Women in Coffee, Part Two: Industry

In celebration of International Women’s Month, I want to pay homage to several women and organizations who are furthering both the coffee cause, and the empowerment of women. Without their hands, without their hard work and effort, the coffee industry would be in a much worse place – coffee lovers everywhere owe a massive dedicate of gratitude to these unsung heroes.

In today’s installment of Women in Coffee, we focus on women who are making an impact on the industry.

If you know of any other women that should be mentioned here, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to be able to keep adding to this list year after year.

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Trish Rothgeb

Trish is the owner, green coffee buyer, and roastmaster of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters and is famous for coining the term “Third Wave.”

Her experience in the industry spans over 20 years as a coffee roaster, green coffee buyer, and teacher of all things coffee. An avid traveler in coffee growing regions worldwide, she teaches “cupping” to coffee producers and coffee professionals around the world.

Trish is a licensed Q-Grader and credentialed Q Trainer by the Coffee Quality Institute. She has served on the SCAA’s Roasters Guild Executive Council, was a charter member of the World Barista Championship Board of Directors and a founding member of the Barista Guild of America.

Starting in early 2013, Trish began work on staff with the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) as the Director of Programs: Q and Educational Services.

Ellie Hudson-Matuszak

Ellie Hudson is Director of Professional Development for SCAA. After two terms of service to SCAA’s Board of Directors and serving as Chair of the SCAA Professional Development Committee, Ellie joined SCAA as full-time staff in February 2010.
Ellie’s experience in specialty coffee began at SCAA member company Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, where she was Director of Training & Knowledge; and later at  member company Coffee Solutions as Vice President of Training & Operations.
Ellie has participated in the design of many of SCAA’s training programs including the Instructor Development Program and activity with virtually all of SCAA’s Committees & Councils including the Roasters Guild and Barista Guild. In 2013,
Ellie completed a 4-year term of service to the Board of Advisors for World Coffee  Events. Ellie enjoys searching for ways to manage and develop the most meaningful educational content possible for SCAA’s members at SCAA’s North America-based events and throughout the world through management of the SCAA International  Education Partnership Licensing Program.
When away from work, Ellie is an avid runner and enjoys playing volleyball and softball, and skiing.

Anette Moldvaer

Anette Moldvaer is the roaster and co-founder of London’s Square Mile Coffee Roasters.

Anette is very successful and highly regarded in the specialty coffee community, roasting some of the best coffees in the world and taking first place in the World Coffee Cup Tasting in 2007.

There are very few female business owners in the UK coffee scene and even fewer roasters—Anette represents both and excels in the industry.


Bronwen Serna

Bronwen Serna loves coffee and people. A practicing barista since 2000, she earned the Western Regional Barista Championship 2002-2003, holds 4th place in the United States Barista Championship 2003-2004, and holds the U.S. Barista Championship for 2004-2005. She also fared very well at the 2014 Big Western Regional Barista Championship.

Currently, Bronwen roasts for Vashon Coffee Company, slings caffeine at Joe Bar, and consults independently as a barista trainer.

Laila Ghambari

When Laila Ghambari was 16, she started making coffee at a Seattle coffee shop which her family owns—Cherry Street. She went on to work at such esteemed coffee companies as BARISTA, Urban Coffee Lounge, Stumptown, and even became the Director of Education at Caffe Ladro, to broaden her coffee perspective. She and also served as the Northwest rep for the Barista Guild of America.

Her career recently came full circle as she transitioned into the role of Director of Coffee at Cherry Street.

The first place winner of the 2014 Big Western Barista Championship, Laila is hugely successful and influential in the coffee world.

Sarah Dooley

Sarah is the Customer Experience & Coffee Education Coordinator for La Marzocco USA. Sarah has spent many years in the coffee world with a keen focus on the umbrella “Quality” should cover.

She is also the proprietor of Market Coffee Project, which is a group of specialized folks who collaborate to bring unique solutions to coffee programs. Her vision for MCP was to provide an umbrella for various coffee industry needs. Whether espresso or coffee training, marketing, web design, or business planning, MCP supports the individual goal or an entire business from conception to delivery.

Talya Strader

Talya Strader wanted to open her own coffee shop since the age of 12, loving the communal nature of such a business. She worked at Intelligentsia for five and a half years before leaving to become the retail manager of Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.

Strader was inspired by the camaraderie she witnessed while competing in the National Barista Championships and wanted to develop a similar community in Chicago, so she also founded the New Gotham Coffee Community. New Gotham connects local roasters and coffee lovers through monthly competitions and educational events.

Alexandra LittleJohn

Alexandra LittleJohn is whirlwind of activity in the specialty coffee community, once serving as the Director of Operations for Portola Coffee Lab before going on to become Business Development Manager for Verve Coffee Roasters, where she still works today.

She’s also a very active member of the Barista Guild of America, serving as an Executive Council Member. Recently, LittleJohn started up a podcast about all things specialty coffee, called Coffee Uncut.

Shannon Knuckles

Hopeless coffee romantic. Seasoned professional. Foodie extraordinaire. Fierce competitor. Relentless learner. Woman warrior. Mama bird.

Shannon Knuckles is the roaster, green buyer, brew specialist, and all-around expert of Passion House Coffee Roasters.

She’s also an integral part of the New Gotham Coffee Community, helping to organize events such as throwdowns, brewing competitions, and education classes. She recently organized a “women in coffee” in Chicago, in which attendees cupped coffees roasted by female roasters.

Andi C. Trindle Mersch

Andi C. Trindle Mersch works with Atlantic Specialty Coffee, running the quality control lab and trading green coffee. She is a very active member of the specialty coffee industry, with extensive origin and teaching experience and volunteer contributions. Andi has volunteered with the SCAA since 1998 and joined the board of directors in March 2010. Her varied background within the specialty coffee industry began behind the espresso bar in 1989 and, since then, includes cupping, training/consulting, green coffee trading, roast quality control, sales, writing, and marketing.

She has published articles with Roast Magazine and Specialty Coffee Retailer, as well as contributed to Fresh Cup, Coffee and Cocoa International, and Coffee Talk.

Andi served 5 years on the board of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, including a one-year term as President.

Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen has been a driving force in the international barista movement from its outset, writing thoughtfully and compellingly about the barista craft, as well as contributing numerous stories on the subculture of baristas to multiple magazines and newspapers.

Sarah has worked in a variety of editorial positions in her 20 years of professional publishing experience, as a staff writer for The Oakland Tribune in the San Francisco Bay Area; as a staff writer for The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Ore.; as a freelance writer for such publications as WebMD,The Los Angeles Times Magazine, and The Hollywood Reporter; and as the Editor of Fresh Cup Magazine.

Sarah and her husband quit their day jobs and founded Barista Magazine in 2005. The magazine has subscribers in 78 countries and has become the go-to publication for the specialty coffee industry. She travels internationally to speak at barista conferences, cover competitions, attend Barista Nation events, and much more.


Christy Thorns

gcr-16-WCR-4Christy Thorns is the green coffee buyer for Colorado basedAllegro Coffee Company and their parent company Whole Foods Markets. She began her coffee career at Allegro in 1994 as a member of the roasting team. After roasting for six years, she continued to build on her coffee education as a trainer, traffic manager, barista, and assistant coffee buyer.

Christy took over as buyer in 2002 and is currently purchasing green coffees from over 25 different countries. She travels frequently to origin, sourcing top quality coffees and building long-term relationships with producers and was instrumental in establishing a relationship with the CODEMU women’s group (Comité de Mujeres de Aprocassi) – a group of female coffee producers who belong to the Aprocassi Cooperative in Peru.

Christy is a proud member of the Roaster’s Guild.

Cora Lambert

Cora_Lambert_Portrait2Cora Lambert is the owner and co-founder of Box Kite Coffee in New York City.

She has over a decade of experience working as a barista, trainer, consultant, and even a mixologist, representing the specialty coffee industry for Tales of the Cocktail.. Cora got her start as a QC and manager of Think Coffee, worked at Sasha Petraske’s Mercury Dime, and opened the very successful RBC NYC in TriBeCa, where she held the post of Director of Coffee and General Manager. This Spring, Lambert will pursue her longime passion and interest in cocktails by going to work at Milk & Honey.

A few years ago, in response to an ill-advised tweet from a coffee company, Cora started the #YesEqual campaign – a meme that, with the help of Sprudge, went viral throughout the specialty coffee industry.



Ashley Moody

Ashley Moody has a long history with coffee—it practically runs in her veins!

Ashley’s family is nearly considered royalty in Bolivian coffee, as they are the founders of Bolivia’s Best Coffee, an organization whose proceeds are donated in full to rescuing orphans in the cities and jungles of Bolivia.

She currently works as a manager for Starbucks in downtown Chicago, helps cup and review coffees for A Table in the Corner of the Cafe, is a self-proclaimed Chalkboard Consultant for local cafes, and is the creator of Life’s a Grind—a coffee-centric workplace web comic that focus on the antics of the employees of The Second Crack.

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Did you like this? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome here at the Table! Pull up a chair and speak your mind by entering a comment below. If you know of any amazing women in coffee, please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me know about them. I’ll be updating this entry throughout the month. Also remember to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

  • Catarina

    Love this so much! It’s great to see the women behind the coffee doing amazing things and making a mark in the industry.