For as young and fairly progressive as the specialty coffee industry can be, it often finds itself stuck in more traditional modes of thinking. The current structure of the today’s coffee industry—who can have what jobs (and how difficult it is to get them), who cafes are marketed towards, and who even gets to feel comfortable in a given space—can inherently act as its own gatekeeper, preventing new ideas from talented individuals from ever seeing the light of day. But through concerted, intentional efforts put forth by many in the specialty coffee world, these paradigms are changing.

One such effort is taking place this Thursday, February 21st at Broadcast Coffee in Seattle. Presented by #CoffeeToo and Sprudgie Award winner Umeko Motoyoshi, Changing Structures is a panel discussion featuring voices in the industry who are providing alternatives to coffee’s old way of thinking.

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Led by Motoyoshi, the panel will include “coffee professionals who are creating new alternatives to outdated structures through community-focused work,” including Ian Williams of Deadstock Coffee, Radhika Kapur of Third Culture Coffee (featured here as part of Sprudge’s Build-Outs of Summer series), and Laura Perr of LÜNA Coffee. Topics will range from “creating nontraditional cafe spaces to building a value chain around the true cost of coffee production.”

“Too often, too many people’s voices are unheard because of the identities they hold, or their job title. CHANGING STRUCTURES is about saying fuck that. We all are important, and we all have a unique and valuable perspective to bring to the table,” Motoyoshi states. “Our speakers are all people who have shifted structures in coffee that did not serve the community. And they are all people who are incredibly kind, and encouraging, and focused on making whatever resources they have accessible to others. Each speaker will describe their story and how they got to where they are, with a focus on empowering our guests and welcoming them to open dialogue.”

All attendees are welcome to free food and beverages—including vegan, gluten-free, and non-alcoholic options—as well as a zine made for the event by Coffee People’s Kat Melheim. Guests can also take part in a raffle featuring prizes from Fellow, Acaia, Oatly, and others. Proceeds of the raffle go to benefit #CoffeeToo.

Changing Structures is open to all and is free to attend, though the organizers have a suggested donation of $5 (also to go to #CoffeeToo). It all kicks off at 7:00pm this Thursday at Broadcast Coffee. For more information or to RSVP, visit Changing Structures’ Facebook event page.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

Top image via Changing Structures promotional poster by Chris Hulsizer.

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