To be honest, I have no real idea when I started the Charlotte Coffee Collective Facebook group.
I know that, at the time, I was working at The Daily Press (which has since closed). The group was called the “CLT Barista Exchange,” as its original purpose was designed to fill the guest-barista shift coverage needs we were seeing throughout Charlotte and within our own shop.
I had some lofty plans for the page: barista meet ups, roastery crawls, weekend-long coffee events featuring member shops, and maybe even an origin trip! Little did I know that my life would be going full-throttle just a few months after I started that Facebook group… At least, I’m pretty sure my life got busy after I started that page. Like I said: I’m not entirely sure when I created it in the first place. But my life does tend to stay busy and I wear a lot of hats, so it’s reasonable to say that I dropped the ball and forgot about the “CLT Barista Exchange” until sometime in April 2016.
Feeling inspired by the dope-as-hell experiences I had at the SCA Global Coffee Expo in Atlanta, I worked to be more intentional about creating an active and productive online forum for the Charlotte coffee community. I began to write posts on this site more frequently, I invited folks to join the Facebook page, and I started talking about the forum during my barista training shifts throughout the city.
For the most part I’d say that the CLT Coffee Collective page has taken off pretty well! I’m probably biased when I say that though, so here are some examples of why I feel the way that I do:
Exhibit A: I’m not the only one posting on there anymore! Granted, I’m still one of the primary posters, but there have been several times now that other local coffee people have taken the liberty to write about job openings, coffee equipment for sale, and the like. Progress!
Exhibit B: When I post polls and questions on the page, people actually respond! I hold my breath whenever I do general crowd engagement like that- what if I scream into the void and nothing is hollered back? (Talk about awkward) Fortunately that’s not the case.
Exhibit C: Last week we had our very first member meet-up at Not Just Coffee Packard and I wasn’t the only person who attended! Huzzah! Dillon Williams, an NJC barista and SCA-certified coffee professional, lead a coffee cupping for the nearly two dozen members that showed up. We ate mini pop tarts courtesy of Goldmine Journal, exchanged bags of coffee and rubbed shoulders (or is it “rubbed elbows”?) with coffee nerds from all over the region. I was blown away by the enthusiasm, friendliness and overall good vibes of the afternoon. Coffee people truly are the best people, y’all.
Exhibit D: We have another meet-up scheduled already! Next week the lovely folks of Summit Coffee are opening up their roastery for a tour, coffee tasting and some games (no clue what that means but my competitive streak is READY). Hope to see you there, nerds!