Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S UMEKO MOTOYOSHI ON @WASTINGCOFFEE WHETHER YOU'RE A BLACK-BREW purist or prefer coffee with your cream, any coffee lover has to admit that images of milk clouds in coffee are pure eye candy. The same can be said for "coffee spillage aes- thetic." You may recognize these as pictures of our beloved beverage in mid-air, typically poured out of a mug or even tossed into the sky against a setting sun. Umeko Motoyoshi, however, doesn't see it this way. They see it as disrespectful. Initially, coffee professional Umeko started an Instagram account called @wastingcoffee as a platform for community conversations about the wasteful practices within the specialty-coffee industry, and recently adapted it into a book about coffee sustainability. The @wastingcoffee Guide To Not Wasting Coffee is a compilation of both Umeko's and the community's ideas for reducing coffee waste, many of which were initially discussed on the IG account. This guide also focuses on how critical it is that coffee is valued as a product, not something to be tossed or devalued. We talked with Umeko about what inspired them to start @wasting- coffee, and how The @wastingcoffee Guide To Not Wasting Coffee is intentionally a coffee book that should be available to all audiences. Barista Magazine: First, what is @wastingcoffee? Umeko Motoyoshi: @wastingcoffee is an Instagram account. It's a satirical account that uses aestheticized images of coffee waste as a jumping-off point for community conversations about how we can make our coffee practices more sustainable. BMag: Where did you get the idea to start this? UM: I wanted to start the account for a while and I'd been collecting coffee waste images for a while… It wasn't something that I had really seen or heard other people talk about so I wasn't sure if I was gonna put up this account, and how people would respond to it. But yeah, I was just thinking about it, the C-market price for coffee. As we all know, it's a really huge problem and I was thinking about the coffee-pricing crisis, which I do a lot, and was on Instagram and saw one of those coffee waste photos and I was just like, "We need to do better!" So I had the account in my brain and then I put it together and pub- lished it in like a few minutes. Then I got 1,000 followers overnight. It was the most followers I'd ever gotten on an account in 24 hours. After that, I thought, "It seems like this is resonating with people." BMag: Why did you decide on Instagram as a platform for this idea? UM: Those images are born on Instagram basically. Imagery is the topic at hand, so for a conversation about imagery that relies on how visually striking they are, an Instagram page seemed like the most intuitive fi t. BMag: What kind of feedback has the account received? UM: I've gotten a lot of responses from businesses who have messaged me and said they've used those kinds of images in the past, didn't think about it before, and they're glad and appreciative of having it pointed out. And a few businesses have gone really intentional [about] moving away from using that kind of imagery now. BMag: In only a few months you've posted a massive number of imag- es! How did you compile all of this in such a short time? UM: I have a lot of community conversations stored on the Instagram account in the Highlights section, so I drew on that but also a lot of it had been in my head. I just had to put it down on paper … I wrote the book in a week and edited it in a week. It all happened really fast. BMag: What was the most fun part of the book to write? UM: I think the most fun part was making a coffee text that was a really authentic representation of me and how I think about things. It was really fun to just write what I think. A lot of coffee texts that I've read make a lot of qualitative judgments, I guess. There's a lot of dogma in coffee where people are like, "You have to do this otherwise you just don't understand coffee," and it was fun to write a book that was not about making judgments and was focused on something that feels like a more sustainable and holistic approach to quality… It's saying, "Here are some suggestions that could help you to reduce coffee waste, reduce your costs, improve your quality," all in one, and it's based on a goal of sustainability rather than an abstract quality goal that exists in a vacuum. BMag: Is there anything from the book that you think can connect to the service industries outside of coffee too? UM: There's a lot of suggestions on what to do with coffee grounds or how to compost them but overall the general ethos is around taking our product seriously and treating our product and making our decisions about systems based on a really strong recognition of our product's in- herent value and wanting to get the most out of it; [also] reducing waste because it's a precious and valuable project that we care a lot about. That's an attitude that can be applied anywhere. I think the general ethos of making all our decisions based on a really strong valuing of our product, that's something that can translate to restaurant and service environments, and also the ethos of continued questioning when there's something that is a standard. It's just what everyone does, and feeling like it's OK to question that and disagree and try something different. I think that's important for any industry. BMag: Are there any fi nal words that you'd like to share about this book? UM: Most of all I want the book to be really accessible to a wide range of coffee professionals and not just the forum nerds or not just for a specifi c group of people with a specifi c experience. I wanted there to be really interesting and helpful content for people of all backgrounds and experience levels; everything about the book, as I was creating it, I was just thinking about how I [can] make this accessible to a lot of people and useful and helpful for a lot of people and that's even down to how I have it printed. Instead of having it printed with perfect binding, I had it printed zine-style with saddle stitch so that the price would be more affordable for baristas. It's information I think is really good and helpful and useful and I wanted to remove as many barriers to entry as possible, to make something that people could easily just read and access and hopefully enjoy too. I wanted it to also be fun and not just this dry text. Every- thing about it was designed to be successful and practical and fun. The @wastingcoffee Guide To Not Wasting Coffee is now available online for purchase at —Katrina Yentch 26 barista magazine

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