Ciera Young first fell for the community-creating power of coffee alongside the women of her family, who would share stories, healing, and coffee around the table on special occasions. With her roasting company, Mama’s Brew Coffee, Ciera has carried on this community-centric focus with the motto “There’s Coffee at the House,” and emphasis on equity and representation within the coffee world. So brew your cup however you like, pull up a seat, and read on for our full interview, then tune in to one of Young’s inspiring, accessible, and connecting brew videos on her Instagram page for more.
What are your earliest memories of coffee?
My earliest memories of coffee are with the women of my family. I remember, during Thanksgiving and Christmas, that my grandmother, aunts, and my mom would make breakfast for everyone, and have some of the most epic conversations. It felt like we laughed, shared our fears, and healed each other, all over a cup of coffee. Once they deemed I was old enough to have a cup, I felt like I had become a woman. It felt like a rite of passage for me.
When did you first get involved with working in coffee? Is there a specific moment you recall when you knew you decided to make coffee your career?
After working in quality and safety, for a few years, and tinkering with roasting and selling my coffee from home, a good friend and peer in the coffee industry, introduced me to the idea of marrying my experience in quality, with my love for coffee for a commercial coffee company. I didn’t know such a position existed. I thank him all the time for that.
Can you tell us more about your company Mama’s Brew Coffee?
Yes. Mama’s Brew Coffee was started in 2017 with one simple mission; make quality coffee for everyone. With our growth, and gaining of knowledge about coffee, we take that information and educate our customers about just what’s inside their cup.
You recently did a collaboration with Matchbook Coffee Project? Can you tell us more about that, and the coffee you created; “NATIVE TONGUE”? In your recent interview with Matchbook Coffee Project you shared that Mama’s Brew is recalibrating the language in coffee, and making it feel like home. Can you tell us more about this vision and focus?
The Matchbook Coffee Project had been in the works since the latter part of 2019. With the encouragement of Cameron Heath of Counter Culture Coffee, and previous guest roaster for the Matchbook project, I decided to use the platform to reintroduce myself to the coffee world and to make my stance clear within the industry. My coffee, Native Tongue, was my way of recalibrating the language around diversity and inclusion, and shifting it to talks of true equity and representation by Black people within the coffee world. We must strip away all the fanfare, and talk about what it takes to be equal with our counterparts.
How is Mama’s Brew helping make those who work, or seek to work, within the coffee industry “mortgage ready”?
Now, Mama’s Brew is helping make those seeking work, or those who currently work in the coffee industry to be “mortgage ready” simply by being transparent about the job opportunities beyond the bar; quality technicians, equipment maintenance personnel, material supplier, etc. You can be in coffee and marry that world to other things you are passionate about, and make a livable wage. You do not have to physically touch coffee to be a part of the coffee industry.
How would you describe the science behind roasting to those of us who have never done it before?
My way to describe roasting coffee to those new to it, is the caramelization of available sugars in raw green coffee beans into brown goodness. We’re just using heat to brown the green coffee beans.
What are your thoughts on the “specialty coffee” label, and where do you hope the world of “specialty coffee” goes in the future?
When it comes to the label of specialty coffee, I look at it two ways; on the personal level, and then on the customer level. Personally, I am specialty coffee, in regards to being amongst my peers, and using our cumulative knowledge, to create quality coffee. For my customers, I try to steer away from that title, because everyone deserves great coffee, no matter what their home set up or surroundings look like. I prefer to be under the moniker of quality coffee.
What coffee companies do you feel are leading the charge for change within the industry right now?
A few coffee companies that are leading the charge for change are, Mayorga Organics Coffee, CxffeeBlack, and Nguyen Coffee Supply, solely by offering a farm to cup experience that reflects the origins and heritage in which it derived from. This is what real representation looks like.
Who inspires you within the coffee industry?
Individuals like Martin Mayorga, Joe Marrocco, and Candice Madison, who are the educational forefront, and they’ve openly shared information about coffee, that was once only accessible through expensive seminars that most people couldn’t afford, unless they were sponsored. I appreciate their knowledge, and willingness to share it.
You recently asked your Instagram followers what they like…and don’t like about coffee. What were some of your favorite answers, and how would you answer this question yourself?
From the question of what people like and dislike about coffee, I enjoyed how people love the ritual of making it in the morning, and the dislike that I enjoyed and laughed at was the fact that coffee is a natural diuretic.
What have been some of your favorite brew recipes, and videos, to create on your Instagram as of late?
My favorite brew method video that I’ve created is actually the first one I posted about my French press method that helps get rid of the fine grind grit called the “Pull Out Method.” It was an attention grabber, and was a quick way to troubleshoot the grounds you get at the bottom of your cup.
How has your coffee routine, career, and creating connections over coffee, changed over the past five months?
Mama’s Brew’s motto has always been There’s Coffee at the House, so with the impact of Covid-19, it drove that statement home, literally. I’m very home-brewing forward, and I’ve just used this time to work on being in front of the camera, and on social media, to keep connected to my customers and peers.
What’s coming next from Mama’s Brew in 2020? How will you be continuing to further your “There’s Coffee at the House” motto?
The rest of 2020 is me reintroducing the brand, and creating brews and methods that make it easy for the everyday person, who just has ten minutes to spare in the morning, but they want quality coffee. I’m focused on them, and what their basic set up can be.
Website: Mama’s Brew Coffee