Meet the Winners of the Boot Coffee Scholarship

Boot Coffee announces the winners of their coffee scholarships, aimed at providing financial assistance to pursue coffee education.


Photos courtesy of Boot Coffee

In December 2018, Boot Coffee, a coffee educational facility based in San Rafael, Calif., announced that it would launch a new scholarship initiative aimed at providing educational opportunities to folks in marginalized groups. This month, Boot Coffee announced the winners of the three scholarships.

“I believe that coffee is better when it’s inclusive. We created our scholarship categories to make professional coffee education accessible and inclusive to a range of individuals,” says Marcus Young, Boot Coffee Campus director. “I identified and created these initial categories after being inspired by #ShesTheRoaster as well as personally receiving a number of calls and emails from folks who just couldn’t make continuing education work financially.”

The scholarships are valued at $6,000 and can be used to fund classes at Boot Coffee’s campus, the Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program, or Coffee Quality Institute training and certification program. “We experienced overwhelming response to the call-out for submissions,” Marcus says. “This is a testament to the desire of underrepresented and under-resourced folks in the coffee industry to take their education to a new level.” Almost 400 people applied for the three scholarships.

Here are the winners of the three scholarships:

Social Enterprise ScholarshipLisa Quinn, Central City Coffee

Lisa Quinn is the recipient of Boot Coffee’s Social Enterprise Scholarship. She works for Central City Coffee, which works toward ending homelessness in Portland, Ore.

About this scholarship, Marcus says: “Those working for NGOs, nonprofits, B Corporations, and other social enterprises are often so committed to their mission that setting aside resources for training becomes a low priority.”

“I am so excited about winning the Boot Coffee scholarship. I believe that this opportunity is going to create a solid foundation for my career and help me to grow the Central City Coffee program so that we can continue to improve the lives of other single mothers in our community,” Lisa shares.

Lisa is the sales and marketing representative for Central City Coffee, a social enterprise in Portland, Ore., aimed at ending homelessness in the city. Lisa got her start in coffee through Central City, and is determined to inspire more young people and single mothers who want to learn more about coffee. “Lisa’s story is truly about taking charge of your life, and making a positive change,” says Marcus. “We are confident that Lisa will use the knowledge she learns at Boot Coffee Campus to further her journey in coffee, while continuing to support single mothers within her community.”

Producing Country Scholarship— Giovanna Serrano

Giovanna Serrano is the winner of the Producing Country Scholarship. She fled her home country of Venezuela and is now a barista and competition volunteer in Brazil.

“From my experience of opening a roastery café in Rwanda, I witnessed firsthand the impact of improved coffee culture (and quality) in a producing country—so we created that category,” Marcus notes.

“Being able to attend the Boot Coffee Campus means I can continue growing as a professional in a more technical way,” Giovanna says. “I am confident that I’ll come out of this experience a more secure professional, with knowledge and tools that I can easily share with coffee producers in my home country. It is important that young people like myself can find a new life and career in the coffee industry and become future entrepreneurs to grow alongside the local community where I live.”

Giovanna left her home country of Venezuela when she was 19 because of the hostile political climate and now lives in Brazil. She’s a barista who volunteers at coffee competitions and is currently learning how to roast coffee and starting a women’s roasting club. “This scholarship honors Giovanna, and her strength and resilience in times of struggle, as well as her continued love for learning all about coffee,” Marcus says. “Boot Coffee Campus is happy to provide her with instruction that will help her raise the quality of coffee, as well as the quality of life for producers in her community.”

Women / Non-Binary Scholarship: Chi Sum Ngai, Coffee Project NY

Chi Sum Ngai is the winner of the Woman/Non-Binary Scholarship. She is the owner of Coffee Project NY, a group of community-oriented coffee shops.

“Finally, despite some inroads into more inclusivity for women and non-binary individuals in roasting, the industry is still too much of a ‘boys’ club.’ The mission of #ShesTheRoaster—To promote and encourage self-identifying womxn in the coffee industry to become professional coffee roasters—resonates deeply with Boot Coffee’s commitments,” says Marcus.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity. I believe that everything I am about to learn at Boot Coffee Campus will be an essential part to both the growth of Coffee Project NY and my professional journey,” Chi Sum explained.

Chi Sum started Coffee Project NY in 2015, with a goal of creating a space for folks to “geek out” over coffee. After opening in the East Village, Coffee Project soon opened its second location in Brooklyn, and has built a strong team of baristas who serve their community and create space for their residents. In the process of opening a business, Chi Sum has explored her interest in coffee, becoming a Q Grader, delving deep into coffee brewing and green grading, and dabbling in coffee roasting. “Chi Sum represents the true spirit of entrepreneurship. Her constant desire to learn more about the industry, as well as her desire to use her knowledge to inspire others in the specialty coffee journey, make her the perfect choice for receiving this scholarship,” says Marcus.

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at