ROASTER: Ant Walach
YEARS ROASTING: 5 years
COMPANY: Snowdrift Coffee & workspace, Roscoe, IL
It wouldn't be fair to say we're more excited than ever for our October MCP roaster, but we can say that we're especially excited to work with Ant Walach, co-founder and roaster at Snowdrift Coffee in Northern Illinois. Ant is one of the most distinguished roasters we've had the honor of working with, and we're thrilled to feature his coffee, a Nicaraguan coffee from the La Estrella farm that's 100% Maracaturra—you know those really big beans? According to Ant, this coffee, "made me dance when I tasted it on the coffee table."
Snowdrift Coffee is a new project and micro-roastery launched by Ant and his partner, Rita Kaminsky. These two are powerhouses in the coffee world, and you've probably seen them judging or running a barista or brewers cup competition in the past. With Snowdrift, Ant hopes to empower the coffee community and make roasting accessible for groups traditionally left out of the roasting world: namely, women and members of the LGBTQ community. Ant plans on doing this through offering free weekend classes to interested students, including a free place to stay.
While Ant sees being open about his identity as important, it's not for the sake of labeling himself. "While there are a lot of us within the specialty coffee industry that sees us as being a progressive and tolerant group or left-leaning, etc. that's not the case. We saw that this year with incidents at the Roaster's Guild Retreat and the push back to the announcement of Dubai as a location for world competitions." Ant shares. "We, in the specialty coffee industry are in a bubble that still includes all political leanings. I felt that by coming out for MCP, I'm putting another face out there as to who a trans person can be. Fear can be pretty divisive, especially fear of something or somebody unknown. I just want to stand up and be counted, here I am, as I am. I am a sum of all these labels, no single descriptor defines who I am. This is the complex duality I see in myself."
Why is Ant doing this now? "Recent politics have made me rethink a lot of things and I feel like now is the time for me to give back and provide support to my community." Ant feels like now is the moment for him to speak up and be a visible leader in his community—and that involves being bold, taking action, and being candid about his own identity. "I think it's important for me to come out as trans in this project. I've been very blessed to be in the Bay Area for the last ten years and now that I'm back in the Midwest, it's become very apparent that now is the time for me to be a bit more vocal about it."
Ant is also driven by a desire to learn and teach, and that's why we chose to share more about Ant in a sort of 'syllabus' format—it's a little looser than a traditional syllabus; there's no grade percentage breakdowns or reading lists, but we wanted to convey the specialness and throw our support into Ant and Snowdrift's commitment to education and empowerment of marginalized groups. If you haven't bought a coffee with us at MCP yet, we hope you buy this one.