Celebrating International Women’s Day at Grind

There’s no Grind without the women behind it. Nothing would get done. And, in the words of Meg, our Coffee Technician, if all the women of the company were replaced by men, it would smell terrible.

For a fun spotlight on a few of our wonderful women and a great insight into what it’s like for them to work in a field that’s typically dominated by men, we spoke to Natália, the founder and CEO of Jaguara Coffee in Brazil, who supplies us with some incredible arabica beans for our blends; to Meg, one of our Coffee Technicians; and to Aleks, our Operations Manager and a seriously skilled mixologist. 


In Conversation with Natália, Founder of Jaguara Coffee.


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do. 

I’m Natália, and I’ve been working in coffee for 12 years, but coffee has always been in my life since I was a kid, from running around a cupping table to hearing the funny, strange noise of the cupping sip. 

I’m in the second generation of coffee in my family, following my grandfather who has been in the coffee industry for over 60 years. I used to work in a big trading company, where I travelled a lot to understand about speciality coffee and to connect with roasters and importers in Brazil.

Four years ago, I founded Jaguara Coffee, which was a dream but also the biggest challenge of my life, being a woman in the coffee business and starting a company during the COVID pandemic. 

Our project, Jaguara Coffee, exports coffee from our family and small producers and families committed to sustainable practices and high quality, supplying funky and unique coffees from Brazil. 


What does your day-to-day look like? 

Working in coffee is very dynamic, and I have two young boys that demand just as much attention. I also love playing sports, so I try to balance all these things. I do some sports early in the morning—I like to play tennis and go to the gym—before going to the office at around 8am, where I cup about 30 different lots of coffee, follow the market, offer consultancy in coffee, manage all the export operation, and talk with our clients around the world. 

My job doesn’t really have a finish time, but I dedicate myself to my kids in the evening, helping them with their homework and preparing their dinner. I also share my time visiting the farms and travelling, attending international events. 


What challenges have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? 

Especially in Brazil and some countries, the quantity of women in the coffee business is very limited, so I had to persevere and work hard to have a place there. Nowadays, I feel I can’t complain about it, as once we get a space, we are more respected. But we, as women, have to share our time between all different roles. The good thing is that we are able to do it and with so much dedication. 


What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I hate routine and I think life is so short that I love intense, busy days. With my job, I have the chance to cup one of the best coffees from Brazil, always have something to learn, and meet people from all around the world. 


In Conversation with Meg, Coffee Technician. 


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do. 

My name’s Meg and I’m the newest mobile Coffee Technician at Grind. When I’m not at work fixing espresso machines and drinking coffee, you’ll find me at home building model railways (and drinking coffee).


What does your day-to-day look like?

I start every day at the roastery the same way: three chocolate weetabix and a cortado. After that, no two days are the same. Working a reactive job you have to be prepared to respond to a call at any point during the shift. This can mean working late or getting up at 4:30am to be on site before they open. When I’m not on the road, I’m usually in the workshop servicing machines, catching up on admin, or having a coffee (or nine) with the rest of the team.


What challenges have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field?

A lot of men expect women to be incapable of physical jobs, so when we’re in these industries we’re far more scrutinised. I find myself double and triple checking every fix I carry out to ensure that nothing has been missed. People make mistakes (men included), but the ones you make in technical roles as a woman will always be chalked up to your gender, so you have to work twice as hard to prove them wrong. On the bright side, it makes us twice as good at what we do.


What do you enjoy most about your job? 

The infinite drip of stimulation! If I’m not hunched over a grinder getting stuck into a fix, I’m out on the roastery floor measuring screws on the packing machine. If I’m not measuring screws on the packing machine, I’m in the cupping lab trying a new coffee. If I’m not trying a new coffee, I’m listening to Bryter Layter and learning the inner workings of an espresso machine I’ve never seen before. 

It can sometimes be intense but it’s always fascinating. The industry is famously social, too. Since I joined less than a year ago, it feels like the roastery team has doubled. There are new faces every week, dozens of people spilling into the communal spaces between jobs or before work or at lunch. Working with some of my best friends is the cherry on top of the cake.


What did you want to be when you were younger? 

A Eurofighter Typhoon pilot. 


What’s the worst (read: dumbest) thing you’ve been asked by a man at work? 

I went through a week of back and forth communication with a manager from one of the sites we oversee, troubleshooting over email and then booking in a date and time to attend. I used first person pronouns when referencing the fixes I was going to be doing and even asked, if required, if they could arrange a work  permit under my name, signing off each email with my job title in bold.

They finished off the final line of their final email with: “Can you please forward all of  the above to the engineer?”


Which assumption made by men of women in the workplace annoys you the most? 

That we’re not strong enough to lift things. I worked hard for these guns!

In Conversation with Aleks, Operations Manager & Mixologist.


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do. 

My name is Aleks and I am Operations Manager at Grind. I look after our coffee shops’ and trucks’ operations, and I lead the beverage programme. That means creating cocktail menus and managing supplier relationships and the financial performance of the department. 


What does your day-to-day look like? 

Everyday is different and unpredictable. I spend the majority of my time in coffee shops and cafés, where I work on my day-to-day tasks and projects, as well as working alongside managers and staff members to ensure that we are giving the best experience to our guests. Sometimes, you’ll find me tasting and creating cocktails with different staff members as it’s a collaborative process and everyone has different tastes and ideas—it’s a fun process!


What challenges have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field?

I think it’s challenging to be perceived as a respected leader, not a bossy woman. It’s a very thin line between those two. You have to balance being assertive to push yourself and your career, but sometimes being assertive can make you unlikeable. 


What do you enjoy most about your job? 

My job is challenging and I love a good challenge. 


To learn more about these fantastic women, check out this video here. Happy International Women’s Day, everybody.