In August we posted a survey about the Barista Hustle Facebook group. Along with our community moderators, we were thinking how to be more active and intentional about fostering a community environment, one which every single human feels safe and comfortable participating in.
We asked three questions to help set the compass and lead us in the right direction. 176 peeps answered, with around 520 individual responses in total. Thank you so much to everyone who participated! It was both humbling and eye-opening reading through the responses, and we’re really excited to share what we found.
The Demographic Question: Why “Cisgender Men, Non-Cisgender Men, and Prefer Not To Say”?
This may have confused some people as to why we chose to ask the demographic question in this manner: “are you a cisgender man / not a cisgender man / prefer not to say?”
From Trans Student Educational Resources (http://www.transstudent.org/definitions), cisgender means:
“identifies as their sex assigned at birth”… A cisgender/cis person is not transgender.
The basis for this question was to collect demographic data of survey participants, but in the most inclusive way possible. “Not a cisgender man” includes (but not limited to) women (trans and cis), trans men, and non-binary people. In general, these genders experience various forms of gender discrimination. Spotting trends across gender demographics gave us valuable insight into how certain folks participate. This helps us know what changes we must make to create a safe online community that’s inclusive of every coffee human’s perspective.
Question One: “What keeps you from participating in the Facebook group?”
1) 18% of the total respondents voiced a fear of saying anything, or of wanting to post or comment, or generally of just participating. These were mostly qualified with two emotions: fear of looking dumb, and fear of sounding stupid.
2) 14% of the total respondents felt they either lacked knowledge or experience to participate.
3) Some felt their question had already been asked or answered.
4) Or believed they had nothing to say or add to the discussion.
5) Or saw too much bigotry, prejudice, sexism, and generalised mansplaining.
Question Two: “What specific topics would you like to see discussed more?”
1) 13% of the total respondents asked for more science.
Not opinions, dogma, or practical tips — hard science on a range of topics within specialty coffee growing, processing, preparation, and brewing. This broke down to
2) 19% asked for more topics on cafe management / business.
This included requests for tips on workflow, information on pricing, on management of staff, marketing, general operations, profit/loss, and wages, among others.
3) 9% asked for more topics on customer service / hospitality.
These could best be generalised as requests for how to deliver authentic and genuine customer service, or how to improve customer service and the general hospitality of venues.
4) 13% asked for more brewing knowledge.
This included requests for how to brew filter or espresso better, or technique-related questions for both styles, and (unsurprisingly I guess) requests for general discussions surrounding brewing coffee.
5) 9% asked for more topics on diversity, inclusion, equality, and representation.
These words were specifically used in these requests, alongside requests for more topics on social awareness, and the greater role coffee plays in our lives beyond the specifics of coffee brewing and technique.
Question Three: “What can we do better to foster a more welcoming and safe environment?”
1) 5% wanted more practical questions applicable to an “everyday cafe” with less of a focus on the technical side of coffee brewing etc.
There’s a broad range of experience within this group (19k members and climbing!) and we all started somewhere, usually with a stunning lack of knowledge and a daunting journey ahead of us. It’s good to remember this.
2) This wasn’t so much a call for a specific topic, but 13% of the total respondents made a generalised request for better moderation of the threads.
We’ve already addressed this (and continue to) and so far the results are great!
3) 26% basically said “all good!”
These were the heartwarming cries from plenty of participants, letting us know they felt we were promoting a safe and welcoming environment.
4) There were also some upset people.
“Stop with the SJW bullshit and get on with talking about coffee” was characteristic of most of these responses.
5) And there were some fed up people.
“Get Rid of the Cis Men Bullshit”. These responses were characterised by requests to rid the page of mansplainers, aggressive men, bigoted men, and asshole men, instead making the space more welcoming to non-cisgender men, and other minorities.
6) One person said “I love you Matt Perger” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Kinda don’t have much to add to that. We love you too, Matt.
A Few Thoughts:
- 60% Cisgender Men : 40% Non-Cisgender Men / Not Disclosed
So pretty much as expected really, a 60/40 split. No surprises there.
- 1 in 5 people are scared to participate for fear of looking stupid or sounding dumb. Slightly less cisgender men, slightly more non-cisgender men.
- Twice as many non-cisgender men compared to cisgender men felt they lacked knowledge or experience to participate.
- No non-cisgender men felt their question had been asked or answered.
- No non-cisgender men felt they had nothing to add to the discussion.
There’s an interesting thread to pull here. 4 out of 5 people aren’t scared to say something, but of those who don’t contribute, non-cisgender men were more likely to feel they lack knowledge or experience to participate, and felt they had nothing to add to the discussion — but their questions had not been answered. So why aren’t they asking?
Fear of participating, sounding/looking not smart, and lack of experience are feelings everyone has. We totally understand that. There’s so much one could learn about coffee that it’s impossible to know everything. We seriously encourage members who expressed these feelings to participate! Submit questions, hop in on the threads — we’ve got your back the whole way. If it doesn’t get through, we’ll personally hit you up and have a conversation about it. Some folks have seen success in starting a discussion the second go around, so keep at it!
Now, it was striking— yet unsurprising — that 0% of men thought the group had problems with bigotry, prejudice, sexism, and mansplaining barring their participation. We feel these factors are quite obvious and easy to see, particularly in threads regarding topics centering equality within the coffee industry. We don’t tolerate any of this in the group. Plain and simple.
We’ve buckled down on moderating! and we won’t leave any space for this to fester. This was a major theme of the survey too — we’ve heard you loud and clear on that. If others don’t like that, that’s fine! Then this Facebook group is not for you. We’re only about helping the entire world making better coffee, and we wanna help those in the margins get there too!
This might also be a good time to mention our moderator’s group is not fixed! We’re always keeping our eyes peeled for thoughtful, highly engaged individuals to join the ranks in keeping the Facebook group safe and fun. We’ll reach out to folks we think will be great, but don’t hesitate to reach out to Michelle if you’re interested!
- Y’all want to hear more about science, customer service, hospitality, and brewing knowledge
- But y’all really wanna hear about cafe management and business.
- And non-cisgendered men want to hear about these topics the most.
Multiple studies have concluded that women are better leaders than men, and are better at running businesses. (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/women-better-leaders-men-study-a7658781.html) Based on this information (and a lot of research ourselves) and our survey results, we’re keen to believe non-cisgender men are probably equipped to carry conversations related to these topics. Furthermore, we think the job we have of moderating and getting rid of comments that belittle other people’s thoughts will help bring participation up to par with these numbers.
- 1 in 5 non-cisgendered men want to hear more about diversity, inclusion, equality, and representation.
- Cisgendered men barely moved the needle on that topic.
This is a non-negotiable. We’re going to talk about these topics. And regularly, too. These things have an effect on every aspect of the coffee supply chain. The vast amount of diversity in the group can allow us to learn a great deal about how the world works— especially the coffee world. There’s really no way around these discussions, and we’re dedicated to providing a space supportive of personal and professional development. There’s always going to be something to learn from tackling these difficult conversations. Coffee is political. Hate to break it to you — but it is.
- We upset a few cisgender men — and we really don’t care. We can’t talk about coffee with members of our community when not all members of our community are treated equally. It’s simple stuff. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- And we let down some non-cisgender men. Which was why we did this survey in the first place. To fix that.
One of the first actionable items that came from this survey was our updated Community Guidelines. If we throw this link at you in the comments — you’ve probably missed a point we made in those guidelines. You should see that as a friendly reminder, and do your best to stick to following them.
To all our new Facebook group members — thank you for answering our questions! We’ve now set up three simple questions that need answering before we approve your membership: what’s your role in the industry, what’s your favourite coffee — and do you agree to be civil, to research yourself as far as reasonably possible, and to contribute in a positive way to thoughtful and open minded conversation? We love seeing the varied roles y’all occupy in the industry; we’re fairly confident you’d all agree to civil conduct and critical thinking; and we love how many of you like chocolate on your caps. Thanks everyone!