top of page
  • Writer's pictureNicole Battefeld

Female Barista Society

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Welcome to the beginning of the Female Barista Society.

Ok, bear with me, this might all sound like post baby boomer 60’s hippy generation feminist stuff. But….. I want to tell you a little story.

I was never good at school. You know, not one of those, didn’t even have to study for anything people.But, I also didn’t want to suck at school. So I had to learn. When everyone else was doing fun stuff, kissing boys, going out, hanging in the park, I was at home doing my maths homework. And T still sucked at it.

I moved out of home when I was 16, to be able to focus more on my studying and to be honest, because my family was a mess at that time.

So I studied. A lot. And finished school with a degree of 1,9. (1 being top, 6 being not quite there). Not bad. I realised, if I really want something I have to work a lot for it.

Then I made my first experiences as a barista. And I loved it. Actually it was just to finance my drivers license but it became so much more. I think i was never as happy and free as in this one year in that tiny shop.

But, as a good german with a decent degree, I started I know. Ridiculous. I managed to not understand a single word and get good degrees for about 8 months. Then i quit. I was so unhappy and not myself at all. I went back to my hometown and had to make a decision. To be honest, I felt a little bit like a loser.

I want to work in gastronomy. I want to learn something i cant do at all yet. Ok, lets doit.

I started an apprenticeship as a chef. Due to a funny coincidence i moved to Berlin, finished my apprenticeship and started working as a commis de cuisine (Yes, French cuisine).

Actually, T found myself working ONLY with star chefs, chefs that only worked in star restaurants or just insanley talented men. And then there was me. I was terribly slow. Everyone started work at about 1 pm, but I had to come at 10 am to be able to stay in time and prep all of my things on my list.

Everyday. Start at 10 am, finish at 2 am.

After a year I was pretty exhausted. And I was tired - tired of all these strong men in the gastronomy industry, I had learned from them that "..if you wanna keep up with us, you need to learn to do your own shit." Well, I mean I did. I struggled but i definitely broke my own limits and was quite surprised how much I could drink and how little sleep I needed.

Chefs are insane. They are a beautiful, talented bunch of assholes that drink a bottle of whisky per evening and whore around (well, some of them). If you need something, they'll complain and tell you to fuck off whilst they are already doing you exactly the favour you asked for. Loud but loyal.

I wanted my coffee back. I wanted a way more healthy work enviroment and to the thing that made me the happiest person so many years ago. So I did. I quit and started working again in specialty coffee.

Let me explain the Berlin coffee scene: we are all hippies (cool hippies). With beanies and tattoos (and hardly any of them are German). We are super multi-cultural and open minded. I love my colleagues in the other shops, it's always like visiting friends.

As a woman, I never had problems over here doing my regular job. But then I wanted more, to learn more. And unfortunately, I had no real teacher. Everyone was always too busy so I did most of my learning by myself.

I remember what a struggle it was to go to my first convention. I had to fight for it because they wanted to sent a guy who knew the software for the machine, but wasn't actually a barista. I convinced them by saying: "I work with the machine every day! Let me show you that i can explain it very well. Also i read all of the manuals…."

What followed where more conventions, more events, and the more international it got, the further away from Berlin I went, the more I became 'the pretty girl with lots of tattoos from Berlin'.

No one cared that i competed. They saw me, I was nice and chatty, know a thing or two about coffee, and i can still drink like a chef. I was the fun one. And eventually, it got harder and harder to make them listen to what i actually have to say about technical facts or brew ratios. If I had professional questions, they always seemed very surprised.

I was a convention in Italy when it finally hit me. I went there without getting paid because I wanted to prove to them that I could be a great contribution to their team. First day. I had the cleanest workplace, I was prepared, I was professional and I remembered all the facts of the product. I asked questions and tried out all the settings that i could think of. And i had a crowd.

Second day. The big bosses realised. Everyone came to my stand. I was performing and thought im finally there. A professional barista that gets recognition for her performance. Flip those feminists, you just have to earn respect and work hard. Thats all.

Third day final day. Everything went great. After the convention i got invited for dinner with the crew. Aslo the supervisor from my stand was there. I have to admit i had the best pizza ever there.

And of course we drank a lot. After dinner, we had to get back tot he hotel. Everyone was sharing taxis so i went in one with my supervisor, who was about 25 years older than me.

On the middle of the highway, in a foreign country, in a taxi, drunk, this man started kissing me and I was like "What the fuck?!" And instead of screaming and yelling at him I just said: "You know, it's not right, you've got a wife", blablablabla. I seriously tried to make this man not feel uncomfortable about my rejection, because he was my supervisor.

I hated myself. I felt so ashamed. I wanted to be that strong woman that always speaks her mind and also, I just never thought this could ever happen to me.

Since that moment I realised how much harder I would have to work to get sponsorships or anything else educational. It felt like i always had to work 3 times as hard to get anything. And then I'm also training other baristas. And I realised that guys are just 'know-it-alls'. Women are very different in that regard. They know stuff but don't communicate as well, or are afraid to.

I want to change that.

So, here is my plan:

The 'Female Barista Society' is a project to encourage women by sharing knowledge and passion for coffee, in order to support more talented women. I want to give them something I never had.

I want to offer barista workshops and classes for free, because I truly believe that the key to success is education and sharing knowledge.

The topics of the courses are going to be catered to every individual. Once the participants are found (obviously I can only offer a certain size of class), they get to select the toic they want to know more about. From origin to processing and roasting or how to dial in to clean your machine and take it apart.

I also would love to invite other guest teachers from all over the world to create a real bond between the female baristas.

But, how to finance that?

I myself love statement clothing. Yes I know, this is a very hard cut to what I've said before. But you know, I'm still a fashionable Berlin hipster girl! So, I've teamed up with some cool people to design a t-shirt.

All of the profit from this t-shirt makes goes into a fund to finance the project. As I'm still at the start of this project and it's all mainly working in my head, we‘ll start slow.

I have found a wonderful lady in Bremen, Germany, who stitches shirts by hand.

They look incredibly awesome and every single shirt is unique and HANDSTICHED!!!!!

It was also very important to me that the material of the shirt is top quality and that i could wear it myself for years and years. Because every shirt is handstitched, the delivery time will take about 21 days after order.

I believe that showing the message on myself will be the best way to get attention to this project and also i just really really love the design and would have bought it for myself if someone else had the idea before me.

Also, it is kind of like a sign, that shows how strong we actually are in the coffee industry and how important it is so share knowledge and not keep brewing behind closed doors.

Because it sucked to learn everything by myself. It's not cool to just be self-taught. And I think this might be a reason why a lot of women decide against staying in the coffee industry or just never feel confident enough to compete.

I hope that, no matter if you chip in the project or not, by following my blog, reading my articles or watching my videos, you yourself will feel encouraged an motivated to learn more about coffee and to stay fascinated by all of the different opportunities this wonderful product offers us.

And finally a word to all of my male readers: don't worry! This doesn't mean that a bunch of radical unshaven feminists is going to yell at you because you're a man and you're trying to say something smart or valuble.

I want to include all of the great guys I know, because you are neeeeeerds. You get so obsessed with one topic, it's nearly insane and hard to keep up with. Please share your knowledge! Make this scene, the international coffee scene that i love and adore so much, a role model for other industries.

All i want is equality and to learn from and with great baristas. Building a strong young barista generation will help us to have confident, smart and capable and well trained baristas in the future and together we can maybe change the world and gender equality a little bit.

Unless you want to see blog gposts with my unshaven legs. If so, just drop me a message, nothing easier than that.

Until then, we can brew it!

493 views0 comments
bottom of page