What Inspires Us


I had an email in my inbox from a woman, Holley Badger, whom I met in Rhode Island a few weeks ago when I was attending the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast (MANE) Artisan Coffee Conference. Holley works at Blue State Coffee, right on the campus of Brown University in Providence. Jay Caragay and I were able to visit her cafe, among a few other local coffee gems, so we could see the place in action. While we noted that Holley and her fellow baristas were passionate and enthusiastic about their work, and were committed to making high quality drinks and employing the latest brewing techniques, they are, after all, located on a college campus, where a quick caffeine fix and free wi-fi are more valuable to a large percentage of customers than high quality coffee.

So when Holley forwarded me this email this morning, I couldn’t help doing a fist pump, and then sharing it here with all of you…

In light of your comments at MANE referencing baristas and respect, I needed to stop and share a recent experience with you. As baristas we make hundreds of beautiful drinks every day. Some people stop and notice. They look at the drink before they put a lid on it or cover it in cinnamon or sugar or whatever their preferred addition may be. Some of the people comment and praise the barista as an artist. This customer actually stopped to photograph his latte and then asked me if he could take my photo with it. In my thirteen years of time in coffee shops, that has never happened for me. It was the moment that warmed my soul and reminded me why I love doing what I do. The smile across someone’s face. It’s not even about the perfect symetry of a gorgeous Rosetta so much as the fact that it actually translated to the other side of the counter and the person who was going to drink it was just as in love with the beauty of it as I myself was.

So here, I share an instance on the side of getting that respect that we as baristas have worked so hard to attain. I can make lattes all day long, but the connections like these are the rare moments that allow me to know I am doing what I love.

Here's the photo, shot by an admiring and appreciative customer, of Holley and her drink.

Thanks so much for sharing this story, Holley ”and cheers to you for inspiring customers and fellow baristas alike!


Barista Champion of Australia, Scottie Callaghan, was one of 10 national barista champs who traveled to Peru to participate in Let’s Talk Coffee‘s Seed to Cup Origin Adventure. For the second year in a row, Let’s Talk Coffee (organized by Sustainable Harvest as a forum for producers, roasters and baristas to meet and discuss coffee in an intimate origin setting) included this unique aspect of coffee exploration in its curriculum: champion baristas gathered together on a coffee farm to work the land, harvest microlots, roast them, and through the process, gain a completely new perspective on what it takes for the coffees they use in their cafes back home to get to them.

That's Scottie with one of his new friends... who then became dinner.

Scottie blogged about the experience from the kind of up-close-and-personal perspective that only an actual participant could offer. So I’m urging you to go HERE and read his entries. The Seed to Cup Origin Adventure is truly a remarkable occasion, and its success this year in bringing baristas and farmers together to discuss best practices for the promotion and betterment of coffee at source as well as in consuming countries, has ensured its continuation as an activity for baristas and producers in the future.

For more information on this year’s Let’s Talk Coffee as well as the World Barista Forum that took place in conjunction with it, see Ken Olson’s article in the upcoming December/January issue of Barista Magazine.

About Sarah 933 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.