Online Editor Ashley Rodriguez shares her favorite stories, news, and editorials from 2018.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photo by Kristina Evstifee
2018 was one of the most newsworthy years ever for coffee. From January’s focus on harassment and sexual assault following the allegations against Four Barrel owner Jeremy Tooker to recent attention about the state of the coffee commodities exchange market, 2018 showed that we have a lot of work to do in 2019. If 2018 was the year of uncovering startling conditions and exposing abusive behavior, we have to hope that 2019 is a year for improving working environments and addressing concerns that threaten the livelihood of our industry.
As somber as the year has been news-wise, it has also been a banner year for other folks outside the coffee industry taking notice of our small, niche world. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Justin Phillips covered the Four Barrel allegations and subsequent fall out in stunning detail to a wide audience, and outlets like Eater, Vice, and The Huffington Post deftly covered issues of coffee pricing, sexism, and the problems with coffee competitions.
As the online editor of Barista Magazine, I’ve never been more proud of the work people are putting out—not just on our website, but everywhere. Black Coffee is a triumph that, if you haven’t listened to, I’m not sure what you’re doing reading this. Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp went from idea to one of the most exciting venues to promote inclusion in the coffee industry. Daily Coffee News covered the politics of the C market with a diligence and clarity that echoed the severity and seriousness it deserves. I could go on with all the amazing articles, think pieces, and editorials I’ve read this year—I’m truly honored that I get to read and write about coffee for a living, and this year constantly reminded me why I love what I do so much.
Without further ado, here are some of the best articles (and some non-articles) I think are worth a revisit. Although many are from our website (and from the amazing group of freelancers we work with), some are from other outlets. I hope as 2018 wraps up, you find a moment to sit down with these pieces and think about what 2018 has meant to you.
The Co-Op Series from RJ Joseph: With Four Barrel’s sudden decision to become a cooperative (before quickly stepping back from the idea), this year has shed a light on what it means to own a business. Now more than ever, folks are starting to question traditional single-owner business models, and look to cooperatives for ideas on making inclusive policies, creating investment for those who lack resources, and developing fair workplace standards for all employees. RJ Joseph, to accompany her piece in the October + November 2018 issue of Barista Magazine, talked to folks at different co-ops from across the nation, including Thread Coffee Roasters, Alchemy Coffee Collective, and Collective Avenue.
Interviews with the World AeroPress Champion Carolina Ibarra Garay: Chris Ryan, copy editor for Barista Magazine Online, presented a stunning interview with Carolina Ibarra Garay, an L.A.-based barista who won the U.S. AeroPress Championship in September. Carolina, who had never competed in any coffee competition before this year, then went on to win the World AeroPress Championship, and we presented a follow-up interview with the champion. Carolina shares: “A world title is a huge step and I worked hard to get there, but the harder work has just started. I want equality in coffee competitions, and I want to see rooms filled with women champs. … I won this title for the U.S., but most importantly, I won it for all the women in coffee, especially the immigrant women.”
Some of our favorite “10 Minutes With” interviews: I’m not going to lie—the “10 Minutes With” series we do on Barista Magazine Online might be my favorite thing we publish. It’s a great way for new writers, like Angie Thompson—who presented a beautiful interview with Bon Appetit editor/writer Elyse Inamine—to get their foot in the door, and for folks in the coffee industry to learn more about their colleagues. Every single “10 Minutes With” is special to me, but here are some of my favorites from this year: Adam JacksonBey, this two-part interview with Erica Escalante, Mexican Brewers Cup Champion Carlos Maqueda, coffee fermentation expert Lucia Solis, coffee entrepreneur Vava Angwenyi, Maquina Coffee Roasters founder Gabe Boscana, and head of coffee at Red Bay Coffee Roasters Alicia Adams.
This article on the rise of Gesha coffees: Toward the end of 2017, copy editor Chris Ryan and I talked about Dale Harris, the former World Barista Champion. I mentioned to him that Dale was the only competitor to place in the top six of the 2017 WBC to not use a Gesha coffee, and this sent Chris on a journey to track the rise and fall of Gesha coffees last February. This article was not only educational, but prompted a change in the way we refer to coffees (as an editorial note, we now always change variations of the spelling of word “Geisha” to “Gesha”). I love this article because it was an example of how a simple conversation can lead to a rich and educational understanding of the trends we take for granted in coffee.
This series on workplace harassment: The articles I’m the most proud of usually come from personal conversations. This series came from a texting conversation I had with one of my coffee acquaintances—they were unsure if the behavior they were experiencing was harassment. When they laid out what was happening to them, it was clear their leaders were abusive. However, they didn’t know how to identify, track, or report harassment in the workplace. Organizations like #coffeetoo have brought more resources to baristas, and Coffee People Zine published a series on harassment in their zines. It’s clear that access to information is critical. These articles are by no means exhaustive, and if you think you are the victim of harassment in the workplace, please look up your state’s local laws and consider calling an attorney—most will provide an initial consultation free of charge.
Thanks to everyone who wrote, contributed, and read Barista Magazine Online this year. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!