You may recall my editor’s letter in the June/July ’07 issue of Barista Magazine in which I said thank you and goodbye to our original editorial advisory board. They were an awesome group, and I especially appreciate their faith in Ken’s and my vision when Barista Mag was just a crazy idea in our heads. Two years have gone by, and we’re here to stay, guddurnit, so we thought switching up the ed board was a good way to keep the mag fresh and representative of as many people in the pro coffee world as possible.
So maybe you wonder why we pick the people we pick, and what we expect of them during their 2-year tenure on our board. Here goes: As for how we pick ’em, it’s similar to how we pick the cover baristas for the magazine: we want baristas with different perspectives and ideas about what makes specialty coffee great. We want people who are dynamic and motivated and energetic and crazy smart. We aren’t necessarily looking for champion baristas, but rather baristas who are inspiring to their peers and who also appreciate their peers’ ideas, who are humble, generous of spirit, and honored to be a part of the international specialty coffee community, as well as its future. We also like to have some international representation, and a healthy mix of men and women.
And yes, they are all baristas. Though there are people I turn to for advice who are not baristas — my good friend Anastasia of Clover comes to mind — I did not want to have anyone on the board who might present a potential conflict of interest. I really wanted people who work with beans and customers everyday, who do not have anything to gain or lose, persay, from being on the board. I wanted this group of people because they love coffee and they want Barista Mag to go on being a friend to baristas and retailers. Period.
So here they are…
This is Gabriel Boscana of Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco. Gabe and I have been pals for a long time, and I’ve always appreciated his straightforward approach to coffee. He is passionate to the nth degree, and always up for talking shop. He’s also a kick-ass photog.
This is Erin Meister, a barista trainer for Joe the Art of Coffee in New York City. Perhaps I was drawn to Erin because she is, like I am, called by her last name by the majority of her friends. She is Meister; I am Allen. I love her sense of humor, passion and sass — it for sure comes through in her writing, which, as a writer myself, I find totally bitchen. She is also an editor at my favorite magazine of all time, BUST, so in my mind, she’s famous.
This is Bjorg Brend, who works for Cafe Europa 1989 in Copenhagen, Denmark. I took this photo of Bjorg when we were in El Salvador. She is chewing on her first coffee cherry. Bjorg has not only worked as a barista for many years, but she ran the Specialty Coffee Association of Denmark for a while, as well. She is one of the organizers of the Nordic Barista Cup, is fluent in seven — yes, SEVEN — languages and is originally from the Faroe Islands.
This handsome dude is Christopher Owens, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s just SO NICE. Chris used to work at Gimme! Coffee in Brooklyn, but he and his awesome, lovely ladyfriend — barista extraordinaire, M’Lissa Muckerman — moved down to the ATL last year, which is where M’Lissa is from. Chris got a job as a barista trainer for Counter Culture Coffee, and they are thrilled to have him. M’Liss, by the way, got work at Octane, and she’s doing a rockin job getting that place into tip-top shape. Chris has contributed to Barista Magazine a bunch — he’s saved my hide a few times, too. He’s smart and inquisitive, incredibly well-liked by his peers, and amazing behind the machine.
And this, of course, is Kyle Larson. Kyle is one of my best friends in the whole wide world. I first met him back in 2002 at the Western Regional Barista Competition held at NASCORE in Portland, when he was working for Zoka and I was still at Fresh Cup. It’s funny — he went on to become a serious barista competitor, but no one even remembers him competing at that 2002 NASCORE. So I left Fresh Cup and went to work at Zoka, and we became great friends. He left Zoka for Stumptown around the same time Ken and I started the magazine, and we all moved down to Portland together. I probably bounce ideas off of Kyle more than anyone else — he’s not shy about telling me an idea sucks, or that a photo I like just doesn’t work with an article. And I appreciate that.
2006 World Barista Champion Klaus Thomsen is in the hizzouse! We’re stoked to have Klaus on the Editorial Advisory Board. I first met Klaus in Trieste in 2004 when he took third place at the WBC. And over the years, he, Ken and I have become really good friends. He’s as smart and enthusiastic about great coffee as they come, and I appreciate his generosity in sharing the message with others. I’m super excited about his new venture, the Coffee Collective, which is a vehicle for Klaus’ dream come true: a tangible, transparent view toward the barista-roaster-grower chain.
My buddy Scott Lucey and I went on a canopy tour when we were in El Salvador — this is him all harnessed up. I’m so excited to have Scott as a colleague and friend in this coffee community because they don’t get any more enthusiastic than this guy. He and his co-trainer at Alterra Coffee Roasters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Justin Teisl, have done a simply amazing job at energizing the baristas at Alterra by developing in-house throwdown events and latte art competitions. I get emails from Scott at 11 p.m. when he has a crazy idea about something that should be in Barista Mag, or when he’s really wound up about something cool they’re doing at Alterra. I love how much he loves the coffee community.
This is Holly Bastin — she’s holding Aaron Duckworth’s adorable baby, Jacob. Holly is a barista trainer at PT’s Coffee in Kansas, and she’s a hell of a woman. Holly doesn’t waste time with bull; she’s a straight-shooter all the way. I’ve gotten to know her through our work on the USBC Committee, and we have a lot of fun together. She has trained the baristas at PT’s to become champions; Pete Licata, for example, came in 2nd at the USBC behind Heather Perry this year– that’s a new record for PT’s. Holly’s boss, Jeff Taylor, has told me about how Holly has turned down lucrative job offers so she can continue her work in coffee in the thriving Midwestern region, and I admire her for that.
This is Shane Devereaux of habit coffee + culture in Victoria, B.C. Shane is a relatively new coffee bar owner, and I asked him to be on the Editorial Advisory Board because he has been so careful and thoughtful about his approach to selling coffee. I think he is an excellent example of a retailer who does it “right.” From his extensive business plan, to his research of coffee and equipment, to his instinct for atmosphere and location, Shane is an inspiration for other potential cafe owners. He’s a lot of fun to drink beer with, too.
This is Em! Emily Oak of Australia is terrific; I’m so glad she is on Barista Mag’s board. Her experience in the coffee world is extensive. She’s a former Australian Barista Champion, was the youngest ever WBC judge in 2004 in Trieste, is a hemisphere coordinator for the WBC currently, and most importantly, is the very proud mom of Oscar, her 2-year-old. Em has written for us a bunch and will continue to write for us as Oscar allows her to. She’s got her finger on the pulse of the thriving, fascinating culture of coffee in Australia, and is equally enthusiastic about the general growth of and excitement surrounding specialty coffee on a global level.
Zak Rye. I love Zak Rye. He’s completely insane in a coffee-smart kind of way. Well, and also just in a completely insane kind of way. He is the co-owner of the Ugly Mug Cafe in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he is a barista, a roaster and a hooligan. He wrote a Barista at Large about his wild trip to Amsterdam in a recent issue of Barista Mag, and he hits all the coffee shows and competitions that he can. I like his focus on the community of his cafe as well as the broader perspective on coffee as a national and global community. I think it’s critical for successful cafe owners to have both, and it certainly keeps the work interesting. Well, that and beer.
Lastly but not leastly, it’s Jon Lewis, one of the specialty coffee industry’s superheros. (An aside: Why do people tend to grow beards after they’ve been on the cover of Barista Magazine? Scott Lucey grew a doozey after his Feb/March cover, and I just watched Mark Prince’s YouTube of the Sunrise Jam in Vancouver, and saw that Jon has a beard since the last time I saw him, too!) This is a photo of Jon with his daughter, Aya. Jon is a master barista, a mighty fine roaster, an entrepreneaur, a dreamer, a poet, a husband, a father, and a friend to many, many, many people. He’s got great insights. It’s like, duh. Of course I would ask Jon to be on the editorial board.
So now you’ve met them, if you didn’t already know them. And maybe you’re wondering, what do they actually do as members of Barista Mag’s editorial advisory board?
I ask that they are available if I have a question about a photo or a topic. For example, Ken was at the Costa Rica COE when I was choosing the cover photo of Imma from Iceland for the June/July issue, and I wanted someone to bounce ideas around with me in Ken’s absence. So I emailed the photos to Scott Lucey to ask his opinion. I showed them to Kyle and asked what he thought. When Ken was in Tokyo, he and Klaus talked about a new idea for a series in Barista Magazine. And I have a date with Chris Owens in Sweden next month when we’re both there for the Nordic Barista Cup to talk about some ideas for articles in 2008.
That’s basically it. But now, we’ve started this blog, and we’re seeing a ton of traffic come through here, and we know people are gonna get sick of hearing from just me and Ken. So we came up with a new idea: we told all the members of our new editorial advisory board that we would like them to feel free to post here, too! Emily’s been hosting David Cooper in Sydney, and she’s going to post about that. Maybe Shane will post some photos of the coffee scene in Victoria. I’m hoping Gabe will give us some updates on the burgeoning coffee community in San Francisco, and Holly will do the same about her Midwest peeps. Let’s not ask too much of Bjorg right now, as she is finalizing details for the Nordic Cup, but after that, maybe she’ll post about the goings-on in Copenhagen. As for our buddy Klaus, I can’t wait to see what he posts about what his Coffee Collective is up to. Everyone always loves to hear what Jon Lewis has to say, and Zak Rye gained a following with his Barista at Large about his trip to Amsterdam. Finally, my gal out east, Erin Meister, will let us know what the growing specialty coffee community in New York is up to.
We’ve asked them to post as much or as little as they want to — they’re busy people, and if they do post here, I want them to have fun doing it. So check back for updates from our new posse! We know you’ll love ’em as much as we do!