Hello! I wanted to take this week off, but we shuffled some stories around and published a last-minute reminder on why acts of kindness and grace within coffee shops are important. That left us with an audio extra with Gefen Skolnick we had planned to release last week being moved to this past Tuesday, and I thought it’d be nice to spend time getting to know readers.When Boss Barista first began, I sort of assumed the only people listening would be my friends or people who knew me. That’s still kind of the case, but there are also lots of people I don’t know and would love to get acquainted with.
So please! Drop a note about yourself and maybe share a bit about why you love coffee or what you’re hoping to learn or get from this newsletter. Any clever factoids about coffee (or anything really) are always appreciated! Truly, it feels like I’m writing words into a void—hearing from you is really regenerative so please, if you feel comfortable, drop me a line down below or send me an email at email@example.com.
Hello! I’m Jenny! I’m a fellow Substack writer who found Boss Barista through the Substack platform. I’ve never worked in coffee, but I’m an ex-journalist working in the service industry and trying to find my way. I really enjoy the insight and discussions here about sustainability, what it means to give great service, and how to treat workers, the earth, and the product fairly.
Hi Ashley! I am dropping a note to combat the void!
First off: I really enjoy Boss Barista! I started listening to you when I worked in the industry, and just haven't stopped.
I love coffee. I love it for the ritual, the incredible fruit it is, and for the community it can create. I just like drinking it, talking about it, and meeting people through it. It has fueled me to do impossible tasks, made horrid days better, and introduces me to different cultures around the world.
But---- I also hate how it has been stolen, corrupted, capitalized, and gate-kept. It was hard for me to justify staying in the industry. I didn't see a future for myself beyond "shift-lead." And I had so many issues with the lack of ethical consumerism, the colonialism, the capitalism, the lack of care for service workers, the gate-keeping, the yt cishet domination, the waste, the performative social justice bs that really changed nothing, and the burn out of the grind. And this is from someone who has found a haven working off and on in the industry since I was a teenager. (Last place I worked was a pillar of the coffee community- based in CHI. It has since fallen.)
I am grateful for the ability to work in coffee. It has supported and helped me carve out a life for myself in the arts. I loved the community aspect, and the opportunity to grow and learn. And I evolved so much from working with incredibly inclusive and ethically minded people within the Coffee industry. I grew with my knowledge and my skill, and I am grateful for the good times. But I still can't shake the parts that were so toxic.
Thank you for your podcast, your thoughtful critique of the industry, and the way in which you strive to encourage growth and evolution.
Hi Ashley, my name is Avelyn and I'm in the Comox Valley in BC Canada. The Comox Valley is a small region, (specialty coffee hasn't happened here yet) and since moving here, your podcast has kept me connected to my coffee community.
After working in coffee for a number of years in a bigger city, my partner and I decided we wanted to move to the Comox Valley and open our own business. It's happening, we're hoping to open Laneway Coffee and Kitchen this fall and the community is SO behind us, we're so excited, but with delays in construction it's been over two years coming!
The delays have felt very discouraging. I'm a very goal oriented person, so in the meantime, not being able to just open our business, let alone work in coffee, has been challenging for me. I identify as a coffee professional yet I'm taking on work doing everything I can: I'm currently working as a server at a brewery and a pizza shop, doing kitchen prep and coming in on days off to work as the cleaner...this isn't where I hoped my career in coffee would lead me! But all the while I listen to your podcast. And this keeps me focused. Hearing you and all your guests speak about coffee keeps me inspired, and most importantly, keeps me feeling as if I'm learning and continuing to grow as a coffee professional. Regardless of being able to actually work behind a bar.
So thank you. Your work with Boss Barista has made an impact ❤️ Hope our paths cross one day and can irl become coffee friends haha
Hello! My name is Ecktor and I believe I found this blog through Morgandrinkscoffee. I'm a starbucks barista but I've been wanting to expand my coffee knowledge beyond what they teach. I became discouraged when starbucks really started leaning away from the coffee culture. I started doing my own research and trying out different coffee companies and creature my own journal entries. So far I'm loving this blog and can't wait to keep reading!
Howdy! After many years of neurotically brewing at home and discussing the idea of some day opening a coffee business of sorts with my wife, I quit my job as a designer at the beginning of this year and started working as a barista. Figured I couldn't continue to entertain the dream without some real world experience, and 6 months in I'm loving it getting to interact with guests and share my passion for good coffee with others. But as Catherine mentioned below, I'm also really struggling with some of the down sides of the industry and continue to deeply reflect with my wife on whether we want to open a coffee business, and what that might look like (shop, truck, roastery??) For now I'm doing everything I can to learn and grow as a coffee "professional," and your newsletter is a fun and insightful look into aspects of the Coffee world so that's why I'm here!
Hello! I'm Melissa and I'm a grad student and instructor working in the field of food studies. I'm also a former barista who had very bad bosses, which is probably a main reason I was initially drawn to Boss Barista. Overall though, I really love how your work consistently centers labour at all stages and moments with coffee while also holding space for the joys of coffee. Thanks for all the effort you pour into Boss Barista, Ashley! It's such a wonderful resource!
Hi Ashley! I'm a fellow newsletter writer who met you on twitter, I think? And I love coffee, I used to ask my parents how I old I had to be to drink it (they said 15 which is so random). I liked in Guatemala for a year and learned more about coffee growing while I was there and I also worked at a bakery where I made large batches of cold brew (I think most cold brew is too strong). I always enjoy your writing and the guests you bring in!
I'm an electronics engineer and extreme coffee fan, a product of the time when the industry wanted to educate the customers. My journey started with reading a regular coffee business column in the newspaper; I joined a local coffee club and ended up volunteering in barista competitions. My hobby is visiting coffee shops to drink single origin espresso, which is silly and annoying but sincere.
I started following your work because of Sprudge. Your podcasts and articles are very meaningful to me because they are a pleasure to listen and read, always bring something unexpected and interesting, and inspire me to better my beliefs and behaviors.
Hello, I'm Harriet! I'm based in the UK. I started subscribing to Boss Barista after Alicia Kennedy recommended your newsletter. I love coffee and have only recently got to "maturity" lol level of drinking it black. Sadly due to various health stomach problems I am a decaf only gal now and can't have too much coffee. I've never worked in coffee, restaurants, bars, etc. (My old life was retail) but I love to read anything and everything on workers rights, the economics, politics, in food and drink. I really really enjoyed your post recently on like a day in the life of a batista and trying to tell that story or joke that kept being interrupted. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings and experiences with us!
Hi! I'm Patrick. I forget the specific breadcrumb trail that led me to Boss Barista, but I got my start in coffee back in 2013 and started roasting shortly after as the result of no small amount of privilege and gatekeeping nonsense. I've kinda bopped in and out of the industry in various ways since, with a short-lived venture into being an art teacher (right in time for a pandemic) being my most recent detour. I'm currently settled into home roasting and selling at farmers markets while I reassess how much of a role I want a coffee business to actually play in my life.
I love the Podcast/newsletter as a touchstone to keep me listening to the voices and experiences that are distinctly different from my own within the broader industry, and as means to reflect on all the facets of the coffee industry that warrant thoughtful questioning. Thank you for routinely typing and speaking into the void. The void is appreciative of the good work you do.
Hi! I’m not sure how I came across Boss Barista - I tend to sign up for lots of friends of friends mailing lists, so we probably know someone in common.
I’m actually not a coffee person at all; I love tea 😅 But as a New Yorker in the workplace experience profession I have to make sure my employees are properly caffeinated. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about coffee in your newsletter, especially all of the ethics and background that goes into the production.
Hi everyone, I'm Sarah! (The void makes me think of The Good Place & Janet's void. Oh, to have a void that isn't terrifying.)
I believe I found Boss Barista through Alicia Kennedy a while back? As somebody who loves connecting food and culture through a sustainability lens, I look forward to each new issue in my inbox. I love coffee and how meaningful it is across cultures and languages, and I think Boss Barista helps ground it in the real joys and pitfalls of the industry and labor.
Also I just love your writing!
Hellooo! I think I started following because of unionization stuff? I don't remember! I worked at SB in the late 90s-early 2000s and was a barista and trainer, back when there was still robust training in coffee prep and knowledge - and before the automatic machines got to our store. I love coffee but don't drink it often because my little internal system decided that coffee is an enemy. Reading this newsletter has been like a note from a friend, a little hot goss from a coworker, a break from ruminating about Everything, and a reminder about (my favorite thing always) the small and important connections that make life good. Or at least survivable.
HI there! My name is Sarah. I have never worked in the coffee industry, but I am a home roaster with aspirations to have my own little micro roastery one day in the far, far future (along with my own fiber arts store, but that's another story lol). I subscribed because I love your content and have an interest in ethical consumerism within the coffee industry. I always thought I would end up working with a cafe at some point in my life with how much time I spent in cafes in college and in my 20s (and still now at times while I finish up my PhD). I just really enjoy your podcasts and your writing and wanted to put my money towards content like yours.
Hello Ashley! I'm Spencer from Vermont. I work in the coffee industry and have been very fortunate to meet many interesting and inspirational people. As an enthusiastic volunteer I have supported many of the coffee trade associations in various roles as well as coffee-centric non-profits. I read a lot and consider myself a lifelong learner - because there is always something new to explore. The coffee business, like coffee quality, changes from harvest to harvest. I enjoy reading your articles. #DrinkCoffeeDoGood
Hi there! I'm Jen, a fellow Substack writer. I don't drink coffee but I find the culture around it fascinating. There's also a big unionization push here in Chicago at coffeeshops, so I'm enjoying reading about that as well.
I am Emily Rose, a fellow Substack writer, and had the pleasure of finding Boss Barista through a Substack Grow workshop (hi!) I'm a Chicagoan, born and raised, with a brief stint in upstate NY.
I love my morning coffee and I'm not allowed to speak to any other humans before I have consumed my first vat. However, I also love cooking with coffee. It makes a great brisket rub and adds a perfect note in chili and bbq sauces.
nice to see you all!
Hi! I'm Emily (they/them) and i really love coffee and all of the intricacies that come with it. I'm passionate about environmental ethics and the ways coffee intersects with that! I love Boss Barista, it's such a great show, you do an amazing job