Sarah Leslie

I think people should be themselves.

We have taken the occasion of International Women’s Day to talk to interesting and strong women in the coffee industry. The coffee business is still very much a male dominated industry worldwide. These coffee ladies skilfully prove to us: enjoying coffee is very much a woman’s business. And inspire us with their stories of solidarity and indulgence.

Sarah Leslie is a coffee shop owner and barista from from Wichita, Kansas, USA.

Hi Sarah, where are you from and where do you currently live?
I am from Wichita, Kansas, USA. I moved back here two years ago after living in NYC for 12 years.

What do you do professionally in the coffee industry?
I am a barista.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am the owner of Leslie Coffee Co., a coffee shop in Wichita, which has been open for a little over two months. I also volunteer for the Barista Guild and am currently serving as the past chair.

What has changed in your life since you entered the coffee industry?
When I began working in coffee 13 years ago I was in college which is to say: a lot has changed! Now I’m a mom, a business owner, and living back in my hometown.

How is the men/women ratio in your field? Have there been changes in that ratio since you started working in the coffee industry? And if so: How would you describe those changes?
I’m not sure that the ratio of men to women has changed, but I think there are more women in leadership positions.

What advice can you give to our readers as to succeeding in a male dominated work environment? Which of your qualities would you consider as your key to success?
The premise is this question is problematic because it implies that women aren’t already equipped to succeed or need to accommodate or cater to men.

What could be, in your opinion, a first step towards further increasing sustainability in connection with coffee consumption?
Customers willing to pay more for a cup of coffee.

What is your favorite thing about coffee?
I love the way coffee connects people.

How do you prefer your coffee? Which coffee specialty is currently your favorite? Can you recommend a certain speciality that our readers should try?
Right now I’m really enjoying Geometry Blend from Onyx Coffee Lab. We use it for all our espresso drinks at Leslie Coffee Co. I’ve also been enjoying Rwanda Kanzu from Messenger Coffee.

What can you tell our readers in order for them to make better coffee at home?
Two simple things would be to preheat your brewer and stir your coffee once it’s done brewing. If you can, invest in a burr grinder. The best way to store your coffee is in a cabinet.

Are you ready to try new sorts of coffee or do you prefer to stay true to your favorites?
It’s important to be open to new coffee experiences, but I still love a cup of drip coffee to start my day.

What do you enjoy best with your coffee?
Waffles or pancakes are a weekend treat in my house.

How should one proceed if they want to become a great barista?
Get involved with the Barista Guild. The skills you can gain will help you improve and the connections with other professionals will be invaluable.

Where do you see barista work in 5 to 10 years?
Hopefully working conditions have improved and baristas are compensated fairly and have all the benefits they need. I know many coffee professionals in other roles who respect baristas and value their work, but we still have a lot of work to do.

Dear Sarah, thank you for sharing valuable insights with us!

If you want to know more about Sarah Leslie, follow her as @sarahrleslie on instagram or facebook and find out more about her coffee shop @lesliecoffeeco. In order to connect with the barista community follow @baristaguild.