We’re pleased to announce the 15 coffee pros who will make up the 2019-2021 Barista Magazine Editorial Advisory Board.
BY SARAH ALLEN
Fourteen years ago when we were deciding on the inaugural Barista Magazine Editorial Advisory Board (shout out to Sonja Grant, Ellie Matuszak, Stephen Vick, Phuong Tran, and the other incredible coffee folks who made up that group), I had as much trouble as we’ve had this past month deciding who to ask. There are just so many inspiring, soulful, brilliant, and perceptive people in this fantastic coffee community of ours.
I’ll start by saying I feel it is a huge honor for someone to agree to be on Barista Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. The people we end up asking are folks for whom we have profound respect, people we consider fearless trailblazers in their quest for a more inclusive, inspiring, and just coffee world, so for them to agree to assist us with the development of the voice of this magazine for a two-year term is, for me, a great, great privilege.
This will be the seventh group of esteemed coffee professionals who have served on the Barista Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, and I couldn’t be more pleased to introduce them to you. We selected them based on their unique perspectives in the specialty-coffee industry, their varied backgrounds, their humility and strength of character, their professionalism and grace, and their intelligence as well as their insightfulness. Each of these people and the work they have done on behalf of their coffee community has affected and inspired us, and we are grateful, honored, and incredibly excited to be embarking on the next two years of Barista Magazine with them.
Originally from Connecticut, Alicia Adams left a career as a clinical laboratory scientist in 2009 to live in the Bay Area. She began as a barista in the specialty-coffee industry in Oakland eight years ago and hasn’t looked back. Her personal missions are sustainable sourcing, empowering women’s groups, and finding new ways to disrupt the coffee supply chain that benefits the farmers at origin. She is currently the director of coffee at Red Bay Coffee.
Cassie Ash has been a sometimes barista at Peregrine Espresso in Washington, D.C., since 2014 (including a short break to work at Ultimo Coffee in Philadelphia). Now, she runs customer support for the D.C.-based roasting company Small Planes Coffee. She was one half of the winning team at the 2018 Barista League U.S.A. Tour (the other half was her partner for all things, Angela Ferrara).
Along with being a dedicated coffee professional and director of coffee at Third Space in Colorado Springs, Colo., Brittney Balestra works with underprivileged, marginalized, and lower-wave coffee professionals to create educational programs, including founding and producing the first Womxn in Coffee Awards in 2018. She has a passion for teaching, the LGBTQ+ community, and oat milk.
Kaie Bird has been working for the past four years to establish a specialty-coffee community in Israel by bringing new events like barista throwdowns, coffee cuppings, and SCA trainings to the Tel Aviv community. The founder of Sharing Tables, Kaie is the organizer of the Israeli AeroPress Championship and has written about coffee in various magazines and blogs. She was recognized by Time Out Israel as one of “6 Women in Coffee to Watch Out For” in 2017, and was featured in the Hebrew AT Magazine article “Over A Cup of Coffee: Five Women Who Turned The Field Into Art” in 2018. She also organized the first Women In Coffee Forum last year in Tel Aviv.
Kate Blackman has earned gainful employment in coffee for 20 years as a barista, café manager, regional manager, trainer, menu developer, cupper, occasional roaster, and constant counter wiper. She’s also an enthusiastic head judge/volunteer for U.S. Coffee Champs and SCA, currently as chair of the U.S. Brewers Cup Working Group. Her core beliefs are “never stop learning” and “coffee people are the best people.” Kate lives in Kansas City, Mo., with her partner, twin daughters, an assortment of cats, and a tangle of plants.
Gabriel Boscana has been in specialty coffee longer than he likes to admit. Starting at Gimme! Coffee in Ithaca, N.Y., he went on to become one of San Francisco-based Ritual Coffee’s first official employees. Today, Gabriel is the owner and green buyer of Máquina Coffee Roasters, works with Bellwether Coffee sourcing the green coffee for its new platform, and consults for female-owned and -operated, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based DripKit Coffee. He has probably had every kind of job in a coffee company, but ultimately his heart is with coffee producers and the land coffee is grown on. When he isn’t cupping and sourcing coffee, he’s most likely with his 5-year-old daughter trying to finally beat her at Uno or reading her books about venomous snakes. He loves imperfectly brewed coffee so long as it is made with love.
Brittany Davies is an English-teacher-turned-coffee-educator living, learning, and working on unceded Lkwungen territory in Victoria, British Columbia. She thrives in any environment that includes black and denim, Blundstones, one-and-ones, 1970s dad rock, bourbon cocktails, topknots, and tasting menus. She has a penchant for similes, and will regularly use the phrase “there are no bad ideas in brainstorming.”
Erica Escalante is a Latina mami of two, and the owner of The Arrow Coffeehouse in Portland, Ore., established in 2013 (@thearrowpdx & @thearrowdamascus). She is also the director of coffee for The Abbey Coffee Project (@albertaabbeypdx), a nonprofit café in a mixed-use community art space. You can catch her posting about business, coffee, and family @escalante_erica.
One thing that T. Ben Fischer (Elixr Coffee and Glitter Cat Barista) does not lack is glitter and flair! Since walking on to the United States Barista Championship stage five years ago, T. Ben has brought energetic vibes and an ethos of fabulousness to the forefront. After placing second at the 2018 USBC, T. Ben launched Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp, a competition-training program for folks coming from underrepresented and vulnerable communities.
Priscilla (“Cill”) Fisher launched her career in coffee in 2017 when she co-founded Floozy Coffee Roasters, an all-female-owned and -led micro-roastery based in Newcastle, Australia. Floozy seeks to empower women at every level of the coffee chain and features coffee from a number of female producers. Cill has a background in economics and women’s advocacy, and recently earned her master’s in Economic Development based on a systematic review of women’s land rights in the coffee sector. Cill was invited to be a guest speaker at Beanstock Coffee Festival in Canada in 2018 to discuss inclusivity in the sector, and has since been featured as a speaker at a number of other industry events promoting the role of women in the industry. Cill has just begun work with the Australian chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance to develop a metric that measures women’s empowerment in the Coffee Global Value Chain.
Antoine Franklin has worked in coffee since 2006, and specifically in the specialty-coffee industry since 2008. He currently lives in Houston, where he serves as general manager of Blacksmith Coffee. In addition to being a past Coffee Fest World Latte Art Champion, Antoine is an all-around ambassador for all things involving coffee and equality.
Umeko Motoyoshi is CEO of Umeshiso, an online shop for coffee pros of all backgrounds. Before founding Umeshiso, Umeko served as VP of Technology at Sudden Coffee. A licensed Q grader, Umeko has managed cafés, refurbished espresso machines, trained 700 baristas, co-organized a sexual harassment suit against Four Barrel Coffee, and starred in a Japanese reality show where she brewed Esmeralda Gesha with mountain shrine water. They never aired the episode.
Leticia Ramos Pollock is a native of Brazil who moved to Portland, Oregon to further develop her knowledge in the Coffee and Wine amongst other things. She then moved to Miami and with her partner Joel Pollock co-founded Panther Coffee in 2010. Today, Panther Coffee is one of the most well known Miami brands and their coffee has received national and international accolades for its quality and preparation. They operate their growing retail locations and have a successful wholesale program. She was named by Goldman Sachs one of “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs in 2015”. Leticia has multiple other interests but her favorite thing, hands down, is motherhood.
Abner J. Roldán-Rivera started working as a barista in 2011. He and his wife, Karla Quiñones, are the co-owners of Café Comunión, a multi-roaster coffee shop in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Abner is a two-time Puerto Rico Latte Art Champion, with his first win in 2014 and his second in 2015, which allowed him to compete at the World Latte Art Championships in Melbourne, Australia, and Gothenburg, Sweden. These days, if you don’t find him behind Café Comunión’s bar, he is making music playlists, talking to someone about the history of Jamaica’s ska music, or trying to start a coffee podcast. Follow him on Insta: @abnerroldan or @cafecomunion
Christina Snyder is a proudly Midwestern roaster and barista residing in Cincinnati. They are passionate about creating inclusive spaces, sharing coffee, and the wonder that is Britney Spears. When they aren’t engaged in overly elaborate conversations about the paranormal, they are busy being a single parent to their loving cats.