Feature by RJ Joseph, originally published on Sprudge.
The Barista Guild of America’s latest Bloom Event will take place on March 6th in Providence, Rhode Island, with single attendee tickets starting at $95. That same day, Boston Intersectional Coffee Collective’s Kristina Jackson will team up with I See You’s Ezra Baker to host the Wine Down, a post-Bloom wine party for people of color. The wine (provided by Sprudge Wine, in partnership with Discovery Wines) will start flowing at InterAmerican Coffee (3 Steeple Street, Suite 301) at 5:30 PM, and the event is free of charge.
The Wine Down is the latest in a recent run of creative POC-centered events by Jackson and Baker. Jackson, who has been in the hospitality industry over 15 years and currently works at Intelligentsia’s Watertown location, founded BICC to highlight and support diversity in the Boston area; Baker, who has been in coffee for 10 years and is currently the Wholesale Sales and Customer Relations Manager at Share Coffee Roasters, created the event series I See You to unite and support coffee professionals of color. The two worked together on a panel discussion in early February and wanted to keep the ball rolling.
While they were already hoping to plan an event around Bloom, the idea for an after-party for people of color came to life when Jackson noticed that, in her view, the Bloom event roster lacked parity in terms of racial diversity. “I think it speaks to an issue where white people forget that we, people of color, spend a lot of time at work being the only one,” said Jackson. She wanted to create an event where coffee pros of color could enjoy each other’s company and feel like they weren’t alone in the room. “My mentality is, we deserve nice things too,” she said. Baker was inspired by the concept of the Wine Down in HBO’s hit TV show Insecure: in the show, the Wine Down is a weekly ritual where the characters get to vent about the stress they experience every day and just be themselves.
Though the Wine Down’s main purpose is to give coffee pros of color a chance to have fun and blow off steam, it’s also meant to speak to larger issues around the lack of meaningful inclusion of POC in the specialty coffee industry. “I think the exchange of our shared experiences is very important. Someone knowing they aren’t alone can give them the confidence to push through to bigger and better job opportunities or just being happier in their current position, ultimately letting them take up more space in specialty coffee,” said Baker.
Jackson and Baker are both excited to hang out and network with new coffee pros of color both in their regions and from around the country. The event is meant primarily, but not exclusively, for people of color, and entry and refreshments are provided complimentary to guests. If you’re not a person of color, but you’d like to attend this event, that is certainly welcome, says Baker—but consider using this as an opportunity to donate to the wider, highly valuable work being done by BICC. Donations will be accepted at the event, and digital donation information is available at the end of this article.
The efforts of Jackson and Baker are emblematic of the wider work currently being done by coffee professionals of color to create space for themselves within the specialty coffee industry. In time, this will yield a future where no coffee professional of color will ever attend an event and find themselves as the only one in the room—or the only one on stage. The majority of coffee is produced by people of color around the world; here in the United States, the coffee events scene is lucky to have groups like BICC and I See You pushing us closer to parity.
Wine Down Providence happens Tuesday, March 6th at InterAmerican Coffee (3 Steeple Street, Suite 301). Attendance is free, wine is free courtesy of Sprudge Wine and Discovery Wines. Consider donating to BICC via Google Wallet.
RJ Joseph (@RJ_Sproseph) is a Sprudge staff writer, publisher of Queer Cup, and coffee professional based in the Bay Area. Read more RJ Joseph on Sprudge Media Network.