Eight Ounce Coffee is putting the spotlight on marginalized baristas to amplify their voices and recognize their often overlooked hard work. Great baristas power cafés and the communities they serve with a mastery of their craft, excitement to keep learning, and compassion for others. Join us in celebrating them! This July, the Barista Spotlight shines on Danielle Pitterman from Pilot Coffee Roasters.
Tell us the story of how your relationship with specialty coffee began.
I worked at Starbucks, and was ready to learn more about coffee and less about syrups. I applied to a position at Sweet Jesus, they carry De Mello coffee, and that's where I learned the basics, dialing in, palate development, how to prep a shot, how to tamp, and Felix [Cha] even hosted a cupping for our team.
Describe a moment in your career that left a lasting impression on you.
I've gotta say, hands down, the cupping Felix held for our team. At the cupping, I really fell in love with coffee, how it is so diverse, so flexible but sensitive, and how one can get a complete sense of joy from how tasty a cup can be! We learned so much from him, and he was so patient with us, given we hadn't ever been to a cupping before. Thank you, Felix!
What coffee topics do you wish were explored further and discussed more often in the coffee community?
I wish we talked more about diversity, bias, and community.
What are some of the goals you would like the specialty coffee industry to achieve this year?
I would love to see the specialty coffee industry reach beyond the horizons we currently hold in our grasp. I would love to see us reach into our communities, minority and impoverished. I would love to see us make a difference by supporting each other, and actively participating in change, not just making statements of support. Above all else, I would love to see the way we do things at our shops change; we need to find a way to give our skilled baristas the support they both need and deserve. I'm talking about insurance and a fair wage; we do what we love, and are skilled in what we do, and I know it is possible for us to be better and do better, both to and for ourselves, and others.
Is there a charity or organization you would like to highlight?
The Black Youth Helpline is not spoken of too often, but I would like to call attention to what they do. They are a support system for black youth. They provide psychological assistance, they have a helpline, parent and family support, and even referral services if you need more help. I know how essential they are, especially in our current climate, and the entire community can benefit, by keeping this organization alive.
Please let us know if there are any additional stories you would like to share!
I just wanted to say thank you to Michelle Ocfemia for showing me what passion for coffee, leadership, compassion, and fairness really looks like all rolled into one.