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In continued celebration of International Womens Day we’ve interviewed barista Cole Werfelman from the The South Store Cafe and asked her to talk about her views and experiences of being a woman in the coffee industry.
Cole won first place in Caravan Coffee’s 2015 Barista Show-Down and second place in 2014.
Q: How long have you been in the coffee industry?
A: I have been making coffee for 5 years and I’m not stopping any time soon!
Q: What is it that drew (or draws) you to coffee?
A: I would have to say that it’s the art of making a good cup of coffee that originally captivated me. From dialing in the espresso just right and extracting that perfect flavor, to steaming the milk to a nice velvet consistency. It was more than just making a drink; it was making art.
I think what keeps me going is the education. There’s always something new to learn and people to learn from.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
A: Not having more time to travel! I guess it’s the negative a part of any job, really. There are so many different coffees and coffee shops I want to experience, but there’s never enough time. For my birthday this year, some friends and I went cafe hopping in Portland and I can’t wait to do it again.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: When I get to see the results of my passion and hard work all come together in the smiles on our customers’ faces when I hand them their drink. Although The South Store is a bit out of the way, we still get return customers that are excited for me to make their drink in the morning. Their reactions and their dedication to us gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing something right and leaves me feeling good about what I do.
Q: If you could visit one coffee growing region which would it be and why?
A: If I had to pick just one place, though I don’t know if I really could pick just one, I think it would be Sumatra. I use Caravan’s Fair Trade Organic Sumatra in my signature Earth blend and I would love to be able to see the farm and meet the people who grow my coffee.
Q: What is your favorite single origin coffee?
A: Why must I pick one? They are all so different and unique in their own way! If I had to pick, you can never go wrong with a good Colombian. I love how, even by itself, you can find a good nutty flavor and that natural sweetness I look for in coffee.
Q: How well do you feel women are represented in your field?
A: There are many women baristas who I look up to and who inspire me. I see their passion, dedication and how hard they have worked to get where they are and it’s very motivating. Their examples make me want to be better as a barista.
Q: How do you see the importance of women in the coffee industry?
A: I feel it’s important to keep up on my education. When I advance my education it creates new experiences and opportunities for me to be an example for other women in the world of coffee. It’s easy to see being a barista as just a job. However, when you are passionate about what you do, you become an inspiration, not only to other women, but to everyone who has a dream they want to follow.
Q: If you could change one thing in the coffee industry today what would it be?
A: I would want to have more education available for everyone. Not just for baristas but even for people making coffee at home. I often find that when I try and look for answers to my coffee questions on the internet I will either find no answer or conflicting answers.
We need more hands-on training. For me, I know that I can read all I want about coffee or brewing techniques, but until I get behind the machine and apply it, I never truly know how it will work.