The Instagram account accompanies a WhatsApp community group for Asian coffee professionals.
BY KATRINA YENTCH
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Marissa Childers
Following the spring 2021 shootings in Atlanta, Marissa Childers (she/her), a freelance coffee educator and manager at Spiller Park, wanted to find a way to check in emotionally with other Asian American baristas in her coffee community. What started as a local chat group quickly became a space where she connected with other Asian baristas across the country.
Meet Coffee Asians
Coffee Asians is an account on Instagram and support group where Asian baristas and other coffee professionals can learn about and support Asian coffee culture. Some subject matter that followers will read on the account includes relatable profiles and interviews featuring Asian coffee professionals and their journeys, while other posts aim to educate about coffee culture throughout Asia. A couple of recent examples include informational carousel posts about the history of egg coffee and details about lesser-known coffee-growing regions in Laos.
“There are so many coffee things within Asia that we should be proud of! We don’t want to be seen as silent,“ says Marissa. “Often time I hear in coffee about how Asian coffees are seen as low quality, like ’I would never drink a Sumatran coffee because it’s too herbal and smells weird,’ but why does it have to be that way? I mean, things are changing but it’s getting there.“
Finding Vibrance in Coffee
In a world where visuals are everything, Coffee Asians’ content proudly stands out. Users will be drawn to not only the educational materials; they will simply be attracted to its look. As coffee culture slowly exits the Scandinavian influence of white walls and minimalism, Marissa takes this cue to paint Coffee Asians’ posts with gradients of bright blue, purple, pink, and yellow—drawing on her graphic design background to accomplish this
“I just wanted it to be eye-catching and vibrant,“ Marissa explains. “I think there’s so much vibrancy in the Asian community, and so much more vibrancy in Asian coffees too than people realize … I think to learn and be engaging it also has to be bright and interesting so people want to look at it, but I think it’s worth it.“
A Community Effort
Although Marissa runs the Instagram account alongside the WhatsApp group, Coffee Asians is a collective effort of community-driven professionals who volunteer their free time to running the group. Other members who Marissa attributes to operations include Corazon Padilla of Kalsada Coffee, Selina Viguera from Blue Bottle Coffee, and Sharon Fung at Port of Mokha.
In addition to connecting as a chat group, the community has also embraced the opportunity of connecting for career advancement. In a recent virtual tasting, members like Marissa and Paul Barreto of Out of Office Roasters were able to not only taste coffees (provided by Kalsada, Coffee Project NY, and Port of Mokha) from home, but learn how to use the SCA scoresheet to grade coffee quality.
“It started as a group of people talking and catching up, an affinity space,“ Marissa says. “They get you and relate to you … the group is actually titled on WhatsApp ’Amazing Support Group’!“ she explains with a laugh. “We just like talking to each other and learning from each other.“
Coffee Asians is only just getting started, but expect to see plenty of educational content and the faces of fellow Asians in coffee to continue.