Like why on the SCAA homepage UPCOMING EVENTS section the N. Central RBC 2/18-20 and SE RBC 2/11-13 are up there while NW RBC 1/28-30 happening before them is not? Hmmmmm

 

NW Region being dissed (ignored, forgotten) by the SCAA or what?!

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Peter,

     Perhaps I was broad brushing a bit with associations. I view things like the SCAA and the BGA as necessary based on the lack of quality we see in the industry. To your point about standards, I agree.

The trick is to not have an army of members dependent on the scaa or bga for their standards. The role of the bga is made more necessary when an owner/trainer/manager drops the ball. The org's pick up the slack. This is helpful for the barista but one wonders if it is potent enough to implicate the  leaders of that shop as the cause behind the lack that made a prara-shop org like the BGA "necessary". Idealy an owner should no more depend on an assoc. than a roaster should depend on a middle man to the farmer...being that the ideal does not exist we must depend on these things in part with the goal of progressing out of those dependencies.

Like I said to Dan...I am glad to hear that the BGA is trying to include more leader focused curriculum. It is, I think, a much better place to aim coffee reformation efforts. Whenever I see a bad barista I blame the manager and owner and I wish they would get called out more as they are the most complicit.

As I am now freshly back in Syracuse, NY working a shop I am seeking out how to be a part of the solution to the issues we face in the North East. Looking to work WITH the BGA and SCAA etc. Hopefully as we work they will play less of a needed role due to the quality level being held up by a larger mass of individual owner/operaters.

Peter, I really respect you... and your admonishments to get involved are for sure taken to heart, thanks for all your efforts on our behalf.

-Chris.

P.S. now that I am back on the Eastern side of things I expect to visit C.C.C in the near future.

 

 

 

 

Peter Giuliano said:


Chris, I disagree with your opinions about associations.  We have achieved so much through the power of working together- without the SCAA, BGA, RG we would have no cupping forms, no barista competitions, no standards.... it's sometimes easy to take all of these things for granted.  It's not as easy as putting together an acronym.  Your ideas about focusing on shop owners are sound- why not get involved and make that even more of a reality?  I know that your business includes training for shop owners and baristas alike- why not add your voice into actually steering the BGA rather than trying to do it from a discussion board on the internet?  You've been such a great leader in the barista community in the past.

Jason,

    A shop owner who depends on outside organizations to train their employees is derelict at best.

If you ever advise any owner that they don't have to train theiremployees or spend time and money on them because they went throughcertification, or imply to a barista they after cert. they don't need aboss to train them... then I have my doubts about how well you havethought through such a ridiculous assertion. By claiming that, you areundoing another assertion you made, that the certification getsbaristas better wages and more respect!  I'm sorry but if you want toencourage an owner to not invest into their employees training withtime and money then you encourage the owner to not respect the baristaand not value them. This is bunk.

The BGA did not invent the idea of training and quality standards.Nor am I required, although I choose to voluntarily, promote the BGA inorder to prove that I care or value training and standards. You ask memultiple times "is that of no value to you?" All those things arethings I value. You think that because I am not praising the BGA Idon't value these things? You are showing a large amount of bias here.I have worked and trained in this industry for far too long to sit hereand read your insinuations that I am some how unconcerned aboutbaristas being trained and respected. It's insulting. I am forevergrateful for you and all who volunteer their time into the BGA etc. Istated that in my original post. You seem to have issue with givingthanks for those outside the BGA who shape our industry. They do existyou know.

I want to grow baristas and have them earn respect etc. in a shop.Do you want them to have it after they pass tests? That is no way togrow professionals. To pass these tests..do you ask their bosses howthey are on bar? Do you observe them an how they interact with theirco-workers, and customers? Do you see if they cut corners and lowertheir standards for expediency?...no. And because of that the cert. isonly good for academic exercise. Academic is great! But it must becoupled with the real world grit that test you as a professional beforewe can go claiming that baristas "deserve" this and that.

Jason, I want everyone of my baristas and the low income high schoolkids we are getting ready to train this year in a neighborhooddevelopment project, to go and get certified through the BGA...in asmany places as they can I want them to learn. But I will never tellthem that they have somehow arrived or are now worth more pay etc.Because they passed a test. If a kid comes to my shop and demands morepay because they are certified I will politely disagree. I will begrateful for a good foundation but train them my way too. And untilthey PROVED their worth within the context of my organization they willnot garner more pay or more benefits. The way you are talking is as ifthe BGA cert. is only good for baristas who want to develop a sense ofentitlement and who will only apply at shops who don't know how totrain. Not a pretty picture of the future.

The BGA is not the end all of standards nor should it be. It IS agreat place to learn about coffee and grow in community...just likeculinary school. A chef who graduated from the C.I.A. may have doorsopened to them but if they are working for a good chef their"certification" means jack once they show for their first service. Andin the daily coffee bar setting...if you rely on the BGA certificationto tell you "ALL the things that make them better coffee professionals"then you are toast. The shop owner who relies solely on a baristas pasttraining is a dangerous leader, the shop owner who invests into hisemployees by sending them to be certified AND trains them even more intheir own shop, is wise.

Not every barista deserves more for what they do...I have known plenty who deserve far far less!

Everyone should be treated with respect, but outside of thatbaristas deserve what they earn by proven value in the real world thatis outside the BGA. I believe the BGA can start them off on a good pathand help them do that. But when you go accusing me of not caring,touting the BGA as a replacement to owners training and investing intotheir employees, and claiming that they will have ALL they need to beprofessionals...I feel you are just a wee bit off.

Do we need to train owners to recognize value when they see it andto nurture it when they have it? YES! And, therefore, because thebarista who earns these things should find a nuturing environment, Ihave asserted that the owner is the one who need a good deal of ourfocus.

I do get it Jason. BGA, in my opinion, is a great thing! I encourage folks to participate as much as possible. But because I don't view itlike you do does not give you a platform to belittle me or my intentions and what I value. Come on, man.

I still love ya though ;-)

-Chris

 

Chris,let me say that as one of the writers and biggest proponents of theBGA’s Certification, I don’t think you get it. I don’t think you getthe fact that baristas deserve more respect, pay, and better trainingfor what they do. And the certification will do that. The certificationwill help you as a shop owner know that you have a barista that knowscurrent standards for espresso. That knows how to brew good coffee.That knows how coffees are grown and processed. Is that of no value toyou? What about to the shop owner who doesn’t have to spend time andmoney training said baristas because they’ve went throughcertification? For so many years we’ve had independent roastercertifications that don’t mean jack when they go to other companies, orhave no connection to SCAA standards sometimes. This is one that isuniversal. This shows that a barista has a solid understanding of allthe things that make them better coffee professionals. A very roundededucation. You don’t think that has value? Do you think CoffeeFest’sbarista certification does? This certification is all about the baristaand shop owner. Do you think it’s just to blow smoke for anyone?Seriously.

Chris, are you kidding me? Never did I say that you should rely on the BGA to train all your staff. I was merely stating it as a value. And it's clear we're not going to see eye to eye on the certification. That's sad. We need support from people like you. Why do you think we're pushing it so big? Investing so many hours, days, and weeks for it? You don't see that a certification will bring respect, you don't think baristas should get paid more for investing in themselves? That's ridiculous.

No, the BGA didn't invent training or standards, but who else is hosting the bulk of them. In working in creating easier curriculum? And for the record, the academic is coupled with the real world application through these labs. You should know this, the BGA and SCAA offer the most cost-effective high quality training you can find. Who does? I just ask how can you become a part of the solution, instead of a voice of desent? What would you do differently?

Lastly, it wasn't personal Chris. I love you as a brother, and you know that. I respect you, and you know that. However, I won't stand by and let you shred all the hard work myself and my fellow members of the BGA EC, SCAA Professional Development Committee, and all who work so hard to make the BGA something we can all be proud of, a resource not just for baristas, but for shop owners. And I'm tired of hearing people bitch and moan that there's not value in paying $45 for what one can receive. If you don't see there's value in what the BGA offers, maybe it's not for you. But I think it is for most people. I think that it's a great way for baristas like you to give back to the community you and I have taken so much from for many years. No disrespect to you. You should know better than that from me.

Good points all, glad to see so many involved in the discussion now.

 

I'd request that all involved keep the discussion focused on the topic and avoid too many personally-oriented side-trips.  This is an issue that lots of us are close to, and a calm and reasoned discussion will surely be more constructive than the alternative.

 

More in a minute... still working on detailed responses.


Peter-

I'm talking about respecting volunteers and seeking ways to ease their burden and encourage their volunteer participation in SCAA, BGA and USBC events - all to the benefit of the SCAA and barista community.  Yet instead of engaging these concerns, you chose to attack me personally??  Spin the discussion away from the "care" of the "people" you supposedly are standing up for???

 

Save the showboating.  How about addressing the need for continuity in the judging ranks?  Or maybe about some demonstration of appreciation and gratitude by the SCAA to the volunteers?  A party?  Dinner, perhaps?  A little per diem, even?  Anything more than a printed certificate would be a step in the right direction.  Last time I heard, you were the SCAA President and should be more than qualified to speak on these issues.

 

Save your personal attacks on me for those who share your opinions.  I'm sure you're surrounded by them.

 

 

Peter Giuliano said:

Jay, on the other hand... when are you going to quit this bogus conspiracy theory stuff? Here you have the leadership and staff of the BGA and SCAA doing the best they can, and you invent conspiracy theories about how they are trying to "con" everyone.  You should be ashamed of yourself, Jay.  Quit posting this stuff.  You will now proceed to pretend that you have spoken truth to power, and that you are speaking "for the people".  You're not.  The "people" are working hard to push the craft of the barista forward, and you insult them even as they do their work by inventing bogus reasons to criticize them.  The "people" are working hard to perfect their competition routines.  You're busy judging barista competitions in other countries or something (?).  I'm standing up in defense of these volunteers against your bogus tirades, Jay.  Please stop it.

 

Jason-

"I don’t remember anyone asking you to judge at every regional."

Do you even know of ONE person asking me to judge at ONE regional???

 

"Also, you judge in another country? What does that cost you in time? At least five days?"

Or more.  Ask around - there's nothing quite like seeing the great (and not so great) convention centers of the world.

 

Nothing quite like spending hours upon hours in a tight, cramped airline seat only to spend your week in a room and never getting to see all the glories that normal visitors to that country experience. Only to jump back on a plane back home right away because we've got to get back to the job that pays us a living.  

 

It's pretty much the experience shared by most judges that I know.  But we volunteer our time and effort because we love working with other people and sharing what we can.  Much the same reasons as I suspect you do what you do for the BGA.

 

You probably don't know this, but I've sat in your chair on the BGA.  I served as a member of the Task Force that created the BGA in 2004 and then to an elected director position on the Executive Council until 2007.  I understand the challenges and issues you face and I am sympathetic.  Like you, our Council faced similar problems of people not understanding or downplaying things. We battled with the SCAA for autonomy and self determination.  We fought for better funding and more members.  In some ways, you could say it was worse because the BGA was more misunderstood then than now, but facing those criticisms are part and parcel of the job.  Yes it's difficult, but that's why you were elected.  

 

The real challenge is not fighting with the critics but persuading them.  Showing them that your path is the right way.  

 

"Also, you say it sucks that it’s Atlanta?"

Yes, Atlanta sucks.  Not a fan.  (Okay, I do like Daddy D'z BBQ) But that's neither here nor there.  What sucks is the distance and the short notice.  Meaning that the workaday barista has to scramble to get decently priced flights, hotels and other travel arrangements.  Wouldn't know the exact specifics since I have little interest in attending - these were the details and concerns told to me in person by a barista hoping to compete.

 

"Well, where would you like it?"

If I'm speaking personally and paying out of my own pocket, then I prefer somewhere that's cheap to travel to and where the hotels are quite cheap as well.  Charlotte actually kind of fit the bill back in 2006.

 

"And BTW, it’s in a month."

Yes, and a month is barely enough time to really plan a trip for most people. And the location will dictate whether that trip is going to cost more or less for the competitor. Add to the fact that the regions are so big now that travel is a must.  I'm talking about giving people more time to plan.  Time to make a plan.  The SCAA Expo has a date eight years in advance, we're only asking for maybe three months notice.

 

"And like Dan said, the SERBC happens every year."

It does happen every year.  But never on the same date or the same weekend.  Therefore, "planning" for it becomes next to impossible until a date has been announced.  Merely "knowing" that something is "supposed" to happen isn't enough - not when we're talking about baristas who want to participate and, therefore, must plan, save and make arrangements to be there.

 

And don't forget, when the barista competitor is away competing, that barista is also not working the bar and not making a living.  Not everyone involved in the barista world is on salary.  Being away means losing income.

 

"The SCAA is merely asking competitors and judges to help shoulder the load for something that primarily benefits them."

Certainly, I can see the argument for asking the competitor to pay a bit more for the entry fees, but to charge the judges a fee for a certification of limited use and then working for free????  That's insulting and disrespectful to their volunteerism.

 

"If you don’t think cheap training is a value, I don’t know what is."

I don't really know why you're getting worked up over this.  Seems to me that Camp Pull-A-Shot pulled great attendance, the certification classes seem to be popular and the barista competitions don't seem to be wanting for competitors.  Like Costco, some will see the value, others will not.  The bet is that more will see the value - or at least enough to keep things afloat.

 

"I don’t think you get the fact that baristas deserve more respect, pay, and better training for what they do. And the certification will do that."

I think you're taking a bit more liberty with your statement than appropriate.  I, for one, have NO DOUBT that Deferio "gets" that baristas deserve more of the above.  That guy was pushing barista craft and culture long before you came to the scene.

 

And while I support the certification effort and like the programs the BGA has created, I hardly think certification will do what you state it will alone.

 

The BGA Barista Certification has a long way to go before it has that kind of credibility. It's on its way, but there's still a long way to go.  Because, right now, if an applicant came to me with a BGA Certified Barista, Level 2 certificate, it still would wouldn't guarantee a position on my staff.

A barista should only be paid more for investing in themselves if it in turn is proven to be a benifit to the shop, which is only accomplished through observation by the boss who writes the checks and defines what is valuable.


You did say, Jason that an owner could have his barista trained by the BGA instead of themselves.

You said:

"What about to the shop owner who doesn’t have to spend time and money training said baristas because they’ve went through certification?"

My only point here is that the above statement is a dangreous claim if your goal is sustainable quality in training.

Ever heard of "descent as the highest form of patriotism"? I believe that to be true here...I voice descent, yes...tell me why that is bad? By asking me to be a part of the solution you too are pointing out that there may be problems. When someone points out a problem then they should be seen as already caring enough about a solution to share that descent. As I stated right off in the beginning...it was a post for "course correction" not a vote to do away with the BGA.

You have my support, Jason. The BGA has my support. Tha barista community is not, however, the property of the BGA and I support the barista community. I already said I am on board to certify my baristas etc. So let's not bring up that subject again.

I am not shredding all your work...you are, however, being over protective of it. If it is for the people, then it is not yours or the BGA's...it is to be molded and shaped by voices of descent as well as voices of approval. Are you open to opinions that implicate ineffectiveness and lack? If not, why? If you are, then why get upset?

There are many shops out there who are "hosting the bulk" of training. The most effective training happens in coffee shops who care. What would I do differently?No matte rhow intense your "real life" training scenarios are...they are no replacement for a real bar dealing with real exhaustion and all the pressures one must rise above to prove ones worth. You should not feel threatened by that fact. You should, instead, embrace it. Let the certified barista know that they are only as good as they are on a busy bar and they are not a rock star barista.

We need to develope a system that brings the baristas manager and the shop owner into the conversation as to whether or not they should be graduated to level x.

I want to see the BGA form something of BGA Owner/operators guild where you can truly effect the change you are seeking in delivering more respect, pay, etc. In fact..this is something I want to see in NY State. Perhaps that is a good place to start.

There is something called "positional respect" where people respect you because of your rank...but because they don't know you or have not sweat or bled in battle with you the respect is hollow.

The respect I want baristas to have and that I myself want my baristas to have toward me is called: "Authentic respect" and it comes over time, tests, trials, defeats, and victories...THAT is what the BGA should be working towards...a certificate will never equal authentic respect. This needs to be taught. That you should not be satisfied with the shallowness of positional respect but after certification work to gain the authentic. The difference must be part of the Curriculum.

Just some thoughts there...

Lastly...the shop who is doing a great job and is not in community and is not a BGA supporter, but is delighting their customers, serving and investing in their staff, and holding up and progressing in standards...should not be made to feel like an outsider or some how selfish for not investing into BGA associates community. I fear that we have created an "either or" way of thinking rather than conceding that it is really "both and".

 

 


Jason Dominy said:

Chris, are you kidding me? Never did I say that you should rely on the BGA to train all your staff. I was merely stating it as a value. And it's clear we're not going to see eye to eye on the certification. That's sad. We need support from people like you. Why do you think we're pushing it so big? Investing so many hours, days, and weeks for it? You don't see that a certification will bring respect, you don't think baristas should get paid more for investing in themselves? That's ridiculous.

No, the BGA didn't invent training or standards, but who else is hosting the bulk of them. In working in creating easier curriculum? And for the record, the academic is coupled with the real world application through these labs. You should know this, the BGA and SCAA offer the most cost-effective high quality training you can find. Who does? I just ask how can you become a part of the solution, instead of a voice of desent? What would you do differently?

Lastly, it wasn't personal Chris. I love you as a brother, and you know that. I respect you, and you know that. However, I won't stand by and let you shred all the hard work myself and my fellow members of the BGA EC, SCAA Professional Development Committee, and all who work so hard to make the BGA something we can all be proud of, a resource not just for baristas, but for shop owners. And I'm tired of hearing people bitch and moan that there's not value in paying $45 for what one can receive. If you don't see there's value in what the BGA offers, maybe it's not for you. But I think it is for most people. I think that it's a great way for baristas like you to give back to the community you and I have taken so much from for many years. No disrespect to you. You should know better than that from me.

A couple of things that I'd like to add here.

 

It's one thing to say "if you don't like it, don't support it"... but when you see things like a $150 entry fee differential for regional competition that statement doesn't ring very true.  How could a competitor realistically NOT write a $45 check?  You end up with a portion of your membership that join not because of value provided by the organization, but because of the price breaks provided by the parent organization.

 

If we're talking carrot vs stick approach, the "members only" parties and overly-large fee differentials don't exactly look like carrots.

 

And, since we're headed down this road...

 

Jason, we all know very well how much work you and the rest of the leadership has put into making the BGA's curriculum great for baristas.  The issue for me has never been quality or effort - its been accessibility, accessibility, accessibility.

 

If you really want to understand where Jared is coming from, ask yourself when the last training event in the Southeast region was?  Fall of 2009?  On a scale of 1-10, how accessible do you feel the BGA's certification program has been to your average barista or owner located in our area?  Camp Pull-a-Shot looked like a great event - we all saw the pictures.  What I saw was lots of opportunity for coffee industry professionals and the baristas that could afford the trip, however I'd be careful with using it as a demonstration for the kind of value that the BGA presents to rank-and-file members located in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic-North-East, etc.

 

Peter, give how dispersed the current and former members and leaders of the BGA are, I think that this coffee-focused community is a great place to discuss ideas for the BGA to consider.  Perhaps its not as focused (or private) as the twice-a-year EC+Chapter Rep conference call, but the discussion here seems to be far more open.  Nobody here seems too concerned about ruffling feathers, and besides, the membership can contribute too.  Besides... I highly doubt that Mike, Jay, Chris, Jared, etc are here just to bitch.  None of us would be here if we didn't think that the conversation had some potential to make a difference.  Am I right?

 

More thoughts later.

Hey all, I just wanted to add how much I appreciate this conversation. As a person who still lives on both sides of the coin I understand the frustrations of both sides as well. I appreciate those of you determined to keep leadership on it's toes (Jared, Jay, Chris, Barry, Mike) and I appreciate the leadership for striving to offer support and value to the coffee industry. This thread is merely a sign of the passion you all have and a reminder as to why I love this industry.

 Before I was voted onto the BGA EC last spring I was a mere barista and owner who spent a lot of time and money (that I didn't have and still don't have) trying to participate in as many SCAA/BGA events as I possibly could. I've both received value and felt gypped at times. I also know the reality that no system is perfect. I know that in hindsight the times I have felt gypped or that the system had nothing to offer me were the times that inspired me to volunteer. To add value where I could. In most cases I would say I learned, received and still receive more value when I volunteer. I don't know that I could even add a dollar amount to that value. And that value, at least for me, is not limited to the form in which I volunteer. For all that and more I am grateful. 

 And to speak directly in regards to the barista competitions. I really feel I owe a lot of who I am as a barista to my involvement in the barista competitions. Granted a lot of this is a result of my own nature and not everyone, when put in the same situation, would respond in the same way. However, I am a big believer in the value of competition and make every effort to support my baristas in this endeavor. Irregardless of the outcome of the competition itself, the competition experience as a whole has been invaluable in the development of myself and my staff. It saddens me that more companies don't see or realize the minimal investment that competition truly is. Of course competition's not for everyone. Looking at you Dominy.Which is why a regular topic for the BGA EC has been what value can we add to competition for those that don't compete? And on and on it goes. Ever striving to meet everyone's needs. Trying to continue making this industry a great one to work in. I am excited and ever hopeful of the future. There is no doubt in my mind that there will always be powerful voices such as ya'll to both challenge and encourage the direction this industry goes. Now go make some freakin coffee!


Dan, I appreciate your candor here and agree with what you've said.

 

Dan Streetman said:

...Believe me, we were pushing very hard to do a regional in October or November early this year, but then when camp had to be moved (because of previous venue being sold) that pushed everything back and hampered availability for key resources, and made timing nearly impossible.

Given my previous post, reading this statement made my blood boil.  Planning for that camp monopolized so much of the BGA's limited resources last year (and the year before)... its really frustrating to see that it impacted competition season as well.  I understand that sometimes "shit happens" in event planning, and don't blame the BGA for that, but I find it frustrating that an event that was a benefit for such a small segment of the membership continues to compromise broader concerns.

I'm just tired of having to have the same discussions over and over again. Do I take it personal Chris? Yes, of course. Again, I see how much work has went into it with myself and our leadership over the years. Do I think it could be better? Yes, of course, I asked. The fact remains that this is fully supported by volunteers, doing ALL this freaking work on top of an already loaded workload from our companies. Do I think it should be more accessible? Yes, Peter will back me up that I said in our Leadership Summit that "accessibility is our sustainability." But what does that look like? Where does that money come from? Well, I can't get you to pay a paltry $45, your company doesn't wanna pay for an SCAA membership. Companies are dropping out of sponsorship opportunities like flies. WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM? I mean, ideally there would be events all over. For Anthony Rue in Florida, and Jared Rutledge in Asheville, and all the others who want there to be closer to them. But who does that? Volunteers. Who pays for it? I mean, again, let's be practical. We need you. We need Chris. We need Jay. We need everyone we can to make this happen.

 

And for the record, who organized the last training event in the SE? Who voted this year for Camp Pull-A-Shot to be on the East Coast next year instead of the East Coast? I did. Few people care as much about this community through my work with the BGA than I do. Do I take it personally? Heck yeah, I do.

 

And again, Brady, quit complaining about the fee differential. Again, it costs $500 on average for each competitor for a regional competition. The SCAA is asking baristas to shoulder the load. At a $150 discount, the SCAA is still having to fork over the difference. It is a benefit as a BGA member. You can't call it anything else.

There is much work to do. All reasonable criticism is welcome, but it has to be reasonable, thinking from all sides. I know I am. And a humility to say that we're doing all we can, but there's more to do. The better questions I'd like to see answers to are, what would you like to see from the BGA, and how would you accomplish it, both personally and financially. Because this competition issue is not a BGA issue, we don't have anything to do with the creation of them or organization. That belongs to the SCAA. But for the BGA, what would you do differently?

 

Brady, what happened were situations beyond our control. Our original location shut down, I believe. And it happened at the last minute. Plus, I heard just as many baristas who didn't want a Fall competition, as those that did, so goes to that old addage, you can't please them all. And Camp Pull-A-Shot was not for "a small segment." We had over 110, and at a current membership of a little over 500, that's a good percentage. It was for all. It was made to be as affordable as possible, and again, was an amazing value for those that could come. It was loaded with labs, amazing content, incredible presenters, and access to some of the best equipment out there. And it was the event that our membership has been asking for for years. We simply gave the membership what they were asking for.

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