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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My condolences. Such a tragedy at any age, yet especially so young. I hadn't had the opportunity to know her yet the loss leaves ripples in the coffee continuum.
Very sad to hear, RIP
Here is an email from Tony I wanted to share:

Hi Matt,

Thank you for your condolences. Liza was extremely close to us all - she was in many ways, our fire. We miss her so much that it is unbearable.

She was 20, and she loved coffee more than anyone that I know, and I know a lot of coffee lovers. She died yesterday on her bicycle, while riding with her roommate, Tif, another Barista Exchanger.

Liza loved to ride her bike, to sew, and to hang out and chat forever and ever. She was in her time a championship figure skater, and her vivacious spirit sprinkled pixie dust on all who met her, who knew her, and who loved her.

We are totally reeling from this tragedy, and know that many in the barista community are as well - she was a prolific figure at barista jams, on forums, and especially face to face with her friends, family, co-workers, and community.

Her wake is tomorrow (Friday) from 4pm-7pm at Loyola University's La Donna chapel...http://www.luc.edu/sacramental_life/chapel_directions.shtml

We plan to raise funds in her honor for bicycle safety but don't yet have the idea solidified. When we do, we will reach out.

Thank you,

Tony and everyone at Metropolis Coffee Company
I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with Liza at CoffeeTalk. a couple weeks ago. The passion she had for both coffee and life were readily apparent. There is no doubt that her vibrancy will be missed both in our coffee community and in life. May all of us that were blessed with experiencing Liza's passion take it to heart and continue sharing it.
Very sad. She will be greatly missed, it's hard to lose one of our own. It's family. That's why we should all remember to live each day like it could be the last. Try to fix what you've broken, try to forge new roads, and don't forget to tell all you know what they mean to you.
My thoughts and prayers go out to her colleagues, friends and especially family. I can't imagine what they are going through. Our hearts ache for you.
Nothing is ever going to be the same again. I found out last night an I have been crying ever since, and I will still be crying for long after. Nothing could possibly make this better. I don't care. I don't care. Nothing makes it better Liza. Oh. Liza.

Just. Be nice to your barista. Because if you're not, you might not get a chance to again. Oh. Liza. Why.
Our deepest condolences.
I can't say it better than Trevor. I met her at the jam also, it was my pleasure.

Trevor said:
I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with Liza at CoffeeTalk. a couple weeks ago. The passion she had for both coffee and life were readily apparent. There is no doubt that her vibrancy will be missed both in our coffee community and in life. May all of us that were blessed with experiencing Liza's passion take it to heart and continue sharing it.
Our hearts go out to you, friends. Peace be with you all and also with Liza's family. I am so sorry for your loss.
I also met Liza at Coffee Talk a couple weeks ago. I think the image that will be burned into my mind was the smile on her face when she finally got Redline dialed in where she wanted. She seemed so excited and proud. She will be greatly missed and I'm sorry I only got to know her briefly.

-bry
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.

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