Friends! Readers! Coffee enthusiasts, lend us your eyeballs. We’re looking for your help in discovering this year’s class of The Sprudge Twenty, our annual initiative honoring and amplifying extraordinary individuals in the specialty coffee community. Presented in partnership with Pacific Barista Series, the Sprudge Twenty is searching for mentors and leaders, young strivers and future game-changers, baristas and farmers, traders and teachers, entrepreneurs and original voices in the field of coffee. And we can’t do it alone.
Nominations are open through February 28th for the Sprudge Twenty class of 2020. This is an open call to our global network of readers and partners: nominate people in your business or community who exemplify excellence, leadership, and the future of coffee. Nominations can be submitted in any language, in the form of an original essay, audio nomination, or video recording, so that there is no barrier to submission—the entire process is open and free, in partnership with Pacific Barista Series.
Click here to nominate someone in your community today! And read on to learn more about our inaugural class of Sprudge Twenty honorees. Each class member receives a special in-depth interview feature on Sprudge, and we’re presenting a few of our favorites from last season below.
What cause or element in coffee drives you?
The social awareness that I believe serving coffee requires. I think coffee is a beautiful conduit for human interaction, in so many different ways, and I think we have a responsibility as folks who live in consuming countries, and have chosen to serve coffee professionally, to challenge the social norms that are so harmful to so many.
Who are your coffee heroes?
Lem Butler was the first Black person I remember seeing online and being blown away. I had never even heard of Barista Competition before he won, so it was shocking to see a Black man become the best barista in America. I met him in 2017 in New York at Barista Nation. He didn’t talk much at that event but he did mention the importance of seeing more Black faces in coffee. That was a real turning point for me.
Look into the crystal ball—where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Using my experience in coffee growing areas to help other coffee growing areas address climate change. I’ll know my way around robusta as well as I do arabica, and will have been able to apply that learning to the problem of the climate crisis. Also it would be really cool to figure out how to grow robusta that tastes really great in the United States, because in 20 years our time may be up as an industry focused on special, far-away coffees cultivated with cheap labor.
What issue in coffee do you care about most?
There are so many, but I deeply care about advancing the education of coffee production to coffee consumers.
By the time our coffee reaches the hopper or drip station, it has traveled miles and has passed through many hands. I want all of my customers to not only have a great cup of coffee but also a better understanding of the process and effort that it took to adeptly prepare their beverage. In turn, I believe customers would appreciate the nuances of a pure, well-grown, cultivated, harvested, roasted, and brewed beverage.
What issue in coffee do you think is critically overlooked?
Sugar, milk, and decaf. I personally think people should enjoy whatever coffees they like. The specialty coffee industry is still too small. To be able to expand to broader audience, we should be more approachable to the general public.
Check out the full list of 2019 Sprudge Twenty honorees and read their remarkable interviews here. Presented in partnership with Pacific Barista Series.