Boss Barista

Camila Coddou Explores Power, Personal Responsibility, and Who Gets The Megaphone [071]

An episode of Boss Barista

By Boss Barista
Ashley Rodriguez talks to folks about gender, race, sex, and other important issues in coffee. We invite people from all realms of the coffee world to share stories and engage in discussion - we want to hear from you! Contact us at
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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 7, 2019
How To Be Your Own Advocate Live At Rancilio Ramp Up Chicago [085]
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 [084]
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 [083]
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 7, 2019
Gyalene Torres on Puerto Rico and Feeling Invisible [082]
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 [081]
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 3, 2019
Sarah Hewett-Ball on Building a Cooperative Cafe [080]
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 [079]
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 6, 2019
How Busy Are You Really with Melissa Stinson [078]
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 [077]
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
053: 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
049: 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 9, 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 2, 2019
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 5, 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 [071]
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 8, 2019
070: 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 male 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 1, 2019
069: 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
068: 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 8, 2019
067: 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
066: 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
065: 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
064: 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
063: 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
062: 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
061: WACWA Is Pushing For Workers Rights
WACWA details the forming of their union, and initiatives they plan to pursue.
November 15, 2018
060: 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 8, 2018
059: 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 3, 2018
058: 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
057: Jen Apodaca and the Surprises of Leadership
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
056: Jen Apodaca Is Making Coffee Roasting Accessible, pt. 1
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 5, 2018
055: 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:
September 27, 2018
054: 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
053: 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
052: 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
September 7, 2018
051: 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
050: 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
049: 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 9, 2018
048: 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
047: 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
046: 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 5, 2018
045: 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
June 28, 2018
044: Mayra Hernandez Part Two
In this episode, we sit down with Mayra Hernandez and talk about hiring, being in the spotlight, and what happens when you open a business (hint - you get REALLY busy). Mayra gives advice on mentorship, and insights on building community in neighborhoods. Listen to this episode. You will come away with some new ideas.
June 21, 2018
043: Mayra Hernandez of Back of the Yards Coffee
Mayra Hernandez opened a cafe in her childhood neighborhood in Chicago called Back of the Yards Coffee Co, and we sit and chat at her cafe in part one of a two part series. We talk about returning to your neighborhood, what building community looks like, and ponder why local artists' works and neighborhood flyers have disappeared from modern coffee shops. This is the first episode of Boss Barista produced in partnership with Good Beer Hunting ( and is sponsored by Juniors Roasted Coffee (
May 5, 2018
042: Jasper's Last Episode
Jasper and Ashley started Boss Barista almost two years ago, and now Jasper says goodbye to the podcast (and coffee!) in this episode. Jasper and Ashley talk about their highs and lows, and Ashley conducts an exit interview with Jasper. THIS IS NOT THE END OF BOSS BARISTA. More Boss Barista will be coming to you - and we talk at the end about the future of the show.
April 19, 2018
041: Samantha Mason & Korbin Richards on the Gimme Coffee Union
In February 2018, baristas at the four upstate New York Gimme Coffee locations voted to unionize, becoming the first group of baristas to form a union. Two of the organizers, Samantha Mason and Korbin Richards join us and talk about how they formed the union, what protections can baristas work towards, and the power of collective action. Hear from members of Workers United Local 2833!
April 11, 2018
040: Meghan McCarron on Power and Economic Responsibility
Meghan McCarron is a staff writer for, and wrote an article about sexual misconduct in the hospitality industry called "Dear Bad Man: Divest From Your Restaurants Already." We talk power, economic loss and gain, and the responsibility of restaurants and coffeeshops when they are the subject of sexual misconduct allegations. Read the article here:
March 28, 2018
039: Running a Podcast Isn't Cheap...
Ok folx. We're not gonna lie - we need your help to keep this project going. We tell a story about sponsorship, talk sad feels, explore proper plant care, and do our VERY FIRST SEGMENT: #thoucrushshoutout! Please consider donating to our patreon - it really keeps us going:
February 26, 2018
038: It's Not Over—An Unofficial Four Barrel Wrap Up
It's been almost six weeks since Jeremy Tooker and Four Barrel were accused of sexual misconduct. We talk about what's next and put out an open call for current owners, Jodi Geren and Tal Mor, to get in touch with us.
February 15, 2018
037: Umeko Motoyoshi is Here to Talk Shit
Umeko Motoyoshi of Sudden Coffee talks about her role as the main organizer in the Four Barrel lawsuit, and dishes on finding a lawyer, feeling validation, and we also do a 101 intro on gaslighting. #startdrama #talkshit Photo by Jenn Chen.
February 5, 2018
036: Molly Flynn is Starting Drama and Talking Shit
Molly Flynn was fed up listening to the stories of harassment and assault her friends experienced in the coffee industry—so she organized. Molly is the founder of #coffeetoo, a grassroots organization dedicated to ending harassment in the coffee industry. We get real, we get personal, and we talk shit. CHECK OUT #COFFEETOO GOFUNDME
January 25, 2018
035: Update on the Four Barrel Lawsuit
Last week, Jeremy Tooker and Four Barrel settled the lawsuit brought against them by eight former employees. But there's still work to do. Jodi and Tal promised to divest—they haven't yet. Instead, they fired the majority of their production team. So we have a big ask of you: reach out to the cafes you know continuing to serve Four Barrel and ask them to DEMAND DIVESTMENT BY FEBRUARY 15TH. Demand transparency, demand that shares of the company be given to employees (not sold), and demand a timeline. If you need a form letter to send to your local cafes, we got you covered.
January 19, 2018
034: Four Barrel and Jeremy Tooker Accused of Sexual Misconduct
ONGOING STORY/TRIGGER WARNING–On January 5th, 2018, the SF Chronicle broke the story that eight former and current employees of Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco, Calif., are coming forward, accusing owner Jeremy Tooker of sexual harassment and assault. The suit alleges that other owners of Four Barrel were well aware of these behaviors and propagated a culture that protected Jeremy and allowed sexual misconduct to run rampant. Listen as we read aloud the allegations from the lawsuit.
January 6, 2018
033: Reggie Elliott Is Up With Coffee
A few weeks ago, we got in a Twitter debate with Reggie, and we all came together to discuss cultural appropriation (spoiler alert: he's right we were wrong), the responsibility of leaders in the coffee industry, and what's so special about the D.C. coffee scene. Reggie is the Coffee Director at A Rake's Progress and The Cup We All Race 4, and he talks about Sweden, his beginnings at Murky Coffee, and the importance of representation through DMV Coffee. We also laugh a little and talk about astrology and babies because duh.
January 3, 2018
032: Emily Ordendoff's Statement at Reno Coffeechamps
Lots of amazing folks competed at the Reno Coffeechamps earlier this month, and used their platform to call out the SCA and speak up for their community. In this mini-episode, Jasper talks about activism and airs a statement from Emily Orendorff of Boxcar Coffee Roasters in Denver. Thank you to Emily for letting us air her statement, and Lucas Haladki for noticing this and tagging us on Twitter!
December 16, 2017
031: Jasper & Ashley - Together Again to Put the SCA ON BLAST
During Cherry Roast, Jasper and Ashley came together to talk a little more about the SCA's Deferred Candidacy Policy. Join us in this mini-episode where we talk about the power of local events and the importance of transparency in decision making and global politics.
December 6, 2017
Hope you were paying attention in your high school French class -- we bring you an episode of Boss Barista entirely IN FRENCH! The great folks from Cafée let us hang and record a panel with women from all over the coffee scene in Paris, and we're thrilled to share the happenings of a coffee scene abroad. Remember, this episode is entirely IN FRENCH and we hope to bring you episodes in different languages soon!
December 4, 2017
Jasper and Ashley head to Denver, Colo., for the third annual Cherry Roast, a coffee competition aimed at being inclusive and making coffee competitions accessible. We report live on the event and interview past winners, current competitors, and others in the Denver coffee who are making changes and pushing forward.
November 25, 2017
Ashley Responds to the SCA's Deferred Candidacy Policy
From the World Barista Championships in South Korea, Ashley responds.
November 12, 2017
Jasper Responds to the SCA's Deferred Candidacy Policy
We respond to the SCA's Deferred Candidacy Policy. Back in San Francisco, Jasper weighs in. #boycottSCA
November 12, 2017
028: We Interview Each Other
Boss Barista was born out of a conversation between Jasper and Ashley. Today, we revisit that conversation and delve deeper. Jasper talks about her name change and her background, and Ashley discusses her identity and talks an upsetting amount about Tinder.
November 4, 2017
027: Eileen Hassi Rinaldi of Ritual Coffee
It's here. Eileen Hassi Rinaldi of Ritual Coffee sits down with Boss Barista and walks us through her coffee history and how she started the one of the most progressive coffee companies in the United States. Dave Eggers, venture capitalists, and creating family are all covered!
October 11, 2017
026: Reflections on Leadership
A leader isn't simply the person in charge--it's the person who takes responsibility for their staff and ensures their success. In this episode, Jasper and Ashley talk about leaders in the cafe and why people seem to ignore their responsibility to their baristas. LEADERSHIP IS A PRACTICED SKILL YOU CAN DO IT BETTER. Photo featuring Jen Apodaca showing folks how to roast at a #shestheroaster event.
September 27, 2017
025: 'There Was Nothing Here Before the Coffeeshop Opened!'
Gentrification is ugly and real. In this episode, we talk about Boyle Heights, how gentrification hurts neighborhoods, and the language behind gentrification -- ever heard someone say, 'There was nothing here a few years ago?' Yes there was, it just didn't cater to your white, middle-class sensibilities. Honor neighborhoods, learn history, respect residents.
September 14, 2017
024: Dani Goot brings punk to coffee
Dani Goot doesn't care what you call her—as long as its uncomfortable for you. Dani is the Head of Coffee Strategy and Business Development for Bellwether Coffee in Berkeley, Calif., and talks to us about staying true to himself and how to grow in coffee. Confused by the use of him/her pronouns? Good—Dani wants you to challenge your perceptions of gender identity and asks you to open your mind and ask questions.
September 1, 2017
MINI EPI: We Respond to Roasters Retreat/Function Coffee Labs
This week has been crazy. Jasper talks about the incident at Roasters Retreat and the firing of a trans worker at Function Coffee Labs. We want to hear your thoughts on this, so please send emails and respond.
August 26, 2017
023: Liz Dean is a great leader. You can be too.
If you want someone to give you a no bullshit answer, Liz Dean is the one to ask. She's hired and managed hundreds of people in her former role as Director of Retail for Irving Farm, and she's got tons of real talk and stories to share about hiring and being a good leader. If you're a leader, and your staff isn't performing to the standards you've set, then guess what? IT'S YOUR FAULT GET IT TOGETHER.  You should also stay til the end because Ashley tries to sing and it's terrible.
August 24, 2017
022: Dismantling Your Privilege
Ok, so. You have some privilege. What do you do with it? What does it mean? And what happens when someone calls you out? Jasper and Ashley talk defensiveness, how to listen to others, and why are folks in coffee ready to play devil's advocate? This was a hard episode for us to record.
July 31, 2017
021: Will They Or Won't They Tip?
You know when there's two characters on a TV show and you watch in anticipation, endlessly wondering will they or won't they? What does that have to do with tipping? In this episode we theorize about tipping and why certain people tip more, why certain people get tipped more, and we ask: should we get rid of tips?
July 18, 2017
020: RJ Joseph Isn't Afraid to Tell You You're Wrong (and maybe make a meme of it)
RJ Joseph is a roaster at Counter Culture Coffee and writer who contributes to Barista Magazine and manages a blog called Queer Cup. In this episode, we discuss roasting, the fire that call-out culture has come under on #coffeetwitter, and how to make awesome memes. ERMAGERD THIS IS OUR 20TH EPISODE!!!!!!!
June 28, 2017
019: Kami McCallie will tell you when you've crossed the line
Kami McCallie is a quality control specialist for Palace Coffee in Amarillo, Texas. She shares with us her experiences with sexism in a small, conservative town, how customers have crossed the line, and how she keeps her head above water.
June 15, 2017
018: Anything you can do I can do bleeding.
Jasper and Ashley issue important apologies and calculate the exact number of periods they've had behind the bar. SUPPORT YOUR BLEEDING BARISTAS BY PROVIDING TAMPONS AND PAINKILLERS!
June 9, 2017
017: Lisa Knisely gives you everyday feminist theory for the home
Lisa Knisely saw all the problems in our field before anyone else saw them. An instructor of Food, Social Identity and Justice at the Portland Underground Graduate School, Lisa wrote a poignant article in 2013 about how male dominated barista competitions are for Bitch Magazine, and she's here to talk to us about care labor, the masculinization of expertise, and how our social identity influences our understanding of gender and race in the cafe.
May 31, 2017
016: YOU had questions and WE answered!
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May 24, 2017
015: MINI EPI - The Cold Brew Theory
In this episode, we reflect on some recent Twitter drama and talk about how to SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO PEOPLE. We recognize the efforts of some GDAMN heroes and try to ask the question, 'Why do people get so upset when they listen to another person share their experiences?' We introduce the cold brew theory: when you take an issue of gender/race/marginalization and replace the issue with the word cold brew and suddenly everyone gives a shit. Also, we get real vulnerable.
May 16, 2017
014: The Oppression Olympics!
Jasper and Ashley talk internet trolls, the power of Slack, the race to the bottom people play when they feel they are being called out, and the things you never say when you debate discrimination. HERE'S A QUICK LIST: 'my penis,' 'dear,' 'sweetie,' 'well, I have a daughter SOOO...'
May 10, 2017
013: US Barista Competition 2017 Recap
Barista Competition. It happened. And we talk with Becky Reeves of BARISTA and WINCC about the things we saw--coaching, expensive coffees, and a lack of diversity AGAIN. We ask questions about what our champions should do and what we hope to see from the competitions committee in the future.
April 29, 2017
Alright sweaties, we know we've been behind. BUT WE'RE IN SEATTLE! We'll be at USBC and SCA Global Expo rocking pins and stickers, microphones on and ready to roll. In this mini episode, we update you on some projects and ask you: how do you deal with non-sensical arguments? ie: "not all men," or "we have to appease our allies," etc...SEND US EMAILS OR TWEETS! @boss_barista or Until then enjoy this outtake.
April 20, 2017
011: Tymika Lawrence is back so LISTEN UP
Couldn't get enough of Tymika? US EITHER! So here's part two of her amazing interview with us! SEND US YOUR COMMENTS!
April 7, 2017
009: We have a favor to ask...
We're taking this week off to work on some future episodes, but we have some favors to ask you pleaseeeeeee?!? WE HAVE PINS! Check out our partnership with WINCC at and please record and email us your stories about competition and the power of effective leaders--are you a leader, do you know of one, do you wish you had a better one? WE WANNA HEAR IT!
March 22, 2017
008: Don't pretend like you don't have privilege!
We host a show about identity in coffee, so we thought it appropriate to confront our own privileges in the coffee community. We occupy a lot of different identities, and try to be as honest and upfront as we can. Sure, we're both women, but we also have a lot of things that give us an unfair advantage in a lot of ways, and we try to tackle our privileges one by one.
March 15, 2017
007: Briana Walker
Ever had someone ask to touch your hair at work? Sometimes people doubt the racism and sexism we experience at work and in our lives, and Briana Walker of Reveille Coffee in San Francisco shares some of her experiences. We talk about managing a cafe, self-care, and the importance of storytelling and being vulnerable.
March 8, 2017
006: Leticia Ramos Pollock - Part 2
We finish up our talk with Leticia Ramos-Pollock of Panther Coffee. More on leadership, building a business, and trusting your intuition.
March 1, 2017
005: Leticia Ramos Pollock
Leticia Ramos-Pollock is the owner and co-founder of Panther Coffee in Miami, Florida. She talks about age discrimination, her responsibilities as a leader, and the qualities that make a great manager. Oh, and there's wine because duh.
February 22, 2017
004: Austin Qualifying Event Recap #rosewater
A quick update after the Austin Qualifying Event. Tables are too tall, Andrea Allen's routine was perfect, POWER, and wtf where were the timers? GET AT US
February 19, 2017
003: Ellan Kline
Ellan Kline is a roaster for Ritual Coffee in San Francisco. In this episode, we talk to her about issues of trans visibility, the differences between gender and sexuality, and why there are more trans-men in coffee than trans-women.
February 15, 2017
002: "Ambitchous"
Jasper Wilde's manifesto.
February 7, 2017
001: How We Feminist.
Our mission and goals.
February 1, 2017
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