Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 57 of 99

Similarly, his role on the Outreach team of the BGA has allowed him the opportunity to provide much-needed resources to people who have had trouble accessing it previously. Getting more people involved—not just in competition but in all areas of the coffee community—brings more voices to the table, which is what Adam is perhaps the most passionate about of all. When it comes to creating a larger forum for engagement, Adam says, "Don't wait for people to step up—go and ask people." He's aware of the fact that stepping up can be tough, especially for folks who are already intimidated, or feel there's no seat at the table for them in the fi rst place. After all, that was his experience himself. Adam didn't think there was room for him in leadership because the industry looks so white from the outside. His message and calling is a broad one: Not only does he want people from different ethnic and gender groups to feel welcome in the coffee community, he also hopes for a leadership panel that is diverse in work backgrounds. Educators, baristas, roasters, café owners, farmers—Adam thinks there's a need for all of them to contribute, as each brings a unique perspective that can contribute to a more holistic vision for the future of specialty coffee. Adam always circles back to that idea of making things "more whole." He proposes creating a system that would allow more voices to be heard as the best platform for change—not fi xing something that's broken, but focusing on making what already exists more repre- sentational and complete (i.e., more whole). Adam believes baristas are especially well-equipped for identify- ing a problem and fi xing it because of how they have been trained to approach their bar work. "Almost nowhere else does 2 grams make a difference, but when you're brewing coffee, the difference between 20 grams and 22 grams is enormous," he says. Experience behind bar, where even the most minute changes matter, means baristas are more aware than almost anyone else of how even a tiny bit of change can turn something around. He understands how this spills over into social activism. During a rush, a barista can spot a problem and make an incremental change on the fl y that improves the coffee; that the larger community can't similarly make changes—even incremental ones—that would improve the industry on the fl y can feel frustrating in comparison. "I'm happy there are movements and strides, but we can do better," Adam says. Change in the industry has focused primarily on two spaces: taste and quality in the shop, and distinction and access on the farm. Both are important, he concedes, "But why not other spaces?" Adam fi nds comfort in the fact that the specialty-coffee industry is quite young and underdeveloped thus far—he fi nds that freeing. "The decisions we make now will shape this industry," he says. Still, he worries we're not making the right decisions often enough. When Adam and I were working together, he made a habit of asking the newest person on the team what they thought he should change about the store. They were seeing it with fresh eyes and brought with them experience he didn't have. Adam still relies on that tactic for dis- cerning the most necessary of changes; he knows it takes fresh eyes to see them oftentimes. Adam thinks everyone in a leadership role would benefi t from asking the same question. 58 barista magazine

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