Written by Kristen Pizzo.
We all want to put our money where our mouths are, but trying to practice ethical consumption under capitalism is like embarking on an impossible scavenger hunt. With booby traps everywhere. You’re damned no matter what you buy.
This past Pride Month, like all Pride months, queer-owned businesses were buried under the obnoxious avalanche of rainbow capitalism. Finding merch made by actual queer creators was not as easy I thought it would be. We should always have ownership over the products that are marketed specifically to our community, as well as those that use our flags, language, memes, and symbols. Buying Target’s ugly attempts at rainbow fashion is a crime against gay humanity. But a girl can only have so many bi pride T-shirts and flags, so ethical shopping in that area can only make so much of a difference.
Coffee and coffee shops will always be a part of queer life. So it only seems right that my caffeine kick be supplied by my community.
For one thing, queer people are always behind the coffee bar. I’ve met and worked with so many gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans and nonbinary baristas that giving my coffee order to someone with aggressively heterosexual vibes just feels downright strange. The two queer relationships I’ve been in have involved Starbucks baristas, and I’m starting to think the chances of meeting someone there may be better for queers than on any dating app. Falling in love with baristas, despite what Kristin Chenoweth’s song about it may tell you, is a canonically queer experience.
And it’s not just baristas who are overwhelmingly queer. According to Internet and pop culture, iced coffee in particular is the signature queer drink. As Alim Kheraj wrote in GQ, “Essentially, iced coffee has become a queer avatar, and a way for gay people to signpost themselves against the uniformity of heterosexuality.” Former BuzzFeed writer Sam Stryker confirmed the LGBTQ+ community’s affinity for iced coffee (which, it must be noted, lasts all year-round) in a post titled This Post Will Only Make Sense If You’re Gay And Love Iced Coffee. In Salt Lake City, coffee shops serve as rare oases for gatherings in a state where queer-specific spaces are far and few in between.
I’m not the only one yearning for a queerer coffee scene. Salon just published a piece on the importance of queer spaces that aren’t bars. (Because being queer and sober is a thing). Coffee and coffee shops will always be a part of queer life. So it only seems right that my caffeine kick be supplied by my community.
Starbucks may be the employer of so many hot, hot queers, but it’s also a massive corporation that is always out of oatmilk, the non-dairy alternative of choice for so many LGBTQ+ iced latte drinkers. It’s time we break up with coffee chains and start drinking our iced coffee from the source. From now on, I’ll be powering my days with fair-trade, sustainable, and yes, queer, coffee.
Here are a handful of queer coffee roasters you can support today:
1. Queer Wave Coffee
Cheyenne Xochítl Love just might make queer coffee dreams come true. Instagram’s algorithm can be way off at times, but I have to hand it to the targeted ads. They led me to discover her Kickstarter for an Oakland-based brick-and-mortar coffee shop for her roasting company, Queer Wave Coffee. With the shop, she aims to create a queer space and “disrupt the colonial supply chain” of coffee.
Cheyenne is an Indigenous Two-Spirit non-binary trans woman and coffee industry veteran with 28 years of experience behind her. Now, she’s done working for the heteronormative, patriarchy-led coffee world and ready to share her roasts with her community on her own terms.
2. Uncommon Coffee Roasters
3. Explorer Coldbrew Coffee
“An adventure-seeker and risk-taker, Founder Cason Crane has traveled to over 100 countries on all seven continents. He was the first openly LGBT and fifth youngest person to climb Mt. Everest and the Seven Summits – the highest mountain on each continent, a feat he achieved while raising money and awareness for LGBTQ suicide prevention.”
4. Coachella Valley Coffee
Coachella Valley, California
“We aim to raise the level of what people should be expecting from their coffee: We are down to earth, good for the earth, and one of the best coffee roasters on earth.
We love what we do. It is gratifying to know that our work helps improve working conditions for coffee farmers, protects the environment, promotes sustainable practices, and that our amazingly sumptuous coffee provides daily pleasure to coffee lovers around the globe.
We truly love great coffee!“
5. Equator Coffee
San Fransisco, California
“”Coffee can be better.” That realization inspired our founders to roast and sell coffee themselves from a Marin County garage in 1995. Coffee can be roasted better, brewed better and, most importantly, it can be sourced in a way that makes lives better. That garage became Equator Coffees and marked the beginning of a high-impact coffee company focused on quality, sustainability and social responsibility. Long before anyone thought coffee could embody any of those qualities.
After two decades, nine cafes and thousands of cups served, our impact has grown but our values remain the same.”
About the Author: Kristen Pizzo (she/her) is a writer and actor who drinks a very gay amount of iced coffee.