GUEST POST: Why A Bilingual Coffee Podcast

Cafetera Intelectual bridges the gap between coffee-producing and coffee-consuming countries

This week marks the beginning of the Boss Barista takeover. For this project, I’ve invited coffee creators, fans, and drinkers to make an episode of a podcast, and share it on this channel. To accompany their audio, each creator has also written a companion article, which will be shared on the Thursday after their episode goes out.

Read on to find the accompanying piece from the team at Cafetera Intelectual, the first guest contributors in this series. You can hear their episode here, and learn more about their show by visiting their website.

Photo by Lindsey Shea. Words by Sandra Loofbourow, co-host of Cafetera Intelectual.

Cafetera Intelectual is a bilingual coffee podcast. Producing content in two languages is a lot of work. Why would we choose to double our workload?

For the last few years, Doris and I have been hosting Spanish-language events at The Crown in Uptown Oakland. We saw that there was an underserved demographic in our community: Latinx people weren’t being targeted as consumers of specialty coffee. This seemed absurd, as Latin America produces an astonishing amount of high-quality coffee. Yet there was a disconnect between the coffee community in Latin America and Spanish speakers in the U.S. 

We sought to address this by hosting Spanish-language events that brought disparate worlds together. First, Spanish speakers would feel welcome in our space and in our industry. Second, coffee professionals could practice their skills in a professional setting with native speakers. We hosted monthly “Cata Latinas,” cupping sessions held entirely in Spanish. This was obviously pre-pandemic, and it was just so much fun. 

Doris and I are both able to straddle worlds, although each of us in slightly different ways. Doris, who’s from the Yucatan and looks like it, is easily identifiable as Latina. When Latinx people come into our tasting room, her presence is often a comfort to them. They seek her out and immediately start talking shop. 

In contrast, I am white, and people rarely identify me as Latina; in fact, it often takes several tries to convince people that I’m a native Spanish speaker. Still, my looks plus my language give me plenty of privilege and access to different conversations and perspectives. We talk about this a little bit in episode 01—while producer names and origins may seem distant for many coffee professionals, they’ve always felt very real and close for Doris and I. 

What we realized is that, while we could easily listen to the varied and fascinating stories from coffee people all over the world, these stories weren’t often given space in the narrative of “specialty.” We wanted to help bring these stories across the language divide.

Rosalba Cifuentes of Mayan Harvest, our interview guest for the episode we’re honored to present on Boss Barista, is a perfect example. While Rosalba has been hard at work for years, it’s only recently that the English-speaking coffee world has heard about her. Rosalba was recently featured on Telemundo, an international broadcasting service, and continues to gain renown in her own country and internationally. Despite this, Rosalba still faces discrimination and is regularly underestimated. She doesn’t speak English, and while this doesn’t seem to be a problem—she still networks with the best of them—it means that in most cases, non-Spanish speakers have a very small window into her incredible story. We wanted to make sure her story was accessible to folks who don’t speak her language. 

This episode offers an advance preview of our upcoming English “sister episodes.” We’re incredibly stoked for the opportunity to be featured on Boss Barista, and wanted to give Ashley’s listeners a sneak peek! 

In our first season of Cafetera Intelectual, we’re releasing all of our Spanish episodes and interviews first; new episodes drop every Friday. Once the season is complete, we will go back and feature those same episodes with English narration, so that non-Spanish speakers can follow along and listen to these great stories. This allows our guests to keep their voice, and still allows our audience to understand the conversation, even if they don’t speak Spanish. 

Our podcast is still evolving, but here’s the goal: to share stories from across the supply chain, across languages, and in some cases, across worlds. Please take a listen, and follow us on Instagram @cafeteraintelectual, sign up for our Patreon, or buy us a coffee! We have cute stickers and T-shirts we’re looking forward to mailing around the world, too. 

Thank you so much to Ashley and Boss Barista for this incredible opportunity, and welcome to the Cafetera Intelectual community!

Special thanks to Chobani for making the Boss Barista takeover possible.