Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp was started to provide access and training to folks who self-identify as a member of a marginalized community. With only this definition, it seems fairly clear who can apply and what our goals are, but I was wrong. What about latinx people who look white? Or people with disabilities that only manifest in certain situations? A member of the LGBTQIA community who is in a heteronormative relationship? Or folks with financial hardships or lack of access to transportation or coffee equipment for training? I raise these questions because that is how we learn. GCBB 2018 taught me more about myself, the coffee community, people, and support than I could ever have known.
The moment the lights came on in the training space on opening day, I was shook from the support from the coffee community. Elixr Coffee Roasters closed their cafe for three days and allowed us to install three Nuova Simonelli Black Eagles, six Mahlkönig grinders, and a Marco Beverage Systems SP9. We then flooded the cafe with Pacific Foods milk alternatives, Acaia scales, Barista Magazines, Liberty Bar t-shirts, Slow Pour Supply customized pitchers, Urnex cleaning products, Created Co. mugs, Pullman customized tampers and chisel tools, a vinyl sponsor wall from The Barista League, Ally Coffee hats, grinders from Baratza, and coffees from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Onyx Coffee Labs, and Elixr Coffee Roasters, with additional support from Gorilla Gear and private donors. A cafe turned into a world-class training space, all thanks to these incredible sponsors, especially due to the financial support of our presenting sponsor, Pacific Foods Barista Series.
Then the glitter started.
At 8am, bright and puffy eyed, the Glitter Cat trainees arrived. I stood behind the Black Eagle serving them espressos and cappuccinos and watched as trainees met United States and World Barista Champions: an incredibly inspiring situation to observe. Baristas were, quite literally, meeting their heroes. It was a room where some were learning, some were teaching, and all were equal. For the first, and far from only time, my eyes welled with tears. We, as a team, were about to embark on a three-day journey of intensive learning, and not only about espresso theory and signature beverage development. We were about to discover personal stories of immigrating to the USA, financial hardships, displacement from hurricanes, discrimination based on race, gender, and sexuality, what it means to be a non-white-cis-man in an industry that portrays itself as progressive, and how we can support and grow amidst adversity. Two main things were created during this camp: intense relationship bonds and unbeatable skills in competing in a barista competition.
The following pages are only a small excerpt of photos and moments. We hope to showcase the smiles, energy, creativity, relationships, and anxiety that go hand-in-hand with barista competitions and this bootcamp. You’ll see photos of World and US barista champions teaching classes on rules, pulling espresso, and signature beverage R&D and pictures of friendships being created and critical analysis of theme development. You’ll also see snapshots of the Glitter Barista Championship where trainees were paired up with local baristas and worked to lead their team to success in crafting and serving two espressos, cappuccinos, and signature beverages to a panel of two judges, in only 45 minutes. The camp culminated in them finding out they all are going to La Palma y El Tucan, a worldclass farm in Colombia!
It has been three weeks since the Glitter Cat trainees graduated from the inaugural Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp, and let me be clear: keep your eyes on these ten people, because they are about to change the face of what barista competitors and coffee professionals look like in the United States and in the World, both on and off the stage. Thank you for being a partner for the Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp 2018 season and we look forward
to partnering with you for the 2020 season**! T. BEN & AXEL CAT
**We made a mistake: while GCBB 2018 was held in 2018 it was training for the 2019 season. In order for us to keep in line with SCA/WCE competition scheduling, the Bootcamp help in the year 2019 will be for the 2020 season and will be named GLITTER CAT BARISTA BOOTCAMP 2020.**