BGA Chapter Representative Runoff Election

At the completion of the 2011 BGA Election cycle, candidates from the North East and South West regions received the same number of votes for their respective candidacy positions. Due to the tie, a runoff election will be held Friday April 22 - Friday April 29, 2011 for BGA Members in the North East and South West regions only. Members may choose one of two candidates listed on the ballot and no write in candidates will be accepted.

If you are a member of the North East or South West region:


Northeast Chapter Representative (NH, VT, ME, MA, RI, CT, NY)

Park Brannen, Cafe Grumpy, Brooklyn, NY

How are you involved with Coffee? How does this role fit into the BGA? I am a barista in the the most literal sense of the word. I work full time for at the very busy Cafe Grumpy serving specialty coffee daily. If the Barista Guild is a place to grow and learn the craft of specialty coffee preparation, I consider myself to be very at home with ideals of mission statement.

Why might you be considered leadership material? I strive to give the best prepared beverages possible in every situation I come across daily, as well as deliver the knowledge I have to the public in every instance perceivable. I aim to be a beacon of knowledge for those who wish to learn. I take no shortcuts in my preparations, or any other efforts for that matter, and consider what I do not only an art, but a privilege. There are so many other participants in the timeline of the specific coffees that I serve everyday and I only hope that I can do them, and most importantly the coffee, justice. This is what I consider to be what makes me a leader.

What are some accomplishments you would like to see happen in the future of the BGA and/or SCAA? I would like to see the BGA and SCAA reach out to those who are not already within the innermost circle of involvement. It is a fantastic thing to see continued participation from those cafes and professionals that have consistently associated with both of our organizations, and to grow it would be fantastic. Specialty coffee is picking up steam every day, and with the continued efforts of the dedicated professionals in the SCAA and BGA we can expect this trend to stretch out to those organizations not like our own. We're able to do good through coffee and it is exciting to think that even more people could get some of this goodness.

Todd Mackey, New Harvest Roasters, Pawtucket, RI

How are you involved with Coffee? How does this role fit into the BGA? I am a trainer and sales representative for New Harvest Coffee Roasters in Providence, RI. The majority of my time is spent working closely with the folks who are turning our roasted coffee into delicious beverages. My work and passion has been, and will continue to be, exciting, inspiring, learning from, and teaching those who are crafting coffee professionally. I feel that this is directly in line with the goals of the Barista Guild of America; to take seriously the role of the barista as a culinary professional.

Why might you be considered leadership material? I am leadership material because I wash dishes... ...I believe in hard work and 'the journey'...that it is not an arrival in this industry but more so a progression through experiences. These experiences vary individual to individual and our strength is in sharing them in order to learn from one another. I love specialty coffee because it is not structured like a ladder. It is more like a roundabout where we find ourselves spinning around and centered on the bean...growers, roasters, baristas, buyers, etc....not one more or less integral than the other. Leadership in this industry is manifest in the sharing of knowledge and experience; both of which I am committed to doing to whatever degree my learning and experience allow. I have shown this commitment through community organization in my co-founding of the Providence Coffee Society. PCS hosts events, lectures, and social gatherings in order to promote specialty coffee and cafe culture in RI.

What are some accomplishments you would like to see happen in the future of the BGA and/or SCAA? I would love to see an east coast / northeast Pull-a-Shot - I would work hard to make the BGA classes and certifications more widely available in my region - I would like to see more (and regional) events that promote the dialogue between all roles within specialty (roasters, baristas, growers, buyers, etc.).

Southwest Chapter Representative (NV, AZ, NM)

Steve Kraus, Press Coffee Roasters, Scottsdale, AZ

How are you involved with Coffee? How does this role fit into the BGA? You ask how does this role fit into the BGA, well quite frankly we are on the forefront of a major movement, I witness it daily. I tell my employees each day that if you can educate one customer everyday with just a little bit more knowledge about specialty coffee, then we are one more person closer to creating a movement that will change the outlook on coffee going forward. I take pride in our product and take initiatives to improve where I can, both from a barista level and an educational role. If I can take a larger role going forward, and spread the knowledge I gain from the BGA then its one step closer to increasing the knowledge to those willing to learn.

Why might you be considered leadership material? I started Press Coffee Roasters in 2008 and have developed two retail locations and a roasting operation a year ago. I started my education process by attending the American Barista School and multiple Coffee Fests and SCAA’s. Press Coffee thrives on the continued education of not only our employees but each consumer that comes through the door. We do weekly cupping’s, roasting education and consumer training. Starting some of the first barista jams in Phoenix we’ve also have been featured in Barista Magazine and have collectively started what we believe will be the largest latte art throw-down in the southwest this coming September, being held at Phoenix's largest culinary festival, Phoenix Cooks ( The first event generated 16 baristas however this year we have been given a full on stage to really showcase to the public what true barista craft is!! This event will be open to baristas anywhere and I hope continue to make this an annual event to share with the coffee world. This is a great start but more importantly we continue to make strides with hiring those that want to take on the passion for coffee, learn the “true” skill and spread the word.

What are some accomplishments you would like to see happen in the future of the BGA and/or SCAA? I'd like to see more direct roles by BGA representatives by assisting regional baristas gain more knowledge on how to have a more direct role in creating a larger coffee community. I'd like to see the BGA take more initiative in helping to assist in larger events created by coffee shops in our respective communities, how does this work, it starts with the council and it makes its way to the representatives. Sponsors, sponsorships will assist us in assisting the smaller communities in recognizing that the BGA is truly a group that supports all baristas. If elected one of the first things I'd like to see made available is much easier way to become certified. This may sound as if I'm beating a dead horse, but quite frankly most baristas cant afford to fly and attend these large trade shows, therefore we need to make it available to them locally. Having elected test/class administrators would be a great start.

Brian Clemens, Mulch Coffee, Scottsdale, AZ

How are you involved with Coffee? How does this role fit into the BGA?

I am currently developing a coffee bar concept that will launch in Scottsdale, Arizona this fall. The goal with the concept is to introduce specialty coffee to the community in a fresh/open learning environment. As a partner in Mulch Coffee, I’m continuously learning how to develop training curriculum, develop baristas, and explain our industry to the average Joe. Beyond my role in Mulch Coffee, I’ve worked with four other coffee shops here in Phoenix in various capacities.

This year I took full advantage of my BGA membership, volunteering at the SCAA trade show, taking personal development classes, and judging at this year’s Southwest Barista Competition.

Although I haven’t worked full-time behind an espresso bar for nearly five months, I’ve furthered my craft through classes, holding training programs, and being actively involved in the coffee community here in Arizona. I’m excited to get back behind a bar this fall and represent specialty coffee to the community and beyond.

Why might you be considered leadership material?

When deciding to apply for a position whether vocational or extracurricular, I evaluate all aspects of the role and my current duties. From there I decide if I’m able to rise to the challenge. No matter the role, I’ve always given 110% to an organization, company, or team. I have high expectations for myself and allocate the proper time to fulfill every role I hold.

A leader in the specialty coffee community is personable, honest, engaging, and vulnerable. Yes, I said vulnerable. They know that the only way to further themselves is to admit what they know and what they don’t know. A leader is always a student, honest with the limit of their knowledge, but thirsty to learn more. I possess an optimistic outlook for our industry and craft. I’m open to feedback and desire to further progress our craft through collaborative events, seminars, and training.

What are some accomplishments you would like to see happen in the future of the BGA and/or SCAA?

I’d like to see more streamlined training programs. This year I had the ability to take the BGA Barista 1 exam and the Barista 1 Examiner Certification courses. I drove 400 miles to take the exams and had the side benefit of meeting Heather Perry, Marcus Boni, and Ellie Matuszak. We need to take the knowledge portion of these courses online and certify more representatives in the individual states to administer exams. any smaller localized events using resources available would be more beneficial than one large regional training event. Speaking for Arizona, I’m in the process of organizing “Barista Happy Hour”; where baristas interact outside the walls of their individual shops discussing processes and helping one another grow in knowledge, service, and as coffee ambassadors. The goal is to build relationships within the coffee community and increase our standards and knowledge at the same time. Relationships matter! It is easier to receive feedback from a friend than a stranger. I’d like to see smaller events that bring together both BGA and non-BGA baristas to discuss the craft and ultimately develop camaraderie. These events will help increase BGA membership and retention. One more thing that I would like to see happen in the future of the BGA is a “How to take advantage of your membership” campaign. When you pay into an organization you weigh the opportunity and cost. A “how to take advantage of your membership” campaign would entice prospective members to take their membership development into their own hands.

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