Empowering Folks Just By Being Themself
Tell us about your coffee journey!
My dad was a Japanese tea ceremony master so I actually started out in tea. After watching David Schomer's espresso DVD, I ended up switching to coffee. Since then I've moved through many different areas of the coffee sector, from barista work to developing instant coffee technology. I got my Q certification in 2017. In 2019 I started selling rainbow cupping spoons as a tool of empowerment for coffee people who hold marginalized identities and often experience marginalization at the cupping table. The spoons took off way more quickly than I ever thought, and that's how I ended up selling gay spoons as my full-time job.
What coffees do you get most excited about?
As an Asian person, I love coffees from Asian coffee growing regions, many of which are considered "emerging" in the specialty sector. Philippine coffees and Vietnamese coffees, including fine Robustas, are some of my favorites. I also love natural-processed coffees from Ethiopia. That's the OG coffee and I respect it so much. Like, what is not to love about coffees that taste like fruit and chocolate chip cookies? And I also love the coffees that some consider "basic" - clean, balanced, washed coffees in the 84-85 point range. I think some coffee people take those coffees for granted but they really are so delicious. I love and appreciate a wide range of coffees and roast levels and I love that there's something for everyone. Even if I taste a coffee that I don't prefer, I know that someone else will enjoy it and I appreciate the incredible work that went into it.
What does non-binary visibility mean to you?
At some point in the past year I added the word "nonbinary" to my social media profiles. I mostly did this because I was getting misgendered quite a bit and called lady, girl, woman, etc.. It didn't really stop the misgendering but something else happened that surprised me: I started getting a lot of messages from people who felt encouraged and validated by my visibility as a nonbinary person. Like if I can be a nonbinary person succeeding in the coffee industry, they can be that too and they're not alone. I think it's really cool that I can help nonbinary folks feel more confident in their chosen field, just by being myself.