| One of the benefits of BGA membership - learning more about coffee with friends who share your passion. This is Jeff Taylor, Matt Riddle, Sandy Hon, Aaron Duckworth and Kim Lovelady at the Midwest Regional Barista Jam. |
The Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA) Conference and Exhibition, held in April 2006 in Charlotte, North Carolina, was an unforgettable experience for many attendees, and particularly special for the Barista Guild of America (BGA) as it celebrated its first full year as an official SCAA trade guild. The 2007 SCAA Conference in Long Beach, California, promises to be equally historic.
For the first time at the annual conference, the BGA will be presenting a Friday intensive barista training session. The hands-on lab course is titled "Professional Development for the Working Barista." This brand-new training class is geared toward working baristas and existing retailers and will include latte art training and palate development through cupping and espresso preparation in tandem with roasters.
Latte art is a style of drink preparation that requires expert preparation of milk and espresso and a specific pouring technique that results in a gorgeous presentation and excited customers. For the small businesses that employ many BGA members, latte art can be a great way to set their coffeehouse apart from the competition. Latte art also serves as a great window for opening up the world of specialty coffee to coffeehouse customers.
Cupping is another important skill in specialty coffee, and many baristas may not have the opportunity to visit the cupping table regularly, much less compare and contrast traditional cupping with espresso preparation. The "Professional Development for the Working Barista" course will feature two coffees each (blends or single origins) from three different roasters who will be on hand to discuss and provide insight into the coffees for the baristas. Baristas will learn valuable taste evaluation techniques as well as many different preparation techniques and will gain an understanding of how different coffees respond to variations in brewing and preparation.
"The Professional Development for the Working Barista" course will be held at the SCAA headquarters twice on Friday, May 4, 2007. Space is limited and all BGA members receive a registration discount (individuals who concurrently register for the course and sign up for the BGA are eligible for the discount).
In addition to this new Friday Intensive session, the BGA will, for the first time, also present mini-trainings at the BGA booth on the show floor during the Saturday exhibition hours of the Conference. BGA members will be discussing and demonstrating espresso preparation, latte art, and the science of preparing the traditional cappuccino. All show attendees are invited to stop by and see the BGA members in action with their craft. For more information and registration instructions, visit the SCAA website.
United States Barista Championship
Many BGA members also participate in the United States Barista Championship (USBC), and on Sunday at the conference, this year’s BGA booth will feature both current and past USBC participants creating their signature drinks and leading instructional demonstrations, sponsored by many quality-focused and barista-oriented companies. All show attendees are invited to visit and sample again and again during the exhibition hours on Sunday.
The BGA is thrilled to announce it will also host its annual "Barista Guild of America Party" on Sunday, May 6, at Cohiba Lounge on Broadway and Pine in downtown Long Beach, sponsored by Torani. This party is traditionally a time to celebrate the craft of the barista with the six USBC finalists who will have been announced earlier on Sunday. The BGA wishes the best of luck to all BGA members participating in the USBC.
Outside of working on inspiring conference programming, the BGA has built its early efforts around two central principles: grow the membership, and add value for existing members. These twin pillars have continued to support the BGA and will create many new and exciting opportunities for members and potential members in 2006-07.
In September 2006, the executive council held their annual meeting as part of the SCAA joint committee meeting session, and in accordance with these two guiding principles, voted to expand membership to include quality-driven individuals through all facets of specialty coffee. The new membership requirements state simply that "coffee must be an integral part of your profession." Any individuals who are driven by quality in coffee and who are interested in participating in the barista community are welcome to join the BGA.
In mid-October, the first BGA monthly newsletter was released to all members. Each newsletter is created by a rotating team of two from the BGA Executive Council and Chapter Representatives and features educational content, as well as membership news and any industry buzz that is relevant to the barista community. As membership approaches 500, it is critical that BGA members can continue to be aware of and support one another’s achievements and learn about the specialty coffee industry’s opportunities for education and development for baristas.
Notably, the BGA is thrilled to congratulate 2006-07 Regional Champions Nicholas Cho, Billy Wilson, Robin Seitz, Matt Riddle, and Heather Perry - all BGA members. (As of press time, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Barista Championship and North East Regional Barista Championship had not crowned their champions). Furthermore, in the past few months alone, BGA members have brought their experience and unique perspective to industry events from the Cup of Excellence in Colombia, to trade shows in Florida, to latte art competitions in Shanghai.
Any BGA member is welcome to contribute, and anyone is welcome to submit an event for inclusion in future newsletters. Please email all submissions, events, questions, or comments to Ellie Matuszak.
As the SCAA focuses on increasing its presence and availability through regional programming, the grassroots nature of the BGA will allow for continued emphasis on quality barista events throughout the USA. In 2006-07 the BGA, along with host companies PT’s Coffee Company and Cosmic Cup, presented educational events called “BGA Jams” in Kansas City and Eastern Pennsylvania, respectively.
At a BGA Jam, baristas, retailers, and other industry professionals of all skill levels are brought together to share experience and expertise, to learn about a variety of topics in specialty coffee. Each BGA Jam can include anything and everything from presentations about coffee-producing countries and issues faced at origin, to equipment maintenance training from industry experts. Free time is always included for all attendees to work on espresso machines and perhaps try different coffee, tampers, grinders, and any other tools that they may not be used to working with on a daily basis. The purpose of any BGA Jam is to promote a high level of professional development for the quality-driven working baristas and retailers in a local area.
In past years, the BGA also presented BGA Jams in northern California and Chicago, Illinois. The BGA is continuously searching for hosts to present BGA Jams in other areas of the country.
In January 2007, the annual BGA election took place, seeking four Directors of the BGA Executive Council and ten Regional Chapter Representatives, all volunteer positions. The slates of nominees included a vast selection of qualified, dedicated, and passionate individuals from all over the United States. After the ballots were counted, the following individuals were elected to these leadership positions:
Nicholas Cho, Executive Council Director (2nd term)
Chris Davidson, Executive Council Director
Andy Newbom, Executive Council Director (2nd term)
Jeff Taylor, Executive Council Director
Chris Deferio, North East Chapter Representative (2nd term, 1 year term)
Aaron Ultimo, Mid-Atlantic Chapter Representative (2nd term, 1 year term)
Thom Swain, South East Chapter Representative (2nd term, 1 year term)
Sarah Kluth, Great Lakes Chapter Representative (2 year term)
Ryan Dennhardt, Midwest Chapter Representative (2 year term)
Mike McKim, South Central Chapter Representative (2nd term, 1 year term)
Bill McCauley, South West Chapter Representative (2 year term)
Sean Kohmescher, Western Chapter Representative (2 year term)
Phuong Tran, North West Chapter Representative (2 year term)
Susan Price, Mountain Chapter Representative (2nd term, 1 year term)
Furthermore, the BGA is excited to announce three BGA members have recently been elected to the SCAA Board of Directors. Nicholas Cho (BGA Executive Council Member 2005-07), Jeff Taylor (BGA Member and BGA Jam Host), and Ellie Matuszak (outgoing BGA Executive Council Chair) have all been elected to two-year terms of service, beginning May 8, 2007. Congratulations!
Thank You to Our Supporters
The BGA has grown each month and is quickly becoming a driving force in the Specialty Coffee Industry for quality-focused Baristas and Coffee Professionals, and is grateful to our many sponsor companies and supporters who have made educational and networking events possible for this continued development.
The current executive council of the BGA includes:
Ellie Matuszak, Chair
Los Angeles, California
Sandy Hon, Vice Chair
Java Jazz: Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, Kansas
Bronwen Serna, Vice Chair-elect (2007-08)
Hines Public Market Coffee
Jay’s Shave Ice
Barefoot Coffee Roasters
Santa Clara, California
San Dimas, California
To become a BGA member, download and complete an application. If your company is interested in sponsorship opportunities for the BGA 2007 SCAA conference programming, please e-mail Heather Perry or Wendy Jensen of SCAA. If your company is interested in hosting a BGA Jam or providing a partner benefit to BGA members, please e-mail Sandy Hon or Michelle Campbell of SCAA.
Ellie Matuszak is the chair of the Barista Guild of America. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The original version of this article was originally published in the SCAA Chronicle December 2006 issue and is reprinted here with their kind permission.