The Coffeewoman Arrives in Houston

The Coffeewoman held its seventh gathering at A 2nd Cup in Houston, tackling issues of harassment, gender identity, and career advancement in the coffee industry.


Photos by Andrea Fernandez for The Coffeewoman

The Coffeewoman, an event series that has traveled to Seattle, Portland (Ore.), Providence (R.I.), Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), Berkeley, Calif., and Amsterdam, landed in Houston on Saturday, March 31. The event, which celebrates the women, gender non-conforming, gender queer, and transgender members of the coffee industry, took place at A 2nd Cup Coffee, a café and nonprofit that provides a safe space for victims of human trafficking. Cherry Roast founders Kristyn Wade and Elle Jensen were the keynote speakers, and they greeted attendees at the door as they walked in to gather with other coffee professionals, enjoy snacks, and talk about issues affecting marginalized members of the community.

The event began with a mini-Cherry Roast competition, which is a coffee competition exclusively for women, transmasculine, non-binary, and gender queer folx created in 2015 in Denver. Contestants poured beverages using Pacific’s Barista Series Rice in a throwdown. Instead of a traditional throwdown, contestants snapped a picture, and the top six photographs moved on to a final triangulation round to be had later in the night.

For several hours preceding The Coffeewoman Houston event, local baristas were invited to pour latte art with Pacific Barista Series Rice in the mini Cherry Roast competition overseen by Kristyn Wade.

After the pouring round, Coffeewoman director Sarah Allen gathered folx toward the stage. Accomplished women coffee professionals then spoke to a variety of topics. These included imposter syndrome, vulnerability, safety, work ethic, and sexism. These topics manifested themselves in the form of panels, poems, and keynote speeches.

To start the night, Elle Jensen gave the first half of the keynote speech on café ownership. She spoke about providing a safe space for employees, and realizing that being an owner is, in fact, that. “Sometimes being an owner is doing the taxes, sometimes being an owner is creating a space for employees to feel comfortable,” said Elle. Being a former barista, Elle founded Amethyst on the principle of the space being for baristas and by baristas. This speech set the tone for the rest of the evening.

The Coffeewoman Houston event was hosted by A 2nd Cup, a nonprofit coffeehouse that raises money for and awareness of human trafficking. A 2nd Cup is a well-known and beloved gathering place for the local coffee community and public alike.

Kristyn followed Elle with the second half of the keynote, this being an original poem she wrote for the event. It was moving and inspiring—please see the end of this post to read it in its entirety.

Sarah Allen returned to the stage to moderate the first panel, called, “How Did I Get Here (Exploring Careers in Coffee).” The panel included: Aida Batlle, Ashley Lai, Stacy Wright , and Camila Topke. Sarah asked: “Have you ever faced problems because of your gender identity?” Aida responded by saying, “Working alongside my team to show them that I would never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do,” created respect. This respect helps Aida produce top-quality coffee. Ashley answered a crowd question: “How do you help other women in your workplace?” “Ask for more from your employer. Workers have rights and should feel their voice matters,” Ashley said.

More than 90 people attended the Coffeewoman Houston; they came from all over the state of Texas to hear speeches and panels on such timely topics as career development and sexual harassment in the workplace. In this photo, Elle Jensen—who was the keynote speaker along with Kristyn Wade—addresses the audience with an inspirational message about the importance of synergy between managers, café owners, and baristas.

Take-aways from this panel

  • Hard work pays off, be willing to do the same work you ask of your employees
  • Ask more of your employer. Ask for classes, trainings, trips to origin, anything
  • Create your own position if need be

After a brief intermission, Kristyn read a poem that set the tone for the next panel. Scroll down to see the poem in its entirety.

In her keynote, Elle encouraged attendees to not be afraid to make mistakes, drawing on her personal history as the owner of Denver’s Amethyst Coffee. She spoke from the heart about lessons she’d learned while working as a barista herself, and how that changed when she became the person in charge.

Elle moderated the second panel, titled “Sexual Harassment in the Coffee Workplace.” Panelists included Oodie Taliaferro, Niken Prabanto, Kaitlin O’Brien, Becky Reeves, and Kathryn “Kat” Melheim. Becky and Kaitlin shared first-hand accounts of sexual harassment, and gave advice on how to address it. Becky said, “record everything about an inappropriate situation,” and “note the time, place, context, exact words, and how it made you feel.” Kat stated, “Texas is a single-consent state in regards to recording audio. If you consent to an audio recording, you can record a conversation.” Kat also said there are two types of workplace sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environments. Head over to ( to read more about these definitions.

Take-aways from this panel

  • If you are in an unsafe situation: get out. No job is worth your safety or sanity. The coffee community is large and will find a safe space for you.
  • Employees need to hold their employers accountable. Ask for protection, ask for rights. Employers are liable.
  • Know your rights specific to your state
  • Give your employees the tools necessary to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Talk about it more often than that one time during on-boarding.
Oodie Taliaferro speaks during the last panel of the evening at The Coffeewoman Houston; the panel addressed the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace.

After the second panel, the Cherry Roast Kristyn announced the Cherry Roast finalists. Those finalists then moved on to a triangulation round to determine first, second, and third place. The scores were so close that it came down to the time it took to complete the triangulation. Savannah Childers (production roaster, Boomtown Coffee) won the competition.

The night ended with socializing and celebrating. There are more events like this on the horizon for Texas. Groups such as Dallas Coffee Gxls and SheBrews (Austin, TX) have emerged. They plan to create space for folx and have plans to host events of their own.

Prizes sponsored by: Baratza, Espresso Parts, Slow Pour Supply, Cafe Imports, and Ally Coffee.

The Coffeewoman Anatomy by Kristyn Wade
Come gather round friends
Wherever you might Be
To sit and hold space for this anthology.
This said story describes ever so lushly
A most compelling breathing with majestic feeling
Felt in your toes to your hair throws
So friends:
  1. sit up
  2. attune to your breath
  3. listen to this decree
  4. and leave knowing youre creating more space for the Coffee Tree of Thee.
It starts with the apron
The seed of knowledge
The hint of glassy craft
The worldly connection
The love of green beans at ever long last
The taste
The creation
The fixation
The sensation
The uncomfortable
The confusing
The realization
The 2018 unfolding
The nothings
The everything
The industry
The collective
The human
The heartbreaks
The heartbeats
The solution
The seed …
The seed is first set to spread to the feet
The moving spirit who unites our grand leap
The dancers of the espresso diets
The foundation for the workers to unleash
What is pure
What is true
What is sound …
Will resound like a volcano mound underneath
And fiercely abound at any peak
The fire is hot
The first crack is spoken and heard
Development begins.
The legs of fearlessness standing complete
Arise and align with the heat
Because like steele and stride
How we walk and beat is our alibi
Feel your legs
Love your legs
Be the legs
You must move forward to release our feet
You must want to move forward to be the relief
These anchored columns
These strife times
Hold us to the dear mother earth vibe
When all seems awkward and all so very awry
The center of our coffee core
Is how industry longevity and love will endure
Being built from our genitalia lore
All the way up to our hearts galore
The beat of the chest
The beat of the community
The beat of the unity
It is this community that brings in the nest
It is this community that finds whats truly best
From a strong stance and posture check
What you convey is what you are to direct
With an iron shield of light and grace
It will always take you to the next place
With a desire deep rooted in silent calm truth
You know exactly what and who, makes you, you.
And with that truth the speech humbly decrees
something so beyond words and humility
The understanding that what is spoken is matter
And that all those scars and bruises can heal the tattered
Allow this song to let you see
The composer wands that lay at your golden seat.
Those arms and finger and toes that give you leverage
Can guide and direct others in their own way of the beverage.
How we write
How we unite
How we try
How we do or don’t comply
With a waive of the pen
With waves of the middle appendage
With the strength of all the workers
we lift this heavy burden together
We set fire to this heavy barrel together
Set fire to the shed by speaking from your heart
Knowing that what you say is key
For others to realize how truly we are all free
No means no means no
Yes brings acceptance
Yes brings attention
Yes brings succession
In this binary conforming old world, how can we make room for the rest of whats in store?
The words set forth by this Coffeewoman cry
Can be found all over the world by the genders who can’t testify
Your message is felt in the four corners of the feet
Your journey of unique discovery is how the world can release
As the glittered plastic crowns of shame and guilt fall to the ground
Allow the volcano to absorb it into the mounds
Forgive your blessed and tired feet
Forgive your sworn enemy, for perhaps they truly don’t know how to speak.
Give them their drink created with arms and fingers of love
And allow the water of life to extract into their very own blood
The eyes of change and chains awaken
The ears of damnation and salvation vibrate with realization
The lips uttered in sourly nothings
Evolve into something quite beyond our knowing
They do not know what they do not see
So be the change that allows all the pins to be seen
Be the one that picks them up from their tripped seat.
Oh you dearest tried and true coffee person
Put on the apron transparency and truth
Roast the beans with 100% individual you
Pick the cherry with an eternal view
That everything we genuinely speak say and do
Will always find its way back around
to shine light on the compounds and flavonoids that make us quite humanly brewed.
Raechel Hurd is a coffee educator at Epoch Coffee. She splits her time between rock climbing, hanging out with dogs, and watching latte art pours on Instagram.
About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at