Kelly Reviews… Access Austin!

By Kelly Hill, Temple Coffee Director of Education

For the last six years, Temple has sent baristas to Barista Camp, an event put on by the Specialty Coffee Association and the Barista Guild of America. This year, however, the BGA decided to put on a different kind of event in Austin, Texas that they felt could be more accessible to all coffee professionals rather than just baristas. This new event, called Access, would last two days instead of four and would not include hotel accommodations, effectively reducing the registration cost by over $500. A variety of classes were scheduled to suit the needs of all kinds of coffee people, such as “Water Chemistry, Beyond the H2O”, “Starting Your Own Café”, and “Dissecting the Espresso Machine”.

Fast forward a month or so later and fellow trainer, Elise, and I are on a plane to Austin so we can attend the very first Access event. We signed up for different courses so we could get the most out of the event. I had also signed up to help assist in two of the courses (“Cherry to Seed: Experiments in Fermentation” and “Crafting Seasonal Espresso Beverages”).

I have attended or taught at three Barista Camps in the past and Access definitely proved to be a different scene. I can’t be sure if it was just my mindset or the event itself but it felt more “grown-up”. The classes and seminars were more focused on career paths than how to dial-in a grinder. For example, the “Crafting Seasonal Espresso Beverages” class was helpful to both shop owners working on menu plans and also to the curious barista looking for inspiration. The keynote speaker gave a talk focused on social media and how to market yourself or your company. It was not only incredibly relevant but also helpful to those seeking jobs or trying to promote their brand.

The overall vibe at Access was incredibly positive and progressive. I took part in and observed inclusive conversations about diversity, community events, and the wage gap. Unlike previous BGA and SCA events, I also noticed that the male to female ratio was the most equal I had ever seen. Many of the speakers, instructors, and organizers were women, which was really refreshing to see.

After-class activities included a latte art throw down hosted by a local coffee shop (complete with Texas BBQ!), a mixer, and a meet-and-greet hosted by a local women’s group called She Brews. Attending BGA and SCA events has certainly helped shape my career here at Temple and Access didn’t disappoint. I left feeling like I had outgrown some of the previous courses and am ready for new challenges. My hope is that I can stay in touch with the Sacramento and greater coffee community by hosting events of my own. I am very fortunate for Temple to have the means and resources to send myself and other employees out to events like Access and Barista Camp, so I want to take those ideas home to share not only with the Temple Team but with all of my Sacramento coffee people. For more information on the SCA and the BGA, please visit their websites at sca.coffee and baristaguildofamerica.net.