Launched toward the end of 2018, the Iowa Coffee Collective provides events that bring together coffee pros in Iowa.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of the Iowa Coffee Collective
Jesus Iniguez is quick to admit that he is passionate about bringing people together. As the lead barista for Stone Brú Coffee—a two-location café in Sioux City, Iowa, and Dakota Dunes, S.D.—Jesus regularly interacts with customers, but he found himself eager to connect with other baristas. “The Iowa specialty-coffee scene is very small, yet a lot of baristas don’t know each other, mostly because there aren’t a lot of events to facilitate that interaction,” he says. “Many people don’t travel within Iowa to visit different shops and usually go out of state to do so.”
Jesus has sought to change that with the creation of the Iowa Coffee Collective, a group he founded in late 2017 with the goal of providing events such as latte art throwdowns and educational courses to unite the state’s coffee community. “The idea behind Iowa Coffee Collective is to bring baristas, coffee shop owners, and coffee enthusiasts together to facilitate engagement and conversation,” Jesus says.
Iowa Coffee Collective kicked off its activities in October with a three-day latte art competition Jesus organized with his friend Michael Beyne that took place at three shops across the state: Stone Brú Coffee in Sioux City, Town Square Coffee House in Orange City, and Dash Coffee Roasters in Cedar Rapids.
The organization plans to host events every two to three months, from throwdowns to brewing competitions and beyond. Jesus says they are hoping to plan educational classes soon, which might cover brewing, cupping, and other topics the community indicates interest in. The collective is also planning an Iowa Coffee People meet-up in the spring. “[The meet-up] will hopefully draw coffee professionals from all over Iowa and create friendships between shops and baristas, and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and human interaction,” Jesus says. “More events will be added as the need and interest grows.”
The Iowa Coffee Collective has launched as an organization encompassing the entire state—an ambitious goal, considering Iowa’s 56,000-plus-square-mile size and population of 3.1 million people. “It is super challenging but definitely worth it,” Jesus says. “… I really enjoy bringing people together and getting to know people myself. Connection is so important and valuable.”
Eventually, Jesus hopes that as the state’s coffee community grows, other regional groups will develop that will host their own events in their local communities. “My goal isn’t to be the one go-to coffee organization in Iowa, but more of a catalyst to creating connection and growth in the Iowa coffee community,” he says. “This is more about the people than it is about the coffee.”
For more about the Iowa Coffee Collective, check out their recently launched website here.