I have received multiple emails today from friends in the Chicago area who have informed me that a young barista and fellow Barista Exchange member, Liza Whitacre, died last night in a bicycle accident. Emails from Michael Phillips and Tony Dreyfuss explain how she was loved by so many people, and was an extremely talented, ambitious and wonderful person. She was only 21 years old, and had so many goals and was so passionate about coffee and the people in this great industry. She was planning to compete in the future and was a true community builder and friend to so many.

My heart goes out to her friends and family and the pain that goes with losing a friend or relative. I wanted to create this post so that people who were close to Liza could maybe leave a story or comment about her as it may help the grieving process. Liza, you will be greatly missed, thank you for your passion and inspiration, we all can learn from those who live life to the fullest and with a smile.

- Matt

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Memorial ghost ride for Liza - meet at Metropolis at 7pm on Sunday.
My thoughts are with the Metropolis family, so sorry to everyone.
I would like to send out a very special thank you to Zach and Susan from New Wave Cafe, Kristin Marks, Billy Frain from Espresso Partners, and a real nice kid from Beans and Bagels, whose name I forget. They came to Metropolis today and worked our cafe for 5 hours so that we could go to Liza's funeral as a family. They performed beautifully, and did us such a solid that we will never forget. Community is a beautiful thing. Thanks, guys.
Tony
I met Liza at the Chicago vs. Milwaukee throwdown hosted by Intelli. We started talking and never stopped. We rode our bikes up and down lake Michigan three or four nights a week. We had contests over who could find better spots to sit and talk. When we found a spot, we'd lay in the grass and talk for hours about literally everything. We criticized each other's dosing and distribution techniques. Since both of us were trainers at our jobs, we spent a lot of time talking about the best ways to go about training new hires. We talked until cops found us and kicked us out of the parks.

She was endless in her criticisms of the soy cortados I made her. She refined me as a barista. I'm a much more focused barista because of her, and I'll never take a shift on the bar lightly again. Her ambition was as intimidating as it was inspiring. I would not have wanted to compete against her in the upcoming regional competition.

I'm extremely grateful for my time with her.
As with most who knew Liza I dont really have words to properly describe this tragedy. It is still hard to believe the truth of what has really happened. Liza was the type of person who simply did what she wanted. A co-worker of mine Adam said it right when he commented that "She walked into our shop and decided that she was going to be everyones friend, and just like that it happened right then" I have the distinct feeling that scenario was repeated many times over with more groups than I can imagine. The full effect of your loss is equal parts unfathomable and unforgettable. We will always hold you close to our minds and hearts Liza.

Travel safe.
To all the friends and family of Liza hugs and prayers go out to you from Tucson, I have many friends who love their Bikes as much as they love coffee and it is sad to loose such a positive influence.
Hi Brett, this is Liza's mom. She talked very highly of y'all in milwaukee and was really enjoying her visits up there. Thanks for seeing how exceptional she was and sharing it.

brett felchner said:
I met Liza last month and in the short amount of time I knew her, we really started to blossom a solid friendship. She would come up to Milwaukee to hang with me and my friends from Anodyne and we spent a lot of time together in Grand Rapids recently at Coffee Talk. The amount of coffee knowledge that this girl had is insurmountable. She was always learning/teaching/repeating and did it with such an intensity and passion that showed anyone, barista or not, that this girl was going places with coffee.

But even more than just a barista, Liza was an exceptional person. Always a smile and never a bad word to say about anyone or anything. She truly touched me and so many others and we will never forget the impact she had on all of us.

It hurts me to say I was actually supposed to be spending this weekend with her; catching up, talking about our competition blends, and throwing down at Noble Tree. Anyone who is in Chicago this Sunday, please get a hold of Tif (Liza's roommated) as I believe she is planning a memorial ride that night for Liza.

We love you Liza.

Hi Trevor...this is Liza's Mom. I love these pictures of her...thank you so much for posting them. I was so fortunate to see her the night before she died and she took the clip out of her hair and was so excited about how long it had gotten and of course her new business cards. These pictures are so beautiful of her....is there a way for me to get a copy of them? I would love that....thanks. you can find me on facebook or through metropolis.

Trevor said:
Cecilia, I contacted Tommy who took those pictures. He's going to get ahold of you. If you don't hear from him in a couple days let me know.

Cecilia Whitacre said:
Hi Trevor...this is Liza's Mom. I love these pictures of her...thank you so much for posting them. I was so fortunate to see her the night before she died and she took the clip out of her hair and was so excited about how long it had gotten and of course her new business cards. These pictures are so beautiful of her....is there a way for me to get a copy of them? I would love that....thanks. you can find me on facebook or through metropolis.

Trevor said:
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I'm real sorry for this incident. She will be remembered.

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