A Chat with Barista Magazine Cover Story Writer Andrea K. Castillo

We get to know the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer behind our latest cover feature for Barista Magazine.

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BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Cover image design by Andrea K. Castillo

The latest issue of Barista Magazine is an ode to the Black Lives Matter movement within the coffee industry, showcasing the diverse voices behind it and promoting Black excellence and unity in the coffee world. One writer behind the magic of this issue is Andrea K. Castillo, a Belizean-American freelance writer who covers food, culture, and Belizean lifestyle out of New York City. A frequent visitor of Shanita Nicholas and Amanda-Jane Thomas’ café, Sip & Sonder, she had the pleasure of writing a feature piece on the pair for the magazine. Today, we learn more about Andrea’s creative background and some of her favorite Black-owned businesses!

Andrea K. Castillo is a Brooklyn-based Belizean-American writer who wrote the cover story for our latest issue! Photo by Justin Lufair Brown.

How did you get into the world of freelance writing? Did the on-camera work come first or along the journey?

I created my first blog, A Life in the Day of Andrea, in 2011 as a means to share local events in NYC, new music, personal style, and restaurant reviews. This opened the door to freelance work, as it was kind of a living document of my experience, voice, and areas of expertise and interest. The on-camera work became more steady in 2013 when I was a contributor to the entertainment site Concrete Loop. It was where I developed my conversational interview style for musicians and other creators.

You write a lot about culture—primarily music, food, and Belizean lifestyle. What was it like to switch gears for a coffee magazine?

I have been a coffee enthusiast for years, always trying my best to patronize local shops in my city and those that I visit, but I would not call myself a connoisseur. When I agreed to take on the cover story on Sip & Sonder, I was a bit nervous because at that point, I had not done any larger freelance writing projects in some time. I realized in my research and in interviewing Shanita and Amanda-Jane that the connecting factor was that coffee is a conduit for greater conversation, in the same ways that food and music are. In realizing this, I relaxed a bit and became more confident in my abilities and in the fact that storytelling is one of my strengths.

In addition to writing, Andrea has also been featured on camera too. Photo by Remy Fink for LNO Studio.

What’s your usual drink at Sip & Sonder? 

This is a hard one! I always try my best to try a new beverage every time I visit. One of my favorites is definitely the Rose Latte. It’s pink, has a great mouthfeel, and feels quite luxurious and spa-like. A little reprieve during the day, if you will. The Turmeric Latte is pretty high on my list as well.

What do you look for in a story you’re going to pitch somewhere?

This is a great question. In all of my work so far, I love to tell the stories of underrepresented voices and entities that I believe are dope and doing great work. This spans the worlds of small biz, music, fashion, food and drink, and local organizations. For me, there has to be a level of enthusiasm and familiarity on my part with my subject(s). Some of my favorite stories so far are the ones that I have been able to tell of folks that I have built relationships with over the years on both a friendship and professional level. That’s why this cover is so special to me!

What are three of your favorite Black-owned businesses? 

Only three? Let’s see. Of course Sip & Sonder. It is always my first stop out of LAX when I visit, and I feel it has become a home away from home. The Brazi Shop in the Bronx is a full-service body-waxing salon catered to clients with textured hair, owned by one of my good college friends, Aniusha. Ethel’s Club is an online and IRL social and wellness club designed for people of color to thrive, in which I am a founding member, and is headquartered in Brooklyn.

Check out Andrea’s feature in our latest issue, and her own master lists of Black businesses and beauty-specific companies here.

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