner of Brewpoint Coffee, about what it’s like to open a café as a woman and minority (p. 20).

Anastasia Prikhodko is a freelance journalist based in Sydney, Australia. Previously, she spent two years abroad living in Amsterdam and enjoying the coffee scene across Europe, Russia, and Korea. She writes mainly about coffee, the travel trade sector, social issues, gender, and, at times, dabbles in a bit of sports writing. Read her survey of U.S.-based organizations and movements empowering marginalized communities in the coffee industry on p. 36.

Daniel Sitole is a Kenyan journalist and photographer whose stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world, including in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. His writing interests include business and finance, economic development, agriculture, globalization, environmental, climate change, and human interest stories. For this issue, he highlights the challenges Kenyan women coffee farmers face in getting the benefits of their labor (p. 46).

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THE CASE FOR NAKED PORTAFILTERS If your coffee house is serious about serving great espresso, you should be using naked (i.e. bottomless) portafilters—not just for barista training, but also in everyday service. We see THREE advantages to using them:

1. Cleaner Espresso With traditional spouted portafilters, residue invariably builds up on the spouts, the bottom of the portafilter, and the bottom of the basket. This ends up contaminating almost every espresso shot you serve. With naked portafilters, your baristas can not only clean every part that touches your espresso, but easily do so between every shot.

2. Easier Tamping With a flat bottom that can rest on the countertop, your baristas will find it much easier to make tamps that are both firm and level. Both are critical steps for achieving a high-quality extraction.

3. Better Quality Control With naked portafilters, your baristas can see every aspect of the espresso pour—the first drop, the last drop, and everything in between. This means judging when to adjust grind settings becomes that much easier. It also means that your baristas will see when poor tamping (or distribution) causes channeling and/or an uneven extraction. Traditional spouted portafilters hide the visual signs that a shot may need to be remade (i.e. a stream that moves around or development of a second stream). Sponsored by Malabar Gold Espresso FRESH CUP MAGAZINE [ 13

Café Crossroads

Rise Coffee: A Café for the People By Luke Daugherty

Founder Jessie Mueller (seated)

Barista Kavon Sykes General manager Kristen Trudo

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t first glance, Rise Coffee might look like a lot of other neighborhood specialty coffee shops. It’s “one of those spots that simply feels good to be in,” as popular St. Louis food magazine Sauce puts it. There’s the cozy warmth of red brick and well-worn hardwood. The inviting quirkiness of the eclectic furnishings and decor. A friendly staff offering a simple-yetrefined coffee menu and café fare with a modern vegetarian take on classic diner offerings and the obligatory—but undeniably delicious—avocado toast. Top it off with Rise’s location—a hip, revitalized urban neighborhood, replete with countless great restaurants and bars, craft breweries, a popular music venue, and myriad local shops and services—and you have a coffee house that would become a local go-to in nearly any city. But Rise isn’t just any shop in any city. Observe the crowd on both sides of the bar and you might be struck by a more diverse group of people than you’re used to seeing in a boutique

coffee shop. Take in your surroundings, and you might notice messages meant to stir your conscience such as, “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” Step onto the back patio, though, and you’ll find the heart of Rise and its unique ethos. On a patio-spanning mural are painted the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “AN INDIVIDUAL HAS NOT STARTED LIVING UNTIL HE CAN RISE ABOVE THE NARROW CONFINES OF HIS INDIVIDUALISTIC CONCERNS TO THE BROADER CONCERNS OF ALL HUMANITY.” Look closer at Rise, and you might see not merely a café, but a community—a community with arms thrown wide toward anyone willing to step in. Current general manager Kristen Trudo saw it long before becoming an employee. “I think coffee can be really pretentious and exclusive,” says Trudo. “As a customer, the thing that drew me to Rise is that it very much felt like a place

that was about the people who came in the door, whoever that was.” That welcoming posture is built into the very design of the space. Explore upstairs and you will find an area dedicated to families, where a baby gate guards entry to a wonderful world of children’s books and toys, accentuated by a tree house. Next to it, there is a library, open to students and others keeping long hours, not a “sip to sit” sign in sight. Scroll Rise’s provocative Twitter feed or catch a glimpse of the “Vote November 6” sign still lingering near the community board, and you’ll see a company engaged in the broader concerns beyond its doors. In many ways, Rise Coffee embodies the upward thrust of the Dr. King quote that gave it its name. It began, however, with the simple search for a cup of coffee.

Rising Up Due to her experience in social work, Rise founder Jessie Mueller was naturally concerned with issues of inclusivity, racial equity, and urban


Café Crossroads

FOR THE KIDDOS: The kids’ area includes a fort, toys, and reading materials.

renewal. She was even working on a beautification project in The Grove, a resurgent neighborhood of St. Louis, when the idea for Rise came to her. Having nowhere to go for a coffee, she decided to start her own shop, despite no experience in the trade. When she launched Rise in 2013, her first attempts to create an inclusive community didn’t rest on a big bannerwaving cause, but something much closer to home. “I wanted to create an inclusive space, not just racially and economically but also for parents in St. Louis City,” recalls Mueller. “Because it just tends to be that, as soon as you have a child in St. Louis, if you live in the city everyone asks you when you’re moving out to the County. So I thought, if I could create more space for families in the city, more conversations will get started around schools and how we can improve the neighborhood for all kids, for the overall region, which could inspire families to dig in and help rebuild our community more equitably.” This mindset was embedded from the beginning, and attracted mothers like Janelle Brown. “I think moms in general struggle with maintaining who they are when they become mothers,” says Brown. “It was a great place for me to take my kids and allow me to feel like me.” In an environment where children are often seen as an unwelcome nuisance, Rise stood out and drew families in droves, so much so that Mueller

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attributes the café’s initial survival to those early stroller-pushing regulars. Soon, however, her vision for Rise would be pushed much further. In 2014, Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis County, caused an eruption of racial tension that put the city and surrounding region at the center of national news. The ensuing riots sent unrest rippling throughout St. Louis City and surrounding St. Louis County, exposing hidden rifts that ran through every neighborhood and back to the city’s earliest days of post-Civil War growth. Although The Grove isn’t in close proximity to Ferguson, the issues facing it—racial segregation, socio-economic inequities, policing in poor communities, and urban decline precipitated by white flight, among others—were in many respects the same. Mueller felt compelled to engage Rise in the movement—and she wasn’t alone. In the wake of the Ferguson riots, many groups mobilized throughout the region. One of these groups was a non-profit called We Stories, which was designed to get white families to open up about issues of race through reading diverse children’s literature with their kids. Many of the families that frequented the café got involved, bringing cohesion to the idea of Rise as a hub for a growing activist community. “I don’t think until Michael Brown’s untimely death and the subsequent events in Ferguson, we felt as capable

of having these conversations around equity and police brutality. And then the black community taught us how to speak about it,” says Mueller. “Many of us either didn’t know how or were too afraid to bring up the inherent divides we were witnessing every day. As truly painful as Ferguson was—and it’s awful for someone to lose his life to bring us to this point—I’m grateful that we’ve exposed the root of racism that exists in our communities and folks can talk about it more openly. That openness and vulnerability allows for growth and change to take place. It was definitely a turning point for Rise and our city as a whole.”

Repairing Rifts Still, the new vision for inclusivity needed greater clarity. When Rise began posting Black Lives Matter signage, they were soon challenged to put action behind their words. A customer wrote them a public note asking them how, as The Grove underwent growing pains and bore the weight of its own racial tensions, they would truly show the value of those in their community. That question gave birth to “Coffee for the People.” This program, which has become a fixture of Rise, offers customers the option of buying a coffee for anyone who needs it. “People can still come in and grab a coffee at any time, even if they can’t afford it,” explains Mueller. This idea became a way for Rise to communicate what it was about to its community, and to invite customers to join in that


COFFEE FOR THE PEOPLE: Rise offers customers the option to buy a coffee for anyone who needs it.

mission. It soon began to draw more neighborhood residents into the café. This generosity of spirit soon extended into virtually any area of the business, including hiring choices. At one point in 2014, Mueller took a chance on an experienced but unemployed barista who was recovering from a mental health crisis the previous year. That barista is now the owner of Rise. “Rise for me was the place where I felt safe and was welcomed when I didn’t feel welcomed at a lot of places,” says Aaron Johnson, whom Mueller eventually promoted to manager before selling him the business in 2015. “With the condition my mind was in, still in the midst of my recovery, I probably couldn’t have gotten hired at most cafés in the city.” Even when Johnson was a customer, Mueller felt a shared need for purpose akin to what she had felt as a new mother struggling with post-partum depression. The partnership quickly strengthened between them. “It’s so important feeling like you’re doing something to better yourself and your community,” says Mueller. “And Rise became that for both of us. It was sort of a magnetic story where we both could see that we needed Rise, so we could rise.” It was clearly the right match. Johnson, who moved the shop to a bigger space a few doors down that he purchased with Mueller in 2016, has taken her original vision even further since taking over. Concerned that Rise would play a role in gentrifying the neighborhood, pushing

out longtime residents by drawing in wealthier outsiders, he shifted his priorities to hiring neighborhood residents. He’s since hired six, none of whom came in with coffee experience. Those hires aren’t getting any special treatment, though. Kavon Sykes, one of those neighborhood employees, was drawn to Rise in the same way. “When we first met them, they were extra nice and polite,” he says. “They invited us in and treated us like family.” Since officially joining that family, Sykes has fallen in love with coffee, and enjoys finally being able to walk to work.

Learning to Listen For his part, Johnson is far from satisfied with the work Rise has done. “The neighborhood has tipped over toward unstoppable development, and it prompts a lot of questions that I don’t always know the answer to,” he says. “It bothers me. I don’t think a café can ever do enough in this situation.” That won’t stop him from trying. His commitment to creating a welcoming space is one reason that, while there is a clear commitment to quality in the craft of food and coffee at the shop, it’s not front-and-center. They’ve got all the key pieces: the pour-over menu, the Linea Classic, the Fetco brewer, the EK43 and Mythos grinders. Yet somehow it’s all unassuming. Many customers didn’t even notice when Rise began to roast their own coffee last year. “We will never stress education to our customers,” says Johnson. “We

want to be smart enough to talk to the three percent of people who actually care, but I feel like cafés have those barriers hidden all around them.… You never welcome someone to dinner and then talk to them for five minutes about each dish. That’s not hospitality.” Authentic hospitality, in Johnson’s definition, begins with listening. It’s how he responds to his customers, not just as customers, but as people. It’s also how he chooses the issues Rise will champion—from protesting local policing to advocating for LGBTQ equality to stumping for a preferred candidate in the local alderman’s race—in hopes of making a difference. “Early on at Rise I learned that you need to listen to the people around you who are more affected by these issues,” he says. “If you listen well, then you will respond more appropriately than if you just get fired up about everything.” That focus on building bridges through hospitality has led to new opportunities. Rise recently opened its second location, which is housed inside the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM). While the museum, with its clean, modern aesthetic, might seem a strange fit for the gritty, eclectic style of Rise, for CAM executive director Lisa Melandri, the pairing was natural. “We’re here quite literally in the geographic center of St. Louis, and it’s core to who we are to want to make sure that everybody can come in and make use of this institution in ways that are best for them,” explains Melandri. CAM


Café Crossroads

RISE STAFF (from left): Pierre Dobbins, Sadie Britt, and Abi Hillrich. Owner Aaron Johnson (left).

does not charge admission, which helps to fulfill the museum’s mission—to make contemporary art accessible to all—a mission very much akin to Rise’s own. “Art for the People,” you might say.

Coffee for the People Rise is a rare kind of shop, and what it adds to its community is invaluable to its members. As Janelle Brown puts it, “It shows the best side of St Louis,” serving as an emblem of unity in a city devastated by division of all kinds. But should it be so rare? Mueller isn’t so sure. “Cafés are the third place, the spot where ideas can flourish and people can come together in a way that they most likely wouldn’t anywhere else,” she says. While she stops short of saying that every café owner should feel the burden to create a replica of Rise, she still emphasizes that with that role comes a responsibility for an owner to be aware of and responsive to the needs of the community in which they find themselves. Still, at the end of the day, both Mueller and Johnson acknowledge the limitations that come with being a coffee shop. If Rise’s success is any indication, though, those limitations may not be as limiting as they seem. “All of these kinds of places like Rise—that really care about community, you know—it’s way more important than coffee,” says Melandri. “But the truth is, it’s around the coffee that people sit down and meet one another where they are.” Perhaps it is in discovering the potential to be found within those limitations that shops like theirs can truly rise above. FC THE GROVE 4176 Manchester Ave. St. Louis, MO 63110

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Do You Know? Brewpoint owner and CEO Melissa Villanueva is using coffee to make the world a better place By Carrie Pallardy


rewpoint Coffee has three locations in Elmhurst: two cafés and one that is part café, part roastery, and part event space. CEO and owner Melissa Villanueva tells her story from taking a chance on for-sale coffee shop to using her company’s growing platform to have a positive impact in her community. What made you decide to leave a corporate job to open Brewpoint? I was a philosophy major in college. I don’t know what I was planning to do with it, but I enjoyed it. I did a sales internship in college, knocking on doors and selling educational books. It was really intense, but I was good at it. I was number four in the country. With a knack for sales, I got business job offers after college. I worked at Northwestern Mutual for three years. I appreciated the role and experience, but my values didn’t line up with what I was building. I checked all the boxes of what it felt like to be successful after college. I had a corner office overlooking the lake in the city, but I wasn’t really happy. When you have one life, why not spend it doing something you really believe in? I saw coffee as a fantastic way to build a community. A lot of people can afford a $2 cup of coffee. You get to provide a product most people are excited about, and you get to see people come in every day. I started dreaming about this community space. So, I met a boy who’s now my husband. The first conversation I had with him, I told him about work. Afterward, I quit my job and went to the Philippines on a discovery trip. I am FilipinoAmerican, but I never had roots there. After I returned from the Philippines, I was looking on Craigslist for

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an espresso machine to play around with, but instead, I found a coffee shop for sale in Elmhurst, Illinois. Within a month, we figured out how to get the funding and jumped in. Our mentality is to engage with people and get better every day. We started in September 2014, and now, we have three coffee shops in Elmhurst. In 2017, Brewpoint expanded and opened its Workshop and Roastery. How does the space serve the community? We are really integrated into the community. We were named the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Year” in 2017. Our whole mission is about creating an authentic community space. We want to provide free things to the community, so we partner up with other businesses to offer things like free yoga classes or board game meet-ups. If you want to share your passion with people for free, we will offer you our space for free. It isn’t just about community events. It is also about using our platform. We are putting our blood, sweat, and tears into this business to help build a better world. We want our staff to love working here. Our customers should feel a breath of fresh air in our cafés.

Every year, we do a philanthropic event or campaign that lines up with our values. Our business is womanowned and minority-owned. In September 2018, we held a women’s empowerment campaign to mark our four-year anniversary. The campaign raised money for a battered woman’s network. We also held a panel discussion featuring empowered women. Going into the holidays, we did an eco-conscious campaign by highlighting eco-friendly gifts. At the roastery, we partner with two transitional programs, one for high school students and one for college students. These programs help students who have some sort of special need. We are able to give them hands-on job experience. The Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA) through Elmhurst College actually reached out to us. There are so many unique ways to utilize your platform for good. The more do you do that, the more people will come to you. How big is the Brewpoint team? We have about 25 people. I am the CEO, while my husband goes back and forth from being full- and part-time. We live above the original shop. I handle growth and partnerships, while my husband does the rest. We are yin


and yang. As I am pushing forward, he catches everything that falls. We love working together. I also want to highlight our director of coffee, Ben Tanen. He was a huge catalyst for our wanting to get into roasting. How does the company source its coffee? Over the last two years, we focused on Filipino coffee [but now focus on Costa Rica]. We have also developed other direct relationships through the Costa Rica Farmers Project. The farmer who leads the project, Marianella Baez Jost, lives in Lombard and Costa Rica. She came in to walk us through the process. [Brewpoint has] done a couple of trips with our team members to the farm. Her story is similar to ours, and the accessibility makes sense for us. It is easy to have that direct, transparent relationship.

cafés. In 2019, my goal is to highlight our roastery being woman-owned and minority-owned. If I want to create authentic community spaces, I can’t imagine doing 10 quickly. Authenticity takes time. You have to build relationships. I can’t be all things for all people, but other people might be positioned perfectly to be a community partner. I want to empower others to do something similar in their communities. I had a million questions when I started. I would love to be a business mentor and see more places like what we have done here. The wholesale business has also really taken off. The tagline line is “Created thoughtfully. Shared socially.” We are working with another woman- and minority-owned café in Oak Park. We

What have you learned since opening and leading the company? The first thing that comes to mind? We had this mentality that we had to do everything ourselves. We were slow to hire professionals for certain things. Most things related to the finances, I would have outsourced earlier. It sounds cliché, but you are never really ready to do something like this. We weren’t ready, but we jumped in with the mentality of getting a little better every day. Building out a café is a beast. Taking over one is one thing, but building out the loading dock was really hard. You can’t stop being engaged. We had a roof drainage issue at the new space. Every time it rained, the café would be flooded. We documented what happened, and we were able to get the issue fixed with no cost to us. If we weren’t engaged at every level, that could have easily gotten out of control and hurt the investment we made in that new space. Do you have plans to expand Brewpoint any further? As of right now, my focus is on creating the best infrastructure for our

are also excited about a partnership with Hinsdale Humane Society. We wanted to build a community space around animals. They built out a coffee area for people to stop by and play with animals. We are providing free, quality coffee. How do you view the role of café owner when it comes to diversity and inclusivity? The first thing you have to acknowledge: coffee shops, especially specialty coffee shops, have a certain market of affluent people who can afford the product. It is a luxury. You have to acknowledge this when opening a coffee shop. It takes intentionality to focus on diversity and inclusivity. Your range of diversity will depend in large part on

your community. Your customer base will reflect the community around you. When my husband and I first founded Brewpoint, we chose the shop because we found it for sale on Craigslist. Elmhurst is fairly homogenous, a wealthier suburb of the Chicagoland area. We thought about opening a shop closer to the city. But, as we were thinking about it, we met another couple. This couple lives in the Chicago neighborhood of Austin. It is a less wealthy neighborhood. They were planning to open a coffee shop in the Oak Park and Austin area. They really know the community. They are a part of it. What we would bring to a space closer to the city would naturally gentrify the area, based on what we know and the communities we have been a part of. I am a minority and a woman, but we realized we could make the most difference in a town where there hasn’t been as much diversity. Different kinds of people are coming from the city, looking for a place to raise their kids. We could bring more diversity to our town. We could be that change. Utilizing your platform is another part of intentional diversity and inclusivity. In one of our first years of opening, we did a “Not Afraid to Love” campaign. We donated about $3,000 to Syrian refugees in the Chicago area. You can choose to fear or love, and we chose to love. Afterward, a whole new demographic in our area felt comfortable in our space. The way we show our values plays a big role in who is comfortable in our space. My husband and I started Brewpoint, but we intentionally made me CEO and full owner of the company. We really believe in the power of representation. Growing up as a minority and a woman, I did not see people who looked like me in leadership roles. I wasn’t entirely comfortable. Putting yourself out there comes with a lot of responsibility. It isn’t always easy, but it is powerful and important. I don’t regret it. I would love to see more people in the coffee community who look like me. FC


In House 5 Ways to Create a Safer & More Productive Café Space By RJ Joseph

SQ1: Jordan (left) and Ren stock the shelves.


hile coffee is a magical beverage in and of itself, it’s always been more than just a drink. Throughout history, coffee has acted as a catalyst for communal gathering spaces where people from all walks of life can get together, collaborate, and simply enjoy each other’s company. Within the coffee industry, many honor that legacy by working to provide safe spaces for people of all identities, on either side of the counter. Ensuring that café spaces stay safe and productive requires more than just good intentions; it requires positive systems guaranteeing that no matter what happens, everyone involved knows exactly what to do to protect themselves, their peers, and their guests. In this piece, I’ll outline five steps to create a safer and more productive café space.

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SQ1: Kareem makes a mean pourover.

1. Create a Strong Harassment Policy In order to make sure service staff— especially those of marginalized demographics— are able to protect themselves against verbal and physical harassment, it’s important to craft a comprehensive and specific harassment policy. “You never know what will happen, so having clear ground rules and procedures is key,” says Jess Steffy, co-owner Square One Coffee Roasters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After starting without an on-paper harassment policy and evolving one over time in collaboration with staff, she now considers it to be a crucial part of their company culture. “As we’ve become more intentional about this, our customer base has become much more diverse,” she says. “I’ve also found that making sure my

staff knows their bosses will back them up in situations with difficult customers has been very important to how safe and supported they feel.” For maximum efficacy, your policy should outline not only what constitutes harassment, but also what steps baristas should take to address the situation safely. It’s important to offer more than one pathway; for instance, one barista might be comfortable asking the patron to leave, while another might be more comfortable using a cue to alert a manager to the situation and extricating themself. When crafting a harassment policy, make sure to lay out pathways for addressing and reporting harassment not just from customers, but also coworkers and managers. As Ian Hamilton, employee experience director for Go Get Em Tiger Coffee in


Los Angeles, says, “A lot of times when harassment problems become endemic in workplaces, it’s not because harassment policies don’t exist; it’s because they’re unequally applied. Some companies may find it easy to enact their zero-tolerance policy when trying to fire the dishwasher for harassment, but less so when it’s a manager they really like.” In order to mitigate these biases and dilemmas, it’s important to make sure your policy covers internal conflict and harassment, and outlines clear procedures even (or especially) when the guilty party holds a position of power in the company. One point that both Hamilton and Kyle Glanville, co-owner of GGET, both emphasize is that neither on-paper nor verbal policy work well in a vacuum; companies need both strong, specific written policy, and an ongoing, present conversation about harassment in order to prevent it as often as possible. Owners and managers must address harassment fairly when it does come up.

2. Add a Complimentary Service Policy In addition to telling folks exactly what constitutes harassment and how to approach it, it’s helpful to create a service policy outlining your café’s service style and what good service looks like in your shop. This is helpful not just for getting folks on the same page about what service should look like in your shop, but also for protecting staff against retaliatory customer complaints and burnout. “A service policy outlines expectations for services offered to customers, responsibilities of staff members, what to do when something comes up that is not specifically outlined,” says Morgan Russell, a tenured coffee professional in the process of opening up a coffee shop in Philadelphia. “When I open my shop, I want my staff to feel safe and in control of the space. The best way I have found to do that is to make sure expectations are clear and communication is open.”


GGET: Co-founders Kyle Glanville (left) and Charles Babinski. GGET: Barista Mannie at the Larchmont location.

GGET: Employee experience director, Ian Hamilton.

For instance, if you believe that the customer is always right, you can put that in your service policy, but if there are limits—and there usually are—outline them. For instance, if you don’t want your café serving off-menu drinks, you can outline that in your policy and offer baristas an official line to share with customers about why they won’t make those drinks. By putting your expectations on paper, you can also ensure they’re realistic and legally enforceable. In order to define service standards in a collaborative way, Steffy and the Square One team started a customer service class for all staff members. “It’s essentially a roundtable discussion on not only customer service, but our company’s culture, values, and goals when it comes to our cafés,” says Steffy. At GGET, the general service style is to say “yes,” rendering the harassment policy an even more crucial component of their service. “When you’re encouraged to treat every customer positively and find a

way to say yes to every request, it can be incredibly jarring when you come up against a customer who is not engaging in good faith,” says Glanville. “The other side of saying yes whenever possible is that our employees know that they have all the latitude they need to handle tough situations, whether they’re asking another coworker to swap out with them, telling a customer they need to leave, or even calling security.”

3. Use Signage to Set Standards While it’s easy enough to lay out clear standards for baristas, it’s harder to set clear standards for guests and communicate them effectively. One way to do this is with signage. A great starting point is to use signage to clearly communicate that you don’t tolerate harassment of any kind, but you can also get more specific about what constitutes unwelcome conduct. Alchemy Collective in Berkeley, California, hosts a sign reading “Alchemy


In House

Collective asks that you use gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they/them’ to refer to our staff, unless you know their pronouns personally.” Since most worker-owners at the Collective are transgender and/or gender-nonbinary, the sign helps prevent staff from being misgendered by customers. “From personal experience as a trans-femme, being misgendered by mostly well-meaning customers can be emotionally exhausting and negatively impacts my ability to give good customer service,” says worker-owner Shante Robinson. “The sign also encourages customers to think about gender constructs in ways they might not have otherwise. In the past six months since we’ve had the pronoun sign up, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several regular customers about non-binary gender identities, in a respectful and consensual manner.” In the case of Alchemy, the signage doesn’t only prevent unintentional harm, it also helps facilitate a culture where being transgender is the norm, encouraging cisgender customers to get outside of their normal space and enter one where it’s inherently safe to think about gender. Similarly, other cafés can implement signage meaningful to their staff to encourage a safe and productive company culture.

4. Educate Management & Staff on Labor Law Basics In order to create the safest possible experience for management and staff alike, it’s important to learn about basic labor laws and pass that knowledge on to as much of your team as possible. Many times, managers violate labor laws simply because they don’t know what those laws are. Learning basic labor laws will outline what constitutes harassment and discrimination at a federal and state level, which regulations govern payment and scheduling, and how certain activities are protected under collective bargaining laws, even though you may not like them. For instance, if an employee gets injured in the workplace, it’s important

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COFFEE + CUDDLES: Morgan Russell, a coffee professional in the Philadelphia area.

for everyone involved to understand the implications and be able to take the appropriate next steps. Or, say two employees are talking about their salaries, and a manager overhears and doesn’t want them to. That manager needs to know, for the sake of the company’s liability, that although they may not want the employees to have that conversation, their right to do so is protected by law. GGET doesn’t yet have formal HR trainings for staff, but it’s something Hamilton wants to implement as soon as possible. As of now, he sits down with every new manager and goes over labor law basics, then works to foster and maintain a close relationship with open lines of communication. Beyond that, “all managers are coached through

any sticky situation,” he says. “They know that if they have a problem, I’m here for them.” He’s walked people though filing worker’s comp claims, promotions, and terminations. He’s also working on publishing a common HR issues binder for managers that will live in the shops. “I don’t think there are really any downsides to people knowing their rights,” says Glanville. “In fact, Ian is the first person encouraging people to take full advantage of their rights. Transparency is how you get the best from people.” Part of the value Hamilton brings to the HR role is being a former barista and manager in the company—other workers know he has their best interest in mind and will give them any


inside HR information when they encounter issues. “When you hide things, you set yourself up for failure,” he says. “You lose trust of employees and also open yourself up to worse when they do find out. Don’t be shitty in the first place and then you have nothing to hide.” Not only does educating 360 degrees create the safest possible space, it also helps management by making sure no one is vulnerable to lawsuit. Steffy is in the process of contracting a local company for some advanced HR and management training for Square One. “To date, we’ve done team-building workshops for managers and staff, and

Managing people is a special skill that requires some level of coaching and additional training.... It’s a benefit to any company to invest in its people, especially its key leadership. we’ve begun an ongoing series of mindfulness and implicit bias trainings,” she says. “I absolutely think it’s a benefit to any company to invest in its people, especially its key leadership.” Since baristas are usually promoted to management without any leadership training, she wants to address that in her own sphere. “Managing people is a special skill that requires some level of coaching and additional training,” she says.

5. Create Emergency Procedural Guidelines The policies outlined so far guide employees through many of the challenges they face day-to-day, but it’s also important to have written procedures

for emergency circumstances. Below are some arenas this should cover: • Natural disasters: During a hurricane or snowstorm, when should employees stay home rather than come in? Do employees know the escape plan in the event of an earthquake or fire? Does everyone know what to do in case of an active shooter? • Medical emergencies: Is there someone in the café who knows CPR on every shift? Does anyone know what to do if a guest chokes, has a seizure, or otherwise collapses? • Mental health crises: Does your staff know what to do if a stranger has a mental health crisis in the café? It’s important that people have specific instructions that don’t just involve calling 911, which can escalate the situation and put the people involved (including staff members) in danger. • Non-emergency criminal disruptions: Does your staff know what to do when someone steals the tip jar? What about if someone has been asked to leave, and won’t? Again, it’s important that staff have options outside of calling the police when the situation isn’t truly an emergency, but also don’t put themselves in any harm. Hamilton and GGET are working with a safety consultancy firm to put together store-specific emergency plans. Over the recent past, they’ve become all too familiar with how to handle worker’s compensation claims, but plan to analyze other gaps in coverage and fill them. Steffy and the Square One crew have emergency protocols in place, including a list of situations where staff would call 911, another list of situations where they call a non-emergency police number, and another set of situations where they’d call the manager or owners. “We also have some staff with special medical needs, and their emergency protocols are posted (with their permission/ insistence) and reviewed with new staff,”

she says. In addition to that, they have a local bike patrol available and on-call in their neighborhood to walk staff home if they feel threatened or unsafe. “Despite never working in a place with formal emergency protocols, I’ve repeatedly had to use the first aid training and conflict resolution experience I gained working in schools,” says Russell, who is working to make sure their coffee shop provides baristas with those tools. “I’ve worked at three coffee shops where the panic button wasn’t actually attached to anything, and where the response to questions about emergency protocols was, ‘We’ve never had that happen’ or ‘That hasn’t been a problem for us.’ Emergencies are the highest-stakes moments that employees have the least experience with. Clear protocols enable employees to react quickly, confidently, and competently, while a lack of protocols can make a situation much worse.”

Review, Discuss, Train & Practice While these tools can provide a comprehensive safety net for your staff and management, every single one of these tools is only as good as its application. The secrets to their success as pieces of policy are employee review and training, so make sure that before you make them official, you ask willing staff to take a look and add or critique as needed. In addition, once they’re in place, make sure all staff are briefed on them and know exactly what to do. Even better, once you have these in place, you can share them with potential staff members during the interview process to make sure they’re aligned with your company. Human interactions are unpredictable, but preparedness goes a long way in making sure those who work in and visit your café are safe, protected, and happy. Through thinking intentionally about oft-unspoken standards and taking the time to put them on paper and communicate them outward, you can better ensure that they successfully meet reality and make your café an even better place. FC


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Family-Friendly Cafés


y wife and I just found a parking spot near a trendy coffee shop in a large MidAtlantic city. As I went to get our son out of his car seat, we discovered he was in urgent need of a diaper change. Inside the café, we found all of the calling cards of a third-wave roaster/ retailer: marble countertops, letter board menus, stacks of jute bags filled with green coffee. Not to be found, however, was a changing table in the restrooms. We made an awkward exit back to our car to change his diaper in the backseat. Whether intentional or not, many cafés are excluding families and caregivers of small children with their café design, service models, or employee attitude. I recently polled over 25 friends as to what makes a coffee shop family-friendly, and received an array of responses. Although opinions varied, most had the shared experience of feeling unwelcome in a coffee shop because they brought children.

“My family and I went to a specialty coffee shop once and could immediately tell that our kids weren’t welcome,” says Ross Parmly, who works for the software company Buffer. “The looks and verbal abrasiveness from the baristas was enough to know we had broken an unwritten rule. On other occasions we’ve had baristas chat with our kids and ask them about their favorite drink. Those moments always make us feel welcome.” Camila Ramos, owner of All Day in Miami, Florida, strives to make her café a place inclusive of families. “We respect kids as being their own people,” says Ramos. With its fluorescent menu, mid-century modern furniture, and extensive multi-roaster program, All Day is a contemporary, cutting-edge café defying the stereotypes of a family-friendly café. For Ramos, creating an environment that is inclusive for families with small children is less about a policy and more about attitude.

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“I’m of the school of thought that kids don’t necessarily need kid-specific things,” says Ramos, who observes that children of all ages are frequent guests in her café. “It’s mostly just being cool. Being cool with kids hanging out. Being cool with kids crying. Just letting kids be who they are.” Ramos admits that her perspective on children in cafés is influenced by being a mother herself. “I definitely wasn’t as conscious before I became a mom,” says Ramos. “I realized people need changing tables and high chairs. My son doesn’t really use those things, but it’s nice to have them available for those who do.” As a working mom, Ramos could often be seen in the café with her son strapped on in a wrap. This set the tone for customers to be comfortable bringing their families. “It had to be a good place for families,” she says. Ramos also credits the presence of her son in the

With its fluorescent menu, mid-century modern furniture, and extensive multiroaster program, All Day is a contemporary, cutting-edge café defying the stereotypes of a family-friendly café. shop as having an organic effect on the staff’s attitude towards children. “I think it’s naturally diffused into the psychology of my team,” says Ramos. “Kids are just people.” The objections to children in coffee shops are, of course, manifold. Beyond the obvious safety concerns surrounding hot beverages, many cafés have become essentially coworking spaces, and remote workers likely will not appreciate the distraction of children in the café. Arguably, even parents relish having places that are child-free. In 2018, a coffee shop in Ireland went so far as to ban children from their café, garnering international attention from the press. According to the shop, their “adults only” policy was developed to help foster a place where people could feel free to ask questions and learn more about coffee. Predictably, the policy elicited an array of responses, ranging from support to outrage.


Family-Friendly Cafés

Few cafés will go this far, but perhaps the café can at least be credited with being honest and upfront about their anti-child policy, as compared to the passiveaggression favored by many baristas. But these cafés are missing an enormous customer base. According to Pew Research, although millennials have a lower birth rate than Generation X or the Baby Boomers did at a similar age, their birth rate is quickly accelerating. Millennials now represent the majority of new births, with 48% of millennial women having given birth.

From a business perspective, catering your café to be family-friendly over being a coworking space presents a lot of advantages. Remote workers (myself included) often try to milk a single beverage as long as possible to stake a claim on a table. Alternatively, parents with small children tend to stay for shorter durations and rack up larger ticket averages. (What parent won’t buy their child a gluten-free lemon poppy seed muffin in order to sip their cappuccino in peace?) More so, stayat-home parents with small children are more likely to come into your café during slower, non-peak hours. But perhaps the main motivation to create familyinclusive café spaces is the conviction that everyone should have access to specialty coffee—including tired parents and hyperactive kids. Probably the most divisive issue for cafés that want to be family-friendly is children’s play places. While many of the parents I polled expressed appreciation for coffee shops with children’s toys or even playground equipment, other parents expressed a reluctance to visit a coffee shop that felt like a daycare or fast-food chain. Most who appreciated a designated play area wanted it to be separate from the general café. A common theme among parents polled was not wanting to disturb other guests. Sunergos Coffee in Louisville, Kentucky, has a unique approach to the play place concept. Rather



Family Friendly Cafés

than toys, they have vintage coffee percolators in the windowsill as decorations. More often than not, these sturdy metal brewers are confiscated by younger guests, who pretend to make coffee themselves. In addition to the percolators, a variety of children’s books are stashed under the vintage coffee tables.

In Miami, All Day made an updated version of a classic children’s activity: drawing sheets. Rather than simply providing activity books, Ramos asked an illustrator to make custom drawing sheets for younger guests. Additionally, coffee shops with counter service might consider ways they can modify their service to provide assistance to parents with small children, or any other patron who requires extra assistance. Whether it’s running out drinks to tables or assisting to place a lid on a takeaway cup, a small amount of effort goes a long way in helping families feel welcome in your café. FC



QUEER COFFEE EVENTS founders Ellan Kline (left) and RJ Joseph. 36 ] MARCH 2019 »



t is no new fact that sexual harassment and discrimination exist across all industry sectors. It is also no new fact that the perpetrators leading the pact of exclusivity tend to get away retribution-free, as a result of ingrained ideas and traditional justice systems—or lack of. The specialty coffee industry is no exception. But what does make the industry different are the people behind the machines who are challenging the status quo to ensure individuals feel safe and heard.

A Rising Movement A number of coffee organizations were started as a direct response to exclusion, harassment, and lack of accessibility to resources. These projects and events not only help raise awareness of the issues, but also bring up solutions and highlight biases. “Queer Coffee Events, #coffeetoo, Cherry Roast, WINCC, Boston Intersectional Coffee Collective, and Coffee Friends in Philadelphia all come to mind as great examples of activist organizations,” says Sadie Renee, Pacific Northwest Market Development Manager for Oatly. The current system habitually favors a certain group of individuals, Renee explains, and for that to change, action needs to be drastic and loud. “Hiring for diversity has become a much-discussed topic in the industry, but I commonly hear, ‘We don’t receive diverse applicants,’” she says. “As pointed out at The Chocolate Barista’s Black Coffee Event in Portland in April [2018], the responsibility falls to leadership to ensure the work environment, company culture, and recruiting processes are such that welcome a diverse staff.” Renee adds that change is happening in coffee because of the people-focused nature of the industry. Coffee is a unique commodity and it goes through many hands until it finally reaches the end point—the consumer. Renee says that the experience of ordering a latte brings customers face to face with someone who likely cares a lot about

the coffee they’re serving and the process it went through. Coffee also maintains a unique community with events like latte art throwdowns, competitor support and collaboration, and local events and organizations taking place. “This unique proximity to other community members brings issues of inequity to light more frequently, and brings the opportunity to take positive action closer,” she says.

The rise of locally focused organizations aimed at elevating and supporting community members who may be disenfranchised is a sign that the industry is beginning to acknowledge these problems and take action. The industry’s response has been incredibly overdue. People in coffee have had to deal with years of discrimination, disenfranchisement, and systematic inequalities that have supported male-forward and white-forward constructs throughout the industry. “While this certainly isn’t relegated to the specialty coffee industry, the rise of the #metoo movement and tangential cultural discussions have certainly helped fuel this fire,” says Renee. “The national conversation that followed the SCA’s 2017 decision to host multiple World Coffee Competition events in Dubai also helped shape this discussion. Coffee community ‘town halls’ were held across the country to discuss the risks this posed for the queer community.” Such action prompted the SCA to relocate the competition.

The rise of locally focused organizations aimed at elevating and supporting community members who may be disenfranchised is a sign that the industry is beginning to acknowledge these problems and take action.

#CoffeeToo: Fighting Harassment & Discrimination Molly Flynn, Seattle-based specialty coffee veteran and founder of #coffeetoo, decided to take action in October 2017, after witnessing “the usual amount of sexual harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias” at a coffee event. “It was just so commonplace and frustrating,” she says. This incident prompted Flynn to share her experiences and frustrations with friends and colleagues, to which everyone could relate. “We then decided something had to happen. So that night, I drank a whole lot of coffee and until the very early hours of the morning I drafted the skeleton of what was going to become #coffeetoo,” she says. “The next day when I woke up, a friend told me about the #metoo movement, which I had not heard of before. It was very validating to see this is not just my small group of friends or me. It is a huge global issue.” The volunteer-run grassroots project provides information and resources to coffee professionals on the subjects of discrimination and sexual harassment. So far, #coffeetoo has hosted several free educational events and created “A Pocket Guide to Your Rights” geared towards the coffee industry in the U.S. The pocket guide covers federal laws and asks three questions: 1. What are your rights? 2. What can be done if your rights have been violated? 3. How can we take care of ourselves if we have been through an unwanted or traumatic situation? The guide, which also provides a list of resources ranging from legal to crisis hotlines, has been mailed throughout the U.S., including 100 copies to Hawaii,


Coffee Activism, Part One

#COFFEETOO founder Molly Flynn.

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and even to the U.K.. Flynn also wants to create a U.K. version of the pocket guide, and for the U.S. version to be translated into Spanish. Since creating the original framework for #coffeetoo, Flynn says the movement has continued to “equally fight harassment and discrimination.” “That discriminatory piece is essential because of calling ourselves ‘#coffeetoo,’ people have really focused on the sexual harassment aspect,” she says. “I really do strive to find ways to establish how committed we are to fighting discrimination and making sure that our industry is equitable, equal, balanced, and that there is diversity, inclusion, and equal representation.” Flynn also says it is extremely important to credit Tarana Burke for starting the #metoo movement back in 2006. She says Burke brought “awareness to the sexual abuse womxn of color endure and it is because of her the movement happening today exists.”


Queer Coffee Events: Advocating for the Industry’s Marginalized Queer Coffee Events (QC) was born after a series of actions within the Specialty Coffee Association left many in the queer coffee community feeling like the industry wasn’t doing the necessary work to include them. As a result, RJ Joseph, roaster at Counter Culture Coffee and writer (including for Fresh Cup Magazine), together with her partner Ellan Kline, launched QC in November 2017. Joseph says that while “many were pushing for change within the mainstream coffee events,” she and Kline felt they could support the community in their own way through “events that not only accommodate but actively center queer folks, especially those who are also marginalized in other ways,” she says. “To thrive as non-marginalized folks in the industry, we believe coffee profes-


QUEER COFFEE EVENTS roundtable discussion.

sionals who experience marginalization need spaces where we don’t have to think twice about whether or not we’ll feel at home.” The aim of QC is to provide a space for attendees to feel safe and respected, and for new voices to be heard. Joseph says this is also one of the challenges. “When you create this type of space, you’re responsible for the experience people have,” she says. “The hard part of that is, if someone feels uncomfortable at an event, organizers have to handle that.”

Therefore, a strong code of conduct gets posted in advance of every event and is also read at the beginning. Looking back at her time in the industry, one significant change is that of coffee professionals starting organizations to center marginalized professionals. This move has pushed event focus to be much deeper than it used to be, she explains. “I consistently [now] see thoughtful, communal events like panel discussions, fundraisers, educational series, and


Coffee Activism, Part One

the development of new competitions outside of SCA coffee championships,” she says. “People all over the country are taking on the work in their own way, and it has been really inspiring to watch and be a tiny part of.” Although there is much to be excited about, Joseph adds that as long as structural inequality exists in the world, it will continue to exist in the coffee industry. “It’s important to do what we can, but it’s not a problem that comes with a perfect solution,” she says. “All we can do as individuals and teams is keep learning and making sure we’re taking concrete steps to interrogate our own implicit bias and change the smaller systems we have control over.” She also makes a point about “exceptionalism,” the idea that because a woman has won the recent World Barista Championships or that a black person finally made it onto the Barista Guild Executive Council means that “now we as an industry have reduced structural inequality.”

More people are seeing that coffee and hospitality jobs can and should be positive, sustainable, fulfilling careers. We as a society need people to do these jobs and do them well, so we’re pushing for the jobs to meet that standard. “The point of structural inequality is one person achieving a goal within the current system is not the same thing as systemic change,” she says. “We’d need actual data to see whether we have overall reduced wage inequality, increased the number of management positions held by people of all demographics, and reduced instances of discrimination—we don’t currently have that.” Evidently, the groundwork is being laid and change is in motion. And looking across the food and beverage world, it would seem that the specialty coffee industry has been one of the more outspoken sectors pushing for change. “I think it’s because many in the hospitality industry don’t have a whole lot to lose, but do have a whole lot to gain by speaking up,” says Joseph. “The vast majority of coffee and hospitality jobs are physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding. Yet most employees in those sectors are making far less than a living wage.” “On top of that, people from all backgrounds and demographics, but especially those who are marginal-

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ized, deal with unfair labor practices, harassment, discrimination, and lack of job security,” she goes on to say. “More people are seeing that coffee and hospitality jobs can and should be positive, sustainable, fulfilling careers. We as a society need people to do these jobs and do them well, so we’re pushing for the jobs to meet that standard.”

PORTLAND COFFEE SOCIAL CLUB’S Thor Himle (left) and Elizabeth Chai.

Portland Coffee Social Club: Encouraging Unity Another group aiming to provide a fun, inclusive, and safe space is Portland Coffee Social Club (PCSC), led by Thor Himle, of Portland Roasting Coffee, and Elizabeth Chai, of La Marzocco USA, with the recent addition of Holly Geber, SCA event marketing coordinator, to the organizing team. Himle and Chai formed the organization to “inspire, encourage unity and professional growth” for people in coffee. PCSC also organizes competitions,



Coffee Activism, Part One

panels, and events focused on education and diversity. Recently, they’ve partnered with Pacific Foods to support their 2019 season, which will include providing scholarships, prizes, and more speaking events throughout the year. “When we see forward movement in the industry, we become more encouraged and aware of how we ourselves can do work to improve our own communities—which improves the industry as a whole,” the founders say. Himle and Chai highlight some of the positive outcomes they’ve experienced from running PCSC, such as “helping out the community grapple with the Deferred Candidacy Policy and the Dubai decision by the SCA, as well as having the opportunity to host the Brewers Cup Preliminary and give competitors the stage they deserve.” They explain that being “big Brewers Cup fans,” they feel the competition doesn’t get enough credit. “Both of us have been eager to remove focus from coffee events that revolve around typical ‘bro culture’ such as keggers or parties that imply the attendees must get hammered to be accepted or fit in,” they say.

A CHERRY ROAST competition.

Cherry Roast: Strength in Numbers Cherry Roast is an organization that has been highly celebrated by the industry. Founder Elle Jensen says the idea came to her when she was competing at an SCA event and a womxn said to her: “I’d never be brave enough to compete!” “It made me sad because most of these womxn were obviously qualified and accomplished, but still not seen or empowered by their coworkers or employers,” says Jensen. “I wanted to create a stage where they felt confident and welcome, rather than disregarded.” So, in 2017, the event changed from a competition specifically for female baristas to one that includes womxn/trans/femme/GNC/gender queer baristas.

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LIST OF RESOURCES American Civil Liberties Union Cherry Roast #CoffeeToo Coffee Equity Toolkit Crisis Text Line 24/7 Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 National Center for Transgender Equality National Women’s Law Center The Partnership for Gender Equity Portland Coffee Social Club Queer Coffee Events Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 24/7 Hotline: 800-656-4673 #ShestheRoaster Trans Lifeline 24/7 Hotline: 877-565-8860 United Association for Labor Education U.S. Department of Labor U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Visit for a full list of resources under Information


Coffee Activism, Part One

Jensen adds that getting over the hurdle of realizing that the original structure of Cherry Roast was just as harmful and exclusive to certain marginalized baristas “was a sad moment.” “So many womxn, trans, femme, GNC, gender queer baristas/coffee professionals are skipped over for promotions, competitor spots, better shifts, and whatever else you might think of,” she says. The fourth annual Cherry Roast competition took place at Copper Door Coffee in Denver on November 12, 2018, with 14 competitors, some of whom had competed before. The overall winner was Simone Rodriguez from Crema Coffee House. “2018 felt especially heavy in this political climate, so it was very important for us that people felt seen, heard, and safe in the space,” says event organizer, Breezy Sanchez. “With that, we also wanted to bring some awareness about privilege so that people could fully

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understand the scope of why this event is so important.” One of the new aspects was the “check your privilege” component, where attendees were invited to identify which privileges they recognized within themselves. “It feels like Cherry Roast is starting to beat its own heartbeat independent of the founder and the support staff, which is a beautiful thing,” says Sanchez. “There’s something to be said about strength in numbers, and creating an evening for the typically unseen, unheard, and invalidated barista. This is incredibly necessary, powerful, and inspiring….Sometimes it just takes one moment of recognition to breed a lifetime of success.” Jensen adds she will only be happy once a “World Barista Championship stage is full of womxn, trans, femme, GNC, and gender queer baristas…and when cis/het white men are calling out inequality in their own workplace.”

Engaging Through Education Taking an educational approach to create change are coffee educators from Stumptown Coffee, Erica Shafer and Kristi Persinger. Shafer and Persinger put together a presentation called “Women’s Impact on the Coffee Industry” to highlight women who made coffee history, women-led co-ops and farms, women in competition, and avenues that support equity, diversity, and inclusivity. Shafer says that although the response about the presentations has been positive, with many thanking them for continuing the conversation, there is still a feeling of not being taken seriously. “As a coffee educator, I find myself running into regular situations where I am treated like a novice in the classroom,” she says. “There are frequent instances of student baristas testing

my knowledge or challenging me. It’s ridiculous—I’m obviously the expert in the room, and they’re attending my class.” However, she adds, “I have also felt lifted up by other women in the industry who experience similar situations, it feels like we’re fighting for equality together as a team.” The coffee industry is slowly making less room for small-minded hiring. Shafer suggests the reasons behind that could be because coffee is international and people in the industry interact with each other closely to make specialty coffee work. “A big part of breaking down walls and preconceived notions between individuals is storytelling, and what is a huge part of the specialty coffee industry? Knowing the stories of where your coffee comes from, knowing the stories of your equipment, knowing the stories of café trends happening throughout the world,” she says. “I

think this makes the coffee person used to highlighting stories that can be different from one’s own experience and therefore having an open mind and strong passion for standing up for human rights.”

Elevating All Voices Coffee’s history is rooted in colonialism, inequality, slave labor, and poor working and living conditions for those who produce it. And as coffee professionals in serving rather than producing countries, “we understand, or are starting to understand, the need to elevate all of the voices of our industry to continue growing and thriving,” says Jensen. In the last year, the number of activist coffee organizations has continued to grow—but why now? To this, Jensen simply says, “We are all tired.” “We are tired of seeing the same people promoted and on the competition stage, and tired of watching good

people leave the industry because of lack of opportunity and not lack of skill or professionalism,” she continues. “I’m personally tired of seeing baristas from marginalized groups having to fight so hard for the same stuff that I get inherently as a cis/het white woman.” Ultimately, inequality and inequity are problems far and wide, and not one organization or not one individual can completely change the system. “But if we can all work to change our small corner of the world then we’re doing something good and meaningful,” says Jensen, “and I think coffee people feel that.” FC Don’t miss the second installment of “Coffee Activism,” where Fresh Cup explores global movements and organizations empowering women in coffee, in our April issue.


NYERI COUNTY, KENYA: Miriam Njambi (right) helps other women to cover coffee on drying beds as Monica Wangari (left) takes a rest, at Karindundu Coffee Factory.

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iriam Njambi, 70, knows how women take care of coffee farms in the Mount Kenya region and elsewhere in the country. Njambi wakes up around 5 a.m. to prepare porridge for the family and milk her two cows. She proceeds to the farm at 7 a.m., carrying her packed lunch of Githeri (boiled beans mixed with maize grains and potatoes). She harvests her coffee until 2 p.m., when she delivers the berries, carrying about 30kgs of them on her back, to Karindundu Coffee Factory, Nyeri County. The factory is four kilometers from her home, where the farm is located. This marks the end of her day in the farm, but now she has to go home, milk her cows a second time, and prepare dinner for the family. She plans to repeat it all the next day. Njambi’s experience is just one of what Kenyan women in coffee- and tea-growing regions in the country go through. Kenya is one of the top producers of coffee and tea for local consumption and exports. The two commodities are the principal cash crops from which the country earns foreign exchange. But coffee and tea drinks enjoyed by many people around the world are the result of the hard, uncompensated labor of Kenyan women who dedicate their time and effort to producing the crops—at little to no returns, thanks to the discretion of men. Kenyan women spend much of their time working on family land growing cash crops as men take charge of bank accounts and spend the proceeds of sales as it pleases them. “Factories and bank managers do not even think that we exist, because they deal with our men as the land owners and account holders,” she says, as she helps other women working on coffee drying beds at the Karindundu Factory. “But we are the real coffee farmers.”

Smallholder Coffee Farmers The Mount Kenya region (Nyeri, Kiambu, Muranga, and Kirinyaga counties in particular) leads in the production of some of the country’s highest-quality coffee, because its good weather and high altitude is conducive for growing many cash crops. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), small farmers, owning 0.3-0.5 hectares, produce 75 percent of the coffee in the country, with women providing 80 percent of labor in the farms. FRESH CUP MAGAZINE [ 47

Cashing Out of Women’s Sweat

However, the majority of women working on family coffee farms do not have access to the income from their labor or know how it is spent, because overwhelmingly, men are in control of finances and financial decisions. Many men do not tell their wives the income received from coffee sales. Rather, they decide how much to give to their wives for household expenses, while spending the rest on frivolities. Sometimes a year’s income is spent in a few weeks, leaving families in financial stress to pay school fees, farm inputs, medication, and food.

Widespread The plight of women is widespread throughout all cash crop production in the country. Women growing tea, avocados, and macadamia nuts are facing similar issues as those growing coffee. Besides taking care of the homes, a responsibility common to many Kenyan wives, they commit the rest of their lifetime to working on the farms—at much cost. “I have been in coffee farming for over fifty years, but I cannot afford to buy a new dress for myself,” says Anne Wangui, 70. “I also suffer back pains because of working on the farm and carrying coffee berries on my back to the factory, yet I cannot even afford to buy painkiller tablets.” Women farmers clear bushes, prune, dig trenches to prevent soil erosion, plant, and graft where necessary. They take care of the plants starting from nurseries, planting, applying chemicals, harvesting, and carrying the coffee berries on their backs to the factories. Though men participate in most of these activities, some of them vanish after the payments for the coffee are handed out. They abandon their families, sometimes without food, and spend the earnings on traditional brews and locally made alcohol. Sometimes, out of anger and frustrations, the women band together to flush out men from night clubs and traditional brew hideout dens, demanding for the coffee money or to prevent them from spending the family cash.

Limited Access Women interviewed want their husbands to include them as bank account signatories, with rights to withdraw cash as the needs arise. But men resist and consider them outsiders on matters of land and coffee income. “Most of these men do not involve their wives in decision making,” says agribusiness consultant Godfrey Maina, 40. “They take them as part of their farm tools.” He added that lack of involving women on how to use the farm income contributes to many children dropping out of schools due to lack JAMES GITHINJI, Karindundu Coffee of fees, domestic violence, Factory manager, inspects moisture of coffee separations and divorces, and on drying beds. sometimes deaths. Some men do, however, involve their wives in decision making and run joint accounts. According to Karindundu Coffee Factory manager, James Githinji, less than three percent of their over 1,700 members operate joint accounts with their wives. Joseph Mwangi, 58, is one of the few men to allow his wife to access the coffee money—but with limitations. FRESH CUP MAGAZINE [ 49

Cashing Out of Women’s Sweat

“My annual average income from sale of coffee is $6,500,” says Mwangi. “My wife is a signatory to our bank account, but I have set a limit of the amount she can access at $600 per year or $50 per month.” He said his friends do not know, because he worries they will laugh at him if they do. Mwangi cannot even let his brothers know, because it will trigger family discontent. Though Mwangi appears more accountable to his wife than other Kenyan husbands, her freedom of access to the coffee income is still only nine percent, against the 80 percent of her labor input, as per national data.

Women Land Ownership Land ownership has also been a challenge to women in Kenya. According to the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), 32 percent of households

50 ] MARCH 2019 »

traditional laws to marginalize women. “According to our tradition as it is in many African cultures, a man is the head and a custodian of the family land,” says John Kamau, 85. “He owns the land and crops on it, the woman and children.” “If her mother never shared a bank account with the father, why should she demand to share my account with her?” implores Kamau. “The same customary law that applies to women at their parents is the HARVEST: Geoffrey Wahome and his wife Alice same used when and where Wahome on their farm in Mathira village. they get married.” Kamau says agricultural in Kenya are headed by women, but land in Kenya will always remain in the only one percent of them own land name of men, because family land is in their names, while five percent of acquired through inheritance. Under women share the ownership of land the customary laws in Kenya, the rights with their husbands. of family land ownership belong to Men in coffee-growing areas have fathers who pass the same to their sons taken the advantage of customary through inheritance. Cases of in-laws

evicting women from their matrimonial homes after the death of their husbands are very common. “Women have secondary ownership only in case of death of a husband before the sons attain acceptable age of inheritance, especially before they marry,” says a village elder Moses Wan’gombe, 82, on Kenyan tradition. “A widow is generally granted the administration until such a time when the rights pass to the sons or on her death, whichever comes early.” In 2013, the National Assembly passed the Matrimonial Property Law, which allows women to jointly own property or land with their husbands, but only if they bought it together; the law does not cover family land that the husband inherited from his father. Based on customs and practices of various Kenyan communities, women are not allowed to inherit family land. However, Article 60 (1)(f) of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya provides for the “elimination of gender discrimi-

nation in law, customs and practices related to land and property in land.” And in February 2019, the Environment and Land Court, in a case of inheritance, ruled, “Daughters, regardless of their marital status, have the rights of share of their deceased fathers’ estates, including land.” While women and women’s rights organizations throughout the country, including FIDA, celebrated this landmark ruling, it has, naturally, caused outcry from men and lobby groups advocating for men’s rights. Nderitu Njoka, chairman of Maendeleo ya Wanaume (Men’s Rights Organization), is one of those opposed to the ruling. “This is unacceptable,” he tells Kenyan news outlets. “African communities have their own rules and regulations on Inheritance. They should be allowed to use them.” Women have hope for more changes— changes that aren’t coming at the required pace.

Digging for Gold, But Extracting Poverty Coffee has been a traditional cash crop in the Mount Kenya region for generations. But generally, coffee farmers are the poorest in the agricultural sector in Kenya. Their returns have continued to decline due to high cost of farm inputs, fluctuation of prices in the international market, and other factors. The trend has forced many farmers to start growing other cash crops, such as macadamia nuts and avocados. Whichever way things will go, for the better or worse, women providing most of the labor will continue to suffer as men, under the disguises of outdated traditions and customary laws, continue to exploit them. “The coffee, from which our country is making millions of dollars, in foreign exchange from exports, is the sweat of women,” says Njambi. “There would be no coffee beans from Kenya without us, the women.” FC


52 ] MARCH 2019 »

To see a demonstration of how to sign each word, visit for a video created by Kenny Fletcher of Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters.


Enjoy an Instant Cup of Green Coffee Passion House Coffee Roasters Steeped Coffee Chicago’s Passion House Coffee Roasters introduces a new product designed for the eco-conscious, on-the-go customer: Steeped Coffee. These single-use, fully compostable, instant coffee bags are ideal for satisfying your coffee needs at home, at work, or while traveling. Enjoy PHCR’s Chicago House Blend anytime, anywhere: simply steep the bag in hot water as you would do tea and experience the taste of freshly brewed coffee in an instant. These bags produce zero trash as the outer packaging is also fully compostable. Steeped Coffee is currently available in packs of 10 ($20) in-store or online.

Protein Powder is so Passé

Counter Intelligence Fresh businesses & products

Barista Pro Shop Munk Pack Protein Cookies Munk Pack takes pride in creating better-for-you snacks that taste great and cater to a variety of dietary needs and nutritional goals. A deliciously functional alternative to energy bars, their new Protein Cookies contain 18g of plant protein and about half the ingredients of other comparable products. Available in four indulgent flavors (Coconut White Chip Macadamia, Double Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Oatmeal Raisin Spice), they contain no sugar alcohol, gluten, soy, dairy, or egg. Find these soft-baked, power-packed cookies at Barista Pro Shop (plus, order $75 or more of Munk Pack products and they ship for free).

Sophis-tea-cated Solution Mijenko Tea Boxes

Though Melbourne boasts a strong coffee culture, the city is now home to a company devoted to elevating the tea experience. Mijenko introduces its new line of Tea Boxes, an elegant solution to storing your tea in an organized and beautiful setting, whether in the home or in the café. Crafted out of ethically sourced timber, the boxes are furnished with either rose gold or silver hardware. Slow-release hinges prevent the lid from slamming shut, while tempered glass minimizes breakage. Stainless steel feet keep the box slightly elevated off the bench, preventing moisture from accumulating underneath. The removable dividers provide extra-large storage compartments for a variety of tea bags. These Tea Boxes also make the perfect gift for any tea lover! Find yours today at 54 ] MARCH 2019 »


Trade Show & Events Calendar MARCH 1-3








New York, NY

Atlanta, GA

Amsterdam Netherlands

New York, NY



MARCH 13-15

MARCH 16-17

MARCH 21-23

MARCH 23-24





Albuquerque, NM

Marina Bay Singapore

Brooklyn, NY



MARCH 28-31

MARCH 30-31

APRIL 10-11

APRIL 11-14




London United Kingdom

San Juan Puerto Rico




APRIL 11-14

APRIL 14-15

MAY 9-13

MAY 18-21





Seoul South Korea

Portland, OR

Xiamen China

Chicago, IL

Moscow Russia coffeetea

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Boston, MA

Boston, MA


JUNE 6-8

JUNE 11-13

AUGUST 25-27





Indianapolis, IN

Berlin Germany

Las Vegas, NV

Los Angeles, CA

AUGUST 25-27

AUGUST 29-31






Mexico City Mexico

Beijing China


Los Angeles, CA huagang/hgcoffceen/ index.htm

Orlando, FL flrestaurantand


Advertiser Index

To view our advertiser list and visit the websites listed below, go to



1883 Maison Routin


Abbotsford Road Coffee Specialists




Barista Pro Shop





Café Femenino Foundation



The Canadian Coffee & Tea Show



The Chai Co.



Coffee & Tea Festival



Coffee Fest



Coffee Kids


Custom Cup Sleeves



Danone Away From Home











Dominion Tea

540.999./TEAS (8327)


Dr. Smoothie







Fresh Cup Magazine



Ghirardelli Chocolate


Golden Bean



Gosh That’s Good! Brand

888.848.GOSH (4674)


Host - Fiera Milano



HotShot Coffee Sleeves



Java Jacket



Malabar Gold Espresso



Monin Gourmet Flavorings

855.FLAVOR1 (352.8671)


Pacific Foods



Phillips Syrups & Sauces


Planet Oat






888.TEA.LIFE (832.5433)


Service Ideas






Tea Trade Show






Theta Ridge Coffee






World Tea Expo



Zojirushi America


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