Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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# 5 : S t a r t o r j o i n a n o n l i n e f o r u m # 6 : T a k e l o c a l o r o n l i n e n o n - c o f f e e c l a s s e s # 7 : S t a r t o r j o i n a t a s t i n g g r o u p o r b o o k c l u b Two years ago, Austin, Texas–based barista and competitor Oodie Taliaferro very casually hosted a national coffee exchange: They posted to Twitter to see who was interested, made a list, drew names at random, and matched people with a coffee exchange buddy. "I think the ability to build a relationship with someone a couple hundred miles away over a cup of coffee is pretty cool," says Oodie. "It's not often we get to be drinking the same thing as our friends when everyone is all spread out, so it's cool to get to do that once in a while." #5: Start or join an online forum Oodie's point that the specialty-coffee industry is spread out, making connection challenging, has inspired another type of prodev venture: online forums for coffee pros of various backgrounds or interests. Cur- rently, the coffee industry boasts myriad Facebook and Slack groups for roasters, baristas, local guilds, and folks from various marginalized backgrounds. These allow people to connect despite time zone and geographic separation, meet new people, discuss specifi c issues they've experi- enced, and even plan meetups. #6: Take local or online non-coffee classes Instead of signing up for coffee-related class- es, which can sometimes include redundant knowledge you may have already learned on the job along with their often-prohibitive price tags, why not take a class on an outside skill that helps you deepen your relationship with coffee and even—gasp—increase your earning potential? Local and online colleges usually offer low-cost classes for adults learning on a variety of subjects. Learning more about marketing, accounting, HR, agriculture, or any other number of subjects can have a hugely positive effect not only on you but on the coffee industry at large, by diversifying the larger skills pool in the industry. Izi Aspera of Wrecking Ball Coffee in the San Francisco Bay Area has been in coffee for 10 years and has been taking classes— just one or two a semester—for about as long. Currently, they're learning about bot- any. "It's really rewarding to kind of be this liaison for plant health or care," they say. "I think taking classes at a community college was the fi rst time I felt like I was welcome in an academic setting. Many students are on their third or second career change or, like me, still trying to graduate." Izi says that in adult learning courses, they've found an acceptance and welcoming atmosphere that they often feel is lacking in coffee education. "The structure, confi dence, and ability to make new people feel like they can learn coffee is rare in our industry," Izi continues. "This learning environment combined with a peek into another industry inspire what culture I want to cultivate in the coffee industry." #7: Start or join a tasting group or book club Another great low-cost prodev strategy is to launch a tasting group or book club with local coffee friends. It's an extremely affordable way to come together, initiate deep conversations, and learn new things. In 2016, Floy Andrews of Bay Area CoRo and Katie Carguilo of Counter Culture Coffee came together to launch the Coffee Gals Book Club, a book club for Bay Area women. At each meeting, a different member would provide excerpts from one coffee or coffee-adjacent book for the group to read, and then lead the discussion. "I think Katie and I had separately been looking for ways to connect more deeply with women in coffee," says Floy, discussing the inception of Coffee Gals. "I fi nd that connecting with a small group with the intention of having a joint conversation on a chosen topic to 79

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