~ Coffee trading, life in San Diego and industry insight with Dana Andrews ~
We've been long-time fans of the crew at InterAmerican Coffee, and we're thrilled to work with them every year for Caffeine Crawls. Dana Andrews, Trader at the San Diego office, was kind enough to chat with us about life as a green coffee trader, a women in the coffee industry, and an all-around awesome person. Enjoy!
The LAB: On your trips to origin, what has been the most impactful experience?
Dana: Getting to see firsthand the hard work and dedication it takes to produce quality coffee. It gives me purpose and excitement representing their stories and struggles when I am selling their coffee. Every time I travel to a farm, there is at least one "I can't believe this is my life" moment. Sometimes it's about how beautiful the region or farm are, but most times it is an unspoken connection to the farmer. Even if we don't speak the same language, there is a coffee bond over the enjoyment of all things coffee.
The LAB: So amazing! I love that coffee holds that platform for connection. What's your favorite part of working at InterAmerican Coffee?
Dana: Getting to work around inspiring individuals who are passionate about coffee. I feel very supported by my co-workers and company. Most of us have been working together for years and have become good friends. A lot of us have been working for IAC for many years which allows me to build lasting friendships with my officemates!
The LAB: As a woman in the coffee industry, what do you see as being the biggest current obstacles?
Dana: I feel very fortunate that I work in a very “unusual” office, in the sense that we have 8 women and 1 man working here. It gives me the perception that I can take on anything and succeed. It is important to have that confidence because it is a male dominated industry; most roasters, green buyers, and traders especially are men. Across cultural borders, I feel like I have to work harder to be taken seriously and be seen as a business professional. In origin countries women are typically the ones processing the coffee while the men “sell” the coffee. In some countries I have traveled to, women may not be legally allowed to own land or have their own bank account. This is hard to see and digest. We (all women in coffee) have made great steps in the right direction, but it is a global issue - not just a coffee issue - and we need to continue to address it.
The LAB: What's your go-to morning beverage?
Dana: Water and coffee, maybe a protein shake for breakfast. Coffee is a Chemex brew at work and a V60 at home on the weekends.
The LAB: What are some ways baristas can better 'tune in' to the coffee industry in coffee-producing countries? Is there anything you wish U.S. baristas were more aware of?
Dana: I think a lot of the responsibility lies on management and owners to inspire baristas to learn and give them the opportunity to attend trade shows and travel where the barista’s budget may allow them to do so. I am pretty impressed with the 2016 generation of baristas and would only encourage them to continue to travel on their own dime if the opportunity isn’t there. I paid for my first origin trip because I wanted to learn… just a matter of how bad you want it.
The LAB: That's a great point, and we're always thrilled to see management and owners investing in baristas on that level when possible!
The LAB: What are your top three favorite music artists right now?
Dana: I listen to a little bit of everything and tend to change my mind often when it comes to music. Right now on my play list includes Flume, Made in Heights, and Jaymes Young.
The LAB: As someone on the green coffee side of things, what areas do you see the average specialty coffee consumer 'missing out on' as far as info and connection to the farmers?
Dana: If an average consumer is interested in “specialty” coffee, they usually care about what’s “hot”. I think they can sometimes miss out on building a lasting relationship with a coffee, or farm because our culture is so focused on what’s new and different. It is important to remember you are drinking a person’s hard work and livelihood. Celebrating the seasonality of coffee and anticipating how a farmer's coffee will taste each year is a beautiful thing. Like wine, coffee has good years and great years based on so many factors.
The LAB: If your life was a movie, what would it be called? What celebrity would play you?
Dana: It would have to be a trilogy because nothing I do or say is brief! But Ashley Judd would play me, as people often call her my doppelganger.
The LAB: Totally see it!
The LAB: What's the best thing about living in San Diego?
Dana: It has a very inclusive and growing coffee scene that welcomed me with open arms when I moved here. Everyone wants to share knowledge and help each other make and serve better coffee. It is also a hard place to complain about. It has gorgeous weather and in my experience most people are very friendly, healthy and active here!
The LAB: We feel you there - San Diego is one of our team favorites as far as Crawl cities go! What's your go-to downtime activity?
Dana: I love to be outdoors, doing anything active, playing basketball, and hitting up local coffee shops!
The LAB: Awesome. Thanks so much for sharing, Dana! Looking forward to our next trip to sunny San Diego. Cheers!