Why does anyone join a club, group, team, or guild? Because they want to be a part of that particular group’s vision, and help it become a reality. Well, at least that’s why I joined the Barista Guild of America (BGA). I wanted to be a part of building the world’s largest network for the professional barista.
BGA members are connected to a wide network of coffee professionals through our events, membership map, blog, regional groups, and social media. We encourage anyone that wants to promote, develop, recognize, and prepare specialty coffee to join the BGA.
Some exciting developments in the BGA include the recent release of a membership map that shows where all of our members are located throughout the U.S. and beyond! Also listed on the map is our leadership. Leadership includes the BGA Executive Council, Certified Lead Instructors, and SCAA Board members. The map also includes the location of the SCAA Educational Campuses, as well as regional groups.
The BGA membership committee created the map in hopes that baristas would connect to regional groups that have organically fostered communities. A regional group can be anything from a local TNT (Thursday Night Throwdown), to a larger community group like the BACC (Bay Area Coffee Community) in California or New Gotham in Chicago. Both BACC and New Gotham have member boards who create local events to engage, teach, and connect baristas in their regions. Our hope is that, with this map, baristas will be able to start new regional groups in areas that are hungry for a coffee community to call their own.
At events like Barista Camp, Bloom, and the U.S. Coffee Championships, I’ve met employers, friends, mentors, and now, talented professionals I have had the honor of hiring. Barista Camp, in fact, is by far one of my favorite events. I can say with confidence that Barista Camp, the connections I made there, and what I learned in the classes, are the reasons why I have a career in coffee.
At every event, I learn something new about coffee and this industry. Whether that is through classes from SCAA Pathways, or member-driven panels, lectures, workshops, and tastings, I am always grateful I attended these events and made new connections.
Oh, and there’s more! BGA members also enjoy a variety of discounts from many cafes and online stores that are industry favorites. Not to mention the discounts on classes at SCAA events and a global network of SCAA Campuses. Two of my favorite benefits of membership are the online directory of other members, and the access to educational materials. Feel free to always reach out if you have questions about BGA, and how you can be a part of the network.
Alexandra LittleJohn is the Director of Wholesale at Equator Coffees and Teas, based in San Rafael, CA and is the current Chair of the Barista Guild of America (BGA) Membership Committee.