What do cats, sci-fi, and Creed karaoke have in common? They’re all interests of Christina Snyder, roaster at Deeper Roots Coffee in Cincinnati, Ohio.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Cover photo by Adam Shaw
Christina Snyder found coffee through their sister, who owned a café and let Christina jump behind the bar as a teenager. Now, Christina is roasting coffee at Deeper Roots Coffee in Cincinnati, has been a featured roaster for Matchbook Coffee Project, and is dedicated to learning more about coffee.
Ashley Rodriguez: Let’s talk about your life pre-coffee. What were you doing and what career path did you envision for yourself?
Christina Snyder: My life pre-coffee involved me going to school and getting a degree in commercial photography. I have always had a yearning to work with my hands, but I didn’t realize for a few years that coffee could be that medium. The happiest irony of my career is that I set out to be an artist but ended up a bit of a scientist.
AR: How did you get into coffee?
CS: It’s hard to think of a time when I wasn’t into coffee. My sister played a tremendous role in introducing me to the world of coffee and the joys of café culture. I have many fond memories of us sitting at local coffee shops when I was a preteen; I likely was drinking a flavored latte and trying to seem as cool as my big sis.
Some years later, Liz ended up opening a shop of her own. When I turned 15, she was brave enough to let me start working behind the bar, and I never stopped after that.
AR: When did you get into roasting?
CS: I got into roasting in the fall of 2015, about three months into my time with Deeper Roots Coffee. Adam Shaw, our lead roaster, asked me one day if I wanted to be his apprentice and I jumped on it.
AR: Tell us about the coffee scene in Cincinnati. How is it unique?
CS: The coffee scene in Cincinnati is small but growing every month. It’s been a joy to watch the city embrace speciality coffee and want more of it. We’re starting to see more coffee-specific festivals, and I especially enjoy all of the collaborations we are doing with local breweries. Cincy LOVES its craft beer, and it’s really cool to me to have folx meet us through another speciality industry.
AR: How do you approach coffee? Do you have a philosophy or way of thinking about roasting coffee?
CS: I suppose that my philosophy toward coffee somewhat mirrors how I interact with myself. One of my mottos is: Contemplation is the key to growth. It’s very important to me to keep asking questions, even if a tangible answer doesn’t seem possible. The biggest leaps I have made in understanding who the hell I am as a person and as a roaster have come from me always being willing to ask, “Why?”
AR: What have you learned from your previous jobs?
CS: I’m really thankful for all of my time in the second-wave cafes I worked for. (I’m looking at you, Kofenya Coffee and Donkey Coffee!) These are ridiculously high-volume, college-town shops. When you get behind that bar, you have got to keep your cool under pressure. If I can overcome a shift with a gallon of frozen milk in my shoe and one working grouphead, then I can roll with whatever challenges roasting throws my way.
AR: What feels important to you in coffee?
CS: I’m not shy when it comes to my feelings about how poorly marginalized communities are treated in our industry. If you are non-male, a POC, queer or trans, you will have to work that much harder to not only get a job but to be treated with the same level of respect as your white, cis/het peers. It’s not enough for the coffee community to seek sustainability in our green-buying practices; we need to mirror that enthusiasm and determination in our own cafés and production facilities. We have to be vigilant in our efforts to listen to and amplify the voices of our less privileged community members. The more we honor the experiences of these folx and give them visibility, the closer we can get to being the ethical and functional industry we hope to be.
AR: What’s next for you, both small and big?
CS: One of my longterm but broad goals is to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone. That often entails me being in the spotlight in any way at all, so I guess this interview is a good start! Who knows? You might just see me competing again next year.
AR: What do you do in your spare time?
CS: Other than take pictures of my cats? My friends and I do a painful amount of karaoke. I only sing Creed songs, so it’s a blessing that there are no recordings of this. On a real note, I love supporting local artists and going to as many shows as I can. An unexpected benefit of roasting is that I have some more muscle in a mosh pit now, haha.
In my alone time, I’m likely getting way too emotionally invested in a Deep Space Nine episode, or I’m cooking three different kinds of curry. You give me some sci-fi to analyze and a week of meals to make, and you get a happy Christina.