By Emily McIntyre of The LAB
Like many people working full-time in specialty coffee, Stephanie Ratanas originally worked part-time as a barista, not envisioning coffee as a full-time gig.
“I went to school for journalism,” says Ratanas, adding that she took her first barista job in Chicago while in school as way to help pay the bills through various (unpaid) journalism internships. “I guess you could say that journalism didn’t work out.”
After a short stint in Portland working first as a parking garage attendant and then as a barista, Ratanas came to Minneapolis. There, she met Greg Hoyt, one of the owners of Bull Run Coffee, a still-existing precursor of Dogwood Coffee Co. (Long story. Read about it here.) “He hired me to start their specialty project and help open the shop,” says Ratanas. “Because of my over-involvement in that, things sort of progressed, as we learned about what it took to do specialty coffee. When we needed someone to learn how to roast, I did that, which progressed into buying. Since it’s a small company, I have my hand everything.”
Her official title is Director of Coffee, but Ratanas explains that she is responsible for sourcing coffee, overseeing quality, and handling a wide variety of details like writing all the web content and marketing materials for Dogwood. (Journalism degree!)
“I really enjoy being in this part of the chain of coffee,” says Ratanas, “being the middle person between where the coffee came from and where it’s ending up. We’re in charge of that essential transformation of roasting.” She points out that Dogwood is a young, vibrant company with an ever-evolving culture. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. I think it’s a really healthy environment for everyone.”
Emily McIntyre is a freelance coffee culture writer and member of the team at The LAB. The LAB’s Women Roasters Series highlights the 13% of roasters that are female, distributing their coffees through 3 membership programs and presenting their stories to the world. For more info, visit www.lab5702.com. McIntyre also writes a travel/beverage blog at www.softexplosions.com and tweets witty tweets @mcintyrewrites