Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 104 of 115

Erna Knutsen A TRUE SPECIALTY-COFFEE PIONEER Article By Ashley Rodriguez • Illustration by Ashley Elander Strandquist IN MEMORIUM MASTER DURING THE 2014 Specialty Coffee Associa- tion of America's (SCAA) annual Expo opening festivities, master of ceremonies Marcus Boni welcomed Erna Knutsen to the stage to accept her second lifetime achievement award (she was the fi rst-ever recipient of this distinction by the association in 1991). As she walked up to the stage, the theme song from Cheers played, the familiar lyric, "Where everybody knows your name," rang through the ballroom, and the hundreds of attend- ees sprang to their feet and applauded. The song, albeit initially kind of cheesy, was also wildly appropriate: Pretty much everyone in the specialty-coffee industry does indeed know her name. Erna is the woman who coined the term specialty coffee in the fi rst place, just after she became the fi rst woman to demand a place at the until then completely male-dominated cupping table. "What a wonderful life, thank you very, very much," she said during her acceptance speech as she beamed out over the audience. "It's been a thrill, even though I was kept out of the cupping room and the roaster because I was a woman. They were all men and they decided that women didn't deserve a break, but I fooled them." She fl ashed one of her trademark grins, adding, "I bought the company and fi red them all." Erna passed away in June 2018 at the age of 97. 105

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