Cody Barnhart is a barista and sales account manager at Vienna Coffee Company, a small-batch specialty roaster in Maryville, Tennessee. Though he has only been in the industry for a few years, he is eager to build a community around the greater Knoxville area's growing coffee scene. He is a US Brewer's Cup competitor and has helped facilitate SCA involvement in the Knoxville area. He recently began putting together the Knoxville Coffee Guild to help foster a culture of hospitality and excellence among East Tennessee cafes.
Though I have only been in the specialty coffee industry for a few years now, I have jumped headfirst into connecting Knoxville cafes with the national specialty coffee scene, particularly by means of SCA involvement. Early on, I noticed shops in the area saw one another as competitors first and a community second; I decided, then, that I wanted to dedicate the rest of my years in the industry to helping cultivate hospitality and friendship among cafes and roasters. I started hosting events to get local professionals together in the same room and helped our team host the only Bloom satellite event in the southeast. This year, I launched what I'm calling the Knoxville Coffee Guild to help create opportunity, events, support, and interest among coffee professionals in the Knoxville area. My goal with this project is to help make our city a destination for excellent coffee served with a culture of excellent hospitality, along with creating space for statewide and regional collaboration.
The opportunity to contribute to larger conversations about community among competitors, consistency in coffee quality, cafe service, and customer hospitality would be an honor. My vision for the USA Chapter is to see the SCA enable local communities and special interest groups to grow so that we can, collectively, make coffee better. Though I am passionate about the Knoxville coffee community in particular, I want to see coffee communities across the US express their own values and help them meet their goals. This, I think, is the most effective use of the new USA Chapter of the SCA.