Welcome to the December 2020 + January 2021 Issue of Barista Magazine!

The December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine is out, featuring Winston Thomas of Cape Town, South Africa, on the cover. 

Also included: ‘Best Bar Tools 2020,’ ‘A More Perfect Union,’ ‘Advice from Behind the Bar,’ ‘Field Report: Seoul,’ ‘One on One with Joan Obra & Ralph Gaston,’ and much more!


The December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine is here, and with it we close out 2020 and welcome in the new year!

No doubt this year past has been among the most challenging, not just for small businesses or individuals, but for societies. The pandemic we have all been dealing with shows no signs of abating; however, hope is on the horizon. But fundamentally, COVID-19, and the world’s response to it, demonstrates how interconnected we all are. No matter your country, your city, your village, the pandemic has impacted you as it has impacted everyone. Unfortunately, far too many of our loved ones have paid too high of a price, and though they will never be replaced, they will also never be forgotten.

Coffee, too, is an interconnected web that unites the world. From the growers, to the pickers, to the exporters and importers, roasters, baristas, and customers, we all depend on each other to not only create an economically viable network, but one that promotes quality in the product but also in the relationships and communities it builds. We, who are fortunate enough to work in the amazing industry, have known that interconnectivity for a long time. Maybe the silver lining of this global pandemic is a recognition that we are all on this planet together, and the future belongs to all of us. We owe it to each other and ourselves to create the best future for everyone that we can.

Cover Feature: Winston Thomas

December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine Winston Thomas

South Africa’s reigning barista champion, Winston Thomas, hopes to help build a more vibrant and inclusive specialty-coffee scene in his country. Former U.S. barista champion Lem Butler of Black & White Coffee Roasters in North Carolina met Winston when visiting South Africa for a WCE All-Stars event. Lem writes about his experience getting to know Winston and his family, and interviews Winston about his circuitous career path in the December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine.

‘Field Report: Seoul’

Field Report Seoul

As the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world and shut down travel in most places, one of our most popular features, “Field Reports,” has taken a hiatus from our pages for the most part. In the December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine, however, Sunghee Tark, co-founder and CEO of Bean Voyage, takes us on a tour of the capital city of South Korea, one of the countries with the best COVID responses in the entire world. She writes about how the vibrant and cutting-edge cafe scene is responding to the new health restrictions and still providing great service and coffee.

‘Best Bar Tools 2020’

December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine Best Bar Tools

Each year for our December + January issue, we ask baristas from around the world to highlight some of their favorite tools for getting their jobs done. They always surprise and delight us, not only with their selections, but with the creative and fun photos they supply to showcase their favorite tools.

‘A More Perfect Union’

December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine A More Perfect Union

As more and more baristas and companies investigate the world of unionization, writer Mark Van Streefkerk takes a look at what exactly that means. He writes about the process of unionization, what rights and responsibilities unions create for their members, and why it seems unions are on more people’s minds in these tumultuous times in his article “A More Perfect Union.”

New Column! Advice from Behind the Bar’

December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine Advice

With the December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine, we are excited to announce the debut of a new regular column, “Advice from Behind the Bar.” In her new column, longtime coffee professional and founder of Barista Behind the Bar Camila Coddou takes reader questions and offers honest, thoughtful advice in response.

‘One on One: Joan Obra & Ralph Gaston’

December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine One on One

In this issue’s One on One, co-owner of Pacific Coffee Research Madeleine Longoria Garcia interviews the couple behind Rusty’s Hawaiian, Joan Obra and Ralph Gaston. They talk about what brought them to Hawai‘i, what they knew about coffee before they landed on the Big Island, and how they hope to grow the Hawaiian specialty-coffee industry.

These are just some of the stories you’ll find in the December 2020 + January 2021 issue of Barista Magazine. Once again I have to say I am proud of and impressed by the work, dedication, and effort the entire Barista Magazine team has brought not just to this issue but to the whole year. They have been thoughtful, responsive, flexible, and devoted to serving this amazing community. Thank you to all of our contributors: Your work makes this magazine and website possible. I thank you and I know our readers thank you.

Our online editor, Katrina Yentch has done a stellar job throughout 2020 creating and curating content to inform, entertain, and support this community. Barista Magazine’s social media content developer, Mark Van Streefkerk, has gone above and beyond. He not only creates daily social media posts but is also constantly writing and researching stories that resonate with our readership. Our copy editor, Chris Ryan, has been on top of the daily digital content and provides multiple thorough edits of every print issue, as well as producing original stories for both the website and magazine. And finally, Barista Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Sarah Allen has one again done a fantastic job of keeping this publication in all of its forms relevant and responsive for our far-flung readership.

2020 has been a challenge. No doubt 2021 will be one too. But with this terrific team at Barista Magazine, we promise to continue doing our best to keep you informed and connected through whatever the new year may hold.

And as always, you have your choice to read Barista Magazine in paper or digital format. You can order a hard copy through our online store here or start a subscription. Of course, you can also read it for free with our digital edition. You can visit our digital edition archives here.

About Ken 262 Articles
Kenneth R. Olson (he/him) is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, the Washington Huskies, and public libraries.