Caffeine Magazine Article: Equality in the Speciality Coffee Industry

Really pleased to have an article published in the current issue (April/May 2014) of Caffeine Magazine.  The full article is below.  Caffeine Magazine is a fairly new, quality publication about the speciality coffee scene and the people who bring you great coffee.  Follow them on Twitter @CaffeineMag

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Picture the scene.  You enter your favourite speciality coffee shop and are greeted by your friendly and welcoming barista.  What do they look like?  Checked shirt?  Beanie?  Beard?  Sorry for the stereotype – but do most people imagine a male barista as the norm?  And is the coffee scene in general (including speciality) becoming a bit of a boys’ club?

As a relatively new industry and one that is breaking down barriers and building connections between growers and consumers we need to ensure that we are inclusive when it comes to making our industry a comfortable and attractive place for women to work – as baristas, roasters, traders and graders.  Customers sometimes seem surprised that I’m knowledgeable about, say, the technical aspects of extraction or coffee origins and processes.  Sometimes they even direct questions on these aspects directly to the only male barista of 4 in our shop.  This might be the perception of customers rather than the industry itself, but such views do prevail amongst professionals as well, and customers need to take their cues from us.

Female baristas are, unfortunately, still also judged on criteria other than their ability to pull a great shot or execute a great milk pour.  In recent weeks, I’ve seen several Twitter posts from coffee shops and roasters referring to female customers and colleagues as MILFS, BILFS and Cougars – in general tweets, promotional material and even coffee packaging.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a bit of banter.  But humour shouldn’t exclude, objectify or intimidate any portion of your clientele or workforce.  Women should feel welcome and at ease in the coffee shop environment.

Ironically women play a significant role in bringing coffee to the market.  In the countries of origin in Africa, Latin America and Asia they constitute around 70% of the labour force for picking and processing coffee.  Yet they are rarely permitted to own their own land or to sit on the board or management committee of the producer organisation and therefore have little impact on decision making processes.  In the consuming countries we rightly view this as an issue to be addressed, and trading and labelling organisations pledge to work on gender issues as part of their objectives.  Yet there is a bit of a double standard at play here – of the 15 members of the Board of SCAE, for example, only 1 is female.

In the current top 20 standings for the UK Barista Championship 2014, 6 are female, including last year’s overall third place barista.  In a recent Yorkshire-wide latte art throw-down, of 20 competitors only 3 were female, one of whom came second.  Ability is therefore obviously not the issue, so what is?  Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence, of opportunity or perhaps women just don’t perceive the coffee industry as open to them in career terms.

If we want the job of barista to be viewed as a profession in itself, it needs to be open to all.  Let’s make speciality coffee a flagship industry for equality.  We have the opportunity to reflect general attitudes, and to influence them for the good.

With a little thought and effort perhaps we can make sexism in the coffee industry as much a thing of the past as scalding hot caramel lattes.  And if you’re a woman who is passionate about coffee and would love a profession where you get to play with great equipment, with great coffee, where you can learn and improve your skills with no limitations, grab your beanie and give it a go!

Join our Team: Barista wanted

Love coffee?  Would you like to work with excellent equipment, excellent changing coffees and excellent fellow baristas?  We are looking for a barista to join our team.  Experience necessary, more important is commitment, passion, reliability and flexibility and an interest in speciality coffee.

You will get to work on our La Marzocco Strada EP, with coffees from some of the best artisan roasters in the country, and to expand your knowledge of the speciality coffee industry.

Please send a brief CV to Ruth at rhampson@hotmail.co.uk

Espresso pouring

Espresso pouring

Forthcoming new tea menu – be first to try!

At Bean & Bud we are as passionate about tea as we are about great coffee.  We always feature the very best selection of fine loose-leaf teas, including black, green, white and oolong teas as well as a rare vintage puerh.  In the next few weeks we will be revamping our tea menu, replacing some of the teas that have been on the menu since the beginning, and taking the opportunity to bring you some really excellent and unusual teas.

We will be running another tea talk and tasting event to coincide with the relaunch of the tea menu, you will have chance to learn a bit more about tea picking and processing, as well as being introduced to the new teas and having the opportunity to be the first to taste the new teas!

Do get in touch via email, twitter or facebook if you would like to be involved in the tea event!

Different varieties of tea

Different varieties of tea

Slow Brew Coffee Methods

If you usually drink your coffee black, we have lots of options for you to try as an alternative to the Long Black or Americano.  First, a tangent: what’s the difference between an Americano and a Long Black?!  An Americano is an espresso shot topped off with hot water, so the shot can be scalded and the crema disturbed.  A Long Black is made by gently pouring the shot over water that has been sitting in the cup for a couple of minutes, thereby preserving the crema and the taste of the coffee.  However, because this method still disperses some of the oils that form on the espresso shot, a long black can still taste slightly bitter.  Enter the slow brew methods, which finely and individually filter the coffee in a number of ways.

At Bean & Bud we offer 3 slow brew methods: Chemex, V60 Pourover and Aeropress.  A Chemex is a specially designed hourglass shaped glass vessel in which the coffee is extracted through a thick paper filter, producing a clear, clean flavour.  The V60 is a cone shaped vessel, the coffee is again extracted through a paper filter and produces a slightly more full-bodied flavour.  The Aeropress uses gentle air pressure to extract the coffee through a very fine filter.  All these methods produce a very clean, bright flavoured coffee with no bitterness and no sediment.  As always, at Bean & Bud we weigh both the dry coffee going into the process and the wet coffee output as well as meticulously timing the extraction, so you get the very best cup of coffee every time.

Why not try one of these methods for your black coffee next time!

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Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Happy Chinese New Year!)

Chinese New Year is one of the most widely celebrated occasions in the world.  From tomorrow we move into the Year of the Horse.  We will be celebrating with fortune cookies, competitions and of course, lots of Chinese teas!  We offer 13 speciality Chinese teas all the year round.  However, if you order a pot of Chinese tea on Friday 31 January or Saturday 1 February you will receive a fortune cookie with good fortune for the forthcoming year.  We also sell our wonderful teas for you to take away and make at home, or for the perfect gift.  So see you then!

Gong xi fa cai!

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