By Boss Barista
Lori Flores Breaks Down Latinx Food and Drink Labor in the United States 
An associate professor of history, Dr. Lori Flores digs into the realities of agricultural working conditions—and the invisible labor behind the foods and goods we enjoy. A full transcript of this episode is available at bossbarista.substack.com
August 09, 2022
BONUS: Intelligentsia's Chicago Workers Are Unionizing
This bonus episode features Ravani Grace, an Intelligentsia barista who's helping to organize one of specialty coffee's most pivotal unions. A full transcript of this episode is available at bossbarista.substack.com
August 02, 2022
Niki Tolch Gets #Deep 
The creator of the Not Caffeinated Enough platform connects community, curiosity, and coffee. It's all a circle. A full transcript of this episode is available at bossbarista.substack.com
July 26, 2022
David Tortolini Goes Beyond IRL Spaces 
Scholar and incoming graduate student at Purdue University David Tortolini talks about the importance of digital connection, and all the ways that communities are built through the internet. A full transcript of this episode is available at bossbarista.substack.com
July 12, 2022
Gefen Skolnick Is Making Coffee Fun 
The founder of Couplet Coffee eschews traditional ideas to make delicious coffee available to all. A full transcript of this episode is available at bossbarista.substack.com
June 21, 2022
Julien Langevin believes there's a place for everyone who wants to be here 
Julien Langevin is a production worker for Coffee by Design and the 2022 United States Cup Tasters Champion, going on to represent the United States at the World Cup Tasters Competition in June. A full transcript of this episode can be found at bossbarista.substack.com
June 07, 2022
Valorie Clark Stands Up for Hourly Coffee Workers 
When COVID-19 laid off a substantial number of coffee workers, Valorie Clark helped start a nonprofit called GoFundBean to provide essential services and financial support. A full transcript of this episode is available at bossbarista.substack.com
May 24, 2022
Morgan Eckroth Rebels with Coffee 
The 2022 United States Barista Champion and TikTok star subverts expectations through humor and silliness. You can find a full transcript at bossbarista.substack.com
May 10, 2022
Bianka Allyon and Sabreen Naimah Are Keeping it Cute 
The co-founders of Cute Coffee urge you to keep it cute or put it on mute—or you're gonna get slimed. You can find a full transcript of this episode at bossbarista.substack.com
April 26, 2022
Jaymie Lao Wants You To Say Something Nice 
Go Get Em Tiger's very first employee wants you to praise your friends, your coworkers—everyone! A full transcript of this episode is available here.
April 12, 2022
The Tartine Union Asks for Their Bread and Roses 
Revisiting our February 2020 episode with the members of the Tartine Union in the Bay Area. For a full transcript, go to bossbarista.substack.com
March 29, 2022
Carlos de la Torre Wants You to Buy Coffee Roasted in Mexico 
The owner of Café con Jiribilla talks about Mexico's unique coffee scene and why you should discover its roasters. You can find a full transcript of this episode here.
March 15, 2022
Sonam Parikh Is Getting Comfortable Saying 'I Don't Know.' 
My guest is Sonam Parikh, one of the co-founders of Mina’s World, a coffee shop in West Philadelphia. Sonam and their partner, Kate, opened Mina’s World 18 days before COVID-19 forced the majority of hospitality businesses to close or completely revamp how they serve food and drinks to customers. You can find a full transcript of this episode here.
March 01, 2022
Eric Grimm on HR and Setting Workplace Culture 
How Eric Grimm of Glitter Cat Barista and Ghost Town Oats has approached building more accessible spaces through the lens of human resources. A full transcript of this episode can be found here.
February 15, 2022
Courtney Heald is Sticking Up and Sticking Around 
The lead roaster at Modern Times helps navigate the San Diego roastery's next phase while advocating for herself. A full transcript of this episode can be found here.
February 01, 2022
Tio Fallen Travels The Road Less Taken 
The co-founder of Three Keys Coffee in Houston talks jazz riffs, trumpet keys, and I ask him some weird questions. A full transcript of this episode can be found here.
January 18, 2022
David Lalonde Falls Down the Rabbit Hole 
What it means to want to do things differently—and actually do them. With David Lalonde, co-founder of Rabbit Hole Roasters in Montreal, Quebec. A full transcript of this episode can be found here.
January 04, 2022
December Rewind: Rachel Northrop Asks "Who Is The C-Market For?"
In the last episode of our December Rewind series, Rachel Northrop digs into the coffee commodities market, and asks who this antiquated system serves. Spoiler alert: You probably know the answer. A full transcript of this episode can be found here.
December 22, 2021
December Rewind: Rachel Northrop Breaks Down the C-Market (Part One)
The commodities market, or c-market, is how most coffee is bought and sold. It's a complicated, antiquated system that's persisted for years. Rachel Northrop explains how this system came to be. A full transcript of this episode can be found here.
December 22, 2021
December Rewind: Maggy Nyamumbo on Big Coffee and the Coffee Price Crisis
Today, we're re-releasing our episode with Maggy Nyamumbo. Maggy is the founder of Kahawa 1893, a social enterprise aimed at connecting farmers directly to consumers in an attempt to get more money back to farmers. There is so much money in coffee — with farmers making less money than it costs to produce coffee, Maggy tells us where all that money goes. This episode was originally released in November 2019. Find a full transcript of this episode here.
December 14, 2021
December Rewind: Alice Wong Says #SuckItAbleism
In 2018, the internet lit up with debates about plastic straw bans. Disabled activist Alice Wong talks about how these kinds of conversations silence the voices of disabled people. This episode was originally released in August 2018.
December 07, 2021
Investing in Young Farmers with Frankie and Tim Volkema 
At 13 years old, Frankie Volkema became the world's youngest Q grader. While she received her certification, she also learned that the average coffee farmer is in their mid-50s, and if we don’t make farming viable for young people to pursue, the future of coffee is in jeopardy. So she decided to take action. Learn more about Joven Coffee here. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
November 09, 2021
Pepe Uechi Isn't Afraid To Pivot 
Today, I’m chatting with Jose Uechi, co-founder of Compadre, a coffee brand based in Peru. Jose—or Pepe, as he goes by—is an industrial designer by trade, and got into coffee because of his friend, Juan Pablo. Juan Pablo invented a solar roaster, a machine that could roast coffee without electricity. Initially, Compadre’s founders worked to get these roasters into the hands of farmers. A few years later, and Compadre is still working on raising wages for farmers—albeit in a slightly different way. In this episode, we talk about the shifts and pivots that Pepe and his team have made as they got deeper into the economics of coffee-buying and -selling. The broad goal of Compadre is still the same—to shift value down to farmers—but it does so now by removing barriers that farmers face (like unpredictable weather conditions) and building a brand that connects farmers to consumers. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
October 26, 2021
Neichelle Guidry Brings the Light 
Neichelle Guidry is a storyteller. Neichelle is a college administrator and the founder of Black Girl Black Coffee. The brand began as an Instagram account, as a way for Neichelle to document her journey through coffee, and her passion for the subject, during the upheaval of the pandemic. Since then, it’s evolved into a coffee brand that reclaims the Black history of coffee. We about staying inspired, filling your cup, and giving yourself permission to seek joy in the things you love—that will hopefully leave you feeling uplifted and inspired after listening. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
October 12, 2021
Sierra Yeo and the Mythical Career Ladder 
If you've ever asked yourself, “Is this real? Or am I imagining it? Did I take something the wrong way on purpose? Did my boss really do that thing that I now feel so angry about?” then this is the episode for you. Sierra Yeo of The Kore Directive and Alpro UK get real vulnerable. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
September 28, 2021
Exploring Coffee Through Fast Fashion with Rachel Faller 
Rachel Faller is one of the co-founders of tonlé, a zero-waste clothing company that believes in promoting equal value across the supply chain. Like coffee, most of the clothing we wear goes through hundreds of hands and relies on a system of manufacture and exchange that is a relic of colonialism. In this episode, Rachel explains some of the parallels between how coffee is bought and sold and how clothes are made. We talk about who gains and who loses in a world that relies on fast fashion: the production of cheap clothing with quick turnaround times for garment factories. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
September 14, 2021
The Two Lives of Nigel Price 
Before coffee, Nigel Price of Drip Coffee Makers had a career in finance, working for a firm in Downtown Manhattan. But eventually, he decided he’d had enough—and he turned to cafes as a way to break away from the life he’d built and the trajectory he no longer wanted to be on. Over a decade later, Nigel credits coffee as the beginning of his second life, giving him a chance to create connections and bond with people in a way that his prior life in finance hadn’t. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
August 25, 2021
Erica Chadé On Listening and Being Present With Yourself [REAIR]
We’re re-airing an episode form June of 2020 with Erica Chadé (you may hear them referred to as Erica Jackson in the episode). Erica talks all about intention, getting to know yourself and offers some wonderful tidbits about slowing down and how working in service can offer moments of presence. We have "We Are Not A Family" tees available now—Erica is modeling one in the photo for this episode. Order them here! This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
August 17, 2021
Suneal Pabari on Competition as a Learning Tool 
From the moment Suneal Pabari got into coffee, he wanted to know why others didn’t share his excitement, and he came to a pretty simple conclusion: Coffee is hard! Baristas are busy slinging drinks, and it’s not like the coffee roaster is sitting and waiting to answer your queries about why Coffee A tastes like strawberries and Coffee B tastes like milk chocolate. Suneal wanted to learn more, and he decided to start a game. Leaderboard Coffee is a seasonal coffee experiment where participants receive 10 unlabeled bags of coffee alongside a set of guiding questions to help them deduce where each coffee is from and what makes it unique. Leaderboard doesn’t just offer the opportunity to become an at-home sleuth, but also to learn about coffee in a way that a cafe environment can’t replicate. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
August 10, 2021
Buy Past Crop Coffee with Baylee Engberg 
Baylee Engberg is a roaster who wants you to embrace past crop coffees. That’s still a pretty novel position—coffee is an industry that touts freshness, which means “past crop” can feel taboo. But there's an opportunity to change the narrative. Just because past crop coffees are older doesn’t mean they can’t be roasted well and still drink deliciously. Does green coffee really have to be at the peak of freshness to be enjoyed? Is it sustainable to ignore past crop coffees? And don’t roasters have the power to highlight different flavors that maximize the full potential of a past crop coffee? This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
July 20, 2021
Brittany Sims Will Not Leave Their Feelings at the Door 
Brittany Sims is a barista and coffee writer who runs the Non-Binary Barista blog. Brittany uses their blog to talk about gender in the workplace, but also to discuss accessibility issues, neurodivergency, how to deal with trauma, and big feelings at work. Essentially, Brittany’s blog humanizes service workers, and shines a light on the real experiences people go through on the job. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
July 06, 2021
Increasing In-Country Consumption with Vera Espíndola Rafael 
My guest today is Vera Espíndola Rafael, a development economist working within coffee-producing countries. Recently, she wrote a paper called, “A Business Case to Increase Specialty Coffee Consumption in Producing Countries.” Coffee is a good that’s grown in one country, and then is traditionally—thanks to centuries of colonialism—exported somewhere else. Globally, coffee is a $200 billion industry. Vera was struck when she found out that only 10% of that value actually goes into the economies of the countries that grew the coffee, while 90% of that $200 billion stays in consuming countries. Vera hopes to change that. This episode is brought to you by Urnex.
June 15, 2021
Guest Episode: Coffee Consumption in Nicaragua
The Boss Barista takeover is brought to you by Chobani. A few weeks ago, I put a call out to coffee folks, fans, and drinkers across the globe to pitch ideas about the podcast they’ve been dreaming of making—and today we’re turning the mic over to the last in our series of guest creators. Ana Sofía Narvaez takes over hosting this episode and interviews Sara Corrales of Finca Los Pinos in Nicaragua. Sara is part of the new face of the specialty coffee industry—one that’s dedicated to promoting internal coffee consumption, a topic that’s not often covered or promoted. A full transcript is available here.
June 08, 2021
Leadership as Mentorship with Kaleena Teoh and ChiSum Ngai 
Partnerships can have the power to clarify and sharpen traits, skills, and ideas, and that’s true of Kaleena Teoh and ChiSum Ngai—who goes by Sum—who are the co-founders of Coffee Project New York. Originally started as a small shop in the East Village in 2015, Coffee Project has expanded to a number of retail stores, a roastery, and a Specialty Coffee Association-certified training lab. Sum is a Q grader, which means she’s passed rigorous tests to evaluate and tastes coffees, and both Sum and Kaleena take their role as leaders seriously. In this episode, we learn more about how their relationship to coffee, each other, and themselves has changed over time. Both Sum and Kaleena believe in the power of education, using Coffee Project as a space to bring customers into the coffee world. They also strive to build meaningful careers for their staff—which is why they’ve grown their business. But they still know the value of leading by example and are always looking to learn and expand their knowledge base. Here are Sum and Kaleena.
June 01, 2021
A Matter of Trust with Brian Gaffney 
I first met Brian Gaffney while working at an unobtrusive coffee shop in Brooklyn called Daily Press. This wasn’t the kind of place you’d go out of your way to visit—it was located right on a busy street in the southeast corner of Bed-Stuy—and mostly, it attracted folks who lived locally. Instead, the fact that it was a neighborhood spot made Daily Press what it was. Almost every customer was a regular, someone who at least one of the baristas had built a relationship with. I remember Brian distinctly—he was friendly with everyone. He worked out of the shop pretty often, and was always curious about the types of coffee we were pouring. Although Brian doesn’t work in the coffee industry as we traditionally think of it—he even describes his relationship to the industry as being “coffee-adjacent”—he’s continued to pursue his interest, writing about coffee for publications like Standart and serving on the board of the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity (CCRE). In this conversation, we revisit our nine-year-long friendship and discuss how to find ways to connect with customers. I continue to come back to this phrase that I think James Hoffmann, owner of Square Mile Coffee and former podcast guest, said once—one you’ll hear in this episode—that coffee is bad at telling its own story. Brian’s background is in marketing and brand strategy, so we talk about what it means for coffee people to take ownership of their own narratives. But we’re not just talking about coffee shop owners when we say “coffee people.” When it comes to coffee’s narratives, Black and Brown people are all too often left out of the equation, even though their labor, both historically and today, continues to be the backbone of our entire industry—and yet the stories and ways we talk about coffee center affluent, white consumers. Brian and I discuss what a coffee industry led by Black and Brown people could look like, and how centering the perspective of the laborers in coffee has the potential to completely rewrite the industry’s future—and reverse the descent into sameness we seem to be experiencing now. Here’s Brian.
May 25, 2021
Guest Episode: Dispatches from Colombia, Part Two
The Boss Barista takeover is brought to you by Chobani. A few weeks ago, I put a call out to coffee folks, fans, and drinkers across the globe to pitch ideas about the podcast they’ve been dreaming of making—and today we’re turning the mic over to the third in our series of guest creators. This episode is a little different than what you’ve heard so far. This is the second of a two-part episode—in these episodes, we talk to Colombian coffee farmers about risk, white saviorism, and the future of coffee. A full transcript of this episode is available here.
May 11, 2021
Guest Episode: Dispatches from Colombia
The Boss Barista takeover is brought to you by Chobani. A few weeks ago, I put a call out to coffee folks, fans, and drinkers across the globe to pitch ideas about the podcast they’ve been dreaming of making—and today we’re turning the mic over to the third in our series of guest creators. Sebastián Diácono is a country manager for Latorre & Dutch, an international coffee-trading and -exporting company. He’s based in Colombia, and his job is to act as a liaison between people who want to buy coffee and people who grow it, understanding and synthesizing the needs of both in the process. When I first mentioned this project on Twitter, he messaged me almost immediately, saying he’d like to help me tell stories of coffee producers in Colombia. A full transcript of this episode is available here.
May 11, 2021
Guest Episode: Pressure Profiles
The Boss Barista takeover is brought to you by Chobani. A few weeks ago, I put a call out to coffee folks, fans, and drinkers across the globe to pitch ideas about the podcast they’ve been dreaming of making—and today we’re turning the mic over to the third in our series of guest creators. Today’s episode comes from Linn Tsang, who is kicking off her podcast called Pressure Profiles. Pressure Profiles is a Berlin-based interview-style show where Linn chats with baristas and other hospitality professionals about representation and community. A full transcript of this episode is available here.
May 04, 2021
Guest Episode: The Updose Podcast
The Boss Barista takeover is brought to you by Chobani. A few weeks ago, I put a call out to coffee folks, fans, and drinkers across the globe to pitch ideas about the podcast they’ve been dreaming of making—and today we’re turning the mic over to the first in our series of guest creators. Today we’re airing the first episode of the Updose Podcast, a show that chronicles American coffee in the 20th and 21st centuries. This project is near and dear to my heart because there are so many strange, incredible, and pivotal stories in recent coffee history—and there aren’t a lot of places where those stories are set down and recorded for future coffee consumers. The Updose Podcast comes from Amanda Whitt, a barista and historian who explores in-depth questions about the way we view and drink coffee. In their first episode, they investigate the drive-thru coffee shop—a phenomenon that seems commonplace today, but was invented and first proliferated in the Pacific Northwest. Why the Pacific Northwest? Whose idea was it to serve coffee from a lonely kiosk off a two-lane highway? Amanda digs in and finds out. A full transcript of this episode is available here.
April 27, 2021
Redefining Specialty Coffee with Sahra Nguyen 
We’re taking a quick break from our Boss Barista takeover this week—folks are busy working on their projects, and will have lots to share with you soon—to revisit an episode from April 2020. Sahra Nguyen is the founder of Nguyen Coffee Supply, a coffee brand based in New York that’s dedicated to promoting specialty Vietnamese coffee. In this episode, we talk about why Vietnam, which is the world’s second-largest producer of coffee beans, goes largely ignored in the specialty coffee industry. Then we take the question one step further, and ask: What makes a thing special in the first place?
April 21, 2021
Guest Episode: Cafetera Intelectual
The Boss Barista takeover is brought to you by Chobani. A few weeks ago, I put a call out to coffee folks, fans, and drinkers across the globe to pitch ideas about the podcast they’ve been dreaming of making—and today we’re turning the mic over to the first in our series of guest creators. Today’s episode spotlights Cafetera Intelectual, hosted by Doris Garrido and Sandra Loofbourow. Their show explores the connection between coffee-producing and coffee-consuming countries and is bilingual, sharing insights in both English and Spanish. You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts, and new episodes come out every Friday. This is Cafetera Intelectual’s very first English-language episode, and Doris and Sandra are chatting with Rosalba Cifuentes, an international coffee exporter based in Mexico. A full transcript of this episode is available here.
April 13, 2021
Welcoming Refugees Through Coffee with Doug Hewitt 
When a refugee—someone who has fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and has crossed an international border to find safety in another country—comes to the United States, they’re typically given very little help when resettling their lives. 1951 Coffee Company hopes to change that, using the coffee industry as a tool for empowerment and self-determination. In this episode, I talk to Doug Hewitt, co-founder of 1951 Coffee Company, which is based in Berkeley, California. 1951 created a barista training program specifically aimed at refugees, and helps trainees find placements at its own cafes or at other partner cafes in the Bay Area. The goal isn’t simply to train new baristas, but to give people control over their lives—without expectation. Plenty of folks go through 1951’s training program and ultimately decide to move on to other fields, or to go back to school. Ultimately, the goal is to help people feel safe making their own decisions, and to give them the tools to figure out what their goals are, instead of forcing them to make choices out of necessity or scarcity. Doug believes that coffee can be a tool to give power and control back to displaced people—one that extends far beyond the Bay Area.
April 06, 2021
Growing Coffee in Colombia with Luísa de Salazar and Astrid Medina 
A few weeks ago, the folks at Amor Perfecto, a coffee roaster based in Bogotá, Colombia, reached out to me. They offered to send some coffees from a new project they were launching: a collaboration with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, which highlights women producers and innovators within the country’s specialty coffee scene. After I tried the two coffees they sent, they asked if I’d be interested in talking to the women who had grown them. One coffee was from the Tolima region in southern Colombia, and was grown by Astrid Medina—who won Colombia’s Cup of Excellence—a national competition that awards the country’s best coffees—in 2015. The other coffee came from northern Colombia, in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, and was grown by Luísa de Salazar. Both growers were kind enough to share their triumphs and hardships with me on this podcast. A note on this episode: I highly recommend following along with the transcript, because there will be sudden shifts from English to Spanish. I ask all the questions in English and Astrid and Luísa respond in Spanish, while the Amor Perfecto team joins in and shares translation duties. The result is warm and rough-and-tumble episode—there are multiple voices and moments where people talk over one another—and in places the sound quality dips (for Astrid in particular, who was recording outside on her farm). Regardless of the audio hiccups, I believe hearing people tell stories in their own words is deeply valuable, and I hope you enjoy hearing from the folks who make your daily coffee possible. Here are Astrid Medina and Luísa de Salazar.
March 30, 2021
Growing Deep With Jiyoon Han of Bean & Bean 
In these interviews, I connect with people in different ways. Sometimes it’s immediate, sometimes it’s helped by a previous encounter or even a longtime friendship, and sometimes it never comes. I had never met Jiyoon Han before I asked her to be on the show, but her clarity and deep intentionality clicked for me instantly. Jiyoon is the co-owner of Bean & Bean Coffee in New York City. Her parents opened Bean & Bean’s first location in 2008, a few years after immigrating to the United States from South Korea, amidst the year’s financial crisis. Since then, Jiyoon’s life has been wrapped up in coffee—it comes naturally to her, it’s embedded in her senses. Jiyoon has a background in UX, or user experience, design, and uses that knowledge to help run aspects of Bean & Bean alongside her mother. On their website, Bean & Bean has a detailed and clear commitment laid out to promote gender equity—almost all the coffees they buy are from women-led farms and cooperatives, and they aim to have all their coffees powered by women by 2022. Their stores are reflective of their communities, including a flagship in the Little Neck neighborhood of Queens where Jiyoon grew up. In this conversation, Jiyoon articulates so much of the potential in coffee—what responsibly run shops can look like, what being value-driven means, and how to actually grow. Growth for Jiyoon isn’t about expansion, but about depth and learning: honing your craft and getting better at what you do. I can’t recommend this interview enough. Here’s Jiyoon.
March 09, 2021
File Your Taxes Right with Tiani Wright 
This episode is brought to you by The Barista League. Register for High Density today! Tax season is almost upon us, and if you’re like many service workers, you’ve probably been juggling a number of different jobs and gigs. Feel your blood pressure rising already? Take a breath: To help soften this always-stressful time of year, we’re re-airing an episode with Tiani Wright of Coffee and Tax. Listen along, and she’ll help you figure out how to file correctly—and how to stay on top of your money for the rest of the year, too. Most coffee workers—not to mention others in the hospitality and service industries—have probably been told a number of conflicting things about taxes over the years. Declare your cash tips. Don’t declare your cash tips. Your tips cannot be taxed. You owe a tax liability at the end of the year. The varying narratives we’re given about how to manage our income can be confusing at best, and financially harmful at worst. My guest today is Tiani Wright, a tax professional and founder of the group Coffee and Tax, and she wants to help coffee folks get financially literate. As she explains, a lot of that has to do with being open to talking about money in the first place. Tiani encourages people to get to know their pay stubs, to ask questions about their W2s, and to make sure their bosses are deducting the right amount of money from their paychecks. Being financially literate means being in control of your future, and knowing where your money is going. And Tiani has the advice to help you get there.
March 02, 2021
Crafting a Concept Bar with Melissa Stinson of Everybody's Busy 
To walk into Everybody’s Busy is to walk into a precisely curated space—like a gallery, but without pretension. The coffee, supplied by Onyx Coffee Lab, is spot-on; the menu design changes monthly and reflects a deep love of music; the speakers are always playing something fun, selected by the shop’s owner, Melissa Stinson. This is the second time I’ve sat down and recorded with Melissa, and we’re revisiting a few of the themes we covered in the first episode, including our local coffee scene—we’re based in Chicago—and what it means to make something totally unique to you. In that conversation, we lamented that, for such a big city, there’s not as many coffee shops as you might expect. There are definitely folks opening interesting and fun shops, but Chicago is the third largest city in the nation—and there’s room for more. Way more. But recently, we were spurred to record again after we noticed something promising happening: Despite the fact that COVID-19 has devastated the local dining scene, a number of new coffee shops have been opening across the city, many of which are run by people of color. Along with a commentary on Chicago’s current coffee landscape, Melissa and I talk about being value-driven, and what it means to have a vision for your business. I reiterate a theme that came up in our first recording: No one else but Melissa could have made Everybody’s Busy, and her vision shows through in every detail and decision. Our conversation is more a swapping of thoughts than a traditional interview, so if you want to hear two coffee folks try to dig into the reasons why their city and its coffee culture are so peculiar and idiosyncratic, you’ve picked the right time to tune in.
February 24, 2021
Building a Staple Business with Shanelle County of Standard Pour 
This episode is brought to you by The Barista League. Register for High Density today! “It’s almost five o’clock, and Darlene and I just realized we haven’t even eaten today. It’s been such a wonderful day, such a busy day, but we’ve just been constantly in motion that we didn’t even stop to eat.” The person you just heard was Shanelle County, co-founder of Standard Pour, a new coffee shop in Valley Stream, Long Island. Shanelle reached out to me just a few weeks before the soft opening of her business, and I asked her to capture some snippets from those early days of its existence—the moments of excitement, struggle, and gratitude as they happened in real time. The story of how Shanelle’s business came to be spans just a few weeks in the summer of 2020, starting from the very first time her cousin and business partner Darlene posed the idea to the day Standard Pour opened its doors. Throughout this experience, Shanelle has contended with all types of new feelings, many of which we document in this episode. “It’s been about a week since the grand opening. And I think things finally feel like normal. Yes, it’s like we finally could think about the business and how it runs day-to-day. In our first month so much has happened, and it was like the first hurdle was getting to the soft opening and then from the soft opening to the grand opening and all the things we wanted between the two end points. It’s actually kind of funny to see, to even think about how much we’ve had to take our vision and stick with the vision, but pivot during the process. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s been fun.” I’m always interested in the moments we remember and the ones we forget, and the unreliability of memory. I wanted this episode to be about Shanelle, and also to paint a portrait of a distinct chapter in her life. When I mentioned this idea to Shanelle, she was gracious enough with her time to capture fleeting impressions and experiences—some from her, and some from customers—during the grand opening. The result is both a traditional interview—we recorded this conversation just as Shanelle was closing up shop one day in December 2020, and you might catch the hum of refrigerators behind her—and also features clips from both Shanelle and customers of the shop scattered throughout. I hope you enjoy this one-of-a-kind episode. Think of it as an interview with an incredible new business owner, but also as a meditation on memory. Here’s Shanelle.
February 16, 2021
On Lotteries and Scholarships with Mansi Chokshi 
Every year, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) hosts a conference called Sensory Summit, where coffee folks come together and explore wild ideas about taste. I went one year, back when I was the online editor for Barista Magazine, and tasted some of the most bizarre, unexpected, and wonderful things I’ve ever had. For this year’s conference, the SCA announced that it would give out a certain number of scholarships so a handful of people could attend the virtual event for free. And instead of making folks apply for the program, they were entered into a lottery, and scholarships were doled out randomly. I wanted to learn more—not just about this idea, but about the person behind it. And that’s Mansi Chokshi. She’s the regional community director for the SCA, and has been with the organization since it was known as the Speciality Coffee Association of America, or SCAA—back before the American chapter merged with its European counterpart. In this episode, we talk about building community within what has become coffee’s biggest trade organization. When Mansi started at the SCA, she had no coffee experience, but was determined to learn what exactly coffee people needed. And learn she did. One the very first things she did when she joined was to sit down with members and ask, “What do you need from us? What do you need from a trade organization?” She continues to ask these questions, heralding new scholarship programs and sitting on the board of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA). Even this far into her tenure, she’s still always asking questions, and making sure she’s listening to the communities she’s working for. I recorded this episode just a few days before my conversation with Chris McAuley of getchusomegear, and the two discussions address serendipitously similar topics. Both Chris and Mansi hit on themes of reciprocity—that’s one of the reasons Mansi pushed to eliminate the application process for Sensory Summit scholarships—and both are attuned to the needs of those around them. As Mansi points out, community development doesn’t mean much if the change isn’t driven by and for the communities themselves. What makes so many of the initiatives that Mansi has launched so impactful—like the Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Scholarship, which gives five coffee professionals two years’ worth of mentoring and paid professional development—is that she’s always ready to adapt. Just a quick note: We had a few issues with recording this episode, and did so entirely on our phones, so there are some parts that sound a little shuffly. We cleaned up most of the weird sounds, but just a heads up if you hear some background noises. Here’s Mansi.
February 09, 2021
Solving Problems of Leadership With David Hu 
Hi, friends. A quick note before we get started: This is a re-release of an episode I did in November 2019, and features David Hu, former owner of The Peccary, a coffee shop in New Jersey. I wanted to re-release this episode for two reasons. One: David is an incredible resource, and I regularly turn to social media for his insights (you can follow him @the.david.hu). Second: I’m preparing a presentation on how to advocate for yourself at work as part of a coffee conference called High Density, hosted by The Barista League, and the topics raised in our conversation have informed much of my recent thinking. My talk focuses on the ways that baristas and other service workers can stand up for themselves, and learn about the laws and protections in place to safeguard their rights. As I’ve researched and prepared for it, I keep coming back to lessons that David shared in his episode, and I think it’s required listening for anyone who has ever held a leadership position. Essentially, he asks folks to step outside of themselves, be humble, and truly do good for the people around them. My talk is just one of the dozens of events, panels, and demonstrations happening at High Density, which is a free and 100% digital coffee conference like none other I’ve ever encountered. The conference takes place on March 9 and features an international program of speakers including Gwilym Davies, Kat Melheim, Freda Yuan, Lem Butler, and Vava Angwenyi. A number of folks who I’ve interviewed for Boss Barista are presenting, and I’m so excited to be part of this worldwide event. You can learn more by going to The Barista League’s website or by following them on Instagram. Before you jump into my conversation with David, know that we’ve changed up a few things at Boss Barista since we recorded this episode, so some things might sound a little different. Rest assured, though, that the content and lessons are more applicable now than ever. Here we go.
January 26, 2021
Chris McAuley Wants To Give You Things 
Let’s say you’re trying to get good at playing the guitar. Maybe you’re taking a class, or you have a tutor. How do you get improve? You practice—and a lot of that practice involves going home, sitting alone with your instrument, and taking time to work through every new skill or small snag: a couple of chords, finger placements, some tricky pieces of music. Now imagine you don’t have a guitar at home. When would you practice? Would you get as good if you were only able to play at school, or with your teacher? It’s possible—but it’s not likely. Now let’s apply this example to the service industry. How do you get better at cooking, or making pastries, or making coffee? You practice. And in an ideal world, you’d have everything you need within reach—the space, the equipment, the resources—in order to improve day by day. Chris McAuley is the founder of getchusomegear, an organization that gives away free coffee equipment to marginalized baristas. The idea first dawned on Chris when he noticed a pattern: He knew plenty of baristas who were eager to learn, but who—despite their enthusiasm—were slower to gain new skills, simply because they didn’t have anything to brew with at home. Since its inception, getchusomegear has shipped hundreds of boxes across the United States, expanded to Canada, and started a secondary shipping hub in Los Angeles. He and his team have worked with coffee businesses to fund grants, have helped folks with their resumes, and have created a system that normalizes mutual aid and redistribution of resources. Perhaps what’s most telling about Chris and his mission for getchusomegear is that there is no expectation of reciprocity. You don’t have to give anything back, or commit to loan repayments. You simply state your need, and Chris and the getchusomegear team—which has expanded to educators and organizers across the country—will do their best to get you a box. In addition to addressing the gap in equipment needs, getchusomegear also confronts the information gap. As Chris says in this episode, many have a tendency, across domains and disciplines, to hold information back, to hoard knowledge and not share it with others. In our hyper-competitive society, knowledge is often treated as its own commodity, an entity that can grant power and which must be protected. But when information is guarded, people—often people of marginalized groups—are left to scale the impossible barriers built by these gatekeepers. It’s unfair, and Chris is doing his best to break down those walls. Just a quick note before we begin: I noticed a factual error on my part. About seven minutes into the conversation, Chris and I are talking about our early coffee jobs and I mentioned that my first job had a Mazzer Super Jolly—the source of those clack clack clack sounds you’ll hear Chris and I make later. I was misremembering: It was at my second job that we had a Swift grinder and a Super Jolly. At my first job, we had a Mahlkönig that I think was K30, which we were not allowed to change the dial-in on. Now, on to the show.
January 19, 2021
Zoe Muellner and Robert Penner of the Colectivo Collective Take Action 
In the last three years, there have been a number of unionizing efforts within the coffee industry. Baristas across the United States have come together to organize and demand accountability from their leaders. They’ve expressed the need to have a voice in decisions such as hiring and firing calls, wage increases, and workplace conditions. We’ve covered a number of those efforts on previous episodes of Boss Barista. From the Gimme! Coffee Union in New York to the Slow Bloom Coffee Cooperative (formerly known as the Augie’s Coffee Union), we’ve heard stories from coffee workers and organizers about the many ways in which those in power are threatened by collective action. Not a single one of these unionizing efforts has been without strife or difficulty. The Gimme! Union folks were in negotiation with leadership for half a year before their union contract was ratified. All the baristas at Augie’s Coffee were fired. Mighty Good, which is a coffee shop in Ann Arbor, initially recognized the union started by its baristas, which formed after one of its employees, Nya Njee, shared that she was being paid less than her white colleagues, many of whom were hired after she was. Months later, the owners of Mighty Good shut down its retail locations and fired all baristas. But there is hope in all this. More and more baristas are fighting for their rights, realizing the power of collective action and bargaining. Though unions may have a difficult reputation among workers for any number of reasons, at their core, they’re meant to help elevate the voices of those not in power, and to give space to workers who are often at the mercy of employers without any support networks. Today, we’re chatting with two folks in the midst of a union battle—Zoe Muellner and Robert Penner of the Colectivo Collective. Consisting of baristas and other employees both in Chicago and Milwaukee, the union is still fighting for recognition by providing information to employees and garnering support from customers and local representatives. In this episode, we talk about how unionizing efforts began, and what it feels like for your leaders to deny your concerns and complaints. The folks at Colectivo have highlighted the myriad ways their worries have been dismissed and their safety put on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the union folks are attempting to bring accountability to their leaders and find a voice in the collective. Although they’re fighting for a better workplace for themselves, they’re also using social media to dispel common misconceptions about unions, and to keep folks informed and updated on ways to organize in their own workplaces. If you want to hear more from the folks we mentioned above, as well as other coffee unions, check out our episodes with the Gimme! Coffee Union, Nya Njee, WACWA (the union formed by the Mighty Good baristas), Tartine Union, and the Slow Bloom Coffee Cooperative.
January 12, 2021
Crystal Graham and Toni Dale of On The Go Jo Will Find a Way or Make One 
This episode is full of laughter and joy, and shared moments of growth and reflection. On The Go Jo is a coffee company based in Chicago, Illinois. Founded by three friends—Crystal Graham, Toni Dale, and Quiana DeBerry—the business started out as a mobile coffee cart and has since expanded to a bustling e-commerce site whose reach extends well beyond Chicago city limits. In this episode, I chat with Crystal and Toni, and we talk about how On The Go Jo came to be. The two met in college, and their story is a tale about the serendipity of paths intertwining. While describing their mission for On The Go Jo—which is to empower women across the coffee supply stream, and to showcase beautiful coffees for their customers—they also share how they’ve grown together, both as business partners and as friends. Growth has been a necessary part of running the business. Crystal, Toni, and Quiana, do everything—literally everything. They source coffee, they roast, they work on packaging, and they invest in their community. At one point, Crystal reflects on how they’ve been able to be so industrious and creative: She lives by her school—Clark Atlanta University—motto: “I will find a way or make one.” There’s so much good stuff in this conversation, from what it means to recalibrate your business during a pandemic to how to set values and intentions for your work. What always fascinates me in observing partnerships like Crystal and Toni’s is how adept they are at empowering one another, and how through that continued support—which takes the form of pushing each other, identifying the other’s strengths, and supporting each other during tough times—they’ve been able to fully execute their vision. That approach isn’t just limited to their own working relationship. They’re also deeply connected with the folks they source coffee from, and are incredibly close with their customers and fans. And each bag of coffee you buy from On The Go Jo supports local social initiatives, which change every month. As you listen to their story, I’d encourage you to reflect on the people who make up your own community. Maybe you have a business or creative partner, or even just someone you work closely with. We don’t often take time to think about how these relationships impact us in daily life and make us better, but I hope this conversation helps you make space for the people who truly build you up. Here are Crystal and Toni.
January 05, 2021
Michelle Stoler and the Million Reasons to Buy Coffee 
What makes a great coffee? When we talk about food, drinks, and other agricultural products, our metric of goodness is typically based on visceral experience. We can taste it, smell it, and otherwise perceive markers of quality through our five senses. In coffee, quality is also equated with the experimental and the rare—a coffee processed in a new way, or a highly-sought-after varietal, is imbued with value. But what if we were to shift our understanding of goodness, and what makes it? What if, for instance, we prized a coffee that was sustainably sourced? I don’t just mean that the coffee was sustainably grown: I mean that the coffee, throughout the lifetime of not just the bean itself but the relationships built between buyer and seller, was bought and sold in a way that was fair and equitable to all involved. Coffee is an incredibly risky plant to harvest. It is highly dependent on the environment, so a late rainfall or unseasonably warm weather can wreak havoc on the flavor of a bean. For most coffee professionals, this isn’t news. But what might be revelatory is thinking about how to redistribute the risk involved in growing coffee across the supply stream. Much of the risk in growing coffee is assumed by the farmer. If a crop fails or a coffee underperforms, that almost always translates to a farmer getting paid less—or not getting paid at all. Michelle Stoler works for Shared Source, a green coffee importer, purchaser of parchment coffee, and exporter who works in Portland, Oregon. She thinks a lot about risk, and how it might be shared. In this episode, we explore what it means for more actors within the coffee supply stream to assume risk, and the good that can come from taking that unique burden off farmers. We also talk about the coffee industry’s obsession with pricing—not just paying farmers more, but its focus on where the money goes. If we pay a farmer a set price for coffee, why do we need to justify that price by pointing to the investment they made in their community? Why isn’t the work put into cultivating the coffee justification enough? After listening to this episode, I hope you take a moment to set your values, and to probe your own assumptions. What makes a coffee great? As Michelle points out, the default is to fall back on quality—but there are a million other ways to gauge, and reasons to buy, a coffee. By setting clear values, more roasters and importers can help assume the risk that we almost singlehandedly put on farmers, which is unfair, unjust, and a relic of the colonial roots of coffee’s past.
December 30, 2020
Valeria Taylor of Loba Pastry + Coffee is Hungry Like the Wolf 
Ask anyone here: If you come to Chicago, you have to go to Loba Pastry + Coffee. For the coffee, but also for the food: Loba goes well beyond the typical muffin or croissant options that you would expect to find at most coffee shops. Instead, it boasts a pastry menu that is both highly creative and technically ambitious. Valeria Taylor is the owner and baker behind Loba. “Loba” is Spanish for “female wolf,” and Valeria named the shop after a particular wolf, the ’06 Female. Scientists studied the ’06 Female after releasing a pack in Yellowstone Park for observation, and were completely baffled by her behaviors. She refused to settle for a mate, at one time courting five potential suitors. She outsmarted packs of rival wolves. Instead of hunting for prey in the shadows, she faced her opponents head-on, rushing towards her intended targets. She could take down an entire elk by herself. Like the ’06 Female, Valeria defies stereotypes. In a way, she’s the ultimate MacGyver, taking whatever situation life hands her and finding a solution. Her story is full of twists and turns, and moments where she chooses to confront a problem with the full force of her personality. Throughout it all, Valeria trusts herself—she knows her worth and talent, and doesn’t back down. That isn’t to say that she hasn’t confronted challenges and failures, but Valeria is the first to admit that she’s better because of her mistakes, and the moments that have offered growth and change. Valeria is refreshingly confident, joyous and funny, and bracingly honest and transparent. You’re going to have fun with this episode.
December 15, 2020
Iyasu Dusé of the True Community Foundation on Small Moments of Kindness 
A note—we talk about mental health and illness extensively throughout this episode. If that’s something you don’t want to hear about, you might want to skip this episode. Iyasu Dusé is the founder of the True Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to end childhood hunger and dispel misconceptions around mental health. These two issues might not seem to have much in common, but as Iyasu discusses in this episode, everything is connected—including his larger mission and the work he does in and around coffee. Iyasu is also the founder of Dusé Coffee, and it was always part of his plan to incorporate coffee into his community service work. For Iyasu, coffee shops are more than places to sip well-made drinks—more, even, than community hubs. Coffee itself is a platform for social change. Even in the simplest ways—from a sign in the window welcoming everyone in to a message printed on a bag of beans—coffee has the potential to promote wider societal change. Though Iyasu’s goals might seem far-reaching and monumental, he’s also a proponent of small moments of change. With members of the True Community Foundation, he visits coffee shops and passes out messages of encouragement to patrons. To hand someone a piece of paper that says, “You are enough” and “You are loved” can make a difference in someone else’s day, someone else’s life. What unites both his bigger goals and smaller initiatives is that they center around coffee—which is unsurprising, given that Iyasu recognizes and utilizes the vast potential coffee has to change the world. As you listen to this episode, I hope you feel inspired to go back to the coffee shop you either work in or frequent and find a way to spark change—and share kindness. One more note: Please listen all the way through this episode for updates on some of the projects we chat about. Since we recorded this episode, some of the dates of a few of these projects have shifted.
December 08, 2020
Carlos Sims Jr. of Happy Home Coffee Roasters on Moments of Action 
Life is especially hard right now. We’re in the ninth month of a global pandemic, the days are getting shorter and colder and darker, and the dread of the current moment can sometimes feel paralyzing. Against that backdrop, how do you take a step forward in any direction—and how do you know if that step is right? The short answer is that, even though you can’t know the results before you start moving, taking a step in any direction is often enough to shake something loose. Carlos Sims Jr. believes in action—in forward motion, in building momentum, and in taking steps to actualize the vision of the world he wants to create. Carlos’ enterprising attitude is not without consideration. He’s the owner of Happy Home Coffee Roasters, a business centered around his identity as a family man. His children are on the bags of coffee beans, his family proudly displayed on the company’s homepage. He’s had to make a lot of careful decisions about who he is and how he wants to share his story, eschewing trends or fears about what’s “cool” to create a business that feels true to him. Carlos is a fanny-pack-touting, minivan-driving dad, and you’ll hear us talk about what it means to be your authentic self. We spend this episode swapping stories, waxing poetic about the less-than-glamorous aspects of a shared childhood in Florida (him in Jacksonville, me in Miami), and talking a lot about action. We also discuss how to make your dreams and projects tangible. Risk is scary, life is uncertain, but the exciting thing about action—about taking a step in any direction—is the guarantee that something, that change, is about to happen.
December 01, 2020
Areli Barrera de Grodski of Little Waves Lives in the Meta 
It’s hard not to picture it, once you hear the name: little waves lapping on the sand. Water rushing in between your toes. The warmth of the sun on your shoulders. An abiding feeling of calm. Areli Barrera de Grodski came up with the name Little Waves in a text message. She’s the co-owner and founder of the roastery and its accompanying retail locations, Cocoa Cinnamon, in Durham, North Carolina. She’s admittedly shy, someone who describes herself as quiet and reserved, but she relishes moments of awareness and noticing—she describes herself as “being comfortable in the meta.” When I think of Little Waves, I also think of a number: 230. That’s the number of retail coffee bags the roastery needs to sell every day to keep the doors open. After the novel coronavirus shut down coffee shops across the globe, Areli and her partner, Leon, went immediately into planning and preservation mode. They figured out exactly how much business they needed to do, down to the day, to keep their business going without laying off any employees. In this conversation, we oscillate between the meta and the concrete. Some of the topics we discuss are straightforward, some are weird and obscure, and most land somewhere in the middle. Just to get a little meta here myself, breaking down assumptions is why I love interviewing people and asking questions—there’s always more behind every story. And in this interview, we do just that: we break down assumptions and learn more behind the story of Little Waves. You can read a transcription of this interview here.
November 18, 2020
Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas Dream Big 
‘Sonder’ is one of those words you don’t hear often. It’s a noun, and it means, “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness.” And it feels sort of right that this word would be used to describe the experience of going to a coffee shop. Coffee shops are universal meeting places, places you can sit, watch people come in and out, meet new friends, and contemplate the pace of life. Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas are the co-owners of Sip & Sonder in Inglewood in Los Angeles. They chose to incorporate the word ‘sonder’ into the name of their coffee shop because their space is SO MUCH more than just a place to get coffee. It’s a neighborhood meeting zone, a shop that residents can claim as their own. It’s meant to reflect the needs of the community they’re in. I first chatted with Shanita and Amanda in 2018, where they shared their initial mission for Sip & Sonder. Shanita and Amanda met in New York, working as lawyers at a firm in Manhattan. Quickly they discovered that their dreams, although seemingly dissimilar, actually aligned perfectly. Together, they dreamed big and decided to combine their visions and open up a coffee shop in California. Before they ever opened or served coffee, Shanita and Amanda focused on community and place-making. They started the LA Black Investors Club, bridging the gap between Black creators and access to capital. They partnered with local businesses, folks who later become their neighbors. And they continue to operate their space with an ever-evolving lens, focusing on what they need, what their community needs, right now, in real-time. In a way, ‘sonder’ is the perfect word to attribute to them. They’re always looking outward, always discovering something new—even in this conversation. This is an interview to listen to that’ll make you feel rejuvenated and motivated. Hopefully, it’ll encourage you to look outward and wonder about the complex lives of others. Here are Shanita and Amanda:
October 25, 2020
Rachel Northrop Asks, "Who Is The C-Market For?" 
Hi friends, this is part two of a conversation with Rachel Northrop, freelance writer and PhD student about coffee markets. If you haven’t listened to part one, I highly suggest you do since a lot of this won’t make sense. But just a quick recap—in part one, we talked about how coffee is traded, how contracts for trading coffee work, and what a coffee futures market looks like. Most of what we talked about was foundational, explaining the history of commodity markets and their original intent. In part two, we now talk about their application: how do coffee markets affect the actual price of coffee? Why is the commodity price for coffee far, far below the cost of producing coffee? Coffee is traded at around $1 per pound, but the cost to produce coffee is often two to three times that amount—how does that work? This is where we move past the theoretical and move to impact and talk about the way markets are designed to exploit the labor of others, oftentimes exploiting the labor of people in countries that have been colonized by those in power. Rachel mentions this a few times during our conversation, but she’s not a coffee trader, rather a writer and inquisitive member of the coffee industry, and she spends a long time breaking down really, really complex ideas. I hope you learn as much as I did from her candid discussion. Here’s Rachel.
October 16, 2020
Rachel Northrop Breaks Down the C-Market 
I’ve been in the coffee industry for almost ten years. For most of that time, very pompously, I had this idea that I had seen it all—I’ve been a barista, I’ve been a manager, I’ve trained people how to make coffee, I’ve written about coffee. But there’s a part of the industry that I really, really don’t know much about—how coffee is bought and sold. Coffee is in crisis. It’s been in crisis for years—the commodity market price of coffee hovers around a dollar per pound, which is significantly under the price it costs to grow and harvest coffee—and that’s not even taking into account seasonal dips in production or investment in infrastructure, let alone any sort of profit to actually pay the farmers and people who pick coffee. That’d be like a restaurant selling a plate of food and taking a loss on the labor of the cooks, the people who work in the restaurant, and the price that the food costs to begin with. We point to the commodity price of coffee a lot—it’s easy to find, you can google it, but what I wanted to understand is why this number matters. Where does it come from, and why is it so important? So I asked someone who I thought might know. Rachel Northrop is a freelance writer pursuing a PhD at the University of Miami. When we recorded this episode, she was working as the content manager for Ally Coffee, an importing company based in Greenville, South Carolina. Rachel, who lives in Miami, is a curious person, first and foremost. In 2012, she published a book called When Coffee Speaks, chronicling the stories of coffee workers in Central and South America. At the time, she had just left her job as a teacher in New York, and when she told the folks she was interviewing that she lived in New York, they asked her about coffee prices. Coffee is traded in New York, so what could she tell them? At the time, not a lot—but Rachel, being a curious reporter, decided to try to find out. And in a way, this has been a project of hers for the last eight years. Rachel is incredibly knowledgeable, and she explains so much about how coffee markets work, what prices mean that we had to break it up into two episodes. So you’re gonna hear part one, where Rachel talks about the history of the commodities exchange market and what it was meant to do. Something that Rachel clarifies is that her explanation of how markets work isn’t a defense of markets, or a claim of their moral value—which we get way more into in part two of this episode—but she notes that to understand why markets work the way they do, we have to understand why they were created, and perhaps contemplate that, for as ill-equipped as market prices are for valuing coffee at a fair price, we have to understand who markets were designed for before we can begin to break them apart. Here’s Rachel.
October 16, 2020
Tiani Wright on Getting to Know Your Taxes 
Coffee workers—or really anyone who has ever worked in service or earned tips as part of their wages—has likely been told a number of conflicting things about taxes. Declare your cash tips. Don’t declare your cash tips. Your tips cannot be taxed. You owe a tax liability at the end of the year. The varying narratives we’ve been told about taxes can be confusing at best, and financially harmful at worst. My guest today is Tiani Wright, a tax professional and founder of the group Coffee and Tax. Tiani wants to help coffee folks get financially literate, and a lot of that has to do with being open about talking about money. Tiani encourages people to get to know their pay stubs, ask questions about their W2’s, make sure their bosses are deducting the right amount of money from their wages. Being financially literate means being in control of your financial future, and knowing where your money is going.
October 02, 2020
Korie Pickett on Being Genuine and Bold 
In this episode, I’m talking to Korie Pickett. Korie is a creative in the coffee world and finds ways to uplift and support other creatives. She’s the founder of Queen Spirit Magazine, which is described as for creatives, by creatives, and she’s also the guest editor of Issue Ten of Coffee People Zine. Coffee People Zine has always been a place for coffee folks to express their creativity. It was born out of a desire to showcase the other work coffee people do outside of their jobs. This issue features solely the work of Black creatives. This issue highlights work from Black coffee professionals along with spotlighting Black-owned businesses. There have been Instagram lives with some of the people profiled, and there’s a collaboration between Coffee People and Cxffeeblack—who were guests on the show a few months ago. To put it simply, there’s a ton of amazing work and creative projects attached to this issue, and Korie has been at the forefront, pushing forward. You’ll hear from Korie what working on this project was like. For her, it was a balance. There was so much energizing creative inspiration, but there’s also the weight of putting together such an emotionally charged issue. What Korie wants you to take away, as you’ll hear in this episode, is the joy and vibrancy that comes through the work. That’ll come through on the page for sure, as you’re holding this issue, flipping through the pages. But there’s also a creative spirit, a connection, that happens when you’re behind the scenes, putting something together that’s meant to be shared with others. Korie felt that deeply, and I hope by listening to this episode you feel that same energy emanating from Korie, and can connect even more thoroughly to this latest issue.
September 25, 2020
Ian Williams Breaks Away From The Ordinary 
If there’s ever been a wild wild west of podcast interviews on this show, this might be the one. I’m recording with my friend, Ian Williams. He’s the owner of Deadstock Coffee in Portland, Oregon, which is a coffee and sneaker-theme shop. There’s no other feeling like walking into Deadstock—you’re always greeted by the baristas, customers and staff clearly know each other well, and the space invites a lot of discussions, a lot of back and forth. “Yes, this is a sneaker-themed coffee shop, no the shoes are not for sale, yes we will put a stencil of a sneaker in your hot chocolate.” The conversation I have with Ian is a singularity, kind of like Deadstock itself. No one else could have opened Deadstock. No one else could have created the environment that Deadstock has, and we talk a lot about this—about the source of originality, especially in coffee, where it feels like every new shop opening has the same aesthetic. Ian has been roasting coffee for Deadstock for a few years and recently kicked off a campaign called “Coffee Should Do Better,” which we get into, but for the most part, this interview is two friends shooting the shit. Ian’s computer keeps beeping, I’m eating stale bread for some reason, we make fun of each other a few times, there’s a rotating cast of characters. It’s fun, but it’s also illuminating, and grounded in the current moment. We recorded this episode about five months after COVID-19 forced many coffee shops to close, but Ian’s business is different. It’s thriving. And people are asking him why. There’s no one answer, but it starts with breaking away from the cookie-cutter model of what a coffee shop needs to be. Here’s Ian.
September 17, 2020
Vava Angwenyi on COFFEEMILKBLOOD 
In her new book, COFFEEMILKBOOK, Vava Angwenyi tells the stories of coffee producers. Stories about coffee are often told by importers, roasters, and consumers—the narrative is about "the foreigner looking in." Vava is going to change that. COFFEEMILKBLOOD uses Vava's own personal history and the stories of others living in coffee-producing countries. Brilliantly told alongside stunning photographs, Vava challenges you not just to question the stories you hear, but question who gets to tell them. Pre-order the book here! Listen all the way to the end to hear about Vava's experiences with the Specialty Coffee Association, and read her open letter to the organization here. You can listen Vava's last interview on Boss Barista by scrolling through the archives for Episode 048—Vava Angwenyi is Deconolizng Empowerment.
September 10, 2020
APPLY TO BE A GLITTER CAT
In this special episode, T. Ben Grimm and I walk through the Glitter Cat application process! IF YOU LOVE COFFEE AND WANT TO LEARN MORE, YOU SHOULD APPLY! Glitter Cat is a non-profit organization that provides free resources to baristas who want to compete in coffee competitions—every year, baristas from around the United States come together to show off their coffee skills in a number of different competitions, and Glitter Cat specifically lowers the barrier to entry for people of marginalized identities by providing coaching, financial assistance, and a support network of other coffee folks invested in improving the coffee industry. And this year, they're going digital! This isn't the first time we've had T. Ben on the show. Listen to him talk more about Glitter Cat and how he once almost broke a Denny's.
September 04, 2020
Smayah Uwajeneza On Her Passion for Rwandan Coffee 
Smayah Uwajeneza has a story like many of us do. She wanted to save money for school, so she began working in a cafe, and then found her passion for coffee through connecting coffee drinkers in Rwanda, where she’s from and is currently based, with the women who grow their coffee. Along with being the Head Barista at Question Coffee in Kigali, Smayah leads tours of co-ops and helps folks make connections between what’s in their cup and the people that make drinking coffee possible. Along with her work at Question Coffee, Smayah is a LEAD Scholar, a program led by the Specialty Coffee Association to increase diversity in leadership in coffee, also a full-time law student, and is passionate about promoting coffees from Rwanda and generating that same passion she has amongst coffee drinkers in the country. In this episode, we weave both Smayah’s journey in coffee with the history of coffee in Rwanda, and Smayah shows how powerful it is to bring these moments of connection closer.
August 25, 2020
The Augie's Coffee Union and the Rhetoric of "Family" 
On July 4th, Augie’s Coffee, which is a branch of five coffee shops in the Inland Empire region of California, announced that they would be closing their retail locations. They made this announcement on social media and cited concerns because of COVID-19 as the reason they were closing their doors. And because of the stores closing, they were also laying off 54 members of their retail staff. However, just a week prior, on June 26th, dozens of Augie’s employees were sitting in a town hall with the owners of Augie’s Coffee. Co-owners and father/son duo Austin and Andy Amento, listened to concerns from employees about the way the company was handling the coronavirus—remember the cafe shut down in July, almost four months after shelter-in-place order became widespread across the nation. They also expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of wage increases and job security they felt at work. Unionizing was a way to make their concerns heard. In this episode, I talk to two members of the Augie’s Union—the union has yet to be recognized by the Amentos. Brianda Medina and Jina Edwards have worked for Augie’s for years: Brianda for eight and Jina for two and a half, and they tell us what it’s like to try to improve their workplace, a company they’ve been part of for years—and how little contact they’ve had with ownership. It’s funny that Augie’s is a family-run company, because the use of the term “family” when it comes to employing people—telling them you care about them like they’re your family, or that we all work together as a family—comes up a lot, and I imagine this isn’t unique to Augie’s. By forming a union and then losing their jobs, the former employees of Augie’s had to contend with what that actually meant, and whose interests are really being protected in situations where one person holds all the power.
August 06, 2020
Sarina Prabasi On Café Spaces as Centers for Community Action 
This entire conversation started with a tweet. I was working on a story about coffeeshops and their historical place in society—as gathering places, communal spaces to share ideas or areas to come together and engage in community action. I asked a question about this, and Sarina Prabasi tweeted back at me: “I wrote a book exactly on this topic.” Sarina Prabasi is the co-owner of Buunni Coffee in New York City, and as I mentioned, she wrote a book about her experiences called The Coffeehouse Resistance: Brewing Hope in Desperate Times. By the time I ordered the book and started reading, my story had been killed—which is unfortunate—but it was worth going on a journey of pitching this story, doing research, getting connected with Sarina because it led me to her book. Sarina’s book is nothing like I expected, which you’ll hear her talk about in this interview. It’s autobiographical, and we hear about Sarina’s childhood growing up in Nepal and then going to school in the United States, then drinking coffee in Ethiopia, getting married, and coming back to the United States—all before she even talks about opening a cafe. But it all comes together. Sarina brilliantly builds these momentous personal experiences to a point—the point where she decided that her cafe could be a center for collective action. In this episode, we chronicle her book, and we also talk about the things left on the cutting room floor. Sarina and her husband, Elias, entered the specialty coffee world after being in Ethiopia for years—Elias is from Ethiopia, and Sarina worked there for years, and that’s where they met—and found a pretty homogenous industry, one that didn’t speak to their experiences. We’ll also talk about how COVID-19 has affected the efficacy of coffee shops as gathering places, and what you can do to activate community change and organizing within your cafe. Here’s Sarina.
July 30, 2020
Cxffeeblack's Renata Henderson and Bartholomew Jones on Making Connections 
I’m honored to have two guests on the show today—Bartholomew Jones and Renata Henderson of Cxffeeblack. To say that Cxffeeblack is a coffee roasting company is an understatement. Cxffeeblack is a brand, an educational platform, a music outlet, an informative podcast, connecting the ancestral history of coffee to the modern day. Renata and Bartholomew, who are married and raising two children in Memphis, Tennessee, didn’t just aim to start a business, but set off on a mission to impact social change. “The cxffee plant was stolen from Africa in 1616 by two Dutch spies. Three years later the first stolen black bodies landed in Jamestown Virginia.” This is written on the back of each bag of Guji Mane, an Ethiopian coffee from the Sidamo region that Cxffeeblack sells on their website. In this episode, we talk a lot about intent and self-knowledge. Both Renata and Bartholomew tie both their own personal histories and the colonial history of coffee to the current state of the specialty coffee industry and challenge how we view and consume coffee. It's actually hard to summarize this episode because Renata and Batholomew touch upon so many big ideas, and what makes this episode special is the clear connection the two have built together. For so many people, the memories of coffee they have growing up—as an occasion to gather with family and share stories—doesn’t match up with what the specialty coffee landscape actually looks like. This episode is about making connections. Both the tangible, like what does it mean when specialty coffee doesn’t reflect the experiences of its members—in particular Black people, who coffee was stolen from—and abstract connections, like how identity and life experience manifest in the art and creative endeavors we take on. Cxffeeblack is a creative enterprise, and much of that energy comes from the connection and freedom of expression Renata and Bartholomew have made.
July 17, 2020
Ciera Young On Getting Mortgage-Ready, Part Two 
This is part two of my interview with Ciera Young, owner of Mama’s Brew in Houston, Texas. Part one was originally recorded for the Matchbook Coffee Project podcast, so in part two, we dig deeper into the meaning of specialty coffee and why Ciera rejects that label for her own coffee roasting business. I’d strongly suggest listening to part one before you listen to this episode—we talk about Ciera’s background and entry into coffee in part one, and jump directly into it in part two. Here’s Ciera.
June 27, 2020
Ciera Young On The Recalibration of Coffee, Part One 
As some of you know, I work with a group of people called The Matchbook Coffee Project. Every month, we team up with a roaster and give them complete creative control over a coffee—they choose how they want to roast their coffee, what the bag label looks like, and a unique piece of swag meant to represent something about them. This episode is sort of a hybrid between Matchbook and Boss Barista. Ciera Yong is the owner of Mama’s Brew in Houston, Texas, and she’s the July featured roaster for Matchbook. When we first chatted about recording, Ciera touched upon so many big themes that we decided we’d not only air her Matchbook interview on this channel, but we’d do a follow-up interview going deeper into some of the ideas she puts forth. So what you’re about to hear is part one of a two-part episode. Part one is recorded specifically for Matchbook, so we talk about Ciera’s background in coffee and how she went from brewing coffee for her friends in her dorm to starting her own business. As the interview goes on, Ciera pushes on the definition of specialty coffee, and why she, a Black business owner with a background in both large scale quality control and small-batch roasting, doesn’t want to be labeled “specialty.” And that’s where episode two will pick up. The second of this two-part episode was recorded specifically for you, the Boss Barista listeners. We’ll go deeper on what it means to label yourself as a member of the specialty coffee community, and how exclusionary practices are embedded in the fabric of our industry—and what folks like Ciera are doing with their businesses to bring more people in and actively pursue equity. So here’s part one of our interview, which again was recorded for Matchbook so you’ll hear an intro that refers to the project. And part two is already waiting for you to listen when you’re done. Please enjoy!
June 27, 2020
Jake King and Connan Moody Provide Free Coffee Training for Baristas 
There is a lot of work that goes into learning how to make coffee. Learning how a machine works or making a great pour over or how to steam milk—there’s a lot to take in. And sometimes, learning how to make coffee can be sort of daunting. Usually, when you become a barista, skills are transferred through big establishments. First, you usually have to work in a coffee shop, and then you get trained by either someone who works at the cafe or by a roasting company—and there aren’t many options otherwise to actually learn more about coffee. Gyst is changing that. Gyst Coffee Training, which is based in Atlanta, wants to teach people how to make coffee on their own terms. Gyst was started by Jake King and Connan Moody, and their goal was to make training accessible to anyone. All trainings are free and student-driven, meaning that the instructors work to meet the needs of students and not the other way around. In this episode, I talk to Jake and Connan about why a free training program like Gyst is so important in the coffee industry. Information can be really hard to come by in the coffee industry—along with tools, or a space to learn, or hands-on experience, and Gyst attempts to make information widely available to as many people as possible. Because trainings are student-led, folks are encouraged to learn on their own terms. Learning is prized above all else, and with Gyst, Jake and Connan work to provide information freely and in a manner that’s meant to welcome all folks looking to learn. Here are Jake and Connan. - Donate to these organizations: BRAVE SPACE ALLIANCE ASSATA’S DAUGHTERS BLACK LIVES MATTER CHICAGO LIST OF VENMO/CASHAPP OF BLACK COFFEE PROFESSIONALS - ACTION PLAN FOR BOSS BARISTA TRANSCRIPTION
June 19, 2020
Erica Jackson On Listening and Being Present With Yourself 
There are a lot of reasons I continue to do Boss Barista, especially as the show has evolved and changed. One of the reasons is to connect with people I wouldn't have met otherwise. There are at least a handful of folks I know and consider my friends because of the show—people I've become closer to through interviews, through sitting down and having a really focused conversation. Doing this show has also made me a better listener—I’m still learning how to listen, but I also listen for other listeners. That’s a little silly, I know, but I’ve learned a lot about how people listen by doing this show. It’s the moments where I hear others give people space to explore ideas, or repeat a question to make sure they really understand it. And I noticed all these things when I listened to another podcast featuring today's guest, Erica Jackson. Erica is a barista, originally from Birmingham, Alabama but currently based in Charleston, South Carolina, and she was recently a guest on a show called Nicole's Hen House. In this episode, we talk about Erica's journey into the world of coffee, but we also delve deep into how we communicate and how we remain present in our own lives. A lot of these themes are mimicked in our coffee work—being a good service worker requires being present, and many of us are drawn to coffee because of the potential to build community and make connections with others. I think, more than anything, this episode is an encouragement to remain present in your own life and notice what's happening around you. We talk about defining moments both big and small and how to connect deeply with coffee—beyond making it, beyond working behind the bar, but finding the way it speaks to you as an individual, and honoring its place in your life. Here's Erica. - Donate to these organizations: BRAVE SPACE ALLIANCE ASSATA’S DAUGHTERS BLACK LIVES MATTER CHICAGO LIST OF VENMO/CASHAPP OF BLACK COFFEE PROFESSIONALS - ACTION PLAN FOR BOSS BARISTA TRANSCRIPTION
June 11, 2020
Elle Taylor and Breezy Sanchez are Eliminating Tips 
On May 12, 2020, Amethyst Coffee in Denver announced they would no longer be accepting tips. They increased prices 50%, and posted about their new policy on Instagram—the post got over 200 comments. The comments ranged in tone—from excited to inquisitive to downright aggressive—and almost every single comment or question was answered by one of the two owners of Amethyst: Elle Taylor and Breezy Sanchez. In this episode, we sit down with Elle and Breezy and talk about their no-tipping policy, and ask the questions you might have. Why now, during a pandemic, would you announce a 50% price increase? There’s a lot more to this price increase that just charging more for an undervalued product—although the idea that coffee is undervalued is part of this conversation, Elle and Breezy also bring up how labor, especially service work and the emotional labor tied to it, are both undercompensated and potentially harmful. And they also talk about how worth and self-value get monetized by being tied up with tipping—your self-worth is actually quantifiable by the amount of money you have in your hand, and frankly, that can fuck you up. There’s so much to talk about in this episode, and we barely scratch the surface. No-tipping policies aren’t new—hundreds of bars and restaurants have tried them with varying levels of success—but during this pandemic, the service industry has the ear of the public in a way that could potentially spark change. So now might be the time to try something ambitious, and transform the way we treat and view service workers. Here’s Elle and Breezy.
May 28, 2020
Roundup #15 — Navigating Leadership with Andrea Allen 
Andrea Allen won the 2020 United States Barista Championship in February of 2020. Two weeks later, thousands of coffee shops and restaurants across the U.S. were closed because of COVID-19. Andrea is the co-owner of Onyx Coffee Lab in Northern Arkansas, and has been navigating what it means to be a responsible business owner during coronavirus—the answer isn't always clear, and it's certainly not the same for everyone. In this episode, Andrea talks about what it means to be the reigning champion and a business owner during this time. Her stories and struggles aren't meant to be prescriptive, but rather a chance to explore what leadership means when you don't know what's coming next. This isn't necessarily a neat or congratulatory episode—rather, it's a challenge to redefine what we expect from our industry.
May 22, 2020
Roundup #14 — Opening a Coffeeshop During a Crisis with Geetu Vailoor 
I met Geetu Vailoor, owner of Union Coffee in Seattle, just a few weeks before the coronavirus would change all of our lives. We talked a lot about employment - things employers do to support others, things they do to hurt their staff, and we were incredibly in alignment with a lot of ideas. Like, if this person were to be my boss, I feel like they’d...get it. I left that conversation feeling very aligned with Geetu’s values. As you’ll hear in this episode, Geetu took over Union Coffee just days before shelter-in-place orders were put in effect in cities across the nation. So what do you do? And how do you pivot when you’ve barely had your doors open? Pivot from what, exactly? Photo by Angie Garza
May 01, 2020
Roundup #13 — Adam JacksonBey on Tipping During a Crisis 
On the day I'm writing this—it's April 20, 2020, coffee shops and restaurants across the nation have been closed or altered their operations in some way. Millions of people have been laid off, and many of the folks who have lost their jobs are service workers—baristas, waitstaff, bartenders—many of whom rely on tips as a source of their income. In this episode, I'm talking to Adam JacksonBey, the coffee pro behind GoFundBean. GoFundBean is a collection of virtual tip jars that serves as a nexus for people who want to help baristas who are out of work. That dollar that you’d usually tip for a coffee? You can go to GoFundBean and give it directly to one of the thousands of baristas who can’t work right now. In this conversation, we talk a lot about GoFundBean and how necessary it is because so many service professionals make a huge chunk of their earnings in tips. But we also talk a lot about tipping in general. As Adam will talk about in this episode, GoFundBean isn't necessarily an effort one wants to be successful. It's one that has to be successful in order to keep people fed, help them pay their rent, but in an ideal world, tips—and the precarious nature of tipping in general—wouldn't be part of the service industry model. There's a lot of literature on the history of tipping, which we touch upon briefly in this episode, so you might want to give that a google search before you dive in, but if you're ready, I hope you leave this conversation with a framework to imagine a world without tipping—and what that could mean for the way we value and pay service workers. Here's Adam.
April 21, 2020
Sahra Nguyen on Vietnamese Coffee and Redefining the Meaning of Specialty 
Take a minute to think, “what does specialty coffee mean to you?” If you work in coffee, it might mean one thing, if you don’t work in coffee, it might mean another. The word “specialty” implies something unique, different, something that makes it different than just regular coffee, right? For something to be a specialty item, something else that’s decidedly NOT specialty has to exist. Today, we’re going to break down what specialty is—and what makes a thing special—with Sahra Nguyen, founder of Nguyen Coffee Supply in Brooklyn, New York. Sahra was a filmmaker and owned a restaurant in New York, and often found herself in coffee shops that had some of the “signals” of specialty coffee. Coffees from a single origin, for example. She’d see coffees from Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, and wonder, what about Vietnam? Sahra is Vietnamese and would see restaurants and cafes advertise Vietnamese Iced Coffee, but oftentimes found that people didn’t use coffee from Vietnam in their drinks. As she questioned this—why would a coffee drink claiming to be from Vietnam not have coffee grown in Vietnam in it—she encountered some of the questions we have about specialty. Vietnam is the second-largest producer of coffee, and the first largest producer of robusta coffee, so why couldn’t she order a coffee from Vietnam in her local cafe? Coffees from Vietnam don’t get talked about in the specialty market. You don’t see them winning barista competitions, and you likely can’t order them at most cafes. But if you’ve had instant coffee, Folgers, any sort of diner coffee—you’ve had Vietnamese coffee. So what is it? Why isn’t it talked about in the specialty world? In this episode, we explore what it means for a product to be considered specialty and ask, is specialty inherent, or is it created?
April 16, 2020
Roundup #12 — Talking Social Media with Umeko Motoyoshi 
Just a note, this episode does talk coronavirus or COVID-19, so if you don’t want to hear about that, you should skip this episode. So much of our lives have moved to the internet. Because many of us are at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus—and many of the businesses that we love have been shut down—we’re interacting online more. We’re creating virtual coffee shops, hosting happy hours on Instagram, buying coffee from our local cafes through their web stores. Obviously, not everything has gone digital—a lot of things can’t—but it’s incredible to see the way that folks have been able to harness their online platforms to shift the way they do business or to interact with their colleagues and customers. And the way people communicate their shifting platforms and needs is through social media. My guest today is Umeko Motoyoshi—Umeko has been on the show before, back in 2018. Umeko is a coffee writer, educator, and owns a webstore where they sell cupping spoons and other coffee tools, including a book called, The @wastingcoffee Guide To Not Waisting Coffee. And Umeko is great at social media—really great. They’ve built a brand and a voice that's authentic and accessible and communicates clearly what their platform is all about. Umeko is currently working with clients to help increase their social media presence during these changing times, and in this episode, we talk about how you can implement some quick and easy new systems to become more visible online—while still remaining true to yourself and using a voice that feels authentic and real. Here’s Umeko. Cover photo by Noah Goodman.
April 09, 2020
Angela Ferrara On Taking The Barista League Home 
One of the best times I’ve ever had in my coffee career was at an event where I played a coffee-version of Family Feud. I was on a team with former guests Alicia Adams and Erica Escalante, and we played this silly game on stage with folks cheering us on and having a good time. Thinking about community events for an industry is an interesting challenge. Balancing the tone between useful and educational and fun and exciting is difficult, and it’s no surprise that the team at the Barista League thinks a lot about putting on a dynamic event that touches on both ends of the spectrum. The Barista League is a series of coffee competitions, usually a handful a year, that travel across the globe and provides enriching, community-driven events that are fun for everyone. If you go to a Barista League party, it can feel wonderfully chaotic and loose, which can hide just how much work goes into an event feeling effortlessly fun. My guest today is Angela Ferrara, one of the folks who puts together Barista League events. Although these are coffee-specific events, the ideas that Angela touches on are universal to any industry looking to create tools for their community. In this episode, Angela talks about how she got involved in the Barista League - she was a competitor herself - and how that transformed into a role putting on some of the most interesting events in coffee. It’s also strangely serendipitous that we recorded during the current global pandemic because the Barista League puts on events - which necessitate people gathering in places. But just last week, The Barista League announced that they would move to a digital competition—Angela has more details on this but it shows the power of their organization—and their ability to adapt and respond to the needs of a community in real-time. Here’s Angela:
April 02, 2020
Roundup #11 — Community Engagement with Kate Blackman 
Just a note, this episode is about coronavirus or COVID-19, so if you don’t want to hear about that, you should skip this episode. A few days ago, someone told me that 144 baristas in Kansas City lost their jobs. This is self-reported data, so it’s wholly unscientific, but it led me down a pathway to try to figure out how many baristas have lost their jobs. Again, this is unscientific, but if you take the population of Kansas City, around 400,000, and then extrapolate the number of baristas who are out of work in KC and apply it to the U.S. population, which is about 327 million, we get almost 100,000 baristas. Once more, this is unscientific, and something I did basically just by cross-multiplying. As more and more people are laid off, who can baristas turn to for support? Some employers have been great at advocating for their furloughed staff, but other baristas are left in the dark. The Kansas City barista community decided to step in. Today we’re chatting with Kate Blackman, a fixture in the barista community in Kansas City. She, along with her colleagues Ben White and Jerry Ponzer, organized a community tip pool, dedicated to giving aid to any and all baristas who have been affected by COVID-19. Every week, they do a tip split, and last week, they raised over $5,000 dollars and gave every barista who asked - which turned out to be 172 baristas - $32 dollars. And they’re working to get more folks to give more money. You can start a community-grown support movement in your city. Kate lays out some of the tools they’ve used to mobilize customers and garner attention in the neighborhoods. Here’s Kate with more:
March 28, 2020
Roundup #10 - Utilizing Technology During Crisis with Kandace Brigleb 
Just a note, this episode is about coronavirus, or COVID-19, so if you don’t want to hear about that, you should skip this episode. News about the current global pandemic is changing quickly—every day, there’s a new story, a new piece of information. In that same span of time, the service industry has morphed drastically. With orders across the globe to shelter in place, or to avoid crowds, small businesses are forced to shut their doors or find ways to limit interaction with employees and guests. For the businesses still open, their mode of operation is fast changing, with a focus on ways to keep open while paying their staff and keeping people safe. One way the community has responded is by engaging with customers directly, making virtual tip jars and funds so service workers have a direct line to the cash they’re missing from not working or getting tips. A lot of these solutions are key, so how do we tie them together and make them fit a long term context? My guest today is Kandace Brigleb of Needmore Designs, a branding studio that works with a number of roasting companies—they also have a podcast called Unpacking Coffee that you should absolutely check out. Kandace released a tutorial about how to integrate a tipping option to buying coffee online. She took inspiration from the non-profit websites, where there are multiple points of contact that urge folks to donate money, and in this episode, we talk about the ways to use design and technology to encourage not just regular tipping from our customers, but how to use technology to ensure you can keep—and pay—your staff. One thing that I really love about this episode is that, for being a response to a swiftly changing global pandemic, some of the conclusions and ideas posed by Kandace are evergreen, and address a number of possible outcomes. The bottom line remains the same, however. We have to preserve as many jobs as we can, and that’s going to require us to get creative. Here’s Kandace.
March 24, 2020
Roundup #9: Closing Up Shop in the time of Coronavirus 
I’ve seen a variety of different responses to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the service industry. Because of how contagious the virus is—and how long it takes for symptoms to show up while a person is contagious, the service industry, in a matter of days, has changed completely. I wanted to understand the variety of responses I’ve seen from businesses. I’ve seen some address the virus as a passing hiccup, while others have already fired some of their staff anticipating slowing sales. So I called my friend, Trevor Gruehn, who is the owner of Bradbury’s Coffee in Madison, Wisconsin. As of today, March 17th, Bradbury’s is closed, but Trevor and his staff decided to shutter before there was a statewide mandate. I wanted to talk to Trevor because he was being proactive: he’s set up a virtual tip jar to offset the lack of tips his staff would receive, and he’s promised to pay his staff for the next two weeks, hoping that government relief comes sooner rather than later. One of the other reasons I wanted to talk to Trevor is that he is my friend, and I wanted to push him. I wanted to ask him uncomfortable questions and figure out how other business owners can start to be more proactive with their response to coronavirus—and I wanted to push him on his responsibility. And personally, I also needed to talk to my friend, and assure him that I would support him the best way I knew how: by amplifying his voice, and potentially showing other business owners that there is a responsible way to act in this moment of uncertainty. BRADBURY'S TIP JAR: Venmo @bradburyscoffee !
March 17, 2020
Arielle Rebekah Gordon Has Great Ideas 
Sometimes you have an idea. And it sparks another idea. And another. And another, and soon you've created something greater than perhaps you could have ever imagined. It ends up touching more people and doing more good than you could have ever hoped for. That's what happened to Arielle Rebekah Gordon when she started her blog, Trans and Caffeinated. After writing beautiful Instagram captions, on her mother's urging, Arielle started a blog and shared her experiences working in the hospitality industry and being openly transgender. Since starting her blog, her work has morphed into speaking engagements and her website will soon host a marketplace for queer and trans artists to display and sell their work. Arielle works for Starbucks and she talks about the importance of signaling that a workplace is a safe space for queer and trans folks to exist. She also advocates for healthcare, and in general, is just very transparent with her life. I wanted to know about her work and about how coffee shops can be better advocates for trans workers. But I also wanted to know what it's like living in public—what it's like to be a person who shares their life on media platforms but still works to retain a piece of themselves as they walk through their journey in public. Arielle is easily one of the most talented writers out there, and you will learn something and be inspired by this episode. Here's Arielle.
March 06, 2020
James Hoffmann on Capturing a Moment of Magic 
This was not the episode I intended to share. My guest today is James Hoffmann, the 2007 World Barista Champion, co-founder of Square Mile Coffee in London, author of the book The World Atlas of Coffee, YouTuber, and overall one of coffee's most recognizable superstars. James has been on other shows. He's been interviewed a hundred times and honestly, I wasn't super interested in having the same conversation with him as I've heard on other platforms. I almost didn't have him on the show, but when I started talking to James—we had emailed a few times before we recorded—something strange kind of happened. James talked to me like no other guest ever has. He kept asking for my opinions and I gave them to him. I sort of realized as folks making media in the coffee industry we have a lot in common—and share a lot of the same struggles. This episode is an interesting dialogue exploring how you build on something like a particular moment. Maybe you make it into a career, maybe not. But there's also this tension with what you do with something that was so pivotal to your life—like winning the World Barista Championship—after over a decade of trying new things and finding what works and what doesn't. The struggle is never over, and we talk about ideas of perception versus reality, especially when you live a public life and folks have ideas already formed about you. We also talk like, a lot, about money and in general just kind of touch upon what it's like being human. So I'm going to keep it as is, without interruption. I hope you enjoy.
February 23, 2020
Roundup #8 — Tartine Union Members Ask, "Where Is Our Bread and Roses?" 
Here's a quick timeline of events for the Tartine Union. On Thursday, February 6, the employees of Tartine presented their managers with a letter of intent to unionize. It was signed by roughly 141 people or about 2/3 of all of their Bay Area-based employees. Essentially, they were asking for a seat at the table—a chance to negotiate their wages, have a say in decision making, and know more about where money was going. Tartine has grown A TON in the last few years, and with so much aggressive growth, it can be hard to understand why your wages haven't gone up, or how shops across the globe keep opening, but your wages stay the same. In response, that following Monday, so that's February 10th, Tartine declined to recognize the union. They call the way the union presented their letter as a "threat," they question the motives of the union, and they cite that there has been "bullying on the internet," tarnishing the reputation of Tartine. We talked to two members of the Tartine Union the day after Tartine released their statement. Now the issue of unionizing goes to a vote—everyone who works at Tartine will vote via secret ballot, and as that happens, Tartine management can do things like hire "union experts," and the workers of Tartine can continue to rally—which has been happening and local politicians have joined their organizing efforts. The reason I lay this all out is because there's a lot happening—and we're in the middle of it. There's a lot of push and pull in terms of who controls the narrative and what's actually happening. And as you listen to the folks I interview—Emily and Mason—I want you to think about the goals of a union, and why the leaders of Tartine might not want a union—and how that dictates their responses and the way they paint the narrative.
February 17, 2020
Roundup #7 — Australia's Bush Fires and The State of the Service Industry 
Before we start this episode, a quick warning - this episode will be dealing with the bush fires in Australia, as I mentioned at the top of the episode. We’ll be talking a lot about trauma associated with natural disasters and loss, so if that’s a topic that you don’t want to listen to for whatever reason, feel free to skip this episode. The bushfires in Australia started in June of 2019. Fires are not uncommon during warmer months in Australia, but this season’s fires were especially devastating. The fires have burned through 46 million acres of land, heavily affecting densely populated regions, in particular New South Wales, destroying thousands of buildings and killing 34 people. The fires have killed over a billion animals and it's estimated to have done over $4.4 billion dollars in damages. Just now, as I type this on February 7th, 2020, there are finally news reports of rain which are starting to put out some of the fires, extinguishing about a third of the fires and potentially more in the coming days. The bushfires have brought up questions of politics, disaster relief, and climate change—and one of the bright spots in all of this I saw, through my social networks, was a small, but powerful one. Demezla Jones, a coffee professional who’s the founder of Same Cup Coffee, told folks in Canberra, which is the capital of Australia, that if they were displaced or just needed a place to regroup and have a cup of coffee, that they could stop by a certain coffeeshop and have a drink on her. Just mention her name, no questions asked. I wanted to talk to Demezla more about what’s happening from her perspective, and how moments of turmoil affect folks specifically in the coffee industry, who often have to serve others in times of distress. Photo by Ondrej Machart on Unsplash
February 13, 2020
Candice Madison Uses a Lot of Analogies 
Some of you might know I belong to a group called the Matchbook Coffee Project. Every month, we work with a roaster to release a once-in-a-lifetime coffee, and then we give them total control over how the coffee will be presented. Instead of roasting for the companies they work for or a specific audience, this is their chance to do something fun and weird and find touch points to connect the coffee they’ve chosen to, essentially themselves. We do these releases every month, and I don’t think we ever predicted just how personal they’d be. We’ve been at this game for three years, and recently, we started interviewing our guests on a podcast, because, duh, I like podcasts, but also because roasters are the perfect audience for a podcast. They sit at a machine for hours a day—their ears are waiting for this! I host the Matchbook podcast as well, and until now, I kept both of these podcasts kind of separate. They felt like two totally different things to me, but I recently interviewed our February roaster, Candice Madison, who is the Director of Roasting for Royal Coffee in Oakland, and her stories and journey through coffee felt important to share. Hearing her tell her story, from being a person with a “respectable” job to yoga to roasting, it made me hopeful, especially in an age where it’s easy to feel like everything kind of sucks. Photo by Lindsey Shea.
February 01, 2020
Roundup #6 — Being Fat Behind the Bar 
A few weeks ago, I asked listeners to send me voice memos—and you did. Lots of them. Some were happy, some were sad, some were about a specific topic - at the time, I really wanted to learn about tips and how they affect your life as service workers. And one of the voice memos I got was from a barista in Memphis named Laurel Moreland. She joins us, along with Courtney Paige Harrough, to share their experiences about being fat behind the bar. Please send me more voice memos! If there's anything you think we should cover, record a voice memo and send it to email@example.com!
January 16, 2020
Roundup #5 — What it Means to be Unemployable 
One time, in the midst of a sorrow-filled rant about my bosses and work, one of my friends told me I was unemployable. So I asked him—Brandon Epting—to come on the show and explain the weirdest compliment I’ve ever received.
January 03, 2020
Erna Baby [REBROADCAST]
We're working on some big episodes dropping around the holidays, but in the meantime, here's one of my all-time favorite episodes.
December 19, 2019
Roundup #4 — How is the Price of Retail Coffee Determined? 
Right now, as of December 2019, coffee is being traded at $1.05 per pound. And yet, when you go into a coffee shop, it can feel like prices are way higher—and sometimes vary wildly depending on the coffee shop you go to or the bag you pick up. How does coffee's journey from farm to retail shelf affect the cost it incurs along the way? We decided to dive deep into the world of coffee prices. Featuring Joe Marrocco of List & Beisler.
December 12, 2019
Roundup #3 — What We Talk About When We Talk to Customers 
How do you tell a customer about what's really going in your life? Today we talk to Camila Coddou of Barista Behind the Bar about what it means to have a meaningful conversation with patrons—the folks who keep the service industry alive, but often don't know much about the issues affecting workers. Learn more about her project, in partnership with Coffee at Large, about patron engagement and encouraging direct conversations with the folks who patron our workspaces—here!
December 05, 2019
Boss Barista Presents Making Coffee
Hey friends, we're taking a break this week BUT we have a special treat for you! I've been lucky enough to know Lucia Solis for a few years. She consults coffee farmers all around the globe, helping them improve their processing methods and think critically about fermentation. All coffee goes through some sort of fermentation, and not in the way you think. Lucia is a fountain of knowledge, so she started her own podcast called, Making Coffee, where she talks about big topics like, "how do we determine quality in coffee," or "what happens when a coffee is over fermented?" (have you ever had a coffee that tastes more like kombucha or has some funk to it? it might be over fermented). We're sharing one episode in particular that I love. You can subscribe to Lucia's podcast, Making Coffee, just like you would mine: you can go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts, and you can learn more about Lucia at www.luxia.com.
November 28, 2019
The Boss Barista Roundup #2 - Reimagining The Minimum Wage With Oddly Correct 
In the U.S., the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. 29 states have set a higher minimum wage than that, HOWEVER all by 6 states have a tipped minimum, or an amount that’s lower than minimum wage that you can pay your staff if they also receive tips. Rules vary on how little an employer can pay state by state, but in general, when we think of minimum wage, we think of lowly paying jobs, and for many, minimum wage isn’t enough to support themselves or their families or make their lives work without picking up more work or sacrificing basic needs. But what happens when we start to think about minimum wage differently? What if we could guarantee that people left work every day with MORE than what they need just to meet their basic human needs? And what sort of power structures would have to be reassessed, and flat out knocked down, for that to happen? In this episode, we talk to Michael Schroeder of Oddly Correct in Kansas City, who, on November 4th, 2019, announced an incredibly ambitious new pay structure for the business. On Instagram, they announced that all employees would make at least $18 an hour—if they made that in tips plus their base wage, that was great, but if their tips didn’t get them up to that hourly wage, they would subsidize it, and ensure that every employee took home a guaranteed amount of money everyday. And Michael says it's because they wanted to flip the idea of minimum wage on its head. SEND ME A VOICE MEMO—use your phone to record any of your thoughts, stories, or ideas and send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 22, 2019
The Boss Barista Roundup #1 - Tipping 
Welcome to the first episode of the Boss Barista Roundup! On this show, I ask experts, writers, and you—yes, our listeners—to send me messages, voice memos about a topic, and together, we’ll take a hard look at a big question. And I wanted the very first episode to be about a topic I never stop thinking about: tipping. I am obsessed with tipping. It’s something I’ve written about, commented on for other articles, even done a few episodes of this show about. And for this episode in particular, I wanted to focus on how employers talk about tips. And the reason I wanted to do so is because of a 2017 op-ed by Todd Carmichael, the owner of La Colombe coffee roasters. SEND ME A VOICE MEMO—use your phone to record any of your thoughts, stories, or ideas and send them to me at email@example.com
November 15, 2019
David Hu of The Peccary on Defining Value and Leadership 
Everyone has had a bad boss. Everyone has probably had multiple bad bosses. I had one boss tell me I was inauthentic and that he hated me, I had one tell me he couldn’t give me more money after he promoted me, I had two, a married couple, get a divorce in the middle of the cafe and put all the employees right in the center. And I too, have been that bad boss. I’ve been too overbearing, too nitpicky, too weird and mean. I learned to be a better boss—not perfect, not great, probably not even good—but better, through reading countless articles, scouring the internet for anything I could find about how to manage better. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot on the internet about how to be a better leader. There’s tons of articles complaining about shitty employees, but there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the role of leaders and how they can improve and set examples for their staff. In a way, we don’t really expect leaders to be held accountable, and instead write off bad work environments as a result of terrible employees. I know this is bullshit—but I have to say the only way I learned this lesson is because of my time as a middle school teacher. This is a story I tell all the time, but I’ll tell it again because it’s so vitally important to me and who I’ve become—I was trying to get my students to behave by lining them up outside my classroom, and it wasn’t working. So my principal calls me, and I’m immediately blaming the kids, blaming the fact that my class is right after lunch...and tells me probably the single-most important set of words I’ve ever heard. He told me their rowdiness—that’s my fault. I’m in control. But then he pauses, and says, “That’s meant to empower you. You’re always in control.” So I noticed when I started seeing these amazing post on Instagram about leadership from a coffeeshop called The Peccary in New Jersey. These posts extolled the work of baristas, and talked about how it’s the job of leaders to make the work of being a barista easier. David Hu, the owner of The Peccary, does this in a number of ways. He pays his baristas more, they know their schedules ahead of time for a year, they were paid for months during training and onboarding before the shop opened, and I wanted to learn more about how David developed such an attuned sense of purpose and vision that focused on being a strong leader that put his staff first. It’s not without his ups and downs—The Peccary recently closed its doors, which we talk about, but it does force you consider what your values are, and what you do to live those values.
November 07, 2019
Maggy Nyamumbo's Therapy Is Solving The Coffee Price Crisis 
If you work in the coffee industry, you might have heard of the coffee price crisis. To put it simply, we are not paying farmers enough money to grow coffee. And it’s not a little bit of money—we’re not even paying enough for farmers to cover their costs to produce coffee. It’s not just that farmers aren’t making money, but actively losing it by continuing to grow and produce coffee. This is a problem of dignity—who do we respect, whose labor is valued, where is value created—but this is also a logistical problem that threatens the entire future of coffee. So what’s the answer? We talk about this issue ALL THE TIME, but I know, for me, it feels like we’re not getting concrete answers. Folks like Starbucks just announced an initiative to pledge $20 million dollars to farmers, which to some sounds like a good start, but to others, sounds like lip service, especially when you consider that Starbucks is a multi-billion dollar company—that’s right, BILLION, and not just a couple billion: try $22 billion. And what this story—the one about Starbucks donating money to farmers—attempts to obscure, is that multinational corporations, like Starbucks, actually have a lot of say in how the market acts and how prices are figured out. And that’s something Maggy Nyamumbo is incredibly quick to point out. And this point—that there are market actors that we don’t talk about, or illuminate just how influential they are—is really what Maggy wants to talk about. Maggy is the founder of Kahawa 1893, a social enterprise aimed at connecting farmers directly to consumers in an attempt to get more money back to farmers. Maggy is a trained economist—she graduated from Smith College in 2011, went to the London School of Economics, got her MBA at Harvard, worked for the World Bank and on Wall Street—and she’s able to see beyond the problem. Yes, we know that coffee prices are at an all time low, but what happens next? How do we actually begin to solve this problem? For someone like Maggy, that means truly understanding how we got here. And that means being upfront about coffee’s colonial history, its reliance on free labor in the form of slavery, and what she calls “big coffee” and their reluctance to stabilize the market. Maggy called this conversation her therapy, which seems like such an incredible privilege for me, and hopefully for you, because this conversation was easily the most informative conversation I’ve ever had about how the coffee market works. I’ve been in coffee for almost ten years—and finally, FINALLY, by talking to Maggy, I get it. This is the best hour of information I’ve ever recorded—so listen to this. Again and again. She talks about how sustainability is often a buzzword to get farmers to overproduce coffee, how influential multinational corporations are on global legislature, and even how American politics could affect the future of specialty coffee.
November 01, 2019
Amaris Gutierrez-Ray on Women in Coffee 
Speaking in generalizations or platitudes is annoying. Really annoying. But sometimes easy or necessary. Think of phrases like, “go with the flow,” or “everything happens for a reason.” These statements mean NOTHING—they can even go so far as to be insulting in the wrong context. When folks ask what this podcast is, I end up relying on some—even though I want to tell them how complex and fascinating and weird the world is, I usually end up saying something like, “this podcast is about feminism and coffee.” Sometimes that feels…callous, or wrong, or like every person who talks on my podcast has the same experience—and they don’t. In the coffee industry—and probably all industries—we use generalizations all the time, but the world is way, way more nuanced than summations about the world around us like, “we need to pay more for coffee,” or “women in coffee producing countries are often overlooked.” And that’s something my guest, Amaris Gutierrez-Ray, noticed quickly. We speak way too generally about women in coffee. Amaris, who is the Director of Roasting for Joe Coffee in New York City, started the Women in Coffee Project as a way to shine a light on the complex and nuanced world of coffee growing for the women who live in producing countries. The Women in Coffee Project centers around narratives and storytelling, often inviting coffee producers to speak about their own experiences. It sort of makes sense someone like Amaris would crave this type of primary research—she has a background in museum science and archival information, and has always questioned where facts and figures come from. Imagine reading a study about water from Nestle, who has gone on record saying they don’t believe water is a human right, versus a non-profit whose work centers around accessibility to clean water for all. They’d likely produce some very, very different facts and figures. We get into these ideas of complexity, nuance, and what it means to find solutions to conceptual problems like how we represent members of our community—all in this episode. Here’s Amaris.
October 26, 2019
Sasha Wheeler on Pursing Passion and Building a Roaster out of a Soup Can 
Sometimes I wonder what you folks think about interviews. What you think about the guests, what you think about the questions, what you internalize and take with you as you put your headphones away and think about what you’ve just heard. This interview with Sasha Wheeler is one of the most nuanced interviews I’ve ever aired. Sasha is a trans woman based in New Orleans—she built her first roaster when she was 15 from an aluminum can. As I re-listened to this episode, which I have to admit I don’t do very often because I hate the sound of my own voice, I found myself rewinding backwards, listening to answers that Sasha gave over and over, taking in the larger context of what her answers meant. This episode is slower than most, but I hope the slowness gives you space to really deeply listen to what Sasha has to say. As she tells her story—one of customer service, one of self-discovery, one of pursuing passion—really listen and consider what her answers mean. Hopefully you’ll leave this episode with a lot of answers, but also with some more questions—you can find Sasha on Instagram at @whevyrn or as part of the very first Brewers Cup Glitter Cat cohort.
October 18, 2019
Ashley Novoa of the Chicago Period Project on Access and Dispelling Menstrual Stigmas 
Do you know that feeling when one memory sparks another? I was in Austin, Texas, recently, at a brewery called Austin Beerworks. I went to the bathroom and there, in a small basket, were tampons, pads, and hand sanitizer. Then, I went to another brewery—I was there for my day job as a producer of podcasts for a beer website—and there was the same set up. Tampons, pads, hand sanitizer. Seeing these reminded me of this one time I was working behind the bar. It was 2014, and I was working with this woman named Hannah. I mentioned that I got my period, she said she was on hers, too, and the next person that walked in was another one of our coworkers. She took $20 from the register, gave it to our coworker, and asked him to get us tampons. I remember feeling that her act was so…brazen. I couldn’t believe it. Five years later, looking at the bathrooms in Austin, I was oddly reminded of that shame I felt. Ashley Novoa is looking to dispel that shame. Ashley is the founder of the Chicago Period Project, a non-profit aimed at providing homeless and underserved people menstrual products. Along with providing resources, Ashley also works to normalize discussions around menstrual health, and expand the terminology and scope of issues of menstruation. People have looked at her work and said, “this is a women’s issue,” and her organization is working to show folks that it’s not just women who bleed, and furthermore that menstrual health affects all members of society. I wanted to talk to Ashley about access—how do we, as folks who work in public-facing jobs—provide menstrual products to everyone? Not just sheepish baristas like I was in 2014, but to community members? Why doesn’t every coffeeshop provide menstrual products for free? What stigmas do we continue to uphold that keep us from providing resources equally? My conversation with Ashley begins to shine a light on these things. Here’s Ashley:
September 07, 2019
How To Be Your Own Advocate Live At Rancilio Ramp Up Chicago 
This summer, Rancilio set out to host the Ramp Up Tour, which featured sessions on espresso tech, espresso theory, and a community panel about careers for baristas at every date. The tour kicked off in Chicago, and Rancilio reached out to have me host a Boss Barista session, so obviously I said yes. This event let me put together a short presentation about how baristas can become their own advocates in the workplace, regardless of how positive or toxic your work environment may be. To round out the presentation, I invited Melissa Stinson from Everybody's Busy to discuss how starting your own business can be a struggle, but that doesn't mean you can't make it happen. Everybody's Busy is a pop up coffee bar on the Southside of Chicago, and Melissa launched it as a career change after spending many years working in film and television. To finish off how these ideas might apply in the workplace, I invited Ari Sofiakis who wears many hats at 4 Letter Word to chat about finding your place and asserting yourself while building your own role at a new business. I'm grateful to Rancilio to invite me to speak about real issues and real ways to address them at a community event, and if you'd like to follow along with the presentation, the slides will be available soon on the Boss Barista Instagram page.
August 31, 2019
Anita Tam On Discovering the Tools for Success 
I can't say enough good things about Anita Tam. She's the owner of Slow Pour Supply in Houston, Texas and has made social justice and advocacy for baristas part of her business model. Anita is a musician by training and is keen on tools. What are the tools you need to be successful and how can tools help you get better at your craft? After making the switch from music to coffee, she noticed that she was hitting a plateau with her latte art, so she went abroad to learn more and noticed the best latte artists used pitchers that were way different than what she had seen before. Slow Pour is the sole American supplier of the WPM Pitcher, which is narrower, bigger, and slightly slanted. But the mission of Slow Pour isn't just to make latera better. It's to empower baristas to take control of their craft. Anita's company provides latte pitchers to pretty much anybody who needs them—no matter what. She personally helps competitors whenever she can, as created a number of scholarships for folks who want to compete but maybe don't have the financial resources to do so. Along with that, Anita is the Co-Founder of the Houston Coffee Collective, which brings baristas together through educational initiatives and a free job boards for folks looking to post new opportunities throughout the Houston area. So how does she do it? For Anita. It's more of a question of how can she not—she's someone who can't help but want to help. In this interview we give the microphone to Anita, a person who normally doesn't like to be in front of others and is usually behind the scenes and we learn what it takes to keep her going.
August 17, 2019
Noa Berger Finds The Sociologist In All of Us 
I studied Sociology in college. Sociology is basically just a fun way to say I studied people and why social structures exist. And the biggest thing I learned is that nothing is pre-ordained. Everything in the world is based on complex social structures, but none of them are necessarily good or bad—they’re good or bad based on the meaning we assign them. This mode of thinking would sometimes get me in a rabbit hole of nihilist thinking—if nothing matters then what’s the point of anything, really—but it also helped me realize that we have an immense amount of control of the world around us. Not always, and not over everything, but if there’s a system in place that we’re unhappy with, we can work to dismantle it. There’s nothing that says this system has to be the one we use—especially if it’s broken. Dismantling existing systems is an interesting idea, and something the coffee world has been talking a lot about, especially in light of the coffee price crisis. So I decided to talk to a sociologist, Noa Berger, to see what she thought about the structures and systems that we use to understand coffee. I met Noa at Re:co, which is a lecture series that focuses on big problems in the coffee industry, and while I was traveling in Paris, I got a chance to learn more about her work and how she takes her sociological lens and applies it to the world of coffee.
August 07, 2019
Gyalene Torres on Puerto Rico and Feeling Invisible 
Have you ever felt invisible? Gyalene Torres, who goes by Gya, is a barista living in Carmel, Indiana, and in this episode, we talk about what it means to feel overlooked, and the challenges she's faced emigrating from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to the United States. Self-reflection, rebuilding your life, and dealing with feeling lost or overlooked are all touched upon in this intimate and candid episode—if you don't know Gya, this episode gives a beautiful glimpse into her life. @invisiblebaristagirl
July 20, 2019
Karla Boza on the Realities of Coffee Farming 
A few weeks ago, I was honored to attend Re:co, a coffee convention that invites speakers from all over the world to talk about these big ideas in coffee. This year's conversation was focused on coffee prices and the crisis that we face as the price of coffee dips lower and lower. I talked to the head of the Coffee Price Crisis Response Initiative a few weeks ago. If you want more context on that, listen to the Ric Rhinehart episode, a couple of episodes back. But at one of the lunches during the conference I met Karla Boza, a third generation coffee farmer in El Salvador. And the way that she spoke about the coffee prices was in a way that nobody else was at this conference because it affected her everyday life. She was one of the handful of coffee farmers at this conference talking about coffee prices. Don't you think that maybe more of the players affected by the crisis should have been in that room talking about this crisis? In this conversation that I recorded with Karla, which you'll hear in a moment, we talk about the flaws in coffee buying. We often applaud coffee roasters, the folks that are on the other end of the supply stream for being transparent with their prices, but are the prices that they're paying actually changing the lives of farmers? Mostly no. Being transparent doesn't make a price fair and oftentimes the business of paying a higher price comes with a demand from a coffee farmer to do something extra for their coffee to stand out or taste different, which ends up costing the producer even more money. In this episode, I urge you to rethink the way that you consider quality, not just in coffee but in every realm. Karla's experiences with coffee buyers ranging from being tricked by an importer who told them that their coffee was shit to another noting that it was a standout from the samples that they were sent, question where quality really comes from and if we should be basing our price standards on arbitrary markers of quality. This is easily one of the most informative and remarkable conversations I've ever had, and I promise we'll be hearing more from Karla in the near future. Before we begin, I should note that the term coffee stream comes from Keba Konte, owner of Red Bay Coffee in Oakland, California, who used this term during his talk at Re:co, which is the event that Karla and I met at. Without further ado, let's listen to our conversation with Karla Boza.
July 03, 2019
Sarah Hewett-Ball on Building a Cooperative Cafe 
What do you do when you begin to feel powerless in your cafe? When ten folks are competing for one or two higher-paying positions in a business, how do you build trust and accountability? These were questions that Sarah Hewett-Ball wanted to answer. In most cafes, baristas are powerless. Promotions can be slow to come, and decision-making is usually left to managers and owners, who maybe don't spend all that much time working on the floor—and the decisions they make often affect the lowest-paid members of the group disproportionally. Sarah and her friends wanted to change that power dynamic, so she started working on a cooperatively-based coffee shop in Louisville, Kentucky. The cafe, Full Stop Station, has been up and running for the last six months, and we talked to Sarah about what it means to distribute responsibilities and money evenly across the board. The team at Full Stop all make the same amount of money, and trade off managerial duties every two weeks, along with coming together to make big decisions and putting issues to a vote. I learned so much about how to communicate and the power a cooperative can give baristas—if this is an idea you've had for your business, I urge you to take a listen.
June 21, 2019
Hannah Craig on Parenthood in the Service Industry 
What is it like being a working parent? I imagine most of you would say it’s not easy. Now, what’s it like being a working parent in the service industry, where many folks make minimum wage, and considerations for working parents, like paid parental leave or schedules to accommodate childcare, are often seen as a nuisance? Hannah Craig is a barista in Louisville, Kentucky, and has a toddler named Luna. In this interview, we talk to Hannah about what it’s been like being a working mother in the coffee industry. From having to fight for your job after taking parental leave to demanding a space to pump, she has had to constantly work to make her voice heard. Hannah’s stories—both at work and at industry events—speak for themselves. If you own a business, I urge you to listen carefully to Hannah, and work on how you can make your workspace friendlier for working parents.
June 06, 2019
How Busy Are You Really with Melissa Stinson 
How often do you say you’re busy? It’s pretty much an automatic response: “How are you?” “Oh, I’m good…busy!” But are you? Melissa Stinson is the owner of Everybody’s Busy, a coffee pop up in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. Melissa features coffees from some of the best roasters in the world, but Everybody’s Busy is much more than that. In a way, Everybody’s Busy is a reflection of Melissa herself. She designed the logo and all the brand assets, the menu uses hip hop artists as names for common drinks, and even the name of the shop itself—Everybody’s Busy—reflects the dark, sarcastic humor that Melissa is drawn to. Because really, are you that busy? And why do we find comfort in hiding behind that response? Instead, shouldn’t we be doing the things we like? The things we’re excited about? That’s one of the things that makes Melissa’s pop-up so compelling—it’s a reflection of her. In an age where every coffee shop looks and feels the same, Everybody’s Busy feels distinctly like Melissa—like no one else could have imagined it into being. Melissa is a visionary, she’s smarter about branding than anyone I’ve ever seen in coffee, and she’s truly one of a kind—and she’s the first to admit she’s not sure what she’s going to say from moment to moment, which is what makes this conversation with her so fascinating and fun. Here’s my conversation with Melissa Stinson, owner and creator of Everybody’s Busy.
May 31, 2019
Ric Rhinehart Speaks On The Coffee Price Crisis 
This episode was made in collaboration with Good Beer Hunting. We originally aired this on their podcast on Saturday, May 18, 2019. This podcast was made in the style of a GBH podcast, so it might sound a little different than what you're used to! There’s a big problem in coffee—we’re not paying enough for it. With every clickbait article talking about how much you can save by cutting out your daily latte habit, you might be wondering how that’s possible. But coffee, much like other agricultural products like sugar or bananas, has relied on colonialist structures to survive—meaning that while we can buy and sell coffee in consuming countries for $3.00 a cup, most of the folks who actually farm and grow coffee see less than a dollar per pound for the coffee they produce. Coffee is in a crisis—because coffee is traded as a commodity, its price depends on the market, which means that, right now, many farmers are forced to sell their coffee for less than what it cost to produce. Farmers are actively losing money when they produce coffee, and many have been forced to lay off workers, sell their farms, and encourage their children to abandon the farm and look for more lucrative work elsewhere. So what are we doing about this? Ric Rhinehart is the head of the Coffee Price Crisis Response Initiative, and the former head of the Specialty Coffee Association. In this episode, we talk about how the crisis began, and what his group is looking to do to change the trajectory of coffee farming and selling.
May 23, 2019
The Abortion Series - Jennifer [REBROADCAST]
In light of current events, we decided to rerelease two episodes we did about coffee folks and abortion—the second story will come out tomorrow. These stories only capture a narrow window of the experiences of folks who have gotten abortions, so I encourage you to donate to places like The Yellowhammer Fund and Planned Parenthood. Keep calling your representatives and elected officials, and questioning what these restrictions say about not just sexism, but about class and race. - We continue with the abortion series, a storytelling project normalizing abortion amongst coffee professionals. Today, Jennifer tells her story of tumultuous relationships and finding ways to communicate with her coworkers and superiors. Jennifer's story shines a light on the sometimes destructive way we force employees to separate their personal lives from their work lives, and will force you to consider opening your ears and eyes to the stories of others. And for those of you who feel the need to throw shade, Jennifer welcomes your DMs.
May 18, 2019
The Abortion Series - Katie [Rebroadcast]
In light of current events, we decided to rerelease two episodes we did about coffee folks and abortion—the second story will come out tomorrow. These stories only capture a narrow window of the experiences of folks who have gotten abortions, so I encourage you to donate to places like The Yellowhammer Fund and Planned Parenthood. Keep calling your representatives and elected officials, and questioning what these restrictions say about not just sexism, but about class and race. - Boss Barista is proud to present The Abortion Series, a collection of stories about abortion while working in coffee. Today, we meet Katie, a barista in the midwest who talks about scheduling her abortion around her work schedule, keeping quiet about liberal ideas in a conservative space, and ponders if she's told her mom yet. We hope to launch a mini-series and collection of stories around abortion in an attempt to normalize it. These stories are both unique and unremarkable and we hope they resonate with you and make you rethink how you approach safety, politics, and the needs of others in your coffeeshop.
May 17, 2019
Two Ashleys Talk About Freelance Work 
I remember the first tax bill I got as a freelancer. I remember being so proud of myself for having this side hustle, and finally being able to save money, and then I got my tax bill—and there went all my savings. I told a friend of mine about it, and they laughed, and asked why I didn’t know that the IRS would claim almost a third of my income. Freelancing is fucking hard. It sounds fun and exciting—I don’t have to report to a boss everyday, I get to work from home, I get to make my own schedule—but there have been times where I’ve really considered if this is something I’m cut out for. I see more of my friends and colleagues take up creative pursuits, and dabble in the world of side hustles and part time consulting work, and I think there’s still a lot to the freelance world that still feels clouded in mystery. How do you pitch an idea? How do you know how much money to charge for a project? The government is taking what in taxes? There’s no easy guide—especially in the coffee world—to how to navigate setting a rate for yourself, or how to balance your work and your life, or how to get paid when people are avoiding the fuck out of you. I wanted to talk more about these things, so I invited my friend, Ashley Elander, to sit and swap stories about what it means to be a freelancer and how to truly advocate for yourself and your worth as a creative professional. Ashley is a freelance illustrator, and we try to be as candid as possible with both the ups—and the downs—of working for yourself.
May 09, 2019
T. Ben Fischer Breaks Denny's 
CW: Mental health, eating disorders We run the gambit of emotions in this episode. T. Ben Fischer, founder of the Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp, sits down with us in his friend's home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to talk hash browns, social media, and learning to be open about past trauma. On paper, T. Ben has had a super successful year — Glitter Cat, a program which provides training and financial assistance to baristas of marginalized identities to compete in coffee competitions, went from idea to reality in just a few short months, he placed third at this year's United States Barista Championships, and his newfound spotlight has afforded him new avenues to advocate for the needs of baristas who are often left behind. And yet, there's more to T. Ben's story. In this episode, we explore the differences between what we project and what we're actually feeling and struggling with. T. Ben opens up about his mental health journey in a way that's real — he's still working things out, and has learned that being open (when your ready) can facilitate healing.
May 02, 2019
LIVE FROM THE COST OF PRODUCTION TOUR 
Coffee prices have hit astronomical lows, with farmers on average receiving less than a dollar per pound of coffee. In response, specialty roasters around the world have began publishing how much they pay for coffee. While many are paying higher than a dollar per pound, that number sort of doesn't mean anything if farmers aren't covering their basic costs—perhaps the $2.50 per pound your local roaster promises to pay their farmers only helps a farmer break even. We need to answer a fundamental question: "How much does it cost to produce a pound of coffee?" Caryn and Mike Nelson of Junior's Roasted Coffee in Portland, Oregon, decided to answer that question. Coming to you live from Nightshift Brewery in Everett, Mass., in partnership with the Boston Intersectional Coffee Collective (BICC), we present "The Cost of Production," a event series that looks at what it costs to produce coffee and what it means to pay farmers fairly. The speakers at this event present information and findings not seen anywhere else, so if you care about coffee pricing and farmer sustainability, this episode is a must-listen. Thank you to Caryn and Mike Nelson for putting this event series on, to Kristina Jackson and everyone at the BICC, to Rob Rodriguez and Rose Woodard over at Nightshift Brewery, and to all the amazing speakers at this event. I learned more about coffee than I have at any other event I've attended.
April 25, 2019
A Conversation Between Friends With Mihaela Iordache 
A few weeks ago, I was staying in Paris with my friend, Mihaela Iordache, Head Roaster for Belleville Coffee. Originally from Romania, Mihaela came to Paris to pursue music, and is now one of the most distinguished, disciplined, and talented coffee pros in the game. After dinner and drinks one night, we decided to have a conversation about coffee, knowing ourselves, and the things you only talk about late at night over a few glasses of wine. These are the types of conversations I live for—intimate, funny, and personal, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.
April 05, 2019
Ildi Revi Says Now Is Your Time, Y'all! 
Ildi Revi is the teacher you wish you had. She's the Director of Learning for Ally Coffee, and in this episode talks about how adults process information, what leaders need to do to recognize the skills of their teams, and highlights the specialness of baristas. Ildi has been in the coffee industry for over 20 years, and she generously shares her ups and downs with our audience.
March 22, 2019
Camila Coddou Explores Power, Personal Responsibility, and Who Gets The Megaphone 
Along with 30 past and present employees of Ristretto Roasters, Camila Coddou signed a letter highlighting the problematic #meneither YouTube channel. The channel, co-hosted by Nancy Rommelman, wife of RR's owner, touted itself as a channel addressing 'toxic femininity' and poised itself to question the legitimacy of victims of sexual violence and harassment. In the letter, the co-signers described the channel as a signal that their concerns were not going to be taken seriously and their safety was in danger. The ensuing fallout was nothing short of incredible—wholesale accounts pulled out, articles were published, and folks sympathetic to Ristretto immediately set their eyes on Camila. In this episode, we talk about why attention fell on her. Camila discusses how systems of oppression are designed to protect those with power, and how marginalized people reclaiming their narratives makes folks in power uncomfortable and defensive. Oh, and we also talk about the fragility folks in power feel when their ideals are challenged. Also, we talk about folks getting real petty and taking to Twitter. We recommend reading some of the news stories and op-eds regarding Ristretto Roasters before you jump into this episode. #littleax
March 08, 2019
Sabine Parrish Takes An Academic Look at Coffee Competitions 
When the 2015 United States Brewers Cup champion Sarah Andersen was announced as the winner, Tom Jones' "She's A Lady," started playing. It was a strange and confusing moment in the competition - because no weirdly gendered anthem played for any of the other competitors. Sabine Parrish decided to study this phenomenon - why are women treated differently at coffee competitions. In her essay, cheekingly called, "She's A Lady," she explores how women are marginalized in the coffee industry. She did this by collecting hundreds of stories. Women across the nation submitted their personal experiences with sexism behind the bar, and Sabine used that to publish one of the most important pieces of research the coffee industry has ever seen. We talk to Sabine about her findings and what she hopes to see in the future.
March 01, 2019
Christina Snyder on Mental Wellness and Communication 
"I realized I hadn't lived as myself for the last five years." Christina Snyder is a roaster for Deeper Roots Coffee in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in this interview, they talk about creating space for others, the constant code switching of customer service, and honoring one's boundaries and mental capacity. In this deeply personal episode, Christina answers some difficult questions about the self, taking care of your team, and the power of a simple check in. If you're reading this, I encourage you to call, write, or text someone you love and ask them how they are. Proactively take care of your friends and loved ones if you're able. Also check out these amazing new podcast covers from @erinannsalt. And thanks always to @goodbeerhunting for making this podcast possible.
February 21, 2019
Justin Phillips On Reporting the Four Barrel Scandal 
Last year, eight women came forward with allegations against the San Francisco-based roaster Four Barrel and its owner, Jeremy Tooker. They filed suit against Tooker and the business, citing multiple instances of sexual abuse and harassment. SF Chronicle Reporter Justin Phillips diligently reported this story and the subsequent fall out, backlash, and unfortunate return to the status quo on the part of Four Barrel. In this episode, I talk to Justin about what it was like to follow this story, and what responsibility journalists have to listen to victims and follow stories. We also swap our favorite Netflix shows, talk about how to decompress, and honor the work of the women who stepped forward and started a movement towards transparency and accountability in the coffee industry. If you don't know what happened at Four Barrel, I encourage you to read Justin's reporting and listen to Episodes 34 and 35 of Boss Barista. Also, if you know anyone who still serves Four Barrel in their cafe or patrons their shop, please send them this episode.
February 08, 2019
Alicia Adams on Building a Career in Coffee 
It can sometimes seem like our coffee heroes have always been successful—but nothing could be further from the truth. Alicia Adams is the Director of Coffee for Red Bay Coffee in Oakland, Calif., and she talks about her journey to this position. Alicia shares how she learned from others around her, how she stays focused, and shares her approach to tasting and evaluating coffee. Alicia is also the kindest, most thoughtful person and one of the best sensory analysts I've ever met. If you want a carefully considered approach to coffee, this is the conversation to listen to.
January 25, 2019
Preeti Mistry On Power and Identity in The Service Industry 
“I’m kinda a cowboy in my cooking,” shares Preeti Mistry, Chef, Entrepreneur & Author of The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook: Indian Spice, Oakland Soul. Preeti is also kind of a cowboy in the culinary world—she’ll share her thoughts and call bullshit on the antics of the fine dining world. In this episode, Preeti talks about speaking your mind, watching other folks get thanked for the food you made them, and how language and attitudes change when you inhabit a certain identity. Here’s a hint: people are nicer to you when they think you’re in a position of power.
January 17, 2019
Erna Baby 
Erna Knutsen had been a secretary for over thirty years before she was given a seat at the cupping table. Once she found her love and passion for small lots of coffee, what she called 'specialty coffees,' she upended people's notions of what women could do in the industry. She bought the company she worked at, and fired all the men—but there's more to her story than just getting rid of the 'unimpressive men around her.' Without Erna, our industry would look radically different than it is today. We explore her legacy through sharing stories told by those who knew her best. Thanks to Sherri Johns, Kayd Whalen, Karen Cebreros, Ric Rhinehart, Kim Easson, and T. Ben Fischer. Our new music is from Lost in the Sun - you can check our their new single on Spotify.
January 10, 2019
Erica Escalante Is The Mother of All Baristas 
Get ready for life lessons, intensive personality breakdowns, and yelling at your significant other in this interview with Erica Escalante, owner of The Arrow Coffeehouse in Portland. Learn what it's like to own a coffeeshop at 21, what it means to be an Ennegram 8, and how to reckon with your personal power and platform. Erica is one of the most dynamic and candid guests we have—we promise you'll learn a lot from the self-described 'mom of the baristas.'
December 28, 2018
Breaking Down the Scoresheet with Emily Orendorff 
Have you ever wondered what the judges are looking for during coffee competitions? Emily Orendorff placed third in the barista competition at the Denver CoffeeChamps Qualifying Event—and we break down her scores one by one. We talk about her successes, where she lost points, and talk about the tricks and techniques that score well and those that don't. This is a rare peek into how judges determine the scores for barista competitors, so if you've ever wondered how barista competitions are scored, this is the episode for you. To see Emily's full scoresheets, check out our saved Instagram stories!
December 14, 2018
Carolina Ibarra Garay on the Responsibilities of Being a Champion 
Carolina Ibarra Garay is the 2018 World Aeropress Champion! In this interview, Carolina tells us her coffee story—from growing up in Colombia to bouncing around different jobs to entering her first coffee competition this year. She also talks about the responsibility that her win brings, and hopes to pass on information to others and promote women and other underrepresented groups in the competition circuit. If you want to be inspired by a true champion, this is the interview to listen to.
November 29, 2018
WACWA Is Pushing For Workers Rights 
WACWA details the forming of their union, and initiatives they plan to pursue.
November 15, 2018
Andrea Pacas on Tech in the Coffee Industry 
Coffee and tech are the hot topics in this episode of Boss Barista with Andrea Pacas, CEO of Coffunity.
November 08, 2018
Kat Melheim of Coffee People Zine Does it All 
Kat Melheim of Coffee People Zine gets shit done. An idea struck her during a latte art competition—why don’t I collect stories, art, and creative works from coffee folks and put them into a magazine? Five months later you have Coffee People Zine, a quarterly publication celebrating the creative pursuits of folks in the coffee world. She’s expanded the magazine, put on a film festival, thrown countless parties to promote the magazine and still has a ton more to share. We talk to Kat about pursuing ideas, how to make decisions, and the connection between Coffee People Zine and her former life as a social worker. There’s some secret goodies at the end for listeners, too. ;)
November 03, 2018
Gabe Boscana On Identity And Trust in Green Buying 
Gabe Boscana of Maquina Coffee Roasters faces a daily conundrum - how do we buy coffee responsibly? In this episode he talks about the ethics of buying coffee at all, what it means to be Latinx during a sourcing trip, and if you haven’t heard it on here yet, we bring it up again: we discuss how and if anyone ever needs to go to a coffee-producing country to source coffee. Photo by Lindsey Shea.
October 25, 2018
Jen Apodaca, Part Two 
In part two of our interview with Jen Apodaca, Director of Roasting for Royal Coffee, Jen talks about being a leader and what that entails. We learn about her work with the Zapatistas in Mexico, her union roots, and how that influenced the way she approaches leadership. SPOILER ALERT there's some real talk about HR and management, but you probably needed to hear it anyway.
October 11, 2018
Jen Apodaca Is Making Coffee Roasting Accessible 
There are few people in the coffee industry that are as easy to talk with as Jen Apodaca. Catching Jen at a party can often lead from a casual hello to a two hour conversation about family, growth, life, and, well coffee. Today we’re thrilled to have part one of a two-parter breaking down Jen’s experience roasting coffee and eventually her role in helping develop the #shestheroaster campaign. Part one covers Jen’s background, but part two delves into the future. Stay tuned!
October 05, 2018
Brittney Balestra Celebrates Womxn in Colorado Springs 
The Colorado Springs Independent, a local newspaper, released a poll asking its readers to vote for their favorite baristas in the area. The list failed to include any womxn in a community overflowing with amazing womxn coffee professionals. Brittney Balestra of Third Space Coffee noticed, and decided to do something about it. Today we talk with Brittney about exclusion in your community, what defines a great barista, and how she single handedly challenged her city’s local newspaper. To vote for your favorite womxn coffee professional, go here: http://www.easypolls.net/poll.html?p=5b9ec483e4b05a9fecafffc1
September 27, 2018
Soleil Ho On The Flaws of the Service Industry 
What does it mean to consume a $5 burger? How do we rectify the need to provide people with affordable food and create viable food and service jobs? Soleil Ho is an accomplished writer and host of The Racist Sandwich and Popanganda podcasts, and she joins us today to talk about the flaws of service - we unpack a lack of diversity in ownership, why restaurants aimed at providing affordable food like Locol shut down, and we nerd out - one podcaster to another.
September 21, 2018
The Abortion Series - Jennifer 
We continue with the abortion series, a storytelling project normalizing abortion amongst coffee professionals. Today, Jennifer tells her story of tumultuous relationships and finding ways to communicate with her coworkers and superiors. Jennifer's story shines a light on the sometimes destructive way we force employees to separate their personal lives from their work lives, and will force you to consider opening your ears and eyes to the stories of others. And for those of you who feel the need to throw shade, Jennifer welcomes your DMs.
September 13, 2018
Boss Barista Presents Filter Stories 
On this episode of Boss Barista, we present Filter Stories, a new coffee podcast focused on longform storytelling. In this episode, host James Harper interviews the folks involved with the Waking Life scandal in Asheville, North Carolina. Negging, red pill theories, and a story about community action are all in this episode. Check out Filter Stories on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or filterstories.org
September 07, 2018
Alice Wong Says #suckitableism 
Alice Wong joins us today to talk about the straw ban, ableism in public spaces, and performative activism in a capitalist society. Alice is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project, and is an disabled-rights activist based in San Francisco. Alice talks about the rhetoric of the straw ban, how disabled voices are often erased, and how she fell into activism and storytelling. If you have any questions, thoughts, or are confused as to how the straw ban hurts and erases the stories of disabled folks, you have to listen to this episode.
August 23, 2018
Nyambura Njee On Race and Wage Disparities 
On August 6th, 2018, Nya Njee shared her story of racism and wage disparities. She was the only black female at a coffeeshop in Ann Arbor, and was repeatedly promised, then denied, wage increases. She was told conflicting things about her work ethic, dealt with defensive business owners, and finally discovered that she was being paid less than her white coworkers, many of whom had not been working at the cafe for as long as she had. On this episode, Nya shares her story. If you're a business owner, please use this story to check your wage policies. If you're an employee, remember that it is illegal for an employer to intimidate or suppress discussion with your coworkers about wages.
August 16, 2018
The Abortion Series - Katie 
Boss Barista is proud to present The Abortion Series, a collection of stories about abortion while working in coffee. Today, we meet Katie, a barista in the midwest who talks about scheduling her abortion around her work schedule, keeping quiet about liberal ideas in a conservative space, and ponders if she's told her mom yet. We hope to launch a mini-series and collection of stories around abortion in an attempt to normalize it. These stories are both unique and unremarkable and we hope they resonate with you and make you rethink how you approach safety, politics, and the needs of others in your coffeeshop.
August 09, 2018
Vava Angwenyi on Decolonizing Empowerment 
We continue to explore the colonialist systems that are interwoven in the coffee industry by asking what does it mean to truly empower a group of people? Vava Angwenyi, founder of Vava Coffee and cofounder and director at Gente Del Futuro, talks to us about how colonization has affected the way we view empowerment and created systems of dependency that farmers are unable to get out of (and frankly most companies want them to stay in). If you've ever wondered why coffee prices are stagnant or how exploitative goodwill projects can be, this is a must listen.
July 27, 2018
Becca Woodard Is A Champion Of The People 
TWO COFFEE CHAMPIONS IN A ROW! Becca Woodard is the 2018 United States Brewers Cup Champion, and she generously sat down with us TWICE (the first episode was scrapped due to audio issues and frankly, we're lucky because this one is wayyyyy better!). Becca dishes on representation in competition, what it means to compete on behalf of her company, and real talk on gaining privilege and prestige after winning a national title. She's amazing—put this episode in your ears now.
July 19, 2018
My Barista Champion, Andrea Allen 
IT'S ANDREA ALLEN! If you haven't seen a barista competition routine by Andrea, stop what you're doing and go watch—Andrea manages to evoke feelings, create trust with her audience and judges, and just make you fucking bawl every time she takes the stage. In this interview, we go beyond the barista competition stage, and learn more about what inspires and motivates Andrea to pursue excellence in coffee. And she also tells a few funny stories. :p
July 05, 2018
Bani Amor is Decolonizing Travel Culture 
Have you ever been told, "you just HAVE to go to origin?" Do pictures of farmers and children in coffeeshops really bug you? Do the words "hardworking" or "humble" or "exotic" belong anywhere on a bag of coffee? Coffee is built on colonial structures, and its bled into the way we view the way we travel and talk about coffee. In this episode, travel writer Bani Amor talks about what it means to decolonize travel culture, and to create space for all identities. They talk about migration as travel, tell people to stop going on fucking all-inclusive cruises, and break down the language cues that oppressors use to uphold the dichotomy of "us" and "them." This is a must-listen. Bani's work can be found at www.baniamor.com.
June 28, 2018