Since the inception of the World Barista Championship in 2000, the 16 winners of the career-propelling competition have represented nine countries from five continents, and most all of them have gone on to serve as ambassadors for specialty coffee and role models for aspiring coffee professionals. Yet not one of the winners on that list is a woman.
Austrian barista competitor Sonja Zweidick, for one, hopes to level what is clearly a less-than-level playing field with a women-focused international event to debut at the end of this month called Women’s Barista Connect 15. Set to run Friday, Oct. 30 through Sunday, Nov. 1 in Aarhaus, Denmark, Connect 15 aspires to provide a collaborative networking and idea-sharing platform for women already working in the highest echelons of specialty coffee, or for those aspiring to do so.
“During the past two years, as I’ve competed, I’ve noticed and been curious as to why there are only a small number of women baristas competing and having an impact in the specialty coffee world,” Zweidick told Daily Coffee News via email, adding that, by her count, women represent only one in five barista competitors.
In an announcement of the event, Zweidick suggests women are at a competitive disadvantage, not merely in formal competitions, but in pursuing the barista profession as a career. “There is no formal education for becoming a professional barista,” she said. “It depends on your own passion for the art of brewing coffee and the technical side of it combined with the competitions, the diplomas, and the recognition from clients and colleagues that in the end gives you the right to call yourself a professional barista. We need to get more women to develop their passion for coffee even further and at the same time create an understanding of how to turn coffee into a career.”
The event itself includes a program that is heavy on discussing current sanctioned barista and roasting competition rules and equipment, as well as exploring more general subjects like milk theory, sensory analysis and the very subject “women in coffee.” The impressive list of speakers lined up thus far includes Francisca Listov-Saabye of Agrotech, Anne-Sophie Hoff of Arla Foods, Joanna Alm of Drop Coffee Roasters, Sonja Björk Grant of the SCAE, Jesper Broberg Bang Olesen of Gejst/Studio and Ansgar Bitz of Mahlkönig GMBH.
Zweidick, the two-time reining Austrian Barista Champion who currently works as a barista at La Cabra in Aarhaus, said she hopes the event will help other women discover professional pathways in coffee, while also increasing participation in the professional barista circuits. Said Zweidick, “I want to create a network for women who want to work professionally in the coffee industry and at the same time initiate a forum with more female coffee ambassadors and role models.”
Click here for registration information.