Anna Shuayre remembers ordering a macchiato at a popular local coffee shop in Guadalajara and putting the cup down after her first sip.
”“It blew my mind. I felt like I was chewing on raw cacao nibs. I had to take another sip,” she says. “It was like I was drinking chocolate and that’s how I knew, wow, coffee can taste like a lot of things. This is how a good cup of coffee can taste like.”Anna Shuayre
You’ve probably seen Anna Shuayre’s name floating around I’M NOT A BARISTA. She’s a regular contributor and volunteer writer for us and we are so grateful for her taking the time to help us share the stories of coffee people around the world. Check out one of her favorite stories on Daniel Tessier, Co-Owner of Café Oro Maya in Mexico, the country’s first organic-certified coffee farm.
Anna Shuayre is based in Mexico City and is the one-woman task force behind Meet the Local, an Instagram channel that promotes local businesses and the people who run them. She was deeply inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York but wanted to combine an economic perspective to her storytelling in order to erase the gap between business owners and consumers.
“I really wanted to share the struggles and the stories of the people behind the coffee shops, clothing brands, zero waste shops, etc., that I love, not only to promote them and help them survive, but also to share their struggles and successes with people who want to start similar businesses,”
says Anna Shuayre.
“Coffee shop owners and entrepreneurs are just like you and me. They started somewhere and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. They share their knowledge because they love what they do.”
Anna Shuayre’s mom was also a big inspiration and introduction to the world of coffee for Anna. “I’ve been drinking coffee since I can remember because my mom loves coffee. It’s something I got from her,” she says. Anna formally entered the coffee industry as a barista nearly two years ago but was laid off from her first coffee job at a high-end café due to the pandemic. “I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one but it was a shock,” she shares. The experience ended up opening doors for her, however, when she was later invited by a friend with a newly-opened café to join the team as a barista.
“[In the previous café] I couldn’t train a lot because they cared more about making their drinks look good than empowering their baristas. It was frustrating because I wanted to learn everything there was to know about coffee,” says Anna Shuayre. After she joined her friend’s new shop, her coffee career really started to take off. “I ended up learning quite fast because my friend trusted my choices and gave me an active responsibility. I got to know everything there was behind the cup, from the service to the roasters,” she says.
Now, Anna Shuayre is taking her career a step further and working with a local roaster that directly collaborates with coffee plantations and farmers. “They’ve been working with coffee for over 10 years and they also sell coffee tools from brands like Fellow, Slayer, Acaia and more so I have all these gadgets I can use. It’s like discovering a whole new world within something I already know,” she says.
As both a coffee consumer and professional, Anna is proud to see how the local industry has evolved over the past few years. “Now, a lot of shops try to base their concept on Mexican coffee with local roasters and local plantations. Most of our coffee is exported elsewhere but it’s cool that [these businesses] are trying to keep it here and pay the roasters and farmers accordingly,” she says. “A lot of people really know the type of coffee that they like and they’re actively looking for coffee that’s been grown and roasted in Mexico. That didn’t used to happen and they go around asking if shops specifically have coffee from Oaxaca or Veracruz,” says Anna.
The coffee community still has a long way to go in terms of acceptance however. “People can be close-minded sometimes and we shouldn’t be so quick to judge how people drink their coffee, whether they add milk or sugar, etc. Coffee is a whole world and something that brings us together. It shouldn’t be the thing that sets us apart,” says Anna.
Anna is the interviewer, writer, photographer, and social media manager of Meet the Local and it’s absolutely important to her that her stories inspire feelings of connection among her readers. “My best friend and partner help me edit the stories and I always ask her if it makes her feel something. It’s easy to share stories if you’re the one listening to them but it’s harder for people who only read them to get the feeling behind the story. I want people to feel like they’re there with me,” says Anna.
Although content on Meet the Local is on pause due to the pandemic, Anna has big plans to grow the community outside of Mexico and collect local stories wherever she is in the world. “I’d also like Meet the Local to be like I’M NOT A BARISTA, a non-profit organization that not only shares stories but helps people too. I’ve written stories about businesses that are no longer there and even though I know it’s not my fault, I feel like a failure because I shared their story. Hopefully, in the future, I can say that we have a fund that people have donated to,
so I can help businesses stay afloat or whatever they need. The goal for Meet the Local is to be able to help people on a financial level, not only through exposure or empowerment,” she says.
One question she often asks people when interviewing them for Meet the Local is, “What does success mean to you?” In an interview with the owner of a used clothing store, her answer really made an impact on Anna. “She first became quiet and then said, ‘We’ve been trained by society to have this concept of success as money or to do better but sometimes success simply means getting out of bed when you don’t want to; opening when you’d rather stay home; keep going when you want to quit,’ and that really resonated with me,” says Anna.
“She was really honest and vulnerable and for her to open up to a stranger like me is awesome because it means I’m doing something good and I’m trustworthy. She didn’t care if one person or 100 people would read her story because she knew some people would identify with [her definition of success] and that we don’t need to be productive all the time. It’s OK if the biggest success today is getting out of bed,” says Anna.
Anna is also an avid reader and music fan. Her daily schedule includes waking up and going to her office job at a coffee roaster, coming home to cook, then work on content for Meet the Local or helping organizations like I’M NOT A BARISTA with volunteer writing. But despite her busy day, she always finds time to read at least one chapter from a book to help her stay grounded and focused. One of her current favorites is “In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs” by Grace Bonney, a collection of stories not unlike Meet the Local centered around women in business.
For Anna, success means waking up in the morning with a purpose.
“It’s me knowing that I’m doing something I love, that I’m helping other people, and those things combined is providing me with an income that gives me the means to a good quality of life.”
What is new?
NOT A BARISTA Podcast
We are constantly inspired by all the amazing stories of baristas around the world and we want to take this opportunity to introduce you to our newest project: The I’M NOT A BARISTA Podcast. This podcast will be sharing all our incredible and amazing coffee stories from baristas and coffee people around the globe.