Hello everyone! Aashifa here, I am the new barista trainer at Well Grounded, I’m sure you’ve seen me floating around Well Grounded in many different capacities, but it is my absolute delight to introduce myself to you today and to write my first official blog-post about a subject that I feel so strongly about. Yep, that’s right, the title gave me away: International Women’s Day (IWD).

From my university career onwards, my personal drive and motivation has been to provide safe spaces for women, at first it was from a strictly educational perspective and has since evolved to include coffee; which is why I’m honoured to write about IWD.

The journey towards balance has begun

Here at Well Grounded, save for our Head of Coffee, Mark, the rest of the team is made up of powerful women. Over time, the coffee industry has witnessed the rise of the female coffee professionals, from the crowning of Agnieszka Rojewska (winner of the World Barista Championship 2018), through to a complete female judging panel for Barista League 2019. In addition to the aforementioned, we have celebrated the establishment of a female platform, dedicated to providing tangible coffee skills and helping women progress in the coffee industry – The Kore Directive. 

Big Hospitality reports that 32% of senior positions in hospitality are now occupied by women and that there has been a 3% increase from the previous year. As a woman, it is heartwarming to see these spaces become more balanced but there is much more that can be done.

To delve deeper into what this means for some female coffee professionals, I asked three questions to explore the theme #BalanceforBetter.

Kirsty, a Cafe Account Manager at KeepCup

What does #BalanceForBetter mean to you?

Redefining and eradicating the idea of “girls jobs and boys jobs”. It’s about seeing more women at the top (be that roasters or Barista Champions) – alongside elevating the status of the work done already by so many women of the coffee industry.

What does the industry look like to you?  

KeepCup is female-founded (Abigail Forsyth pictured) with a majority female leadership team. So often I see women pioneering and promoting Zero waste living, beach cleanups and environmental lobbying. The Coffee industry, on the other hand, can seem overwhelming male, especially at the most visible levels.

The Coffee World is however incredibly open to change – which I’ve seen through the transformation in attitudes to re-use and disposable coffee cups in such a short space of time. Coffee Shops were once seen as the biggest contributors to plastic waste, and now they’re at the front line of change. This fills me with confidence we’ll see the same transformative action in terms of gender inclusivity.

What changes would you like to see in the coffee industry that will make it feel more balanced for you?  

Seeing or hearing about more female roasters – there are plenty out there but judging panels and events still feel male-dominated. A move away from the tradition of women as front of house and men as roasters back of house. It exists across the food and drink industry (waitress/chef – barstaff/brewer) and I’d love to see coffee lead the change.

Carolyn, Content creator and full-time Freelance Barista

What does #BalanceForBetter mean to you?

A discussion we all need to have in order to achieve a balance between all genders. It is inclusive, does not discriminate, and considers all conversations. Balance is absolutely key.

What does the industry look like to you?  

I feel very lucky, working predominantly in the London space, as there are so many friggen rad women operating in the space. Real change is happening and we are all helping to drive that. Although we have a lot to work towards, I’m really enjoying this warm, and supportive environment we are creating – like putting on your favourite fuzzy cardigan.

What changes would you like to see in the coffee industry that will make it feel more balanced for you?  

I want to see more women in roles beyond working in the cafe/restaurant. I want to see more men make an effort to empathise with how we feel in the industry and actively work towards achieving a balance for all of us.

When writing this I was interested to see the diversity in responses, and more than that the common thread that they all share: ever-growing hope and optimism about potential change.

Gabriella, Co-Founder of Morgon Coffee Roasters

What does #BalanceForBetter mean to you?

Everyone would gain in this industry (and the whole world for that matter) being more equal, not just women and non-binary people. We’ve got so much to learn from each other and I know that there are so many perspectives and so much knowledge that never makes it out there because we´re not given the same opportunities to share it…The industry would be so much more progressive, open and fun if we could make it more diverse.


What does the industry look like to you?  

It really depends on what I’m doing and where I’m doing it, but in general I feel like I always have to overachieve to be noticed. It’s not enough to just be good at something, I have to be the best for people to care. No one would ever assume I know how to roast, fix a machine or come up with a recipe for espresso. We can have a nice conversation but as soon as someone wants to know something about roasting, technical stuff, machines or an opinion on something they always turn to my male colleges and assume they know it better than me…but I also do feel like it´s getting better and I believe that in the upcoming years we’ll have some huge changes in the way this industry works and thinks. More and more people are addressing the issue.

What changes would you like to see in the coffee industry that will make it feel more balanced for you?

I believe everyone can help and make a difference even if it’s small, and I do think all of us are kind of stuck in old patterns and structures and need to start thinking in a different way for the changes to be seen.

What’s Next?

This year, we wanted to celebrate women in different parts of the industry, and as a woman of colour it is heartwarming to see that female coffee professionals are creating their own spaces. So, now we ask you dear reader, what is next? We warmly encourage you to think of the concept of ‘balance’ and what that might mean to you. Here at Well Grounded, from the very beginning our mission, has been about equality and diversity; the space we curate for our training aims to be nurturing, and empowering, and we hope that through our actions this is being echoed further in the industry.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Aashifa Hussain, Barista Trainer