Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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WHILE 2017 WAS A CHALLENGING YEAR for the United States coffee community in the political, social, and environmental spheres, there was one thing last year defi nitely got right: local, independent coffee events. Where a few years ago many local coffee communities were still struggling to get latte art throwdowns up and running, this past year showed the coffee world a whole slew of creative and exciting coffee events organized at the grassroots level by regional and even neighborhood communities across the country. From rethinking how to make barista work sustainable, to exploring coffee workers' responsi- bility as community members, to just having a few drinks and blowing off steam, the organizers of these 10 groundbreaking events share their inspiration and tips for how to look at your community and create your own grassroots coffee event. MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID TRAINING Emeryville, Calif. Hosted by: The Bay Area Coffee Community (BACC) While researching a series on mental health in the coffee profession, freelance marketer and BACC organizer Jenn Chen met mental-health fi rst-aid trainer Cat Willett, and the fi rst ever Mental Health First Aid Training for Coffee Professionals was born. Over the course of an eight- hour day at Counter Culture Coffee's Emeryville, Calif., training center, Cat walked the group through the details of the most common mental illnesses and how their respective crises manifest, practicing de-escala- tion techniques and practical communication strategies throughout. "Since taking on this work, I've started to notice how frequently baristas have to engage with people who might be experiencing men- tal-health or substance-use issues," says Cat. "I've seen some really beautiful encounters, and I've seen some really troubling encounters. People who spend their days interfacing with community members should receive basic training in de-escalation, as well as in-the-moment skills to take care of yourself after a tough encounter." An added bonus: The skills covered in Mental Health First Aid of- ten work with customers who may not have mental-health issues but still need de-escalation. Attendees agreed that in an industry where mental health crises happen frequently on both sides of the bar, Mental Health First Aid Training is a valuable investment. If you're interested in hosting your own Mental Health First Aid Training, go to www.mentalhealthfi rstaid.org. CHERRY ROAST Denver Hosted by: Elle Jensen Originally an all-women competition, Cherry Roast 2017 was the com- petition's third year running out of Denver, and its fi rst to include non- binary and trans-masculine people. Creator Elle Jensen (formerly Elle Taylor) of Amethyst Coffee started the competition in order to create a space where women felt more comfortable competing. A four-round gauntlet of triangulations, drink-order fulfi llment, spontaneous signature-beverage creation, and brewing, Cherry Roast engages a whole range of daily barista skills within a super- tight timeframe. Currently, the tiny competition mostly boasts locals, drawing in about 20–30 folks from the surrounding regions, but every year is bigger than the last. Co-organized by Breezy Sanchez, Kristyn Wade, and Johanna Hirschboeck, Cherry Roast is meant to be not only a place where baristas can fl ex and show off their skills, but also a place they can connect, have fun, and learn to take themselves less seriously. Over time, Elle hopes to see the compe- tition continue to grow organically into a cross-country event, where women, nonbinary people, and trans-masculine folks can come together, have fun, and kick ass. All proceeds from Cherry Roast go to the International Women's Coffee Alliance. FEMMES IN COFFEE EVENT San Jose, Calif. Hosted by: Chromatic Coffee Chromatic Coffee's third-annual Femmes in Coffee Event brought coffee women to the South Bay for talks and inspiration from business owners Helen Russell of Equator Coffees + Teas, Ei- leen Hassi Rinaldi of Ritual Coffee Roasters, and Chromatic's own Wendy Warren. This event, created by Wendy, was designed as a day where women leaders in coffee could feel recognized for their contributions, which are often minimized compared to those of their male peers. "I'm a feminist who likes to stay positive, despite the fact that women and femmes aren't equally represented in our fi eld," Wendy says. "Our inspiration came from how diffi cult it is to be recognized in the industry, offset by how much fun I was having working with women and femmes in coffee and our femme suppliers who we've become good friends with." Wendy's goal every year is that attendees leave feeling supported as leaders, with new ideas and connections with vendors, wholesalers, and makers. This year, one of the hottest sub- jects of conversation was the housing situation in the Bay Area and how coffee company owners can best support workers within such an expensive housing market. ASL FOR BARISTAS Charlotte, N.C. Hosted by: Charlotte Coffee Collective (CCC) The American Sign Language (ASL) for Baristas workshop was a collaboration between Charlotte Coffee Collective's Diana Mnat- sakanyan-Sapp, Claire Lucas, and Sarah Britton. Claire, who works as a barista at Amelie's French Bakery and is learning ASL in school, cre- ated the curriculum in conjunction with front-of-house manager Sarah, who has a background in ASL interpreting. Claire and Sarah focused on making the course work simple, fun, and easily applicable, using handouts, shared online resources, and lots of time for practice and role play to engage the group. "Learning service-oriented ASL isn't like attending a palate develop- ment class or a cupping," Diana says. Unlike those events, which focus on gaining knowledge for one's own sake, this event focused on serving Deaf and hard-of-hearing customers better and improving their café experience. The ASL for Baristas workshop was a practical fi rst step for Charlotte's local coffee pros to start the actual legwork of creating a more inclusive, safe, and welcoming place for all people interested in specialty coffee. It went so well that they'll be hosting a second event in the new year. 71 www.baristamagazine.com

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