Cherry Roast is the barista competition you’ve been waiting for—it focuses on highlighting the talents of women in the coffee industry who may have felt left out of most barista competitions.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Cherry Roast
When Elle Taylor competed in her first barista competition, she noticed something that many other baristas have noticed over the past few years: Competitions are dominated by men. The owner of Amethyst Coffee in Denver, Elle was also struck by how many women seemed to want to compete, but didn’t feel like they could. “When I competed in regionals at SCA a couple years ago, I was always struck by how many men were competing, and by how many women came up to me afterwards and expressed how they wished they had the courage to compete,” Elle shares.
Elle decided that this wasn’t a fact she could ignore. “It is my firm belief that our industry needs more women, trans/non-binary, and POC representation at competition, and I wanted to be able to facilitate some courage and gumption, while also making it a fun/supportive environment and giving back to the women that make our job possible,” she says. So she took things into her own hands and started Cherry Roast, a competition series focused on promoting women and marginalized groups that traditionally are left out or are underrepresented in barista competitions. “Cherry Roast is a competition that was originally designed to help women break into the competition circuit on a stage that is a little smaller and less male-dominated than the USBC competitions,” Elle adds.
While Cherry Roast is a competitive environment, it was also created to be a fun event. “It is meant to be both a really intense competition (somewhere between Coffee Masters and USBC) that is also one giant party—because everyone loves a party,” Elle shares. Participants fight for the glory and honor of winning, but the event also focuses on fundraising and giving back to the coffee community. “All of the proceeds go to the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), and in two competitions we’ve raised about $2,000 and counting,” says Elle.
Elle isn’t alone in her efforts. “Kristyn Wade [of Corvus Coffee] joined me in 2016 in organizing the event, and Breezy Sanchez [of Crema Coffee] just came on as our in-house designer. Breezy won the competition the first year, and Johanna Hirschboeck won the second year,” she shares. The competition has also expanded outside of Denver to an eponymous podcast along with satellite events, including an all-female latte art competition held in conjunction with The Coffeewoman that took place at the Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle in April.
Cherry Roast has been a platform meant to uplift the voices and talents of women, and hopes to be more gender inclusive in the future. “Cherry Roast has thus far been for women, and the way we’ve defined that is as long as the person feels comfortable competing in a competition that is marketed for women, then that person can compete. After our co-hosted throwdown in Seattle with The Coffeewoman, we are back at the drawing board to make it more gender-inclusive,” Elle shares. Look for more events from Cherry Roast by keeping up to date with their Instagram account or through their Facebook page.