Bay Area Coffee Community

January 23 BACC Town Hall Meeting Notes

5:30 pm, moderated by Emily

Ground rules

  • Read Code of Conduct
  • What we are discussing is such a personal and difficult, we need to be extra careful in how we talk today.
  • 1. Please do not name people, unfortunately we are only three people as community organizers, however, we do have a small list of resources for you, for anyone who needs it, and if you feel more comfortable talking to someone one on one, within your community, I would be happy to talk with you and assist in any way I can.
  • 2. We are here to share some of our stories or experiences, but be aware that this can be triggering for others.
  • 3. No video or audio recording is allowed, as we want people to freely share

Reactions to news of lawsuit

How did you hear about it?

  • from coworkers
  • from cafe owner where they worked

Was a lawsuit necessary?

  • Recent allegations against an Oakland chef – reported harassment in newspaper, but not lawsuit – did not seem to enact much change in culture
  • Consensus was yes


  • Sounds like it’s more important for community members to be supportive of each other


Was it shocking?

  • California sets a precedence for rest of country, in terms of HR. Shocking in the sense that it’s been poorly handled.
  • Not exactly shocking as a woman
  • As a barista, people go to the counter to tell you all sorts of things
  • Coming from the unhealthy kitchen culture, coffee is not as bad, which still does not justify any harassment
  • spending a lot of time unpacking the events for non-coffee people


What’s happening inside?

  • unknown, can’t speak for employees
  • One news article said it would be 2-3 years before it would be turned to 100% employee owned



  • does a name change change a culture
  • It’s an industry trust issue that’s at risk here
  • problematic to see customers commenting and praising the name change
  • working at coffee was refuge from restaurant culture, but not immune to harassment and assault
  • calls for boycott are against two owners still involved, not its employees
  • want to hear from the employees


What do you think the community response was like?

  • choice is good- as a cafe with a wholesale program, you don’t have to support them
  • impressed with the immediate response of wholesale accounts reacting to the news
  • while receiving a call from someone looking to switch roasters- was asked “How are you doing? How are they treating you there?”
  • At a cafe that was a wholesale client, they immediately dropped the roaster, but needed coffee. Was told by a local roaster, “Up to you on whatever decision you go with, here’s some free coffee for the week.”


  • Hoping this is a catalyst for internal work in coffee businesses


What will you take away from these events?

HR –

  • A thorough employee handbook is important
  • a lot of companies aren’t thinking about growth or the future –  no support for handbook or HR
  • “coffee as a family” can also be a bad thing, trying to fit into a culture or gain favors
  • work vs home- people treating work as home and taking advantage of blurred social lines


How can we use this momentum?

  • write HR policies in the company
  • Internal self work: what if I see this happen or hear about it again elsewhere, what am I going to do about it?
  • ask permission to give advice vs straight up giving advice
  • For companies- remember to convey your values with actions


What can the BACC do better?

  • Guide of “what if this is happening to me?” Or offering anonymous support
  • Bank of resources
  • “know your rights” workshop
  • Write your HR manual workshop or hire HR pro to write a HR manual template


Know Your Rights!

Free Legal Advice and Reading:

Berkeley Workers Rights Clinic:

Department of Labor website:

Federal Equal Opportunity Commission:

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing:


Jobs Resources:

Sprudge Jobs:

BACC Jobs Board:


Building Your Own HR Department or Policies?

HR Resources:

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