Women Making Waves in Specialty Coffee

From top left: Michelle Johnson, Kayla Scott, Daysi Sanchez, Diana Martinez, Tracy Gill, Chelsea Thoumsin, Cydni Patterson, Neichelle Guidry, and Tetiana Tarykina.

Throughout the year, we're so grateful to have had the opportunity to share the stories of individuals (and our coffee friends) who are making waves in the specialty coffee community, pushing the boundaries, and flipping the narrative in the industry.

August 26th commemorates the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, which ensures voting rights for everyone regardless of gender. National Women's Equality Day, we're honoring the contributions and achievements made by women in the coffee world. However, we recognize there is still work to do in gender equity across the coffee supply chain, and we are reminded of the unique daily struggles that women face.

Today, we've partnered with Getchusomegear to celebrate the stories of two business owners in the coffee community — Kayla Scott, founder of Color Cold Brew, and Daysi Sanchez, founder of Chanchitos Cafe — as they navigate the ever-changing landscape in specialty coffee. They share their challenges, what it takes to start a coffee business, and the importance of community.

Brewista: Why did you start your coffee business?

Scott: I’ve always wanted to be a business owner, even since I was very young! Prior to Color Cold Brew, in my early 20’s I actually had two previous businesses that just didn’t work out. The itch to open a new business came back to me during the 2020 pandemic. The coffee shop I was working at had to close its doors temporarily and I was out of work. I still wanted to make coffee, so I made a little website and started dropping coffee and lemonade off on my customer’s porches. Fast forward to today, and I am so glad I followed that urge! I never give up! I simply adjust and come back with a new angle.

Sanchez: My family and I decided to start Chanchitos Cafe for a few reasons. My mother and I have always wanted to run a cafe since I was little. I’ve always enjoyed making coffee for others since I started my first barista job in college. During the beginning of the pandemic I found myself missing the work and indulging in cafe videos and tutorials on YouTube. With my family and I not working, we started talking about taking the steps to have our own business, and thus the concept of Chanchitos was born. Our goal is to provide our neighborhood an option for healthier meals and coffee drinks we’ve come to love in our household.

Can you talk a little about your greatest challenge in your coffee journey so far?

Scott: The most challenging thing in this coffee journey of mine has been finding new opportunities for growth. I’ve had to push, bug, poke, and darn-near fight to get to where I currently am! Things have gotten easier for me with time, as I’ve positioned myself to bring undeniable value to my work environments. But it definitely was difficult to get ahead when my skill set seemingly was overlooked or undervalued.

Sanchez: My age and gender has kept certain people from taking me seriously as a business owner. I’m 25 and whenever people realize that I own Chanchitos, there’s at least one person who would start asking me how could I have managed it and what were my qualifications. Thankfully it’s not a regular occurrence but when it does occur I do find myself questioning if I am actually qualified to do this in that initial moment. It goes away immediately after, but it’s a feeling that I have yet to remove and thoroughly move past from.

What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve experienced with your business so far?

Scott: Probably just how many genuine relationships this business has helped me form. It’s forced me to put myself out there and be in rooms with folks I’ve looked up to my entire career. Now I know some pretty cool people! I’ve eaten dinner with the CEO of Trade coffee because of their work with Portrait Coffee in ATL. I’ve done content for Torani through Glitter Cat Barista’s wonderful leaders. I am currently working with a big time fashion/music industry business person to help them with a shop that is opening very soon! This community around me has been so unexpected and I will never take it for granted.

In what ways do you show up for yourself every day?

Scott: I show up for myself by prioritizing my energy output. I love this career and I don’t ever want to burn out. So, I do my best to take care of myself by taking breaks throughout the day and eating nourishing meals. My job is very physically demanding and it is easy to overdo things and possibly injure myself if I am not careful.

Sanchez: Well it’s only my younger brother and I running the store five days a week, so we’re there no matter what. What keeps us continuing though is that we refuse to stop until we either make this cafe succeed or at least exhaust all of our options to make that happen. It’s my family's and my baby, and we want to confidently say we gave it our best shot even if it doesn’t work out in the long run.

Do you remember your first (ever) sip of coffee?

Scott: Man! I was like 5 years old sipping my gas station French Vanilla Cappuccino right before a big Florida road trip. My mother actually is the reason I love coffee like I do. She finally allowed me to get a cheap little cup of coffee that morning after me begging her to have my own. I think she thought I wouldn’t like nor finish it. Look at me now mom! Haha.

Sanchez: I do actually! It was a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, and 11-year-old me thought it was the best thing since sliced bread with jam. My first straight coffee drink though was from my dad. He bought a Breville Duo Temp espresso machine to make my mom her daily lattes and my first latte was from him.

What advice would you give to someone that holds a historically excluded identity who is looking to start a coffee business?

Scott: Learn as much as you can. Learn from coffee people you admire, either directly or indirectly! Mentorship can look like hand holding or it could be taking great mental notes of professionals from afar! Some of my best teachers were folks who had zero clue that I was their student haha. My grandfather always told me, “No one can take away what’s between your two ears.” Knowledge really is power. After all that, you should have a bit more confidence — just jump into it! Start small and attainable, and your market (aka your community) will tell you where to expand next.

Sanchez: Regardless of what marginalized identity you hold you should still just go for it. Obviously it won’t be an easy journey but I do think it’s worth at least trying instead of living life with this constant “What if?” in the back of your mind.

Describe your favorite coffee drink!

Scott: Anything with a half shot of a house made syrup and lots of ice! I’m pretty basic haha.

Sanchez: If we’re talking strictly coffee, then definitely an 8-oz. V60 Colombian or Honduran coffee black. Generally speaking though, a whole milk 12-oz mocha latte continues to reign supreme for me.

Why do you think it is particularly important for the coffee community to take care of each other?

Scott: Community is never going to look like one leader or one head. Community is a collective of souls with various needs and abilities to contribute. The coffee community taking care of one another is the only way to authentically develop a community in my opinion. That's the baseline for me.

Sanchez: It’s important because the public disrespect towards service workers has increased since the pandemic started. Now more than ever we all need to check in on each other and help our fellow worker whenever possible. Knowing that someone can relate to my work experiences and at the very least offer comfort has helped me tremendously since starting Chanchitos. When I started working in cafes, there wasn’t this type of community available to me. The work would feel isolating at times if the staff I worked with was especially cliquey. It’s one of the better parts of this industry for me, and I’m forever grateful to experience its growth.

There are always new things to learn about coffee! What’s holding your interest the most right now? 

Scott: I'm new to roasting so learning all about that has been occupying most of my brain space!

Sanchez: I would definitely love to learn more about roasting and what that process actually looks like. I have only a vague idea of what goes on and I definitely think it would be beneficial for me to learn more about it even if I don’t ever choose to roast coffee myself.

You can follow Kayla Scott at @colorcoldbrew and Daysi Sanchez at @chanchitoscafe on Instagram.

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