Rabu, 20 Maret 2013

2013 BGA Executive Council Elections - Voting Now Open!

Voting is now open for the 2013 BGA Elections! Barista Guild of America members may vote until April 5, 2013.

2013 Ballot: Cast your vote here!

Please be sure to read up on the recent changes to the Barista Guild bylaws.

We'll be filling four (4) Executive Council positions to represent all BGA members from the list of nominees below (in alphabetical order):

Laila Ghambari, Caffe Ladro
Todd Goldsworthy, Klatch Coffee
Alexandra Littlejohn, Verve Coffee Roasters
Sarah Posma, Alaska Coffee Roasting Co.
Cole McBride, Visions Espresso
Alex Negranza, Liberty Bar
Talya Strader, Bow Truss Coffee Roasters
Matthew Scott, Lemonjello's Coffee
Miguel Vicuna, Metropolis Coffee Lohi

Nominee Profiles

Laila Ghambari 

Bio: I have a passion for the coffee industry and community. I've been a barista for 10 years but I made it a goal last year to get as involved as I could with the BGA so, I ran for NW Chapter Rep. After winning the election I've had the chance to work with all the amazing people involved in the Executive Council and the Guild as a whole. They are a very passionate and inspring group of people that I would love to continue working with. I'm excited for the direction that the BGA is going. To quote Dismas Smith, one of the founders of the BGA, on the original purpose of the Guild "promote quality coffee, give baristas a voice, further education, and create a community." I woud love to be apart of helping continue that vision as a member of the Executive Council.

Qualifications: I am the Northwest Chapter Rep for the BGA. I send out a monthly newsletter informing members about community happenings such as cafe openings, latte art competitions, and educational classes. I have put on events during my year as the NW Chapter Rep, one being the NWRBC Prepfest. Held in Seattle and Portland, Prepfest was an event to ask questions and better understand what the judges are looking for. Sprudge created an amazing video from the event: http://youtu.be/8bmrz7wQBqo I'm the Director of Education for Caffe Ladro in Seattle. My job is to facilite growth for my community of baristas. I strongly feel this would also be my job as a member of the Executive Council. I'm Level 1 Certified and looking forward to getting Level 2 Certified this year at Camp! I'm IDP Certified also, so I get the opportunity to teach class at events like Camp and Expo. It's such a rewarding experience to see driven people come to learn, and leave with a greater understanding of the craft they love.

Todd Goldsworthy

Bio: Since his early teenage years, Todd was always fascinated with the coffee house experience. At first, he was drawn in by the environment and the atmosphere, but later learned that it was the coffee that would inspire his career path. Todd got his first job in coffee at the age of 19 with Starbucks. He moved up through the ranks in both the San Diego and Los Angeles markets working everything from barista to district manager. Todd is BGA level 2 certified, credentialed level 2 examiner, and SCAA lead instructor. Todd has a bachelors in Media Communication from Point Loma Nazarene University and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. In Summer 2012 Todd left Starbucks and joined the Klatch Team. The BGA has given Todd so many opportunities in the coffee industry and its time for Todd to give back. With his background he will be a great asset to help support the development and growth of the Level 3 curriculum, the Barista Guild of America, and all its members! Vote for Todd and help Todd help you! :) Don't be Odd, Vote for Todd!! Haha...

Qualifications: BGA Level 1 & Level 2 Certified SCAA IDP Certified BGA Level 1 & Level 2 Credentialed Examiner Coffee Guru for Klatch Coffee

Alexandra Littlejohn

Bio: Started in coffee at 15 and never looked back. Do what you love and love what you do! I've worked as a barista, trainer, manager, consultant and community outreach coordinator in my career in coffee; as well as working along side do many amazing people along the way.. Like my friend Stacey said in his performance this year "we want confident and empowered coffee professionals!" I agree! I'm always available to help wherever and whenever I can! I love service to this industry that's given me a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Qualifications: I've been in coffee for 14 years, I'm a level 2 barista, lead instructor, BGA examiner and in real life.. I just love baristas and truly have their best interests at heart. I currently do account management, training and community outreach for Verve Coffee Roasters in SoCal and nationally. I can travel for all events and have support at the Verve team too!!!

Sarah Posma

Bio: I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. I spent a good portion of my life living out in the woods in a cabin without running water, but I remember my parents still made coffee in a French press every morning. I got summer jobs a soon as I was able, one of my fist was as a hostess at a restaurant with an espresso machine with which I was completely obsessed, and spent every spare moment cleaning and polishing until someone finally taught me how to use it! I went to college for Biology and for a long time thought I would go to Nursing school, but I got a job at a local cafe to pay for school, and somewhere along the line I just fell in love with coffee. I love now that I can take what I learned studying biology and apply it to coffee; I think I was jumping out of my chair with excitement when I finally made the connection between organic acids and flavors. . . Basically: I love coffee, I love learning about coffee, and I love teaching others about coffee. I would be honored to be on the BGA Executive Council. Thanks!

Qualifications: I run a very busy café, where I do a little bit of everything; order green coffee, roast occasionally, train new baristas, work the bar, clean and organize the café, order supplies, manage social media, etc. . . I've been in the business for about fourteen years. I started out loving the smell of coffee, but not really understanding what "good coffee" was; I was convinced for a while that a caramel white chocolate mocha was the epitome of coffee drinks. Over the years I have learned so much: learned how to let the coffee shine and speak for itself. I believe there's much more to learn, and so much more we can do to improve specialty coffee. I love showing my customers, and sometimes my baristas, that coffee can be absolutely amazing without any sugar or cream. I would love to be on the BGA Executive Council. I think I have a unique perspective; being as I still work in a café every day. I have a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of knowledge to share, I want to learn as much as I can and support others who are as passionate about coffee as I am.

Cole McBride

Bio: I've been working in coffee since I turned 18. It was my first job after moving away from my home town of Nashville Tennessee to Seattle Washington. At first I did not care for quality coffee that much but I immediately enjoyed serving guests. Service has has always been my main focus. After being in coffee for about a year I began to fall in love with the complexities of coffee and have since then taken every opportunity to learn and experience as much as I can about Specialty Coffee. I never thought that making coffee could be something someone would do as a carrer but now I can't imagine doing anything else. I have been fortunate to have learned from some amazingly talented people along the way and I would like to share what I have learned with everyone. I'm very active in the Barista community and I would be honored to serve on the Barista Guild of Americas Executive Council. I'm a motivated and very hard worker and I have the full support of my employer Visions Espresso Service for which I'm very grateful.

Qualifications: 11 years in Specialty Coffee. I've worked as a Barista, Manager and trainer. I also have experience in event planning.

Alex Negranza

Bio: Dodging near death experiences from the mafia in Northern California, Alex Negranza- or so he goes by now- is part of the witness protection program and moved to his Seattle home to pursue a professional career in the beverage world. A transfer of 5 years now, Alex has worked non-stop learning the craft and culture around libations. Accumulating approximately 10 hours of sleep since relocation, he spends most of his time drinking coffee until the wee hours of the morning paranoid of Keyser Soze finding his true location and avoiding drinking himself to sleep with mezcal. While on the run from the mafia, Alex has judged numerous United States Barista Championships as well as participated in various events around the country. Negranza currently is the Bar Manager at Liberty Bar on 15th Ave nestled between an alley and that other place and can be found there more often than not working or drinking.

Qualifications: Craft Cocktail Bar manager, US Bartenders Guild Member, WA State Bartender's Guild Member, former NWRBC Competitor, 4 years of USBC Judge's Certification and regional competitions, Photographer, events coordinator and former coffee blogger and consultant. Throughout my time in coffee I've watched the industry evolve and the craft become more and more refined. We are all familiar with specialty coffee and what goes into it, but what is the future of the barista and how do we make the job of being a barista more sustainable? It is my hope that I bring a refreshing and new outlook to the BGA E.C. with my experience and expertise in the craft beverage world. I hope to raise awareness in the craft coffee world through outreach and collaboration with new allies and expanding the membership base in new markets.

Talya Strader

Bio: I started making coffee back in 2001, and while it wasn't Specialty, it was a good training grounds for learning about operations and customer service, while trying to build a palate. I eventually became the manager of this shop, and started to develop my critical thinking and interpersonal skills. After this, I found my way to Starbucks, where I learned much more about standards and work flow. All of this was a great foundation for finally working with Intelligentsia in 2007. I eventually became the retail manager in 2009. The lessons that I learned from working for them, are countless, as they completely equipped me to work as a coffee professional for the rest of my life. I ended my tenure in 2012 to help start a new roasting company called Bow Truss. I have been a barista competitor since 2007 and have only fallen more in love with coffee and the community that it creates. I hope to one day own my own coffee shop ( a dream since I was 14), but feel completely honored to continue learning more and more about how that can be achieved by the people who have jumped before I have.

Qualifications: I am a detail oriented person with a hard work ethic, a dedication to character, who appreciates challenges. I am an effective leader, with a far reach, who always has a strong support system to help me accomplish goals/events/projects. I like to problem solve, plan, and work on a team. While I am no innovator, I love working with creative people in order to make their crazy ideas come to light. I have exhibited these characteristics through managing anywhere from 4-18 people at a time, for many years, with grace. I have also given back to the community that honed my skills by co-founding a coffee community in Chicago called New Gotham. I am committed to continuing, cultivating, and elevating the Specialty coffee scene in my city, region, and country.

Matthew Scott

Bio: I opened shop at Lemonjello's Coffee in Holland, MI in 2003 because there wasn't anywhere near me that could teach me what I wanted to know about coffee. I had the opportunity to take over space that was central in our town and spent the next several years working around the clock to build a craft-focused business that doubled as a community oriented space. We grew faster than I expected and I knew we had to keep up. As I developed a curriculum for my baristas, I realized that there was a need for education for those who wanted to learn to be a barista as a Trade and not "just a job." As I delved into the BGA's opportunities, I realized there are more and more of us who want to learn. I would like to see the next phase of the BGA be to expand regional opportunities with educational and social events that are accessible. This means we need more instructors, testers, and organizers with real life café experience. I'd like to take my 10 years of 10+ hours a day on the bar and help others reach their potential in this industry.

Qualifications: BGA Certified Level 1 and 2 SCAA IDP Certified Competition Barista 2012 and 2013 Great Lakes Regional AeroPress Championship Competitor 2013 Store Owner & Barista Trainer for 10 years Barista for 14+ years

Miguel Vicuna

Bio: Miguel Vicuna has 10 years in the coffee industry, starting as a barista then moving into more training roles over the years. He recently opened and operates Metropolis Coffee Lohi, a coffee shop dedicated to improving and spreading the reach of Specialty Coffee to the Denver area. Miguel is also and active member of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance, a group dedicated to improving coffee and cafe culture in the greater Colorado and Wyoming area. Miguel is an active volunteer in the SCAA, BGA and USBC for the last 5 years. He served as past BGA Mountain Region Rep, and is active on the BGA Education Committee. He is a BGA Level 1+2 Certified Barista and BGA L1 Examiner, along with an IDP Certified Lead Instructor and has instructed at Camp and internationally in Dubai. Miguel is also very active on the Competition Committee. As a Certified Head Judge for USBC he has judged 27 competitions both in the USA and Internationally. Miguel is very dedicated to the Barista Craft and is always learning and finding new ways to push it further for the future.

Qualifications: 10 years in the coffee industry Current BGA Mountain Region Rep Helped start monthly TNT's in Colorado Active member of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance BGA Level 1 + 2 Certified BGA Level 1 Examiner IDP Certified Lead and Station Instructor for CPAS and internationally in Dubai, U.A.E. in the last 2 years BGA Education Committee: helping write content as a subject matter expert in many classes Competition Committee and a USBC Head Judge, 5 years, 27 competitions.  Helps out occasionally on the SCAA Sustainability Council.

Selasa, 19 Maret 2013

South West Regional Barista Competition and Brewers Cup Results

Eden-Marie Abramowicz of Intelligentisa Coffee, Los Angeles, CA 
South West Regional Barista Competition Winner

2nd Charles Babinski, G&B Coffee, Los Angeles points– points
3rd Kevin “Tex” Bohlin, St. Frank Coffee, San Francisco – points
4th Truman Severson, Portola Coffee Lab, Costa Mesa, CA – points
5th Stacey Kock, Verve Coffee Roasters, Santa Cruz, CA – points
6th John Martin, Intelligentsia Coffee, Los Angeles, CA – points

Charles Babinski of G&B Coffee, Los Angeles, CA 
South West Regional Brewers Cup Winner

2nd Tony Kim, Cafe Dulce, Los Angeles, CA
3rd Albert Que, Hearth Coffee Roasters, San Francisco, CA 
4th Dustin DeMers, Orivor, San Francisco, CA 
5th Andy Kwon, Elabrew, Los Angeles, CA 
6th Joshua Bonner, Stanza Coffee, San Francisco, CA 

You can read a Sprudge.com recap of Eden-Marie's win via the link:

Don't forget you can get all your live updates from our Digital Media Sponsor @SprudgeLive and chat with other digital viewers through the official SCAA Livestream Channel!

Photos by Sprudge.com

Thank you Sponsors:

Jumat, 15 Maret 2013

Updated Code of Regulations for the BGA

Vision: Be the world’s most important network for the professional barista.

Mission: The Barista Guild of America provides baristas a community dedicated to innovating, sharing, and demonstrating best practices in coffee preparation.

The annual Barista Guild elections process provides a great opportunity to review the document at the core of the BGA. The Code of Regulations of the Barista Guild of America ("BGA Bylaws") outlines, in essence, the things that guide the BGA and also how the BGA functions.

A similar document guides our parent organization, the SCAA, and sister guild, the Roasters Guild. Both are published online, and you may read the SCAA Bylaws here and the Roasters Guild Bylaws here.

Bylaws remain relatively static from year-to-year - after all, the Guild's membership (Individuals for whom coffee preparation is an integral part of their profession - baristas!)  will always be focused on baristas. However, the BGA has seen dramatic growth in its membership over the past two years, and the BGA Executive Council took the opportunity to fine-tune the Bylaws to reflect this growth and set up a framework for the BGA to thrive in years to come. You can read the updated Barista Guild Code of Regulations here.

We encourage you to take a moment to read the Bylaws in its entirety, however we wanted to highlight a few items that we're particularly excited about, and also affect how the elections are being run this year:
    •    Vision and Mission: The vision and mission statements that frame the beginning of this post have been refined from previous versions to appropriately reflect who we are (the BGA Mission) and who we hope to be (the BGA vision).

    •    Number of seats on the Executive Council: The Executive Council has been increased from seven (7) members to a minimum of nine (9) and maximum fifteen (15). As mentioned, the tremendous growth of the BGA means that the EC can and should be able to accommodate more individuals to ensure that member voices are heard. For the 2013 BGA Election year, the maximum number of EC seats has been set at nine members.
    ⁃    Elimination of Regional Representatives ("Chapter Representatives"): With so many BGA members in so many places across the United States (and international members, too!) divvying the map into ten regions and asking one individual to be able to speak for and connect with all the members in the area became an daunting task met with varying success. Instead, increasing Executive Council members and adding the operational committees (more on that below) will provide a better way for baristas to connect and the Guild to thrive.

    •    Operational Committees: Three operational committees have been established. These committees exist to better involve BGA membership to help advance Guild business and member benefits and as a direct way for BGA members to get involved (beyond the normal ways of getting involved like taking classes, becoming certified, teaching courses, hosting an MDE, competing, volunteering at an event, attending an event, or just being a proponent of the BGA)

        Specifically, these committees are as follows:
    ⁃    Membership Committee – The Membership Committee works to build and retain BGA membership by actively engaging potential members and the BGA membership base through innovative channels that speak to the current state of the Barista profession
    ⁃    Events Committee – The Events Committee works with SCAA staff to plan and coordinate activities at and around BGA events.
    ⁃    Education and Certification Committee - The Education and Certification Committee advises SCAA staff on all BGA Certificate programs and materials, and advises on appeals of BGA Certificate program decisions.
    If you're interested in getting involved in any of these committees (monthly calls,         idea generating, and other tasks) let us know!

    •    Elections Process: Aligning more closely with the SCAA and Roasters Guild elections process, the Nominating Committee will now propose a slate of nominees for election from the recommended nominees, with the option of write-in voting. This means that being nominated does not guarantee a position on the election ballot, and streamlines the ballot process.

Have questions about the above changes, or any other aspect of the BGA Bylaws? Leave us a comment, send us a tweet (@baristaguild), or e-mail us directly!

Kamis, 14 Maret 2013

The Experience of #TEDCoffee

Pictured above, Barista Guild of America members waiting to serve coffee at TED2013 in Long Beach, CA

By Richard Sandlin, Fair Trade USA

Disclaimer: Below are lessons learned from my experience serving coffee at TED Long Beach. I am not speaking on behalf of the Barista Guild of America nor claim to be its representative. I was simply one of the few baristas lucky enough to be there. Below is a summary of some of the inspiration felt at TED.

Pause for a moment and think about your typical day. For me, most days look like this:

Alarm goes off at 7:30. Boil Water. Grind Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Beans. Bike to work. Talk about Coffee. Meet with friends. Talk about coffee. Sleep. Repeat.

My world is a silo. I live, eat and breathe specialty coffee. Much like you, I see nothing wrong with the above pattern. I love our industry. Coffee unites cultures, (can) provide real economic and environmental opportunity (at all levels of the supply chain) and simply makes our lives better. For me, it’s international relations and economic development in the real world. It’s also delicious.

Specialty coffee has opened my world (literally). I’m learning Spanish to engage with coffee producers, I practice Japanese at coffee tradeshows and I eavesdrop on Russian restaurateurs trying to discover the secret when they shift from “chor-ney chai” (black tea) to “kawf-yeh” (coffee). The coffee industry is so much more than the art of preparation. It’s a multi-billion dollar global industry that connects us all. For those reading this, this is nothing new. But for most people, do they understand this?

Recently, I was invited by the Barista Guild of America to represent a coalition of top tier coffees, roasted by the Roaster’s Guild and served by the Barista Guild at the annual TED conference in Long Beach, California. It was nothing short of an honor to serve coffee with some of the best Baristas in the business.

I stood side by side some of the best names in the coffee industry under the leadership of Ric Rhinehart, Peter Giuliano, Trevor Corlett, Chris Schooley, Julie Housh and Lily Kubota. Together, we executed stellar coffee (and Tea) service to 3,000 attendees at 5 bars pouring a collective 1000+ pounds of coffee – all with a smile.

In the TED space, our task at hand was to perform the art of preparation for an adoring audience and serve them some of the best coffees the Roaster’s Guild has to offer. It was simply unforgettable.

Our cups of sustainable brew were part of a larger dialogue. We were there to support TED’s mission, to provide, “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” While engaging with these communities, we learned about impact investing, urban agriculture, future internet mogul strategies, progressive education models and a lot more. And hopefully, we taught them a little about quality coffee, supply chain development, professional baristas (YES – it’s a thing) and the coffee industry. My world is 100% about coffee.

For me, the big take away was simply being a part of the larger moment. TED attracts entrepreneurs, environmental leaders, educators, angel investors, supply chain developers, techies, foodies, artists and a million things in between. I couldn’t help but think; how can we partner with these intellectual superstars? What does our industry need? Do we need more money to increase our impact? Do we need better environmental stewardship? Do we need better education for consumers, baristas, roasters, importers and farmers?

The TED audience is excited about specialty coffee. Coffee Common and Thanksgiving Coffee have served them for the several years and the TEDsters knew the Barista Guild of America would come prepared. Many TEDsters could not wait to get their hands on our offerings. They have the toys, some of them have third-wave brands in their portfolios and they have the pallet. But how can we partner further?

Pictured Above: “TEDster” Alon Halvey making his own coffee at the DIY Bar. Coffee Lovers will know Alon because of his incredible book Infinite Emotions of Coffee – but most of the world knows him as one of Google’s top engineers.

I want the specialty coffee industry to be present at TED and other thought provoking events IN A BIGGER WAY. YES – coffee can be consumed – but we can engage with leaders in far greater ways. It was an honor to serve, but we need a larger voice. We need leaders. We need innovators. We need a team who can engage with global thought leaders beyond serving them exceptional cups of coffee. We need to ignite their passion and convince them that our priorities are theirs.

The TED x SCAA collaboration proved a long held assumption: we are stronger together. As an industry, it is so valuable to stand together, share our story and promote our interwoven industry as a team. The Barista Guild and Roaster’s Guild are incredible examples of strength in numbers. Being able to stand next to 40+ of the best people in the business, sharing coffees roasted by another 10+ brands, sourced by varying Importers and of course harvested by global farming superheroes was nothing short of an honor. It has been the best moment of my young coffee career thus far.

But let’s take it to the next level. Next year, we need presenters on that stage sharing our story. Let’s share with the world who we are: Baristas, Roasters, Importers, Farmers. Our strength lies in our companionship and our romance. I don’t want our industry to stay in its silo. Let’s share. Let’s engage. Let’s excite! So I ask - who is ready to share on the TED stage? Will it be a barista? A roaster? An Importer? A Farmer? Let’s hope all of the above! And hopefully, the Barista Guild of America and Roaster’s Guild will be right there serving up some incredible coffee.

Kamis, 07 Maret 2013

Barista Guild of America Executive Council Nominations Are Now Being Accepted

It's that time of year when we want our members to speak up about who they think should lead our guild. Each year the Barista Guild of America (BGA) finds itself with leaders who are coming to the end of their two or more years of service. Nominating new leaders, whether someone you know or yourself, is a key part in keeping our leadership current and effective to serve our members.

As a guild, our election process involves first nominating potential leaders, and then our membership votes to choose these new leaders. Participating in the Barista Guild’s election process is a benefit open only to BGA members.

The Barista Guild leadership is made up of Executive Council (EC) Directors who are Barista Guild Members, like you! Each member of the EC participates in and leads one of our major committees. While they are often involved in all major BGA Events, their role is primarily to support the SCAA staff and to provide guidance around the direction of the Barista Guild.

However, running for an Executive Council position isn’t the only way to be involved with the Barista Guild. There are a variety of ways to get involved, and a few are detailed in the recent blog post, How to Get Involved with the BGA.

This year the Barista Guild has 4 open positions for Executive Council members. Executive Council members are self-motivated individuals willing to dedicate time to leading our guild in a forward direction.

An Executive Council member’s role and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

• Serving a term of two years, beginning and ending at the SCAA Event
• Contacting and working with a specific committee
• Communicating with the EC group as a whole and attending scheduled conference calls
• Attend the SCAA annual Event, one Barista Camp, and the SCAA Leadership Summit in the fall of each year

Does this sound like you? Ready to take on the challenge of becoming an Executive Council member?

Click here to submit an official nomination

Don't doubt your personal experience in the coffee industry! If you've got some great ideas and can commit to attending the required events and activities you're definitely worth nominating. If you have questions about what being an EC Director entails? Feel free to get in touch with a current EC member, find contact info on the Guild’s website, here.

With this post, election season is open! The official election timeline is as follows:

March 18: Nominations close
March 20: Voting begins (only Barista Guild members may vote in this election)
April 5: Voting Ends
April 9: Announcement of Election Results

Stay tuned!

Scott Lucey
Immediate Past Chair, Barista Guild Executive Council

Selasa, 05 Maret 2013

Five Questions with TED

This past week, almost forty Barista Guild members from around the world joined forces at the TED conference in Long Beach. Their goal: to engage some of the world's leading thinkers with some of the world's tastiest coffees. In the spirit of TED, we wanted to pick the brains of some of these baristas with our Five Questions column. Here are a few of their responses with a couple bonus TED-related questions. A big thank you to all the baristas who came together to make coffee and tea at TED such a smashing success!

Name: Alexandra LittleJohn
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Shop/Company: Verve Coffee Roasters
Years as a Barista: 13

1. Why did you join the BGA & what keeps you involved?
I joined the BGA to start working on my certifications, meet other baristas that are as passionate as I am about coffee and to legitimize making coffee for a living! If it's a guild, it's a real job, right?

I stay involved because I believe in the mission of the BGA and I want to help it grow. BGA membership and volunteer work with other coffee people is rewarding on a level that is, bar none, magical.

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect about being a barista and why?
The most fulfilling aspect about being a barista, for me, is converting coffee drinkers to better quality coffee and collaborating, as well as learning from my peers. Making coffee is just life now and I believe I work in the best industry in the world.

3. If you could impart one insight to a fledgling coffee lover, what would you share?
Drink with purpose and intention; what I mean by that is learn about where your coffee is from, when it was roasted, who roasted it and why it's special. There are no stupid questions and tasting coffee should be fun, explorative and satisfying. Have fun with it!

4. What is your go-to coffee brewing method at work? How about at home?
I work with our wholesale accounts and I fine a variety of ALL brew methods with them, so it's super entertaining and challenging! All of my accounts keep me on my toes, because I have to be up to date on how to brew well on anything that gets thrown my way. Recently, at home I've really been loving the Aeropress (with Able Disk), Clever and the Wood Neck!

5. What music gets your gears going on bar?
When I work bar I love 80's hair bands and classic rock! That music gets everyone in line singing along and in a good mood, especially Journey and AC/DC!

TED 1. What are you looking forward to at TED?
I was looking forward to working with the some of the best baristas in the world and serving coffee to our generations greatest minds! It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I just couldn't pass it up!

TED 2. What is your all-time favorite TED Talk?
It's a tie, for sure. First, would be Courtney Martin: Reinventing Feminism. Second, Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders. I relate SO much to the above two TED talks, that I can't just choose one, they are both inspiring and, in my opinion, are important topics, especially in the specialty coffee world. Recently, I fell in love with Jill Bolte Taylor's: Stroke of Insight. Crazy! AND, I got to pour many brains in her capps' while at TED, she was just floored! That was incredible.

Name: Camila Ramos
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Shop/Company: Panther Coffee
Years as a Barista: 3

1. Why did you join the BGA & what keeps you involved?
Community! It's like having industry cousins throughout the world.

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect about being a barista and why?
Working in a constantly evolving, forward thinking industry. It's exciting to be amongst a curious community with an insatiable need to improve in every detail of our work.

3. If you could impart one insight to a fledgling coffee lover, what would you share?
Drink what you find to be delicious; it's okay to have different preferences.

4. What is your go-to coffee brewing method at work? How about at home?
Chemex for two - I love sharing a brew with friends. There's something special about multiple people experiencing the same flavors at once. I don't brew at home! I'm too spoiled by the luxury of scales and hot water towers at work.

5. What music gets your gears going on bar?
Anything DJ Hall Call plays. That's Ryan's DJ name and he's going to kill me if he reads that.

TED 1. What are you looking forward to at TED?
Talking about forward thinking coffee with forward thinking people.

TED 2. What is your all-time favorite TED Talk?
Jack Andraka, a fifteen year old who discovered an accurate, inexpensive test for pancreatic cancer.

Name: Miguel Vicuña
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Shop/Company: Metropolis Coffee Lohi
Years as a Barista: 10

1. Why did you join the BGA & what keeps you involved?
Joining the BGA was at the time, one of the few outlets to meet and talk with other Baristas about promoting specialty coffee. It's a great starting off point for baristas to turn their love of coffee into a career. Now, with on going education, certifications, more solidified promotion of specialty coffee and what we do as baristas that career dream is more attainable and I want keep helping out as much as possible anyway I can.

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect about being a barista and why?
The connection one can make with a stranger over time, over a cup of coffee.

3. If you could impart one insight to a fledgling coffee lover, what would you share?
Volunteer as much as you can. Say yes as much as possible. Keep an open mind.

4. What is your go-to coffee brewing method at work? How about at home?
At work I usually gravitate to Chemex but been messing around with the Aeropress. At home I like making shots with the Mypressi.

5. What music gets your gears going on bar?
I like getting the Led out, I'm probably the worst person for this question. Usually anything in the 90's and I mean anything.

TED 1. What are you looking forward to at TED?
Being at TED surrounded by so many influential people from around the world is pretty exciting but I think working bar with some awesome baristas takes the cake.

TED 2. What is your all-time favorite TED Talk?
Amanda Palmer: The art of asking.... All I can say is check it out.

Jumat, 01 Maret 2013

TEDCoffee and Espresso Parts

We're winding down the week here at TED and wanted to give a huge thanks to all of our partners for their support. We've been so lucky to work with folks like Espresso Parts, who provided all of the smallwares for this event for our use. 

It's the little things in life, and this is especially true in coffee. The precision and attention to detail that are necessary to make a fantastic cup of coffee certainly include the supplies that make a baristas life easier. Without these crucial tools, we would have had a pretty hard time steaming milk, weighing out doses, tamping shots, pulling shots, cleaning the machines, and other essential elements of drink preparation. Thanks so much to Espresso Parts for supporting us here at TED 2013! 

Five Questions with BGA Member Zaida Dedolph

The story of Zaida Dedolph is both entertaining and instructive. Zaida’s first coffee job was in a shop called the Willow House in Phoenix, AZ. She describes it as “ an old house and full of cigarette smoke and hippies and bad art.” She goes on, “at some point I managed to convince them to give me a job.  It was kind of like working in a music venue that was somehow combined with a coffee shop and also a halfway house. I worked there for three and a half years, usually with other jobs on the side.” Her on-the-side work included moonlighting at an 80 year-old soda fountain and working for ASU doing human cadaver dissection. “That is probably a somewhat interesting fact about me,” she says.

In 2008 love for “a silly boy” brought Zaida to the Windy City where she mentored under Nathan Lyle Black at Brother’s K, a cafe serving Metropolis Coffee in the Evanston neighborhood. She became the barista trainer at the Other Brother, then moved on to Caffe Streets where she met Charlie Habegger -- “I’m fairly convinced Charlie knows everything,” she told me -- where she worked until a 2011 blizzard convinced her to move South again. 

At Frank, in Austin, TX, Zaida learned she had an interest in “bossing people around and figuring out new ways to make money and keep customers.” During her time at Frank, Zaida trained with Tyler, Mike, and Chris from Handsome Coffee, then prepared for the 2012 SC Regional with Mike and Tyler at their HQ in LA where she learned “a whole lot about competition,” and “where all the best tacos in Los Angeles can be located.” After Texas, Zaida returned to Chicago as Director of Operations, (or, as her business card says, Protector of the Realm) for Time Bandits (the overarching LLC for Wormhole, Fritz Pastry, and HalfWit Coffee roasters).

In 2013 Zaida placed second in the NCRBC where I interjected myself into a conversation to meet her. Since then, I’ve been writing to Zaida, whose thoughtful, articulate correspondence was pleasant and inspiring. Read on as we talk about the explosion of micro-roasters in Chicago, coffee dogma, and respect for your fellow human being.


Colin: First of all, I have to mention your job title, Protector of the Realm (pretty awesome). I'm aware that others at HalfWit have similarly unconventional job titles, does that speak to the work environment there? Does it speak to how many coffee professionals are defining their own role in the industry?

Zaida: Well, thank you.  I'd have to give credit to Travis (owner of Fritz Pastry, Wormhole Coffee, and HalfWit Coffee Roasters) for that title.

I guess you could say we're actively creating our own roles, and in doing so we're also defining our company.  HalfWit is an itty-bitty operation, and we're still so fresh.  In total we employ four people, and each person has been so incredibly integral to the creation of our vision and our product.  

Because we are so small, each of us wear about a billion different hats.  Anyone who has been part of something new can understand how much flexibility is required, especially in the early stages of creating a business. One week I'll be putting coffee in bags, the next I'll be writing web content, the next I'm doing tastings with prospective wholesale clients. Some things stay the same, though: we all help out with quality control on an ongoing basis, we all participate in wholesale interactions. We talk a lot, and very openly, about what we're good at and what we're not so good at, and what we want to learn more about and how we want to learn it.  We play to each other's strengths and interests, and I think we've got a really good thing going because of that.  

Colin: You've had several mentors in the coffee industry, and are a great example of someone who found a role for herself in the specialty coffee realm -- Does your post bring you to mentoring many aspiring baristas? What advice do you have for them? What kinds of goals to do they have for themselves?

Zaida: Aw shucks. I've been so lucky!  My work now is a bit more behind-the-scenes, and I'd be hesitant to say anyone wants to take my advice. But I've learned a thing or two along the way.  

The biggest thing I would say is, work your ass off no matter how much you hate your situation, because chances are you'll learn something.   I started working at a Soda Fountain when I was 14 years old, and I haven't stopped since.  I worked full-time throughout college, and generally had at least two jobs (but sometimes three.) Giving up was never an option.  When I'd start to get frustrated and exhausted I would call my mom, who would always tell me that there is value in hard work that isn't monetary.  Of course, that was the last thing I wanted to hear when I was a snot-nosed kid with sore feet and homework to finish, but now I recognize that *maybe* she had a point.  

Working hard gets you noticed, and it teaches you things in funny little ways. Even if you hate your boss, even if you loathe doing dishes, even if you hate making skinny-half-caf-extra-sugar-free-vanilla lattes, you're learning.  Be nice to everyone.  Even if they're a total asshole. You never know what they might have to offer you someday. And do the things you hate just as well as the things you like.  People will notice your initiative.  

Colin: I really admire the exhortation, "work your ass off no matter how much you hate your situation." For some reason that really strikes home for me. I'm all for a balanced approach to life, but too often I feel like it's easy to be satisfied with the status quo and work is needed to grow. That, and also a desire to look the part more than play the part... does that makes sense?

Zaida: I totally agree.  When people tell me they want to work in coffee, I always want to ask them whether they want to take out the trash, whether they want to clean toilets, whether they want to be friendly to people who they don't feel like being friendly to all day long.  It's one thing to make really great coffee, but that job can't exist in a vacuum.  If you're not willing to get your hands dirty, then you don't really want to be a barista.  That's what it really takes to "play the part."

Colin: You've moved around quite a lot since you got started in coffee (AZ-IL-TX-IL and that pit-stop in LA with the Handsome guys) -- and the "Blizzard of '11" (which I remember!) figures prominently in your move to Texas to work at Frank -- is there some tension between the North and the South for you? Are you by nature a bit restless? Will you move again?

I'm probably a little restless.  I might be a lot restless.  The south is home, though. I am a desert girl at heart.  I grew up in Phoenix in the midst of the housing boom, which then completely collapsed with the economy.  It was a very visible, tangible thing, and so many people I know were heavily affected by it.  The ultimate goal is to go back home to Arizona with all my fancy learnin' and start something new in a few years.  

Colin: Your description of the Chicago coffee scene as moving from one polarized by two large specialty roasters to one of increasing diversity in approaches to roasting and serving coffee is open-minded. You go on to say that there "isn't any real truth" about what quality is, what kinds of things does Half-Wit do to avoid dogma in conversations with customers?

Zaida: Man.  It's funny to think about how the term "microroaster" has evolved.  I feel like what's happening in Chicago is the emergence of a bunch of "smaller-than-microroasters." "Nanoroasters."  "Micro-mini-roasters," maybe.  We're totally happy to be a part of that movement, and I want you to know how much discussion this question sparked amongst our roasting staff.  Generally, we came up with the following response.  

Our un-dogmatic approach to specialty coffee can probably best be summarized by talking about a party we threw a few weeks ago.  It was HalfWit's launch party, it was science fair themed, and it was totally baller.  We invited the media, but we also invited our friends and our coffee colleagues.  When people walked in, we had different boards set up outlining some element of coffee science.  For example, we did an exhibit on water quality, where people who stopped by the booth could taste coffee brewed with city water, bottled water, and Reverse Osmosis water.  We did another on roasting, so people could taste the difference in one coffee roasted to three different levels.  Another exhibit was all about brew methods.  The point wasn't to tell people how to do things, it was to let them explore their own palates, and to show them the differences that subtle factors can make on coffee quality.  We emphasized things that consumers can change in their own homes; what water they're using, what coffee they're buying, how they're brewing it.  We set up the event, but we still learned a lot.  

We don't know everything.  We don't really know anything.  But we want to know more about all of the things.  We want to taste coffee in a million different ways. We want feedback from people who have never tasted coffee before just as badly as we want it from coffee professionals.  We want our coffee to taste great whether it you brew it on a Mr. Coffee drip maker or pull it on a fancy pressure-profiling, pre-infusing espresso machine.  We're not going to tell you how to brew excellent coffee, but we're willing to teach you about all of the variables that impact quality and let you figure it out on your own. That's the difference, right there.   

It's easy to forget that the term "specialty coffee" refers to a grading system, not a particular philosophy, not some immutable doctrine.  Our notion of quality is evolving every single day.  The best we can do is buy high-quality coffees from reputable importers, grown by great growers, and help our customers figure out the rest from there.  

Colin: Can you think of a topic within specialty coffee that deserves more discussion?

Zaida: Where my ladies at?  I'm fortunate that my boss has a penchant for hiring wickedly talented, brilliantly opinionated, and brutally stubborn female managerial types (Sara Travis and Andrea "Otter" Otte at HalfWit, Stevie Baka at the Wormhole, Jaime Podgorny at Fritz Pastry....oh, and Me.)  But this job has been exceptionally unique in that regard, and I won't deny the fact that being a woman in this very male dominated industry has been a massive struggle.   

I have some amazing female role models in this industry (Sarah Kluth, Katie Carguilo, Sarah Allen, Trish Rothgeb, Heather Perry, etc....) but there simply aren't enough, and the gender imbalance is still so marked.  It goes all the way back to origin; too often, women are often the ones growing the coffee, but men are the ones controlling the money and making the decisions.  It goes all the way up the supply chain.  

Why is there such an huge gender imbalance in the specialty coffee world? What are men doing to involve women in the discussion? Why aren't we talking more about it?  

Colin: Yes, I don't know why it is, but I agree there seems to be a gender imbalance in the coffee world. And your tracing that imbalance back to origin is right on. I'm married to a woman and I can't speak highly enough of the ways women build communities, empathize with others, and work well in groups, which are key skills to advancing the cause of specialty coffee. Yet at the same time I feel it's a tough topic for me to talk about without feeling as if I'm reiterating gender stereotypes, "Well women are like X and so they don't Y," or "Well men are like..." You know what I mean? I guess when it comes down to it I'm afraid we're just making excuses, when push comes to shove, employers need to make an effort to hire women and promote them when they deserve it. Would you agree?

Zaida: I don't think specialty coffee is single-handedly going to be capable of conquering sexism in the workplace, but I think sometimes the solutions are really very simple.  Talk to your staff.  Talk to all of them.  Hear their opinions, actively solicit their input.  Making sure that people's voices are being heard is a vital step in this process.  I'm equally hesitant to say "men are this, women are that," and I would be totally disingenuous if I didn't mention that most of my mentors in this industry have been delightful, respectful males.  Mostly, that's been because I've been trained by men, managed by men, every shop I've worked at has been owned by a man or by men. On one hand I'm very grateful, but it's also such a struggle to have your voice heard if people don't feel like hearing it.

A colleague of mine at Frank once said that being a woman in the service industry is like walking into work every day and getting punched in the face.  Even when we love what we do, even when we see so much value in our craft and worth in our work,  we are STILL, in 2013 for pete's sake, ruthlessly objectified by customers and undervalued in hiring decisions.   

I think beginning to deal with the problem of gender imbalance in specialty coffee is as simple as creating a welcoming environment, in general.  Don't speak over your coworkers.  Don't be dismissive of the opinions or impressions of new hires.  Make sure everyone has a chance to speak at cuppings, that everyone is able and encouraged to participate in every step of your company's process.  And definitely, start hiring qualified women.

Colin: OMG we have to talk about the cadaver job --- that fact immediately changed the way I think about you. Can you just talk about that experience for a second?

Zaida. Wow.  You might have to ask questions about this, because it was kind of a huge experience on so many levels. Working with cadavers completely changes the way you think about the people around you and the world that you live in.

Colin: So I'm wondering if you were like pre-med or something. I guess the question is, why were you doing this? How does one qualify to do something like human dissection? and lastly, are there any sort of existential moments when doing human dissection? I imagine something like alternating between feeling like humans are just biological machines, and feeling as if what it means to be human is something more than just the physical bodies we walk around in.

Zaida: Okay, so, Dead Bodies.  

I went through about eighty different majors in college.  I was definitely premed for quite some time, then switched to biological anthropology (I spent most of college in a cadaver lab or in a basement sifting through boxes of bones.)  I got the job as a way to expand my knowledge of anatomy and physiology.  I was also really into the concept of structural-functionalism during that period of my life. I wound up loving it so much that I switched majors to something that would let me look at the way people's cells interact within their bodies and how those same humans interact with other humans in their larger environment.  

I want to stress that preserving human dignity is tantamount in cadaver dissection.  Donating your body to science or research is probably the most amazing gift you could ever give. In a cadaver lab, you wear black scrubs. The face, hands, feet, and genitals are covered at all times, unless they are being worked on.  It's a very serious environment, but not at all a sad one.  It's not glamorous, but you treat every single thing you do with so much respect for the gift that was given to you.  You may have to do things like, remove residual contents from the colon. Sometimes things unexpectedly burst.  Also, fat doesn't preserve, so you have to remove every bit of fat from a cadaver before you can really do anything else. It's also the most incredible experience. You receive a "specimen," which is actually a very vulnerable, naked person, and have a chance to break that body down to its most fundamental parts.  I don't think I had any idea what respect really meant until I had seen what a fatal clot looks like inside of an aorta, or used a bone saw to remove the top of a cadaver's skull.  You look at every person around you in a different, more fragile light. I wish everyone could have that experience.  I would get out of the lab and just think about all of the people that I loved, and how I should probably tell them that all the time.  

Yes. Zaida, you inspire in me a new respect for life.

Thank You for taking the time to talk with me.

How To Get Involved in the BGA

How to Get Involved with the BGA.

Whether you’re just starting out as a barista, looking to be connected to the barista community, or just want to learn more about the craft of being a barista, here’s how to get involved:

Get educated!
You can earn a Level One and Level Two certificate in our barista certification program. Our education is being sought by baristas around the world! Every year we teach classes and deliver testing at two BGA camps, the SCAA Exposition, and occasionally international venues. We also deliver tests at every Regional Barista Competition.

You can also be an instructor. First, you’ll want to take SCAA's Instructor Development Program class (IDP). Next, volunteer to station instruct at a SCAA/BGA event. From there, you can become a lead instructor, and even become a subject matter expert who has a role in refining and developing content.

Get an event going!
Host a BGA Member Driven Event (MDE). We can help promote your event and help coordinate a discussion of topic related to specialty coffee.

Get involved!
Run for office. Also, VOTE! Elections are coming up. Those who want to be involved in BGA leadership will have a chance to raise their hand and get elected. They will drive our choices in the next two years, and as a member you have vote.

Get to writing!
Blog for us. Shine light on your part of the barista community. List all the great shops and roasteries in your area, send us the material and we’d love to give them the national spotlight by blogging about them. Or, do you know a fellow barista who's doing great things in the industry? Interview them ala Five Questions and we’ll highlight their commitment on our blog.

Get to an event!
Attend, volunteer, or compete at a Regional Barista Competition. Home to the barista competitions, as well as the brewers cups, the RBC’s become hubs for baristas to network, make friends, and learn more about specialty coffee. Every competition needs people willing to spend a few hours working behind the scenes to help it run smoothly.

Attend a BGA Camp or SCAA show. We have so much happening at these events: education, competition, volunteer opportunities like the BGA Cafe, and ample time to network with some of the brightest minds in the specialty coffee industry.

Get in touch!
Get in touch with the BGA Leadership. Here’s where you can find the emails of everyone sitting on the Executive Council of the BGA. If you have more questions, more ideas about BGA community building, we would love to hear from you. Honestly we would. And we’re willing to listen, or connect you with others we know that share common goals, or point you in the right direction to find what you’re looking for.

You can see we have a lot going on, and new things are happening all the time (did you hear the BGA is serving coffee at TED? That could be you one day!) I truly hope you’ll connect with us.

Not a member? Join our growing community of coffee professionals.