Cafée brought together baristas from all over Paris to celebrate the women in the city’s burgeoning scene. In its inaugural event, Cafée aimed to shape and drive the young coffee community.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Last month, Ten Belles Bread hosted Cafée, a panel and social event that brought over 50 baristas and coffee professionals together in Paris. Cafée was the first event of its type, says Bronte Abrahams, manager of Ten Belles and one of the event’s organizers. The event started with a panel of four coffee professionals who identify as female and asked them to talk about their careers and experiences. “The evening was twofold—first, to put women in the spotlight, and then to talk about what it’s like to be a female in the Paris coffee scene,” Bronte shared.
Cafée (which is a play on the French word for coffee by feminizing the end with the -ée suffix) was born out of a need to create a larger coffee community within the growing Paris café scene. “There’s a lot of new players in the coffee scene,” Bronte notes, commenting that the number of cafés in Paris has grown from the low teens to almost 100 in the last three years. “There’s a real need to create a barista network.” While this first event was aimed at highlighting the issues of baristas who identify as women, Bronte hopes to widen the focus and provide a platform for baristas in the city to voice their needs and create a professional network.
The panel, which was moderated by Bronte, featured Clementine Leevy, owner of Peonies, a combined café and flower shop; Lucie Montel, head barista at the Hoxton Hotel; Albane Theery, coffee consultant; and Mihaela Iordache, head roaster for Belleville Brûlerie Paris, one of the city’s most prominent roasteries. Bronte asked each of the panelists questions specific to their careers and experiences. For Albane, who works with cafés and businesses all across the city, Bronte asked what she’s noticed changing in the Paris coffee scene. Albane noted that as the café scene has evolved, owners are moving away from the coffee bar and to more behind-the-scenes roles. “Owners have moved into management; slowly baristas are being replaced by people who are not the owners,” Albane said.
Bronte met with the panelists twice before the event, along with hosting focus groups to see what a night like this could and should do. “Mainly out of those discussions there was a bigger discussion on how to make a more connected community,” Bronte shares. Panelists regularly disagreed on many issues—some said they experienced varying levels of sexism, while others noted that they did not personally feel they experience misogyny behind the bar—but all agreed that the Paris coffee community was unique and at a pivotal moment because of its relative youth and newness. “What makes coffee special in Paris and very unique is that it’s young, very international, and a good representation of women,” Bronte said.
After the panelists spoke and answered prepared questions, audience members were invited to ask questions. One audience member asked how the coffee scene compared with other service communities in Paris. The panelists agreed that, because the coffee scene was so young, there was a better chance to get marginalized folks involved since the other industries are much older and sexism and discrimination are much more entrenched. Another audience member asked the panelists what their demands were, and what action steps should be taken to continue combating sexism. The panelists agreed that while Paris is lucky to be young and forming its identity, continuing to have these conversations and be frank and open would help to ensure there are equal opportunities for all.
Bronte is excited for the future of Cafée, and hopes to host more events soon. “We want to make sure our industry continues to be equal, and we get equal exposure in the media, and we continue to be recognized as an equal player in the industry,” she shares enthusiastically. With the number of baristas and coffee professionals at the first event, she is optimistic about the future of the group and the direction of new events. “People in Paris are paying attention,” Bronte shares. “There is accountability happening.”