The subject of the gender gap in specialty coffee is something that occasionally get’s brought up, debated heavy handedly for a brief period of time before it’s dismissed for “more important” discussions like extraction yields, filter rinsing and whether or not you should drink espresso from whatever vessel you like.
Over at Bitch Magazine, Lisa Knisely penned a thought provoking article for the current food issue that delves into specialty coffee’s gender gap that’s obvious to anyone who has ever watched a barista competition. However, the gender gap is not the only issue Lisa brings to light, highlighting more classic examples of pure sexism in coffee, such as the feminization of flavored milk-heavy drinks, and the mere existence of designations like “women in coffee.” I highly suggest reading the whole thing, but here is a brief excerpt to pique your interest.
Specialty-coffee folk pay attention to coffee at all levels: bean varietals and soils, correct roasting, flavor profiles and aromas, acidity, espresso dosage, and flawless service and presentation. In other words, they’re coffee snobs.This niche market, unheard of before 1974, now makes up almost 50 percent of the “value share” of the approximately $30 billion U.S. coffee industry each year. The largest professional trade organization in coffee, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, has been influential in developing baristas into professionals within the service industry. While the coffee retail industry used to be more like so-called pink-collar fields such as nursing and teaching, efforts to make espresso slinging more professional have led to a masculinization of the workforce. That is, the more a job is thought of as “skilled,” the more social prestige is associated with it, the higher the wage, and the harder it is for women to get, keep, and advance in the field. Whether in terms of wages, visibility, career advancement, or coffee competitions, female baristas lag behind their male counterparts in this burgeoning professional service field. –Lisa Knisely, “Steamed Up”
I won’t pretend to have an answer, nor do I expect someone to offer one, but this should be a larger issue for anyone who works in the industry and it’s one that rarely gets discussed. I found it surprising, but refreshing to see the topic discussed in a non-industry publication like Bitch Magazine.
If specialty-coffee baristas are sincere in their calls for equality, there needs to be a shift in the conversation to talking explicitly about sexism in the spaces surrounding coffee so that the masculine is no longer the default. –Lisa Knisely, “Steamed Up”
From my experience living in Scandinavia, I would argue that many of the points made by Lisa don’t necessarily apply there (competitions being an exception), but every time I travel back to the US or the UK, many of the examples laid out in the article become much more apparent.
In the future, how can specialty coffee counter balance these factors to make the industry more accommodating for all genders? What could be gained from the many voices belonging to individuals that aren’t being heard because they haven’t won a barista competition or started their own company? How can the industry support and inspire all genders who want to build careers in specialty coffee?
[photo credit: Christoffer Erneholm]
posted by bwj
on 11.21.2013, under Misc.
Tim Wendelboe, the Oslo-based coffee roaster and former World Barista Champion, was recently the guest for Oslo’s very first CreativeMornings event. CreativeMornings is a monthly lecture series that was founded in New York by the well known designer/blogger Tina Roth Eisenberg aka Swiss-Miss.
CreativeMornings includes a small breakfast, networking and a 20 minute TED-style talk that encompasses inspiring people from a broad range of professions. While it began in New York City, the event now takes place in over 50 city chapters around the world. Oslo just happens to be one of the newest chapters, and it’s really awesome that their first talk was about where great coffee comes from.
Tim spends nearly 20 minutes talking about the journey coffee takes from its origin country to his shop in Oslo before ending briefly with tips for better brewing. He continues to emphasize the point that quality coffee depends on many steps before it even gets into the hands of the person brewing it.
There’s a lot to learn in this video so grab a fresh cup of coffee and enjoy.
NPR ran a nice piece yesterday featuring Peter Giuliano (who recently departed from Counter Culture) and Allie Caran, who opened Artifact Coffee in Baltimore this summer, that highlights specialty coffee’s focus on coffee quality and its diverse flavors.
Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.
The writer, Allison Aubrey, visited a cupping at Artifact to learn about tasting the flavor nuances in coffee and some of the characteristics that help them develop.
Listen to the full story on NPR
I recently worked with the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) to design their latest report illustrating sales trends among coffeehouses. This tool is developed by SCAA to give helpful insight into industry trends among specialty coffee retailers.
If you’re a coffeehouse retailer, the SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report a useful benchmarking tool available to assess the state of the retail environment and industry. Developed in conjunction with the Cleveland Research Company and a participating group of specialty coffee retailers, this report observes sales and cost trends including an examination of the competitive landscape, a 12 month outlook and category and segment trends. The report also provides an insider’s view of consumer preferences broken down by category as well as big picture trends compared to other foodservice segments. There is truly no better means of understanding your business within the larger industry than through the SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report. -SCAA
The SCAA is currently looking for more coffee retailers to participate in future reports. If you’re interested, visit the SCAA for more information.
United States Barista Championship
The last day of the SCAA Expo is also the culmination of the United States Barista Championship, where a new king was crowned by Mike Phillips, 2010 US Barista Champ and current World Champion. Pete Licata from Honolulu Coffee Company took the title and will represent the US at the World Barista Championship in Bogota, Colombia this June. Pete has won four regional titles, including two Midwest and two Southwest Championships, making him a fairly experienced veteran in the world of barista competitions. All of his hard-work has finally paid off, giving him and his impressive beard a shot at the world title. Congrats to Pete and good luck in June!
Mike Phillips about to announce the new US Barista Champion.
The top 3 competitors, Ryan Knapp (3rd), Nik Krankl (2nd) & Pete Licata (1st).
Ryan Knapp, who came in 3rd place from Madcap Coffee, getting his tamp on.
Ben Kaminsky, came in 6th place representing Ritual Coffee in the Brewers Cup and took home the USBC Cup Taster’s Award for the third year in a row.