The pen can truly be mightier than the sword if the one who wields it is a master in the art of writing. Some of the most popular writers, like Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Stephenie Meyer, had quite the journeys before releasing their world-renowned novels, and we’re glad to say I’MNAB was a part of Emma Niro’s journey, just as she was part of ours.
Emma Niro was a Content Writing Intern with I’M NOT A BARISTA.
Born in the state of New Jersey, USA, Emma has always had coffee around her. She lived in an Italian Catholic household, and along with her two sisters, she always saw her “Nonno” (Italian for grandfather) having a cup of espresso in hand. So, drinking her first cup at the age of seven was no surprise. The reason, she says, wasn’t even because everyone else drank coffee.
“My parents gave me coffee when I was seven years old. Because I had poor eyesight, and they didn’t know that. They thought, ‘How do we get Emma to pay attention in her first-grade classroom? Let’s give her coffee.’”
This didn’t work, but it pulled young Emma into a life of coffee, and till today, she cannot seem to function without it, and attending college raised that bar to eleven.
Emma studied Literature and Writing at the University of California, San Diego, and she became a regular at its student-run coffee shop, M.O.M – Middle of Muir. They knew her order by heart (a soy, rose latte) and always wrote little quotes on her cup to brighten her day. Emma mentioned one day, she decided to change her order, and the baristas went wild.
But now that she’s older, she experiments more with her coffee, adding honey, different kinds of milk, cinnamon, and sometimes (although she hates to admit it) coffee pods. If she isn’t experimenting, she drinks her coffee, her most preferred way – a dark French roast, with darker, richer notes.
She would eventually see a coffee community bigger than the big coffee corporations and tiny coffee shops in her vicinity, as her love for coffee would be combined with her love for writing.
Funnily enough, writer Emma Niro never liked reading in the first place. She only fell in love with reading after she had her first panic attack at the age of eight years old. During that traumatizing night, Emma’s grandmother handed her a book to help distract herself and calm herself down. This distraction worked, and Emma knew she wanted to be a writer at that moment because the power of words allowed her panic attack to dissipate.
“I would love to write a book and help a kid that’s going through what I went through. I want to help them escape and find a safe haven through literature.”
From then on, Emma went on a deep dive into the world of literature. In high school, she was the president and co-founder of the book club and part of the literary magazine. In college, she was on the literary magazine team – Other People Literary Magazine, as an editor, working one-on-one with other authors before their works were published, as well as an author for a few months.
She had one of her short pieces – The Disappearing Act – submitted anonymously to the literary magazine that was then published in their new issue. Although she was part of the editorial team, she had to take a step back, hoping no one would notice they were reviewing their own teammate’s work.
“I was just seeing my peers critique my work without them knowing that it’s me. I would just say, ‘Yeah. Totally agree,’ hoping they wouldn’t catch on.”
Emma is currently prepping to go to graduate school, to study Fiction Writing, as she loves writing young adult fiction like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight, as well as queer fiction since she’s a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. She uses her work to give the community a voice outside of the stereotypes people usually hear.
Leaving college, she was ready to find a writing gig and applied for as many jobs as she could find. She wasn’t passionate about a lot of them and felt like she was settling. That was until she saw I’M NOT A BARISTA’s internship opening.
“I saw the job posting on LinkedIn and I was like, ‘Wow. Coffee and writing. Two things that I like, live, breathe, and die for.’”
Emma did not know that I’M NOT A BARISTA existed then. She knew that coffee books were a thing, but not coffee media, and definitely not how big the coffee community was. Unlike other job openings, Emma resonated with I’M NOT A BARISTA’s mission, and she decided to send in her application, knowing that it was an unpaid position.
“The opportunity to give people a voice where nobody’s been able to hear them, listen to them, or even take the time to learn about them. I decided I’d rather do something for the greater good than for a paycheck.”
She was offered an interview, and I’M NOT A BARISTA’s founder, Micky Wang, must have noticed her three defining characteristics: being extremely creative, intelligent, and loyal, as he offered her the job on the spot, allowing her to join the team after graduation.
She left her first meeting feeling good and nervous because it was something she hadn’t done before, which made her wonder if she was even qualified. Fortunately, working with the entire team was a breeze, as she was always up to date on everything that was happening and was a crucial part of the introduction of audio stories. At some point, she headed the writing team and worked well with her fellow writers, Nathierah and Oluwatobifunmi.
Emma has a special place in her heart for all her coffee stories, like Ömer Faruk Şahin, Helena Oliviero, and many more, but she really connected with Juan Angel Welchez, both as a fellow coffee lover and as a person. He was honest, relatable, and friendly, and that left an indelible impact on her, so she really tried to write his coffee story as great as he portrayed himself.
Interviewing and writing about coffee people gave her a deeper insight into the coffee community, and she appreciated the work put into making every cup even more.
“It’s different, from kind of knowing about it and then educating yourself on it and talking to these people. When I interviewed Juan Angel Welchez, the coffee farmer, that was really eye-opening for me.”
As simple as it may sound, working with I’M NOT A BARISTA made her understand how important the tips she left for baristas were. She now understood the work, time, and effort all coffee workers put into their jobs, especially when most are being underpaid. She understood that while she was in the coffee shop at 8 AM for her morning juice, the barista was probably there at 4 AM, making preparations and still keeping smiles on their faces.
This is the realization that I’M NOT A BARISTA is working towards, that baristas are no longer undervalued, by giving them a voice and helping them out in any way. Emma is leaving the team and going into the world with this realization.
Currently, Emma Niro is focusing on working on her novel, spending time with her friends, girlfriend, and family, and training for a half-marathon. She plans to work in the spring and summer to save up money for graduate school, hoping to finish off as a Creative Writing Professor and one day become a world-renowned published author in YA fiction.
Her message to everyone willing to achieve their dreams is:
“Dream big, love yourself, accept who you are as a person, and do not let anybody squash the light that you have or dismiss your dreams because, at the end of the day, the one person that has to live with yourself is you.”