Boss Ladies of Coffee: Elizabeth Chai

I met Elizabeth Chai in real life last year in Kansas City (the qualifying event). But I first knew of her when I learned she was doing a big camper coffee crawl across the US from Atlanta to Portland, where she is based now. Liz is a “coffee + design” graphic designer, illustrator, and photographer. We also have shared interests in donuts, dessert, and craft sodas. If you run into her at a coffee event, she’ll likely be dressed up in a colorful vintage fabric dress with a camera in hand.

In the last year, we’ve been fortunate to run into each other often enough that I could set up a short photo session and interview. It’s not often that I’m able to photograph and interview someone else who does similar work as me. I think highlighting other fellow freelancers in coffee can help others realize that there are other careers in coffee that may be outside the “norm.”

On a side note, while we do have some similar interests, I hope this interview also highlights how we are not the same person (please stop mixing us up at events).

Read More


Boss Ladies of Coffee: Bethany Hargrove

Like many of my real-life coffee friends, I first met Bethany on social media. Her sassy, brutally honest tweets were a refreshing escape from the carefully curated streams many of us (myself included) have adopted.

I met Bethany in real life this year at USCC sectionals in Kansas City. She qualified for nationals & I was fortunate enough to run into her in Atlanta. I took a quick snap and sent over some interview questions.

Read More


Boss Ladies of Coffee: Reneé Blanchard

On her favorite coffee memory, Reneé described a picturesque scene in Vienna. “My favorite places were seating in incredibly old cafes in Vienna watching the servers run back and forth, sipping on rich lattes with the fullest of fat milk and sampling dark chocolate tarts. It just transforms you. It makes you part of that cultural history of great art and music.”

This magical scene, of culture and community, is one she hopes to invoke in her own cafe.

church-alley-coffee-boss-ladies-3

New Orleans has a long history of cafe culture – one that I confess I’m not entirely familiar with. Despite this, I find a sense of community and acceptance here. Perhaps it’s the history. Perhaps it’s the decaying buildings. Or perhaps it’s the passion of coffee people like Renee who are driving change in the city.

“We lounge here in New Orleans in an expert manner,” Reneé tells me.

This is true. In my six days there, I felt like I had the richest of foods paired with the least amount of physical exertion.

“We are about the experience, not just the taste, which has led us on a long trajectory to find specialty coffee. It makes it not just a science of the best dialed in coffees, but a real experience of tasting and enjoying.” A stroll in New Orleans will bring you to street-side brass bands and colorful facades. There is no doubt that the environment influenced the food culture.

Beau (full name: Beausoleil Broussard) keeps a close eye on the cafe.

Beau (full name: Beausoleil Broussard) keeps a close eye on the cafe.

It takes a certain skill & character set to own a business, let alone a service-oriented one. What happens when work lends itself to repetition and exhaustion?

Reneé names two sources of inspiration that keep her going:

  1. Regulars. “When a customer walks in not knowing anything about us or me them, and them leaving with a little more understanding of our shop and me hearing a little piece about their lives. I love hearing people’s stories.”
  2. Palate development. “I love challenging myself with other foods and drinks, then bringing that knowledge back to the shop when I’m dialing in. It’s surprisingly, extremely satisfying.”

church-alley-coffee-boss-ladies-2

Read More