MCP#012: Christina Snyder

NAME: Christina Snyder

YEARS ROASTING: 2 Years

COMPANY: Deeper Roots Coffee, Cincinnati, Ohio  

How was your 2017? Awful? Yeah, awful.

Christina Snyder, roaster at Deeper Roots Coffee in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Matchbook’s February featured roaster, agrees with you. But here we are, in 2018, and Christina is feeling hopeful. “If I’m sending any sort of message, I want it to be optimistic. You still have the ability to surprise yourself.”

It’s hard to know what your capable of until everything comes crashing down. A skill or a trait don’t really mean anything unless they’re tested—how do you know if you’re forgiving if you’ve never had to forgive someone? Coming out the other end, Christina knows the value of resilience and has learned a lot about the type of person she is. “Now that shit hit the fan, things have been great for me. It sort of makes sense to me that I thrive on chaos.”

Talking to Christina is like talking to a steady wind; you know something special is sweeping over you, but it’s calm, cool, and collected. “I like to think of myself as the calm in the storm.” She steadfast and unwavering, and she says every sentence with confidence and assuredness. You can sort of imagine Christina standing in the middle of a tidal wave, things crashing around her, and she’s just calming standing in the middle of the fiasco, keenly aware of what to do next. As you visualize the people running around her, she seems unafraid.

When I ask Christina to describe herself, it’s if she’s stating absolute facts, like reading the stats on the back of a baseball card. She got started in coffee working behind the bar at her sister’s coffeeshop in her hometown when she was fifteen. “My sister is amazing. She said, ‘there’s no coffee shop here,’ and then she opened one. And she was crazy enough to let me go behind the bar.” She ended up in Cincinnati, pulling shots at Deeper Roots when one day the head roaster asked her if she wanted to learn how to roast coffee. “I never thought it would happen. It was never really on my radar. After three or four months, they approached me and were like, ‘what do you think about roasting?’”

Her ‘interview’ for the position was quick and direct. “The head roaster asked me, ‘do you feel like doing this?’ and I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to create things. I like working with my hands,’ and that’s when he knew.”

For Matchbook, Christina is roasting a coffee from the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. “I lost my shit when I found out that this was a possibility.” She was intrigued by the idea of using a coffee from a region one typically doesn’t see coffee come from, and is also drawn to the scientific history of the Galapagos. “It’s where the birthplace of evolution started.”

For all the stalwartness we feel come from Christina, she’s still a nerdy goof at heart—her coffee, called First Contact, is a nod to Star Trek (Christina isn’t the first Trekkie we’ve featured at Matchbook) and her bag design is a picture of her cat in space, holding a kettle and floating next to a Chemex. “I showed my friend a 2001: A Space Odyssey poster and said, this is what I’m looking for.”

Christina is goofy and fun. “I have a dad sense of humor,” she says, but she’s also quick to describe herself as someone who needs time to herself. “I’m very much an introverted extrovert. There are days when I need to not go out, put my projector on, and dance to The Cure. I do this weekly.” When I ask her to reflect on the qualities that make her a good roaster, she’s quick to answer; “I think you can say in roasting that something isn’t working. This profile isn’t working. It takes a level of humility to say something isn’t working, ask why, and then learn from your mistakes.”

2017 was a year of learning for Christina, and I can’t help but wonder what meeting her last year would have looked like—would she be this person I was talking to, who spoke with a confidence and ease I don’t think people twice her age possess? Obviously, we’ll never know, but it’s clear that when forced to face a particular sort of darkness, you have to contend with new aspects of your life and personality you sort of never knew were there. “Everything that’s happened to me in the last year was like a slap in the face, and it just told me that I’m capable. I can do this. I can handle a lot. I can write decently. And I think I’m not scared anymore,” Christina says.  For Christina, she refuses to be ignored, and knows she has the strength, now, more than ever, to speak up. “I don’t have to walk around in fear. My life and my words matter.”