Queer Coffee hosts its third event, and second on the East Coast, with a gathering on Sunday—hosted in partnership with the Boston Intersectional Coffee Collective—that features a panel discussion and more.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Images courtesy of Queer Coffee
In November 2017, RJ Joseph and Ellan Kline formed Queer Coffee Events, an events organization “for queer people and allies in coffee to build community, have fun, and learn,” according to its website. The organization held its first event in Emeryville, Calif., in December, followed by its second gathering in New York City in April.
This weekend, Queer Coffee Events will present its third event—and second on the East Coast—with Queer Coffee: Boston. Hosted in partnership with the Boston Intersectional Coffee Collective (BICC), the event takes place at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Counter Culture Coffee’s Boston Training Center located in Somerville, Mass.
Helping to bring the event to Boston are local coffee professionals Kristina Jackson, founder of BICC, and Becca Woodard of George Howell Coffee, who is also the reigning U.S. Brewers Cup champion. Kristina was inspired to bring Queer Coffee to Boston after speaking at the New York City event in April. “Afterwards I got some feedback that a bunch of younger people came and felt very comfortable to have their own space,” Kristina says. “Becca and I talked about that and decided it would be cool to do something like that here.”
Becca wanted to help bring Queer Coffee to Boston to create an inclusive event for the local coffee community. “The Boston coffee community is great, but we don’t have much for events outside of throwdowns, which are generally cis white male dominated,” Becca says. “I know baristas in Boston who don’t feel comfortable and welcome in that environment, and I think it is important we have community-oriented events that are welcoming to everyone. This is more than just a Pride Month celebration; this is a platform for those who have been othered by the cis white male culture we live and work in to talk about what they go through every day behind the bar.”
Those topics will be among the ones addressed in a panel discussion at the event, which will be moderated by Kristina and include panelists Mea Johnson, Montana Gulbrand, Ciara Ventura, and Amanda Swaney. “I hope to hear a little bit about how experiences vary in different neighborhoods,” says Kristina. “One of our panelists is a political organizer; I’d like to hear her perspective on how she navigates spaces. But most importantly, I’d like to have some fun. It’s the end of Pride Month … and after a month of hearing uncertainty in the news, I’d like to end on a positive note.”
Becca adds that those attending the event should walk into a welcoming space that puts the queer perspective front and center. “I hope everyone feels welcomed and has an absolute blast, but most importantly I hope that the allies in the room walk away with a bit more understanding of what it’s like being LGBTQIA in the service industry,” Becca says. “I hope ally baristas at the event walk away understanding how to best support their queer coworkers, and I hope the queer folx attending the event feel more comfortable coming to the throwdowns, helping our coffee community grow closer and more inclusive.”
Queer Coffee: Boston is the latest event BICC has been involved in; Kristina says the organization, which has been around for about a year, has slowly been growing in the local community. ““I’ve seen a lot more new faces at events,” Kristina says. “I get excited about little things like messages from baristas even asking about recipes and wanting to taste coffee with me because they want to be better at their job. I hear little stories about how they spoke up about a sexist interaction with a coworker. Maybe BICC isn’t making sweeping changes, but the presence is felt and I am super excited.”
As Queer Coffee now comes to its third city, cofounder RJ Joseph is very excited to see the expansion. “I’m really excited about how QC is growing,” RJ says. “The mission has always been to center the events on the ideas of local organizers all over the country, so I’m super excited that amazing folks like Becca and Kristina are reaching out to make events happen in their local community.
RJ adds that while the event series will continue, Queer Coffee will likely be adding a mentorship element as well. “We’re not sure what comes next, but I can’t wait to find out,” RJ says. “I know that one thing we want to do in the next year is roll out a mentorship program connecting coffee people at all professional levels so that folks who are newer to the industry can gain an in to learning about all the opportunities that are available to them in the wider coffee world.”