#NoFoRoCo - Women in the Coffee and Roasting Business
De la Gente is excited to introduce the women of North Fork Roasting Company (we here at DLG like their hashtag, so that’s what we call them - #NoFoRoCo), as part of our series on women in agriculture and business. On the Northeastern tip of Long Island, NY, co-founder , Jennilee Morris, had a vision to roast fresh coffee daily so the smell would bring customers into the restaurant where she worked . This strategy soon became a passion and when he met her partner Jess Dunne in 2011, they quickly realized their love for coffee was mutual. With the help of Jess’s father, the two, gutted and restored a 1930’s house to use as their roasterie. By February 14, 2015, their dream was a reality.
Soon after Bri Paige joined as the General Manager of NoFoRoCo with a wealth of experience of the tea industry, which quickly transferred to coffee as she became a Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) certified barista. She, along with co-owners Jess and Jenni, recently came to Guatemala to do volunteer work with De la Gente as part of their first origin visit. In the spirit of International Women’s Week, Bri met with us to discuss her experiences in a business that is owned and run by women, and until recently was an entirely female staff.
“The majority of the members of the roaster guild are men. I think people tend to think of roasters as men, and honestly, most of them are,” she says. But at NoFoRoCo, they’re beating the odds by roasting coffee themselves. She notes that women have an natural aptitude for making coffee so the only disadvantage she can see from being a 100% women employed business is that coffee arrives in 150lb sacks. When the coffee arrives, they have to call some friends to come help unload. “We didn’t purposefully not hire men, that’s just how it worked out. It’s small behind the [coffee] bar, so with everyone running around while it’s busy, swooping from the bar to the register, it’s like a dance. It tends to be easier with all women.” She added, “we just hired Brian, he’s the first guy that’s worked with us. He’s a big guy, 6”1’, so we’re getting used to it.”
She told us how great it is to work in North Fork - a region nestled in the countryside, driving by vineyards and and farms on her way to work, “It’s really different than what I was used to in the city, but as I pass through, I just think to myself, is this really where I live?” She is so happy to be there, and loves working with Jess and Jenni, noting that “You almost never feel like you are at work, it has structure, but you want to be there. The customer experience is so important. If you have a bad attitude, that ruins it for the customer, so we always try to be positive to keep people coming back.”
DLG was thrilled to have these three ambitious and inspiring women here in San Miguel Escobar, volunteering and connecting with farmers in the San Miguel Escobar Cooperative. They worked hard in the fields, weeding, picking coffee, and sorting beans. We also organized a cupping with our newest coffee offerings here at the office. We are honored that they will be hosting a gallery exhibit on April 2 in their cafe/roasting facility with photos of their experiences in Guatemala, with all of their proceeds going to De la Gente.
*If you’re in the coffee industry and would like to learn more about origin-visits with De la Gente, please visit our website.