7 Women in Coffee Who Are All Sorts of Awesome

7 Women in Coffee Who Are All Sorts of Awesome

Today is International Women’s Day, so we thought that there would be no better way to honour our lovely wives and girlfriends, sisters and mothers, aunts and grandmothers than by seeking out seven local coffee nerds who happen to also be ladies. I’d like to introduce you to 7 women in coffee who are all sorts of awesome.


Attie O’Rourke

Groundswell Roasters

Why she’s awesome:

Attie is one part of the bean roasting (and potential crime fighting) duo Groundswell Roasters. When she’s not roasting some of the best espresso beans we’ve tried in ages she’s hosting coffee tours, teaching kids how to roast coffee and cooking up a mean deep fried risotto ball dinner!

What is your most exciting prediction for the coffee industry in 2017?

I’m excited to see the silver lining of housing affordability. Hang on, what? Everyday I meet young people whose former dreams of home ownership are becoming replaced (or distracted by!) dreams of entrepreneurship. I see more young people considering the coffee industry as a career choice, whether it be starting a coffee shop, roastery or coffee related venture. Starting a pop-up shop, coffee truck or cafe start to look sensible in comparison to purchasing a Vancouver condo!

I saw this trend start back in 2010 in Australia when young people starting feeling the pinch there from the housing market. Cafes and restaurants started by millennials bloomed and statistics showed this young demographic had some of the most success of all coffee start ups. With funding now more creative than ever, perhaps 2017 is the year to to stick it to the condos and churn out some cortados!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started in the coffee industry?

I find a lot of people talk about how closed the industry is, particularly here in Vancouver. What I found was for every door that is closed, five are wide open. I’ve been so humbled by the amount of support I have received. The most supportive of which I have found to be fellow micro-roasters and those who share my perspective that growing the industry as a whole is the most important objective! Along the same lines I’ve been lucky to have found several mentors across the world. There’s always a door open somewhere, including mine.

 


Ashley Tomlinson

The Little Black Coffee Cup

Why she’s awesome: 

Baker, food creator, photographer, coffee nerd, writer, environmental activist and Re:co fellow, Ashley is a prime example of someone firmly driving the coffee scene forward with her work. She’s the creator of the blog The Little Black Coffee Cup and her work has been featured on Sprudge, Barista Hustle, Food Network and Life and Thyme. She’s also a major organiser in the “Bring Your Own Mug” movement, which hopes to eradicate the use of paper cups in coffee shops around the country (and world!). #BYOMLyfe!

What is your most exciting prediction for the coffee industry in 2017?

The best thing about the future of coffee is that we get to collectively create it. So, here’s what I predict: take away coffee cups will become faux pas. It will no longer be cool for fashion or coffee bloggers to feature Instagram photos of disposable coffee cups. Science will prove that coffee tastes better and is healthier for you when ingested out of a reusable ceramic or glass cup. 2017 may not be the year that we see tangible results in the shift toward reusables, however I’m confident this is the year that specialty coffee purveyors and consumers start giving as much consideration to our vessels of choice as we do to the coffee that is going in them. From here, things start changing…

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started in the coffee industry?

I have come to understand that I don’t know as much about coffee as I thought I did, and thankfully, I don’t need to know everything about coffee. Coffee is unbelievably complex—it is agricultural, political, economic, and cultural. One could easily spend a lifetime digging into a tiny facet of the coffee industry, for example: understanding gender in coffee growing regions, green coffee buying, brewing the perfect cup, or evaluating sustainability in coffee retail, to name a few. All this to say, each of us is looking at coffee from a unique perspective and through our own passions. I feel that the coffee industry benefits when we take the time to collaborate and learn from each other.

 


Karen Lopez

U-Roast-It Coffee

Karen Lopez

Why she’s awesome: 

Karen saw a problem in Canada – green coffee beans were a pain in the ass to buy. So instead of taking it on the chin and buying from the USA, she founded her own green bean import and sale company… and it’s awesome. She’s from coffee lineage too, as the granddaughter of Keble Munn who was the owner of Mavis Bank Central Factory, a highly regarded producer of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. We love Karen so much that she was the first person to be featured in our Q&A sessions.

What is your most exciting prediction for the coffee industry in 2017?

I predict more specialty coffee shops that will focus on quality instead of low prices. I also predict more regular people embracing  and appreciating roasting their own beans for hands on experience and to feel in control of what they are drinking.  I’m also hoping that more women will enter this field as owners and in key roles in the industry.  When I took the Intro Pathways course at Swiss Water recently, I was happy to see that out of 6 people at the class, 3 were women!  10-20 years ago, it probably wouldn’t have been that high.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started in the coffee industry?

I know now how much I love the industry and I wish I had started earlier in my life.  I had plenty of opportunities to take the coffee path (seeing that coffee was a part of my family history) but instead chose another career until last year.  Had I known how much I love it and how inviting and wonderful everyone is in the industry, I would have entered it sooner. Better late than never as the saying goes and it holds true for me.

 


Alison Ensworth

Espressotec

A post shared by Coffee Potluck (@coffeepotluck) on

Why she’s awesome: 

When she’s not creating amazing nut butters, Alison is the mastermind behind the two Espressotec latte art throwdowns that were held last year. She bought together the coffee community, gave them a skinful of alcohol and then set them lose creating amazing latte art in a knockout competition. Events like this are essential for the improvement of the Vancouver coffee scene and she’s at the helm of that ship! Y’arr captain Ensworth!

What is your most exciting prediction for the coffee industry in 2017?

This may be more along the lines of wishful thinking and hope than of predictions… But I’m excited to see the coffee community here in Vancouver collaborate more, congregate more, and push the calibre of our local industry to greater heights, meeting (and perhaps one day exceeding) the global standards and the culture of coffee cities like Portland, London, San Diego, Melbourne, etc. It’s hard for a community to grow when its members are isolated or secretive or extremely competitive – the more we can convene and challenge each other in a positive way, the better our industry will be.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started in the coffee industry?

I started in the coffee industry working as a barista at coffee shops close to where I lived, and the convenience was so attractive… but they were relatively conventional – approachable, to borrow from coffee tasting lingo – and I would have learned so much more from some of the more exotic, industry-leading cafes located a bit further afield. The education and connections to be gained is absolutely worth the commute.

 


Justine Rhee

KAHVE

Justine Rhee

Photo credit yelp.ca

Why she’s awesome: 

When we reviewed KAHVE last year we changed the way we rated staff in all other reviews. This was because of Justine – she is the epitome of how customer service should be handled in a coffee shop. She also supports local chefs, coffee potluck events and was even the last stop on our recent coffee tours.

What is your most exciting prediction for the coffee industry in 2017?

There will be more specialty coffee shops in town and sound competition among them. This means that coffee lovers will have more options to enjoy!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started in the coffee industry?

Incredible working hours – as we open seven days a week. You cannot skip your daily coffee!

 


Vania Ling

Coffee Potluck

Vania Ling

Why she’s awesome: 

She’s one of the founders of Coffee Potluck, a monthly get together for baristas, coffee roasters, coffee lovers and random people who happen to wander in off the street! She’s written for barista magazine and has helped host such amazing nights as “Caps for Cocks and Coochies”: a barista throwdown featuring rude latte art!

What is your most exciting prediction for the coffee industry in 2017?

Now I’m not much of a coffee prophet, but there aren’t any tea leaves for me to go on, so I’ll read the trends. Whether you listen to Tamper Tantrum, Coffee Jobs, or Cat & Cloud Podcasts, you will have a different perspective on upcoming coffee trends, not to mention all the written coffee content. (Trend 1: Increase in the amount of coffee content!)

Trend 2:
On an international level, maybe the fudging of the boundary between second-wave and third-wave coffee shops and consumers will continue. Think, Cascara Latte at Starbucks. So before you all start rolling your eyes, this is a chance for great conversation to be had; a discovery of new coffee terms that all coffee drinkers can begin to enjoy. Now that Starbucks has introduced ‘cascara’, maybe we continue with the topic of how coffee cherries are processed, or what other applications this may have. Is that too geeky?

Trend 3:
Locally and internationally, I think there is an increasing curiosity about enjoying coffee in community. The growth of the collective coffee experience is really kicking off, I think the goal of bringing people together spurs growth, learning and discovery for all parts of coffee industry. Just look, Bay Area Coffee Community, Seattle has NW Space Agency, and keep your eyes peeled for more!

And of course because you’re the Vancouver coffee snob, I think Vancouver has an ever evolving food scene. A food-centric cafe has to be the next exciting thing! A place where brunch and amazing coffee coexist, like the food that’s worth lining up for, but it’s made worth it by the amazing coffee while you wait.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started in the coffee industry?

This is going to sound pessimistic, but it would have been that “there is going to be incredible pressure in knowing infinitely more about coffee. A great many stresses will be caused by how critical people can be of each other, but when you uncover the friendships in coffee that span the world it creates a network of coffee friends who help each other and support you wherever you are.  Don’t take yourself too seriously, and you’ll be grand.”

 


Lenka Bohorova

Stealth Coffee Systems

Lenka Borohova

Why she’s awesome: 

First off she’s an immigrant (Slovakia via Dublin) which automatically makes her my she-bro (being that I’m a Brit). She’s a former barista as well as a qualified barista trainer, she’s got latte art skills to go against some of the best in town, has recently taken on the role of key account manager at Stealth Coffee Systems and can hold her drink like a true Eastern European! Na zdravie!

What is your most exciting prediction for the coffee industry in 2017?

Cold brew – Its been very exiting to be part of this entirely new coffee-drinking experience that started back in 2015. I believe its going to expand and get very creative whether served from the tap or the bottle.
Signature drinks – There is a lack of perfectly crafted signature drinks despite their strong presence at the World Barista Championship. Carefully chosen ingredients will highlight the flavour and aroma of the coffee instead of diminishing it with sugary syrups/sauces and whipped cream. This is more of a hopeful wish than educated opinion 😊
Growth of the coffee community in Vancouver – Collaboration between like-minded coffee enthusiast has a potential to take Vancouver’s coffee scene to a new level, where people share their passion and experiences, learn new skills and have great fun.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started in the coffee industry?

I wish I knew that my 7 years hands-on barista experience, multiple SCAE courses and exams as well as continuous self-education were only a little chapter of the coffee learning experience.

 


Thanks to all the great ladies of coffee we spoke to for this article and thanks to all the great ladies of the coffee industry!

Happy International Women’s day everyone!

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