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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Right... However other than that one potentially misunderstood detail the fact remains... It still take inspired members and leaders to help envision organization evolution and accomplish new ideas.
If people can have their cafes changed like "Victrola" after 1-3 months of joining the guild, everybody would do it. It is not. But, why?
I think it comes down to a lack of clear goals.

Organizations, even organizations of brilliant coffee talent, require good leadership.

So, again. What is the intended purpose of the guild?
I think the group description right here in this group sums up what the guild is nicely. If that isn't enough for you don't have to join. The Barista Guild isn't a magic wand to make your cafe successful overnight. It does however contain members with knowledge and experience who are happy to share with fellow passionate BGA members. You don't have to be a member to be passionate but I do know that most BGA members are. On the other hand you can get the know how and information elsewhere no doubt.

Scott stated his experiences and views rather nicely I thought. He seemed to get exactly what he put into it, became active and will (I assume) continue to help better the BGA.

If you have ideas for the organization as a non-member I'd think you can start a new thread right here. I can't think of a better forum than this, or the Barista Guild website boards, since they do allow non-members access to most of the areas.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be bigger and better goals but folks can't do anything from the outside looking in.
Okay, so I will throw my two cents in on this one, having finally decided to get more involved in the coffee community I have been the benefactor of for so long. The thing I have found is that before I was watching what happened from afar, and now, as a member of the Barista Guild, I help to make things happen. I feel more a part of what’s going on, and how the coffee community is changing. I want to be on the cusp of what’s new and exciting in coffee, while educating people about our history, and I can best do that by being part of something like the Barista Guild.
Yes, it does invite you into a special community, and I can’t say how many people I have met through the Guild, but I think the Guild can be whatever you want it to be. You can get out of it what you are willing to put in, and that lends some credibility to it as a whole. Another thing the Barista Guild does is remind you that you are part of something much bigger than some blogs on Barista Exchange or coffeegeek, you are a catalyst in good espresso in your community.
I feel that what the Barista Guild does is empower you to much bigger things, and just being a member shows that you are serious enough about your barista career to better yourself through an organization that really is working to make our coffee climate better. It shows you want to push yourself to see how good you can be to many other people, and shows a commitment to others that the barista community is a thriving environment where people really do care about good coffee and espresso.
Can you do this on your own? Sure, somewhat, but not to the extent you can by being an active participant in something like the SCAA or Barista Guild. By being a member you really can help to make a difference. At least that’s my experience.
Yes, there are someone who can help to improve the organizaiton. But, the most people would expect help from it, not specially support it.

Yes, I have got a very good idea. On the other side of the world, in China, there are some people who have got a new coffee theory and can help those cafes improved fastly and magically to the very high level, most probably not lower than Victrola in Seattle. If they can go to chack it, and find a good way to cooperate with them, it can be done immediately.

Hope they will consider it, seriously.
It is good for you, but similar to Scott, may not attractible for the mass of baristas.

If they can "empower" those people who have got wrong understanding about coffee and espresso drinks, the result will not be so attractible.

It is not impossible. due to the low level of understanding about coffee and espresso drinks and its brewing skills and preparation, and so on, by the whole world coffee industry.
Uhm, Chris here... I've been quoted as saying that a BGA Certificate hanging on the wall certifies that you used to have forty-five bucks, and now you don't. I use the model of the SCAE, and have constantly pointed at the high standards that they certify.
I think that it may be that I was raised with Guilds and the concept of guilds in my life. Guilds are training halls and hiring halls for artisans and craftsmen. Guilds are there to satisfy that a member's work and craft is at an acceptable level, and to do that there has to be a description of that level. Without standards, that level cannot be defined. Without standards, that level can't be achieved. Without standards, any certification is meaningless.
I do admire the goals of the BGA, but if they want to be a guild, looking at the last five hundred year old model of guilds would be a great place to start. While there are some really bad parts of some historical models, there is actually a very good training and advancement model to follow.
Being part of a community is great, and handy, and I can see a lot of growth that has come from the SCAA into the coffee community following their their leadership, but I think that the term 'guild' is being somewhat misused, or unused.
If you want the Guild to have some impact, first it has to mean something. Once a barista is certified, and a consumer can start to look for the barista certification as a sign that they will be receiving a certain level of service and quality of product, those consumers will search them out. And other baristi and coffeeshops will want to join, and the level of coffee service and craft will naturally follow. But as long as certifications is something that can just be purchased, it won't be a force in the advancement like it could be.
Thank you for stating more clearly what it is that I was thinking.
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.
Sounds like you're looking for the functions of a Labor Union which is not one of the stated purposes of the BGA.

I am a BGA member. But it seems anyone with or without any knowledge or skill can join. There is no apprenticeship before becoming a full member as in traditional guilds. There is no test of coffee knowedge or even simply pulling a shot. (Which I don't mean to imply is simple to do well!) Guild membership is open to all "working baristas" who meet the following criteria:
• Coffee must be an integral part of your profession.
• A desire to excel at the art and craft of coffee preparation.
• Must have a passion for coffee.

Is the criteria verified? Should or should it not be? Should there be some standard met to be a "Member in Good Standing" as the certificate states? A customer asked me the other day what it took to be a BGA "Member in Good Standing". (have the certificate framed on the wall.) I really had no good answer that gave value to the guild membership. The honest answer is the only requirement is a willingness to pay the fee, period. I did answer paraphrasing the stated membership criteria.

I'm not talking about "what can the guild do for me". Been involved in other non-profit organizations for decades and know full well that 10% do all the work while the other 90% just want benefits provided for them. If you want an organization to be better or do something, getting personally involved is the answer. As yet I have not with the BGA do to no time having just opened my Roastery Cafe last year. And since I've not become involved in working to improve the BGA I have no leg to stand on if not satifisfied with what the BGA provides 'me'.

But didn't use think needing referrals to join the Roasters Guild made sense to me. My understanding of why the RGA has that requirement is changing. Seems it may be one way of verifying membership criteria. As far as I know paying the fee is the 'only' real current requirement for BGA membership.

Does any of this rambling mean I think every serious barista should NOT join even as the BGA is now? Contrare. Like I said, I am a member. I am a member because I believe in the stated goals and purposes of the BGA. In some ways IMO BX of other such forums dilutes the potential BGA effectiveness. Not much community building goes on over at the BGA forum... This discussion about the BGA isn't even happening on the BGA forum. The last post in the BGA Public Open forum was two days ago and last post in the BGA members forum two months ago!
So . . . I like the idea of standards and some sort of "certification" to this Guild. But the problem is, who's standards do we use? Does setting a certification grossly limit our size as a guild? I don't view this as a "union", because it is called a guild, I expect some sort of training, artisanship, etc., to be organized and openly discussed. I've read the by-laws, and it sounds extremely bureaucratic and not much emphasis on the furthering of our craft as professional baristas. Maybe this is because most people don't view the position of Barista as a profession, and eventually plan to move on to roasting, consulting, or ownership of a cafe. What can we in the BGA do to change this? I know this is kind of a ramble, but these are important questions that we as Baristas need to be asking each other, and I hope the Executive Council is already asking themselves.

PS. Do we have meetings, forums, jams, or is it all tied in with SCAA events? Just asking.
The Standards of Coffee Drinks by Kaffa Cafe can be, at least, a starting point.


Lorenzo Perkins said:
So . . . I like the idea of standards and some sort of "certification" to this Guild. But the problem is, who's standards do we use? Does setting a certification grossly limit our size as a guild? I don't view this as a "union", because it is called a guild, I expect some sort of training, artisanship, etc., to be organized and openly discussed. I've read the by-laws, and it sounds extremely bureaucratic and not much emphasis on the furthering of our craft as professional baristas. Maybe this is because most people don't view the position of Barista as a profession, and eventually plan to move on to roasting, consulting, or ownership of a cafe. What can we in the BGA do to change this? I know this is kind of a ramble, but these are important questions that we as Baristas need to be asking each other, and I hope the Executive Council is already asking themselves.

PS. Do we have meetings, forums, jams, or is it all tied in with SCAA events? Just asking.

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