Sprudge: Imposter syndrome and barista health



Over the course of two months, I submitted four pieces to Sprudge. One was a piece that examined how imposter syndrome manifested itself in the specialty coffee industry and the other three formed a series on coffee professional health.


Each piece had multiple interview sources, including a variety of coffee professionals and expert testimonials. For some, I also went through research studies to find the most applicable to use in the pieces. The words are all mine, the illustrations were done in-house at Sprudge.

Impostor Syndrome Is Real—And It’s Happening In Coffee

I’ve long been fascinated by the feeling of imposterism. Was I the only person feeling like I was “faking it until you make it” (except that I kept waiting for the “make it” part)? How did culture and race play a role in my thought process?

It turns out that these feelings affect nearly everyone in the world, but not everyone can easily identify them as such. They keep us in check, but also prevent us from getting to our full potential.

One of the ways that one can work with the feelings of impostorism, says Dr. Cokley, is to “have a working environment where people feel comfortable sharing one’s sort of vulnerability.” Having open conversations about these feelings is important, especially when they’re coming from industry professionals who have achieved a high level of success.

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From The Sole: Barista Health Starts In The Feet

Part 1 of the health series began with examining foot care. Baristas and roasters stand on their feet all day. I talk to people who have had back issues that stemmed from the feet & discussed solutions with a podiatrist who is familiar with service professionals’ physical issues.

“Standing for long periods of time causes specific muscular-skeletal problems, especially tightness,” explains Dr. Susan Choe, doctor of podiatric medicine and founder of Elevate Podiatry. “I see a lot of people who develop tendonitis, aches, and pain just from being static.”

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Yoga And The Better Balanced Barista

Part 2 of the series moves into self care and how yoga can play a role in it. Those who practice yoga praise both the physical and mental benefits of it, which could be uniquely suited for those in a service environment.

He’s been practicing yoga for 12 years and observes that it keeps a check on his perfectionism and “control over anxiety tendencies.” The “analyzing and micro-analyzing very minute changes” that comes with coffee roasting can make anyone hypercritical. Harrison explains that yoga “has really helped me have a healthy perspective on that and helped me relax a bit.”

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Mental Health In The Service Industry: Confronting The Stigma

Wrapping up the health series is an overall view of how mental health in the workplace plays out in the specialty coffee industry. From missed work to panic attacks to employers firing people for revealing illnesses, it’s time to speak up about how common this is in our industry. For a balanced piece, I also included interviews with an HR professional and psychologist with specialties in the workplace health.

Bruton says the issue is oftentimes the employer doesn’t know what’s hurting them. “They can see people working for them who are not as productive as they wish they would be,” she says. “But they don’t know what the problem is so they don’t know how to deal with the problem.”

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