Barista Magazine

APR-MAY 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 78 of 119

SINCE THE BARISTA GUILDS of America and Europe—the OG grassroots coffee communities—have unifi ed along with the rest of the two Specialty Coffee Associations, there have been some changes to the struc- ture and the function of the organization. We recently "sat down" over email with Barista Guild chair (and my overseas colleague with Cafe Imports Europe) Stuart Ritson to fi nd out about the unifi ed org and the future of the Guild, including the new U.S. chapter. Ever Meister: What were some of the considerations that had to be made while organizing the unifi cation? Were there any big compromises that were on the table? Stuart Ritson: When I joined the unifi cation process, it had been going on for several years already. A large group of volunteers from both of the previous Guilds had given a lot of their time to making sure it was consider- ate to everyone and all potential issues had been thought through. I have to give all of these volunteers the utmost credit before I say anything about unifi cation. There was a lot of discussion about everything. From the minutiae of wording, to the structure of the bylaws, we went over everything with a fi ne comb. The biggest things for me personally were fi rstly, the size of the BGLC (Barista Guild Leadership Council) and, secondly, our voting system. The Barista Guild of America (BGA) was a group of 11 Executive Council members; Barista Guild of Europe [was] slightly smaller at eight Working Group members. We've now downsized to just 10 people total. The concept behind this is that in the past, the Guilds were a lot about the practical elements of doing the work, and now our idea is to create a vision and bring together baristas and other coffee professionals who can help us deliver that vision. The new volunteering structure is very different. Instead of having ongoing committees, we will instead seek out passionate volunteers to tackle individual projects. So it's a big change for the previous leadership structure: from hands-on work to being more about delegation and building teams of volunteers. The voting system was another big point of discussion for us. Now we have a compromise model. Candidates can apply and then they go into a selection process; the aim being that the chosen candidates refl ect the diversity of our community, while also recognizing committed volun- teers that have the skills that it takes to deliver what our membership really wants. We are hopeful that this meth- od is fair, recognizes talent and diversity, but ultimately leaves the power where it belongs–with members. EM: For baristas who are members of the Guild, what are the benefi ts of having a unifi ed organization? Are there any drawbacks? SR: I like to think there won't be any drawbacks. We are still committed to delivering Barista Camp, Access, CoLab, and Bloom, the events that our members have enjoyed and probably know well. And of course we want to keep advo- cating for the barista profession as much as we can. The interesting part is that the old Guilds actually had a really broad international membership. There were a lot of BGE members in South Korea, for instance and these members never really got to receive the most attention or care from the Guild. Now we are global, it is our hope and intention that we can create content and deliver a message that resonates with baristas every- where. Going forward I think we can bring baristas from all across the world together and that's really exciting. EM: There's been a lot of buzz about the new U.S. chapter of the Specialty Coffee Association that's been formed. Can you tell me a little about how the chapters work in Europe and how they might help increase engagement and representation in the U.S.? SR: The chapters in Europe are such a great thing. They function like mini Guilds: They'll come together via online and in-person meetings to plan and structure the competitions and other events. I think they allow the local community to speak for themselves, advocate to us, and to the SCA more broadly, and create competitions and events that are bespoke for the local communities. It's my opinion that the U.S. chapter will be such an amazing group, and it is an incredible opportunity. EM: Have you had to learn any international coffee slang in order to do your job better? Just kidding (sort of). SR: "Jolly Ranchers" is a tasting note I never got until I was part of the Guild. But to be honest, I think when you're talking coffee, it's amazingly like its own language wherever you are in the world. —Ever Meister Four questions with S T U A R T R I T S O N chair of the newly unified Barista Guild 79

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