Erna Knutsen had been a secretary for over thirty years before she was given a seat at the cupping table. Once she found her love and passion for small lots of coffee, what she called 'specialty coffees,' she upended people's notions of what women could do in the industry. She bought the company she worked at, and fired all the men—but there's more to her story than just getting rid of the 'unimpressive men around her.' Without Erna, our industry would look radically different than it is today. We explore her legacy through sharing stories told by those who knew her best.
Thanks to Sherri Johns, Kayd Whalen, Karen Cebreros, Ric Rhinehart, Kim Easson, and T. Ben Fischer. Our new music is from Lost in the Sun - you can check our their new single on Spotify.Read More
Get ready for life lessons, intensive personality breakdowns, and yelling at your significant other in this interview with Erica Escalante, owner of The Arrow Coffeehouse in Portland. Learn what it's like to own a coffeeshop at 21, what it means to be an Ennegram 8, and how to reckon with your personal power and platform. Erica is one of the most dynamic and candid guests we have—we promise you'll learn a lot from the self-described 'mom of the baristas.'Read More
Have you ever wondered what the judges are looking for during coffee competitions? Emily Orendorff placed third in the barista competition at the Denver CoffeeChamps Qualifying Event—and we break down her scores one by one. We talk about her successes, where she lost points, and talk about the tricks and techniques that score well and those that don't. This is a rare peek into how judges determine the scores for barista competitors, so if you've ever wondered how barista competitions are scored, this is the episode for you.Read More
Carolina Ibarra Garay is the 2018 World Aeropress Champion! In this interview, Carolina tells us her coffee story—from growing up in Colombia to bouncing around different jobs to entering her first coffee competition this year. She also talks about the responsibility that her win brings, and hopes to pass on information to others and promote women and other underrepresented groups in the competition circuit. If you want to be inspired by a true champion, this is the interview to listen to.Read More
The Washtenauw Area Coffee Workers’ Union formed organically after their co-worker, Nya, quit the company they work at over blatant wage disparities. The group now represents seventeen baristas and is pushing for a progressive workers’ platform that facilitates democratic decision making within coffee organizations and supports direct actions that empower coffee workers.
On this episode, WACWA details the formation of their union, talks about what actions they have in store, and encourages others to look into whether unionizing is right for them.
Their union page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/WACWAbaristas/
A GoFundMe to support back wages for Nya is here: https://www.gofundme.com/justice-for-nyaRead More
Andrea Pacas is the 23-year-old CEO of Coffunity, the award-winning app making coffee more accessible. Technology opens up a world of possibility for coffee—from making coffee producers more accessible to providing information to consumers easily and reliably—we talk to Andrea about where she sees the future of coffee and the intersection of the industry with tech. We also talk about starting a business, being a female CEO, and share moments of validation and struggle. For real folks, listen to this one.Read More
Kat Melheim of Coffee People Zine gets shit done. An idea struck her during a latte art competition—why don’t I collect stories, art, and creative works from coffee folks and put them into a magazine? Five months later you have Coffee People Zine, a quarterly publication celebrating the creative pursuits of folks in the coffee world. She’s expanded the magazine, put on a film festival, thrown countless parties to promote the magazine and still has a ton more to share.
We talk to Kat about pursuing ideas, how to make decisions, and the connection between Coffee People Zine and her former life as a social worker. There’s some secret goodies at the end for listeners, too. ;)Read More
Gabe Boscana of Maquina Coffee Roasters faces a daily conundrum - how do we buy coffee responsibly? In this episode he talks about the ethics of buying coffee at all, what it means to be Latinx during a sourcing trip, and if you haven’t heard it on here yet, we bring it up again: we discuss how and if anyone ever needs to go to a coffee-producing country to source coffee. Photo by Lindsey Shea.Read More
In part two of our interview with Jen Apodaca, Director of Roasting for Royal Coffee and founder of #shestheroaster, Jen talks about being a leader and what that entails. We learn about her work with the Zapatistas in Mexico, her union roots, and how that influenced the way she approaches leadership. SPOILER ALERT there's some real talk about HR and management, but you probably needed to hear it anyway.Read More
There are few people in the coffee industry that are as easy to talk with as Jen Apodaca. Catching Jen at a party can often lead from a casual hello to a two hour conversation about family, growth, life, and, well coffee. Today we’re thrilled to have part one of a two-parter breaking down Jen’s experience roasting coffee and eventually her role in helping develop the #shestheroaster campaign. Part one covers Jen’s background, but part two delves into the future. Stay tuned!Read More
The Colorado Springs Independent, a local newspaper, released a poll asking its readers to vote for their favorite baristas in the area. The list failed to include any womxn in a community overflowing with amazing womxn coffee professionals. Brittney Balestra of Third Space Coffee noticed, and decided to do something about it. Today we talk with Brittney about exclusion in your community, what defines a great barista, and how she single handedly challenged her city’s local newspaper.
To vote for your favorite womxn coffee professional, go here: http://www.easypolls.net/poll.html?p=5b9ec483e4b05a9fecafffc1Read More
What does it mean to consume a $5 burger? How do we rectify the need to provide people with affordable food and create viable food and service jobs? Soleil Ho is an accomplished writer and host of The Racist Sandwich and Popanganda podcasts, and she joins us today to talk about the flaws of service - we unpack a lack of diversity in ownership, meritocracy in service, and we nerd out - one podcaster to another. Illustration by Wendy Xu.Read More
We continue with the abortion series, a storytelling project normalizing abortion amongst coffee professionals. Today, Jennifer tells her story of tumultuous relationships and finding ways to communicate with her coworkers and superiors. Jennifer’s story shines a light on the sometimes destructive way we force employees to separate their personal lives from their work lives, and will force you to consider opening your ears and eyes to the stories of others. And for those of you who feel the need to throw shade, Jennifer welcomes your DMs.Read More
On this episode of Boss Barista, we present Filter Stories, a new coffee podcast focused on longform storytelling. In this episode, host James Harper interviews the folks involved with the Waking Life scandal in Asheville, North Carolina. Negging, red pill theories, and a story about community action are all in this jam-packed episode.
Check out Filter Stories on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or filterstories.orgRead More
Alice Wong joins us today to talk about the straw ban, ableism in public spaces, and performative activism in a capitalist society. Alice is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project, and is an disabled-rights activist based in San Francisco. Alice talks about the rhetoric of the straw ban, how disabled voices are often erased, and how she fell into activism and storytelling. If you have any questions, thoughts, or are confused as to how the straw ban hurts and erases the stories of disabled folks, you have to listen to this episode.Read More
On August 6th, 2018, Nya Njee shared her story of racism and wage disparities. She was the only black female at a coffeeshop in Ann Arbor, and was repeatedly promised, then denied, wage increases. She was told conflicting things about her work ethic, dealt with defensive business owners, and finally discovered that she was being paid less than her white coworkers, many of whom had not been working at the cafe for as long as she had.
On this episode, Nya shares her story. If you're a business owner, please use this story to check your wage policies. If you're an employee, remember that it is illegal for an employer to intimidate or suppress discussion with your coworkers about wages.Read More
We continue to explore the colonialist systems that are interwoven in the coffee industry by asking what does it mean to truly empower a group of people? Vava Angwenyi, founder of Vava Coffee and cofounder and director at Gente Del Futuro, talks to us about how colonization has affected the way we view empowerment and created systems of dependency that farmers are unable to get out of (and frankly most companies want them to stay in). If you've ever wondered why coffee prices are stagnant or how exploitative goodwill projects can be, this is a must listen.Read More
TWO COFFEE CHAMPIONS IN A ROW! Becca Woodard is the 2018 United States Brewers Cup Champion, and she generously sat down with us TWICE (the first episode was scrapped due to audio issues and frankly, we're lucky because this one is wayyyyy better!). An honest and open dialogue with Becca, where she dishes on representation in competition, what it means to compete on behalf of her company, and real talk on gaining privilege and prestige after winning a national title. She's amazing—put this episode in your ears now.Read More