I'm not a card-carrying member, but I'm considering it. But first I would like to simply ask in the most respectful manner: why? I would gladly join a guild which is the unified, powerful voice of barista labor; but there is no organization in America that represents the collective bargaining power which would vie for fair wages and treatment of baristas in the industry.

Other than providing a much-needed sense of community, what is the role of the Barista Guild in the SCAA? What opportunities for involvement - besides regional jams - are available to members of the Guild?

I am also very interested in access to the research library. How extensive is the selection of publications available?

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Replies to This Discussion

Did you know Dismas invented the BGA (along with Chris Davidson) back when they were both just baristas learning to roast?
I wonder how he would answer that question....
Haha, maybe I should just wait a few hours and ask him myself. I remembered he was involved in the formation of one of the guilds, but I couldn't recall which one.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm challenging or criticizing the guild; it's so easy for inquisitiveness and curiosity to look like hostility when communicating online.
Nope...did not consider it a criticism at all!
And a "challenge" is valid, actually.
I didn't put the stuff on here about benefits of membership...but I'll do that now.
You can amuse yourself by making those incredible macchiatos while you wait for me to get organized, Joe Stormer.
Here's what I can share.
So many people 1st say, "other than building community" ... while, I say please don't over look the power of a great community. Here's how the Barista Guild community hit me.
1) Isolated in my own store reading about competitions in NY Times/USA Today (NyTimes w/ Phuong Tran on cover)
2) Join Guild b/c I viewed it as one step closer to getting to know/work with (someday) the people I've been reading about
3) Attended jam @ Intelly, made tons of friends, received confidence/advice to get involved in judging, become certified judge.
4) USBC 06 judge, keep meeting people, keep sharing coffee love.
5) Use free time to coffee travel, keep meeting people
6) Great things keep happening through people I meet, travel to origin, barista magazine cover, nordic barista cup .... I can't even explain the greatness of this all.
7) I become member of Barista Guild Executive Council, next thing I know I'm working with a team of amazing people, updating and refreshing SCAA official training documents, helping plan and create training content for conference, etc...

The community is so key... If your thoughts and ideas keep people on their toes, things will happen and you can play a role in defining exactly what is going on in this community.
That is not so attractive to many others, i suppose. I may be wrong.
Peter Tam, please explain what you are saying.
I noticed that this had not been answered for about 5 days, from its date, April 18 to today. And in your description, some of them is for yourself only. May not be proper or attactive for others. Of course, I may be wrong.
Peter, I don't think that you are wrong.

I know several people who haven't joined primarily because they just don't see the benefit.

The guild, to be honest, I don't think is doing all it could to be the voice of the barista.

A friend named Chris constantly calls for standardization of drink recipes, parameter tolerances, and the like that just don't exist in the industry here. And rightfully so.

This is not to declare that I suddenly believe that there is a standard, but I do think we need guidelines. As it stands, joining the Guild means you are committed, and that's about the extent of things.

Being a part of the Guild should entail so much more. With only, what is it now, 500? members, I'm not sure we have the muscle required to take the lead on these issues, and Lord knows the SCAA is having a hard enough time on its own trying to spread the gospel to the unwashed masses.

So, really, to join the discussion, I must ask.

What exactly is it that we, as a guild, DO? I still haven't figured it out. (and it just dawned on me that I'm way late on renewal dues. probably almost a year.)

I joined because I wanted to be a part of something bigger. Something more significant that is a significant piece of the career I'm trying to carve out. I haven't found that to be true. Not unless you go to conventions. Not unless you spend the hundreds of dollars needed to travel all over the place.

Honestly, how many working baristas CAN afford to do all that? So, for the average barista, what's the real benefit?

I'm not saying that there aren't good things going on higher up in the food chain, but we down here in the lower end certainly don't hear about it.

Communication is key. (I feel like I say this more often than "hello", for a variety of scenarios)
Jason, I think you are right, even if I can only read your word but not clearly feel your feeling.

For the guild, the member fee may not cost a lot, but to join its activities around the country may cost a lot. One can do many things, like being a judge or similars. But, for most members, they only expect to be advised and learn to improve their knowledge and skills of coffee drinks for their careers. They would not spend so much money neither the time, mostly free time, for such things. That is the mass of baristas.

On the other hand, those members are doing something together. They were so happy and excited. I know it and understand it, because I had a lot of experience like this in my life, some of them was during the Culture Revolution in China. But, very few people, if any, may pay attention to the results. How much did people learn from those activities, and improved their knowledge and skills? That should be the primary purpose of their joining.

I did doubt about SCAA, WBC, and so on, because I do not understand why none of them would pay attention to us, after we announced that we had got full coffee theory and established an effective barista training system. It seems that no one care of it. It is not a problem of caring someone, but knowing what is happening about coffee in the world. If it is a risk to spend thousands of bucks to see it from US to China, it is not a problem for SCAA because they had been there, in Beijing many times. In my eyes, they more like to visit forbidden city, but not something related to coffee. They like to talk about some strange things, like *$s in the forbidden city, and so on.

So, I felt to ask, do they care about coffee, and its development? If not, why to join?

Someone answered, YES. But, my next question is "HOW'?

Probably someone may ask, why to visit you? How can you be sure what you are doing, and why to help your business?

Is that something related only to one company? Or, is that only the matter of a single group of people or a company? If it can be a development of the coffee industry, it is the matter of the whole coffee industry of the world. But, I never got the feeling that someone care of it.

Back to the guild, what it can do than providing information which cna all be found in the internet, chatting with someone who can tell a lot of things about coffee, but at last everyone have to learn and practise by themselves, without knowing what the problem is and how to find and how to improve.

I am out of the circle, so I may see it clearly. In our old words, we always say that people inside are always blind, while people outside can see clearly. It is quite similar to the theory by Le Bon.

Hope I can explain it well.
I'm gonna back Scott up here... The Community is everything and the rest is perks.

Moreover without sounding too much like JFK maybe you should start looking at what you have to offer the Barista Guild. Starting with the search for added or even more visible membership benefits to help boost membership numbers.

Like so many member driven organizations there are substantial monetary discounts to members offered by supporting businesses which smartly used can easily pay for the membership of said organization. Otherwise this is still pretty new stuff still. Guild members and leaders are able to help decide what the future is and help take it where it needs to be.

The potential for this organization is certainly here, the people are the best. With all due respect (and I mean that) if friendship and community with really great people isn't enough, sitting back and simply asking "What is in it for me?" isn't going to further any cause. I'm not saying there shouldn't be more but it does take inspired people to help create more and to me you sound somewhat inspired.
I don't think anyone is asking "what's in it for me?"

I think the real question is "what exactly is it accomplishing?"


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