The Houston Coffee Collective hosted a series of panels focusing on issues of wage transparency, health and life benefits, and parenting in the coffee industry.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Chris Porto
On February 28, members of Houston Coffee Collective hosted HTX Coffee People, a series of panels focusing on factors often ignored or overlooked in the coffee shop. At La Chamba Coffee, folks gathered to talk about wage transparency, health and life benefits, and parenting in the coffee industry.
It’s no coincidence that the folks at HTX chose to host the event at La Chamba—a coffee shop founded by parent organization SERJobs to hire and train formerly incarcerated individuals and help them get their GEDs and job skills. “We wanted to create an event that fits into the visions and operations of La Chamba, a nonprofit coffee shop located in East End, an area with a typically Hispanic population that is currently going through major transitions, revitalizing projects as well as gentrification,” says Anita Tam, one of the organizers and a member of Houston Coffee Collective.
“This event was organized with the goal to draw the community’s attention towards the La Chamba project, the neighborhood, as well as issues that matter to coffee people,” says Anita.
The event started with snacks and a cupping to get folks talking and mingling, and attracted coffee pros from all over. “We are really happy with the turnout. It was very successful. We had around 50 people beating the Houston traffic to come join us from all around town,” says Anita.
One of the major goals of the event was to let folks know that their concerns matter—as people continue to work in the coffee industry, creating jobs that are sustainable and meet the needs of individuals with families and growing responsibilities can seem like an afterthought. “I want people to feel as though they are valued. We are creating this from our heart. We are telling the story of the people that our industry depends on, to raise awareness and foster an environment where future coffee professionals can thrive,” says Norma Odegard, who was part of the “Parenting in the Coffee Industry” panel.
Others hope that these topics become more normalized within the coffee industry. “My goal is to create a safe space to talk about these subjects and help normalize these types of discussions in the coffee industry,” shared Stacy Wright, manager of Inversion Coffee, who moderated the panels. “These issues do not just affect coffee workers, and by opening up these conversations we both can get insight from different industries and model effective change to others.”
Being passionate about coffee mechanics and the ins and outs of extraction is fun and important to the coffee industry, but events like this are why folks like Jason Bush, owner of Tea and Victory, are motivated to push forward. “The discussion at this panel is why I am here. It is the most important thing to me while I am a part of the Houston hospitality industry, and I want to continue this conversation. I want employees to be fired up and continue the conversation.”