Alumna Turns Passion Into Career

December 5, 2018

Stephanie AlcalaStephanie Alcala ’15 loves coffee. She’s made a career out of it.

While Alcala loves to drink a nice cup of java in the morning, she enjoys studying and researching the plant even more. Her coffee career took root while she was working as a barista at Los Angeles-based Groundwork Coffee Co., where she discovered an interest in how the beans are cultivated. 

She is currently the sustainability supervisor for Coffee Manufactory, a new sustainable coffee roasting company that is part of the San Francisco-based Tartine Group. 

After graduating from Whittier with a degree in environmental science, Alcala obtained a master’s degree from the University of Michigan in ecology and evolutionary biology frontiers and traveled to Panama to further study the coffee plant. This past summer, she was awarded the Specialty Coffee Association’s 2018 Re:co Symposium Fellowship and is the first-ever recipient of its Leadership Equality and Diversity Scholarship. 

“To be recognized by the SCA as an emerging coffee professional was unreal,” Alcala said in a recent Daily Coffee News article. “Being a Re:co Fellow gave me an opportunity to network as well as gain tremendous insight as to some of the most pressing issues facing the specialty coffee industry.”

Alcala recently visited Associate Professor of Environmental Science Cinzia Fissore’s class, Resources, People, and Innovation. The course seeks to educate students through engagement with the campus community, local governmental entities, and the private sector to learn about new plans that have been implemented or tested in the fields of energy, air quality, water resources, and food production. 
During her visit, Alcala talked about the variety of coffee cultivators, what specialty coffee is, and more importantly how it fits into the supply chain of the coffee industry. She mentioned that the major threat to the supply chain was climate change, specifically the affects it has on the areas where coffee currently grows. 
Alcala explained that there is a huge demand for sustainable coffee, because the difference of getting a cup of coffee from a convenience store compared to a specialty coffee shop comes down to two things: how good it tastes and how carefully it was produced.

Iyesha Ferguson '19 contributed to this story.