Erika Koss is a writer, researcher, teacher, and traveler who sees coffee through the lens of her life-long passions for literature and human rights.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Erika started her coffee career as a barista in San Diego in 1996. After, she worked in various sectors from government to higher education, and found her way back to coffee through her master's thesis in Political Science.
Now she is a PhD candidate in the International Development Studies program at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, working to complete her dissertation that focuses on women in coffee in Kenya. She is a Research Associate at the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nairobi in Nairobi, Kenya, where she lives with her younger son.
Erika has written several articles in coffee and other publications. Her research centers on the need for sustainability, resilience, and gender equity in the global coffee sector, particularly in East Africa.
From 2018-19, Erika was a member of the Creator’s Group who wrote the curriculum for the Sustainability Coffee Skills program of the Specialty Coffee Association. The course launched at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston in April 2019.
Erika remains a Authorized SCA Trainer (AST) for the “Introduction to Coffee” and “Sustainability Coffee Skills” courses and is working on her full "Sensory" certificate, which she hopes to finish in 2023. She has also served as a judge for the national barista and Aeropress compeititions in Kenya.
Her latest writing is a "viewpoint essay" for 25 magazine titled "From Sea to Shining Sea: Coffee's Transport and Expanding Our Definition of 'the Middle People" (April 2022):
Co-creator and trainer for SCA Coffee Sustainability program
Created and taught this "special topics" course for undergraduate social science students at Dalhousie University
Taught course designed for International Development Studies undergraduate students
Worked on the National Initiatives teams that created "The Big Read" and "Poetry Out Loud"; served as series editor for educational curriculum of American fiction and poetry
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