Welcome to The Sprudge Twenty Interviews presented by Pacific Barista Series. For a complete list of 2022 Sprudge Twenty honorees please visit sprudge.com/twenty.
“Vic is one of a kind. As a Latinx non-binary person, Vic arrived on the DFW coffee scene like a force of nature while all their contemporary coffee leaders were predominately white males. Vic had the opportunity to live their dream when they were offered the job to create a coffee concept which became Lazy Daisy Coffee Co in Fort Worth, Texas. Vic tackled the challenges of opening a new coffee shop like a fish in water. Not only did they kick-started cafe operations off the ground, they developed a safe and inclusive cafe community while simultaneously holding space to be an ally and uplift other coffee businesses. Vic’s primary vision was to fly a flag of inclusivity completely earnestly—the team went out of their way to welcome every type of person, no matter how they identify, no matter their dietary restriction. A good example is in a simple symbol: Lazy Daisy is the only coffee shop with a pride flag on the front of the cafe. When the cafe opened, it was a smash hit and won Fort Worth Magazine’s Best New Coffee Shop in 2021. I see part of Vic’s success is in their altruistic nature, a quality that can be a double-edged sword in the coffee industry – you could expect to see Vic day and night helping around the cafe. The other part of Vic’s success is in having a protestor’s spirit: Vic is a natural leader, always willing to stand up for their beliefs, openly reject the status quo while constantly searching for ways to inspire progressive change for women, the Latinx community, and the LBGTQ community. During the pandemic, Vic was able to jump in to create solutions and raise concerns about safety in order to protect baristas in need. While working and training baristas at Fairwave Coffee Collective, they were patient, thorough, and validating. Like a true rockstar, I know Vic will find success everywhere they go.”
Nominated by Kathy Altamirano
Do you have a coffee-making ritual?
One of the first things I do when making coffee is choose the appropriate music vibes for the day. I am one of those people that constantly has to be listening to something in order to function properly. Other than that, I don’t feel my coffee making routine is entirely different from other coffee professionals. My go to vessels right now are the v60 and the Chemex (if i’m making coffee for my partner too!)
What is the quality you like best about coffee?
That’s a hard one. There’s so many great qualities when it comes to coffee: socially, culturally, and of course… flavor!
I’ve been drinking coffee since childhood, living in a Latinx household, it’s always been second nature to me. Coffee is not just a “wake up” regimen for me, it always created a gathering space for me, for family and friends. I also like brewing in the evening, especially after dinner.
I think the quality I like most is that it has no bounds. It’s a beverage that can be shared and consumed across the world. I could fly to another country at this very moment and still be able to appreciate the beverage I grew up enjoying. It’s something that has brought so many cultures together and praised across oceans. All around, it’s just a rad drink we all consume.
Best song to brew coffee to at the moment.
My go to vibes as of late have been a lot of “sad yeehaw.” Cowpoke by Colter Wall has been on repeat this week.
Do you have a favorite item of clothing to make coffee in?
Just some good ol’ pajamas and cozy socks. I’m pretty simple.
What was the last cup of coffee you enjoyed?
The last cup I really enjoyed was from Blip Coffee Roasters here in KCMO—it was a Costa Rica Naranjo. Not only are they close by to where I currently live, but they have consistently produced coffees that my partner and I both love.
What issue in coffee do you care about most?
Representation and diversity of peoples in the workplace is an ever-growing concern for me. Being a Queer-Latinx person, it has always been hard to see “myself” in other shops. This was one element that had me close to walking away in the past, because I always came to be the sole BIPOC person in a cafe. I didn’t feel I had people to connect with on a cultural level. It’s hard to work in an industry that is dominantly showcased by cisgendered white men, but this is also why I stay.
I want to be that person that shows other BIPOC/queer folks that we do belong in coffee, and this is a career we can pursue. I do see the change happening slowly across the US, but there is still so much more work to do. There are a plethora of practices that need to be radically altered in order for this industry to grow, especially a cafe’s social media. It is hard to walk into a cafe knowing that their social media presence is not celebrating the BIPOC community. There is a disconnect between those who desire to be in the coffee industry versus who is being displayed on a coffee shops social platform.
What cause or element in coffee drives you?
The fact that we are constantly learning more and more about coffee on a molecular level keeps me going. As we develop more tools and understand the science behind the mechanics of coffee and its equipment, I want to stick around to see the new discoveries!
What issue in coffee do you think is critically overlooked?
An issue that is highly overlooked, in my opinion, is hiring practices. For too long, cafes have only hired baristas that their staff recommends (typically friends). While this may be good in a bind, this is not helping the industry look outward at other people who may also be a great fit. Especially in a cafe that is predominantly cisgendered white men. Cafes fall into this endless cycle of hiring the same demographic based on this “hiring from the inner circle.”
The leadership of these cafes need to expand their practices in how they hire and where they post job listings. Expand their hiring process to those who do not have cafe experience! Most baristas who are already going to have “barista experience” are going to be in that typical demographic. If we make the change to hire outside these norms, we will start to see a small positive change of diversity within the application process.
Did you experience a “god shot” or life-changing moment of coffee revelation early in your life?
There was one specific coffee that really engrossed me into “oh my gosh – this is what coffee can taste like???” and it was a (I want to say) a blend called “Party” from Madcap Coffee. It was overwhelmingly fruity and chocolatey! I had never experienced coffee like this in my life. It gave me that light bulb moment of wanting to discover more and more coffees that could be this way. Coffee that could be so powerful and electric!
If you could have any job in the coffee industry, what would it be and why?
Truly, so long as I am in a position of Education and Training, I am at my happiest. I love to be able to teach baristas something new, and to witness those “a-ha!” moments. That accumulation of wholeness and worth builds in my heart when something clicks for someone in front of me. It just brings me so much gratification.
Who are your coffee heroes?
I don’t think I have specific heroes in mind. I am at a point where I am starting to follow every coffee professional I can on social media! Anyone who works in the coffee industry and tries to help create positive change is a hero in my eyes. I know that may seem tacky and not truly the answer that was being sought after, but there are just so many incredible humans trying to make a change in the field, I am overwhelmed by the thought of just describing a select few.
If you could drink coffee with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
SO MANY PEOPLE!
But if I had to choose one… it would have to be Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Other than coffee, I am also passionate about space and Astrophysics. I have always told myself that if I didn’t pursue coffee, I would pursue Theoretical Physics/Astronomy. I would love to sit and have coffee with him, and just listen to him talk about the cosmos.
Do you have any coffee mentors?
My closest mentor to me now would be Joe Marrocco. Since day one, he has shown nothing but praise and support for me. Not having many male role models in my life, Joe has been a light in the tunnel. He has helped me grow so much in a short time in my coffee career, I’m not sure how to put into words how much his guidance has meant to me. He has also been a dear friend to both my partner and I (and our dog, Bones). His efforts for creating growth in people has not gone unseen. His attention to detail and wealth of knowledge is impeccable. I hope to be as knowledgeable as him one day!
Another coffee mentor near and dear to my heart has been Kathy Altamirano. Kathy has been in my life for the past few years and our relationship has only grown since then. When she was at Counter Culture, she helped me in the opening of a shop I co-founded in Fort Worth, Texas. To see another woman of color working in coffee, helping other people of color, she is the actualization of a dream come true. She is one of the most authentic and caring people I have had the honor to meet. She has helped guide me in my darkest times, and championed me at my highest. Kathy is a perfect representation of what this industry should be.
What do you wish someone would’ve told you when you were first starting out in coffee?
Growth in coffee in not always going to be seamless. What we choose to do with our time should align with our happiness.
It is going to be an uphill battle, but the efforts will be worth it in the end.
Where do you see yourself in 2042?
Josh (my partner) and I’s dream is to hopefully live the rest of our lives in Japan. If we’re lucky, maybe I’ll be able to do something coffee orientated while there. Only time will tell!
The Sprudge Twenty Interviews are presented by Pacific Barista Series. For a complete list of 2022 Sprudge Twenty honorees please visit sprudge.com/twenty.