Imbibe 75 Organization to Watch: Glitter Cat Barista - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Imbibe 75 Organization to Watch: Glitter Cat Barista

“In 2018, when I made finals at the United States Barista Championship for the first time and eventually placed second, I had no doubt that I belonged on that competition stage and saw people who reasonably looked like how I was outwardly presenting. At the time, that was a lot of cis white men,” says Veronica P. Grimm, founder of Glitter Cat Barista. But, Grimm says, that’s not the reality of the barista workforce. “What’s funny is that I no longer see people who look like me as a trans woman since I came out. There are so many marginalized identities that need to be represented in coffee competitions because they’re in coffee shops all over the U.S., sharing the joy of coffee with customers and their communities.”

Fresh off her win, Grimm launched Glitter Cat, an all-expenses-paid barista competition training and mentorship program for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized persons. For two years, the boot camps provided access to future champions, but 2020 shifted the nonprofit’s work. Glitter Cat responded to the pandemic’s havoc with support, launching a digital coffee competition, DiGiTiTiON, and monthly curated coffee boxes from Glitter Cat alumni.

The nonprofit also began its Anti-Racism Hospitality Overhaul last year following the nationwide reckoning on race, developing free social justice–minded HR policies and handbooks for cafés and retail coffee operations. All the while, Glitter Cat was retooling its boot camps beyond competitions “to make a more impactful change and to truly reimagine the coffee industry,” says Grimm. “We want more and more future Glitter Cats to see themselves in defining roles as trainers, roasters, and coffee entrepreneurs, and to make all of these careers within the coffee industry a lot more fabulous.”

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