Takeaways

1

Baylee Engberg, Pacific Northwest account manager for Ally Coffee and the managing director of She’s the Roaster, got her start in coffee as a teenager as a drive-through barista.

2

Started as a response to the lack of women represented at the 2016 US Roasting Championship, today She’s the Roaster offers community and mentorship for women and nonbinary people in the industry.

3

While Baylee sees the value in coffee grading to set fair prices for producers, she believes we should push back against the idea that only elite professionals can decide what makes good coffee.

Baylee Engberg

Managing Director, She’s the Roaster; Account Manager, Ally Coffee

Expertise: roasting, green coffee sales, social accountability

Coffee insight: Coffee doesn’t really expire; in fact some Central American producers believe strongly in reposo—the practice of letting green coffee “rest” to enhance the flavor.

Fun fact: Baylee’s proudest moment in the industry was being featured in Standart Magazine.

Baylee Engberg's Top 3: 1.) Auto Drip 2.) Black Coffee, and 3.) 15+ cup a day

Baylee’s Coffee Origin Story

Baylee’s coffee career started when she was just a teenager growing up in the Pacific Northwest. “I started as a drive-through barista in the greater Seattle area,” she says. “If you’ve ever been, you’ll recognize these little shanties on the side of the road with gray water tanks, that serve coffee. I started there when I could legally work.”

Baylee’s Current Role

Baylee currently serves as an account manager for Ally Coffee, working in green coffee sales. The position is a bit of a full-circle moment for Baylee since her region is the same one where she grew up and first entered the industry—the Pacific Northwest.

Baylee is also the managing director of She’s the Roaster, a movement to shine a light on the lack of representation of women and nonbinary people in the roasting industry and to create more opportunities by fostering community. They host active platforms on Instagram and Facebook, organize meetups at industry events, and offer scholarships to help break down the barriers to education, training, and opportunities.

What Fuels Baylee’s Work

Baylee says that even though she never intended to leave roasting, her role with Ally is “the perfect job.” While she didn’t originally plan to apply when she saw the posting on Instagram, a friend encouraged her to take a closer look because the role was focused on an area she knew so well. “If you know me, you know that I’m from the I-5,” she says. “I’ve lived everywhere from the Canadian border to Portland. I’ve been in Washington. I’ve been around Oregon. This is my home.”

And she says that while she had no previous experience in green coffee sales, her experience as a roaster helps her connect with clients. “I just magnetically pull to their roaster,” she says, “and I just want to talk to whoever is running that. Which, you know, is maybe a great sales tactic. It’s not a sales tactic though. I literally just miss the machine.”

What Baylee Wants Coffee Drinkers to Know

“Coffee actually doesn’t have an expiration,” Baylee explains. In fact some Central American producers believe strongly in reposo—the practice of letting green coffee “rest” to enhance the flavor. Baylee says the idea is that the green coffee “sits in its own acids and sweetness [which] just enhances the flavor.”

So Baylee says she doesn’t put too much stock around the roasted date on packaged coffees. In fact, she points out, “There’s a reason why we don’t want coffee right off the roast,” because it’s actively releasing CO2, which is why coffee bags include a valve—to release the gas slowly over time.

How Baylee Cultivates Community through Coffee

Baylee says the growth of the She’s the Roaster movement has moved and inspired her. Founded in 2016 by Baylee’s mentor, Jen Apodaca, She’s the Roaster was, according to Baylee, “Kind of a clap back to the lack of women representation at the US Roaster Championship” that year.

Baylee says that the heart of the movement is a network of women and nonbinary roasters sharing knowledge, support, and mentorship.

Last year they had 137 applicants for their scholarship run in conjunction with Coffee Project New York for their roasting foundations course. This year they offered a scholarship, in conjunction with U3 Coffee Bank, for one person to attend CRG Retreat, expenses paid.

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