Coffee baristas don’t get enough respect.
Savannah Phillips thinks the folks who make your coffee deserve the same type of attention and admiration as the chefs making your food.
“It should be seen as a culinary experience,” she said. “It’s important that we further the industry and raise the bar of professionalism and make it seen as something that isn’t just someone in holey jeans just throwing your coffee at you across the bar.”
Phillips is part of a growing subculture of baristas who travel to competitions across the country to showcase their coffee-making skills and help raise the profile of baristas. She’s also the founder of the San Diego Coffee Training Institute, a new nonprofit that will soon be helping people become better trained, even certified baristas.
Craft coffee is having a moment in San Diego, but despite the growth, Phillips said the industry needs to step it up when it comes to pay and professionalism. She said coffee shops should be hiring the most skilled employees rather than those who simply look the coolest.
Anyone can train at San Diego Coffee Training Institute for a price, but once it’s up and running the nonprofit arm of the institute will offer a one- to two-week program for free to people just out of prison or jail, those who’ve been homeless and other people in need. Phillips is partnering with Second Chance and other nonprofits working to help people out of poverty.