Longtime coffee pro Camila Coddou is taking on a new project, Barista Behind the Bar, where she travels to learn about the struggles of our nation’s baristas
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
What ails you as a barista? This answer can vary widely depending on who you’re asking, and where they’re located. Perhaps their difficulties lie in being a liberal-minded service professional in a small town, or in having to drive 50 miles just to attend a coffee event. Or maybe they’re challenged by working in a high-foot-traffic spot where breaks are sporadic.
Whatever it is, Camila Coddou wants to learn about it. After making coffee in Portland, Ore., for the last 13 years, she’s hitting the road and embarking on a new project called Barista Behind the Bar.
“I am a longtime coffee industry professional, having started my coffee journey at the age of 19. I’ve held various positions over the years, starting first as a barista, then moving into education and training, serving as manager for various independently owned cafes, and ultimately working as the operations manager for a roasting company,” Camila says. “And in these 13 years, you can bet I have seen a whole lot! The good, the delicious, and the not-super-awesome. I have experienced cafés that work like well-oiled machines, made lifelong friends, tasted incredible coffees, and developed my teaching and leadership skills. Over the years, I have also been subject to environments that failed to provide healthy work cultures or support the growth of their employees.”
Through this project, Camila hopes to learn more about what baristas are going through and how to translate those findings into creating more equitable and sustainable spaces. “My mission is to engage in conversation with baristas who have worked in the specialty-coffee industry in the United States. I am interested in the experience of the American barista, what sorts of challenges our industry is facing, what kinds of barriers baristas have faced in their careers, and how we make our work spaces accessible and safe for everyone who shares our passion,” she says. “I want to diversify the conversation that for so long has been kept in the hands of a small minority and move this conversation forward.”
Camila intends to be transparent throughout her journey, updating folks via social media and producing a curriculum on hiring practices at the end of her journey. “I will be posting updates via social media, blog-format writing, and at the end of my journey I plan on compiling findings and stories into an Equitable Hiring Practices curriculum to share with employers who are interested in improving hiring, training, and working conditions,” she says.
And how can you find her? “I will be traveling around the country this summer, starting at the end of May, in a converted Sprinter van, and conducting in-person interviews with any barista who wants to share their story,” she says. And if you want to tell your story, Camila is here to listen. “Wherever there are baristas who want to talk about their experience working in our industry, you’ll find me,” she adds.