Bay Area coffee professionals Jasper Wilde and Ashley Rodriguez are the voices behind Boss Barista, tackling difficult issues in coffee and showcasing the marginalized perspective.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Cover photo by Rachel Stanich.
A decade ago, podcasting was a nascent concept, with only a handful of the long-form, talk-centered shows in existence. It’s a much different scenario in 2017, with podcasts among the most consumed media, and a seemingly endless variety of titles available for consumption. There’s no shortage of coffee-centric podcasts as well, with popular options including the Cat & Cloud Coffee Podcast, Opposites Extract, and Tamper Tantrum.
Into this landscape enters Boss Barista, a podcast that debuted in January 2017 from friends and coffee professionals Jasper Wilde and Ashley Rodriguez. (Disclosure: Ashley is the Online Editor of Barista Magazine.) Billed as a “feminist coffee podcast,” Boss Barista was created by Jasper and Ashley to provide a perspective they felt was missing from the coffee podcast conversation. “We weren’t hearing a variety of voices reflective of the coffee community,” says Ashley. “We were hearing a lot of the same guests and same subjects covered on different coffee podcasts.”
With Boss Barista, Jasper and Ashley seek to highlight the experiences of those who are marginalized and whose stories often go unheard, as well as to challenge some of the norms in coffee. “Take the idea of customer service and that the customer is always right,” says Ashley. “What does that look like if you’re female or if you’re black or if you’re gender non-conforming?” Boss Barista aims to look at challenging issues from a feminist perspective. “The way [the industry] has been doing it so far is unacceptable,” says Jasper. “We are able to address problems like high industry turnover, lack of diversity, unsustainable wages, and barista burnout when we get to the root of the issue, which can be sexism, ablism, racism, and/or cishet normatively.”
Jasper and Ashley began working on Boss Barista in August 2016 and posted their first episode in January. Episodes are generally between 30 and 75 minutes long, and are posted either weekly or biweekly. While the subject matter is often serious and heady, Jasper and Ashley approach the discussions with wit, humility, and even humor. About an episode called “The Oppression Olympics,” Jasper says: “We covered how to respond to anti-feminist internet trolls, how to deal with creepy customers, and how to navigate withdrawing support from ethically questionable companies. We had a lot of fun recording, and when I listen to it I literally crack myself up in the same places I laugh in the podcast. I like the episodes that are fun to listen to that also feel meaty with content.”
Jasper and Ashley are active in the San Francisco Bay Area coffee community: Jasper is a coffee educator at Ritual Coffee Roasters, while Ashley manages the CRO Cafe in Oakland. Though they have each been in specialty coffee for over five years, they are relatively new to podcasting, and feel Boss Barista is rapidly improving as they become more comfortable with the medium. “We are getting better at interviewing and asking questions, so every time we record, I think that’s our best episode,” says Ashley. Assisting the pair with Boss Barista is Nate Gwatney, who edits every episode.
With Boss Barista’s listenership has quickly increased in its five-month existence, Jasper and Ashley hope they’re providing a voice that will help the specialty coffee community become more thoughtful, open, and evolved. “If we truly wish to become an industry that is welcoming to humans, we must first turn to the rest of our industry that we’ve kept silent and ignored,” says Jasper. “Boss Barista is the creation of that voice. With this platform, we hope to change our industry.”
Boss Barista is available on the Permanent Barista website and on iTunes. Ashley adds that the podcasters welcome feedback and want to cover topics the community is passionate about. “In general, we’re most fueled by others and we want to hear from our community,” she says. “We want to address the myriad ideas and stories all our members have to share, and our door is always open and we respond to requests.”