Q&A Session 20: Laura from Strong Women of Coffee
A while back we posted an article on International Women’s Day, celebrating who we thought were some badass women in the coffee industry
It’s been a couple of years since then and to be honest, we’ve unfairly neglected that list.
However, Laura Gonzalez is our new hero, because she’s leading the charge with her Instagram account @strongwomenofcoffee, where she showcases some incredible women that work in and around the coffee industry.
We caught up with Laura to find out what makes an awesome woman of coffee,
Who are you and where are you from?
I’m Laura Gonzalez, born and raised in the beautiful, thriving, cultural heart of Mexico; sunny Guadalajara.
Tell us a little about your Strong Women of Coffee project.
I started working at Genius approximately two years ago. As you know, Genius is the Canadian distributor for Sanremo machines, both companies gave me the opportunity to get involved not only in the local coffee community but also in events such as SCA Expo every year. As I became more integrated into the coffee community, I started to notice many extraordinary women who were carving out a place in it for themselves. My hope is that this project gives them a voice and lets them know they are part of a very special and impressive group. I want people to associate the words “women in coffee” with interesting, intelligent women, just as I do. The industry is full of them!
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What makes a woman in the coffee industry strong?
I am very impressed by the strong women getting involved and taking on responsibilities in all aspects of the industry and community; competing (latte art, barista, Aeropress, Coffee in Good Spirits, etc.), roasting, operating cafes – basically helping the community connect and prosper. Strong women are putting their own stamp on the culture..
What are some of the obstacles that women face in the coffee industry that people might not realize exist?
Like most industries, there seems to be a general misconception of what an appropriate woman’s position is in it. Many people, of course, are just not used to seeing women in positions as owners of cafes, managers of roasteries, skilled baristas, technicians or Operation Managers. I don’t think the coffee industry is particularly resistant to offering women opportunities, but I do think both men and women are not aware of the wide variety of roles women are taking on very successfully.
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Are there any aspects of the coffee industry that you think would benefit from an increase in women workers? (For example, most farmers appear to be men)
I think the whole coffee industry (here in Vancouver and around the world) would benefit by being more integrated gender-wise. Women and men have approaches that can benefit any industry. Including both sexes benefits future generations by inspiring them to pursue whatever career in coffee appeals to them; taking care of their own farm, roasting coffee, fixing coffee machines, training, etc.
Technically Mrs. VancouverCoffeeSnob is a woman in the coffee industry, by proxy, through me. If you could get her to stop crying about having to put up with me, would you interview her?
I don’t doubt she’s well able to deal with you. Maybe those are tears of joy that your involvement in the community has been successful enough that she gets a break from time to time. I’m sure she has achievements of her own she can talk about that aren’t perhaps centred around being your spouse. If any of those have to do with coffee, I’d love to sit down with her and interview her!
VancouverCoffeeSnob Edit: Read about Mrs. VancouverCoffeeSnob’s hard life here!
Occasionally the chaps at Johnny Can’t Surf dress as Chun Li. Can we technically classify them as strong women of coffee, but only when they’re appropriately attired?
How people want to be classed or identified is entirely up to them. One of the whole points of “Strong Women” is to open up stereotypes. If those individuals are female identifying, I’m all supportive of that, and no doubt the rest of the women would be too.
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In this case, they’re guys having a laugh putting on a dress, I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass on classifying them as women, which will no doubt not be an issue with them then 🙂
If you could pick one person dead or alive, real or fictional, to have coffee with, who would it be and why
Gertrude Stein strikes me as someone who really knew how to entertain and converse. I’d love to hear about Saturdays at her salon, with Picasso, Matisse, and Hemingway. She must have interesting stories to tell. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a woman I’ve always admired. I wonder if she’s a coffee drinker.
Are there any baristas in the local community that are wow’ing you right now?
Kuni and her amazing latte art is always a treat to see. Kris Wu’s awesome tasty drinks never fail to impress.
Final question – Who would make the best secret Santa and why: Laura from Luna, Stacey from Pallet, Mel from Agro or Jess from Modus.
Definitely, Stacey or Jess, because I know how amazing they are and they already gave me the huge gift of their time and support for my project.
Thanks to Laura for spending the time chatting to me for this Q&A.
If you’re interested in her project you can check out her Instagram account here or if you think you are, or know someone that is a strong woman in the coffee industry, you can email her on [email protected].