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In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we spoke with several of our leaders at Compass to learn more about their unique stories, and their thoughts on how heritage, hope, and even coffee have shaped their identities and who they are today.

We recognize that each person’s experience and heritage is unique. Within this blogpost, they each utilize various identifiers – like “Hispanic” “Latinx” and/or “Latino/a” – that best express their own experience. Here are their stories.


Carina

Events / Customer Success Manager

 

"This is a time to reflect and investigate your heritage, culture, and whatever you want to learn. This is a time to celebrate."

Carina has spent a lot of time over the years trying to learn about her heritage and culture, and now she is spending her time recreating traditions for her daughter. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Carina is reminded to ask questions, to embrace story telling, and to pursue connections to her heritage.

As a transplant from New York and Miami, Carina has taken on the role of the event coordinator and customer success manager at Compass Coffee. For the past seven months, she has been the go-to person to build relationships with customers and really create a world-class events program at our new roasting facility in Ivy City. First thing in the morning, you can find her drinking a cortado, but by the end of the day she is onto an Iced London Fog with a dash of oat milk.

“I have always been a coffee drinker,” Carina says, “love the taste, and the community that coffee can create by bringing people together.” After being a customer whenever Carina visited Washington D.C., she knew she had to apply to Compass when she and her husband decided to move to the city. “Compass was one of my favorite interviews I have had. I knew I wanted to work at this company and really develop what this role could be.”

When Carina’s grandmother was a baby, she and her sisters were shipped away from their family in Spain on a boat with sailors. They landed in Mexico, where Carina’s grandmother was then adopted. Her parents met as neighbors in Mexico, but then moved to Dallas in their early years. Now, Carina and her family are the only family members that live in the states.

“With the rest of my family still living in Mexico, sometimes I feel that I am not enough, but other times I feel like I am too much,” Carina says.

Growing up, Carina’s parents really encouraged her to speak Spanish, but for a long time, she fought that. It wasn’t until she moved to Miami that she saw other people really embrace their Latinx heritage. Whenever Carina traveled back to Mexico to visit family, although her family was so loving and welcoming, she found the initial communication challenging. She didn’t always understand the cultural references “ for better or worse, it was clear we were the American kids.” She couldn’t help but feel like she didn’t fully belong, in either the United States or Mexico.

Over the years, Carina has worked to keep the connections with her family and heritage; she finds it important for her daughter, Elouise’s, future.

It is important to Carina that she passes on new and old traditions to her family. She never celebrated De los Muertos in her household growing up, but it is something she wants to pass on to Elouise. Another tradition that Carina has always celebrated is the day of her saint: Saint Maria. “It is like a second birthday in my culture; filled with fun, food, and laughter.”

Carina grew up listening to a wide range of musical artists, and a love for Latin music. Some of her favorite memories are of her mother and grandmother in the kitchen, preparing dishes and singing in multiple languages. “My biggest connection to my culture is through Latin music.”

Even when she felt disconnected to her heritage, Carina has been focused on choosing joy and turning to hope in times of despair. “The world has so many unknowns, it's healthy to let go of what you can’t control.” She shares her hope for her daughter’s future, who is so resilient and filled with joy.

“This is a time to reflect and investigate your heritage, culture, and whatever you want to learn. This is a time to celebrate.”

 

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we spoke with several of our leaders at Compass to learn more about their unique stories, and their thoughts on how heritage, hope, and even coffee have shaped their identities and who they are today.

We recognize that each person’s experience and heritage is unique. Within this blogpost, they each utilize various identifiers – like “Hispanic” “Latinx” and/or “Latino/a” – that best express their own experience. Here are their stories.


Carina

Events / Customer Success Manager

"This is a time to reflect and investigate your heritage, culture, and whatever you want to learn. This is a time to celebrate."

Carina has spent a lot of time over the years trying to learn about her heritage and culture, and now she is spending her time recreating traditions for her daughter. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Carina is reminded to ask questions, to embrace story telling, and to pursue connections to her heritage.

As a transplant from New York and Miami, Carina has taken on the role of the event coordinator and customer success manager at Compass Coffee. For the past seven months, she has been the go-to person to build relationships with customers and really create a world-class events program at our new roasting facility in Ivy City. First thing in the morning, you can find her drinking a cortado, but by the end of the day she is onto an Iced London Fog with a dash of oat milk.

“I have always been a coffee drinker,” Carina says, “love the taste, and the community that coffee can create by bringing people together.” After being a customer whenever Carina visited Washington D.C., she knew she had to apply to Compass when she and her husband decided to move to the city. “Compass was one of my favorite interviews I have had. I knew I wanted to work at this company and really develop what this role could be.”

When Carina’s grandmother was a baby, she and her sisters were shipped away from their family in Spain on a boat with sailors. They landed in Mexico, where Carina’s grandmother was then adopted. Her parents met as neighbors in Mexico, but then moved to Dallas in their early years. Now, Carina and her family are the only family members that live in the states.

“With the rest of my family still living in Mexico, sometimes I feel that I am not enough, but other times I feel like I am too much,” Carina says.

Growing up, Carina’s parents really encouraged her to speak Spanish, but for a long time, she fought that. It wasn’t until she moved to Miami that she saw other people really embrace their Latinx heritage. Whenever Carina traveled back to Mexico to visit family, although her family was so loving and welcoming, she found the initial communication challenging. She didn’t always understand the cultural references “ for better or worse, it was clear we were the American kids.” She couldn’t help but feel like she didn’t fully belong, in either the United States or Mexico.

Over the years, Carina has worked to keep the connections with her family and heritage; she finds it important for her daughter, Elouise’s, future.

It is important to Carina that she passes on new and old traditions to her family. She never celebrated De los Muertos in her household growing up, but it is something she wants to pass on to Elouise. Another tradition that Carina has always celebrated is the day of her saint: Saint Maria. “It is like a second birthday in my culture; filled with fun, food, and laughter.”

Carina grew up listening to a wide range of musical artists, and a love for Latin music. Some of her favorite memories are of her mother and grandmother in the kitchen, preparing dishes and singing in multiple languages. “My biggest connection to my culture is through Latin music.”

Even when she felt disconnected to her heritage, Carina has been focused on choosing joy and turning to hope in times of despair. “The world has so many unknowns, it's healthy to let go of what you can’t control.” She shares her hope for her daughter’s future, who is so resilient and filled with joy.

“This is a time to reflect and investigate your heritage, culture, and whatever you want to learn. This is a time to celebrate.”


Garett

Flavor Lead

“The more I dove into coffee and my Mexican heritage, the more I learned that the two are connected."

Garett always loved coffee. But until he left for college, he didn’t realize the role coffee played in his family, or how it was rooted in his Mexican heritage. Growing up, coffee wasn’t just a staple in his home; it was the vehicle for connection that brought his family together.

“The more I dove into coffee and my Mexican heritage, the more I learned that the two are connected. Years after learning that there are actual coffee farms in Mexico, I got to visit one. It was a surreal experience.”

Garett is the Flavor Lead at Compass. As a member of the production team, his role is to focus on making Simple Syrups, roasting coffee, making kegs, and everything else that needs to be produced. Newer to the role, Garett’s goal is to work on determining the types of flavors that we want to create as a company. He really wants to hone in on what our customers truly want.

Garett started exploring coffee more in college. Turns out, Compass was the supplier of his campus café. After college, Garett moved back to California where he dabbled in the tech world. It didn’t take him long to realize that wasn’t the route to him, so back to coffee he went. Six months ago, Garett moved back to DC to pursue opportunities at Compass. After months of training in the cafés, he moved to the production team full-time two months ago.

Born in Southern California, Garett is part Mexican and part Irish. For him, his culture resonates mostly with food. Garett says his grandmother is a phenomenal cook, someone who can cook with no recipes, but makes it perfect every time.

Although he has spent time trying to dive into his heritage, he feels that his cultural connection isn’t as strong as others. “It is something I have been wrestling with for years,” Garett said,” It is one of the most beautiful cultures, but there is still so much more that I don’t know.” Since he was a kid, Garett has been asking major questions about his heritage. “What does being Mexican actually mean? What does being a blend of different heritages mean? Am I not Mexican enough? Am I too Mexican?” Garett has his family to help him answer some of these questions, but he says that in reality, it is up to him to learn about his culture and heritage.

“My Dad was a first generation child of an immigrant family, he speaks Spanish fluently and has a strong tie to his culture and heritage.” Although Garett doesn’t have as strong of a connection as his dad, he is learning about his culture through storytelling. “I can’t wait to pass down the stories to those who come after me,” Garett says.

As a child, Garett was not interested in learning Spanish. English was the primary language at his home, and many of his friends didn’t speak Spanish. It took until college for Garett to start learning the language. “I found it hard to learn about a culture, without learning its language. My parents chose this life for me, so that I could choose. I am forever grateful for them, this culture, and giving me the opportunities they gave me.”

As we continue through this pandemic, and these trying times, Garett can see the reconnection that is already happening among friends and family; He looks forward to the day that we can all gather for coffee, or tamales and just spend time laughing together.

“For me, it is important to remember that there is never a wrong time to learn about your heritage. On being hispanic, I am only one of hundreds of thousands of links in a chain going back in history. But I am still a link, and that’s important for me to remember.”


Abby

Designer

"If I ever have kids, my hope is that I can do justice to their heritage and share the stories of the people who came before me.”

Growing up, Abby wanted to be just like everyone else in her small midwestern town; she wanted “the American Dream.” To fit in, Abby spent a lot of time straightening her hair and refusing to learn Spanish. “There weren't a lot of brown people in my neighborhood or school,” Abby said. Yet, once she started High school and college, she began to appreciate her heritage and embrace all that makes her unique.

“For a long time, my generation was taught to ‘assimilate’ and to not hold on to old culture. Becoming ‘American' was what we all wanted.”

Abby is one of the first graphic designer’s at Compass. As a recent graduate, and new transplant to the DC area, she has been able to work on many new projects with the media team. Typically, you can find Abby drinking a Vanilla Oat Milk Latte at our new roasting facility in Ivy City, where the design team works.

“The moment I stepped into the new Compass facility, I knew I was going to be a part of this, something big,” Abby said. “Finding a company that loved people and loved coffee as much as I did was a dream come true.” Abby said that she didn’t know she could love the job she had, “it really is amazing.”

Abby identifies as mixed and Hispanic; her dad is Puerto Rican and Cuban, and her mom is white. When she spent time thinking about what being Hispanic and mixed meant to her growing up, Abby says that she thinks of family and food. Holidays were spent in the kitchen with her grandmother, cooking, laughing, and dancing.

“My abuelita would make us dance and sing with her; being surrounded by so much joy, laughter, and energy — it was beautiful,” Abby said.

Abby went on to share, “Sometimes I get the sense of imposter syndrome because I don’t speak Spanish. I even questioned if I was qualified to do this interview. But something I realized as I entered adulthood was that despite my mixed heritage, my story is still valid. My story is connected to something bigger, and that is important too.”

Celebrating a month like National Hispanic Heritage Month is so important in amplifying diverse voices. Learning about others' heritage and traditions is how we can all come together to appreciate each other's uniqueness and learn more about each other's different stories.

To celebrate her own heritage, at her wedding, Abby and her father Salsaed for their first dance. “The guests loved the dance, but for me, it was about recognizing this part of who I am,” said Abby.

When asked about what Abby is hopeful for, she said, “I am looking forward to seeing people gather again. Connections are to be made, and life is to be lived. If I ever have kids, my hope is that I can do justice to their heritage and share the stories of the people who came before me.”

Abby wants everyone to remember that it is important to look at someone, and realize you don’t know their story or their heritage. “When you look at me, most people think that I am black and white.” It is important to ask questions just beyond this month and learn about each other’s unique stories.

“Own your uniqueness and your story.”


Erik

Café Manager

"Growing up with multiple cultures is humbling and teaches you to appreciate what you have, and where you came from."

Erik recently traveled back to his Mother’s small village in Mexico to learn more about his heritage. Her hometown is a small, rural, lush and green area, where all of the food is locally produced. He was able to spend a couple of weeks connecting with family and learning about his Latino Heritage.

“At first it was challenging, since I was so unfamiliar with any cultural references or new Mexican slang.” Spanish is the primary language spoken in Erik’s household, but for him, that makes connecting with his own generation more difficult. He explained that the Spanish his parents speak is more closely aligned with Spanish from the ‘90s. It is very direct, and rooted in respect with elders.

Erik’s dad is from an even smaller village in Mexico. Eventually, his father moved to a bigger town in Mexico, and then proceeded to move to Southern California with Erik’s mother in their early twenties.

“As a first generation Mexican-American child, I learned a lot of my English from PBS television. My parents never fully learned English, so it was up to me and my siblings to teach ourselves the language.”

Now, Erik is the café Manager of our Rosslyn café. After five years of previous coffee experience, he ended up at Compass and was able to work his way up to a manager role, a role he has now had for almost a year. “Working for a small company that values real relationships, gives you the opportunity to be more connected to the coffee and people. The whole company is so accessible, from the production team, to upper leadership, I have learned so much about coffee and the company.”

Working in Arlington has given Erik the opportunity to share his love of coffee with his customers, many of whom are tourists from Latin American countries. As a fluent Spanish speaker, he finds that when he can use his first language to communicate, he is able to have a more in depth conversation with his customers about coffee, and Compass.

“It is nice to acknowledge the existence of those from Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries,” said Erik. He explained that it can be easy for cultures to get erased after the first generation; “it is important to keep learning about our culture and heritage.”

A lot of Erik’s traditions center around food, family, love, and connection. For Erik, relationships are prioritized. “Keeping in contact with people is something that has been a major focus for my family, especially as we have all grown up.” Every year, Erik looks forward to the holidays. They are one of a few times of the year that he can spend time with all of his family. Most of the holidays are spent in the kitchen, where his mom makes up recipes, and his cousins spend time laughing.

After Erik moved to DC, he had a challenging time connecting to his heritage. He found the Mexican-American community to be smaller here than in Southern California, and missed all things familiar, like family and food. Once he discovered a Latin American market that sold many of the ingredients he was used to, he has spent a lot of time trying to recreate his family's recipes. “I Facetime my mom a lot to ask her questions. Turns out, she doesn’t use many recipes.”

Having two cultures mixed together has been an amazing experience for Erik. “It is humbling and teaches you to appreciate what you have, and where you came from.”

“The world is going through a turbulent time. The challenges many Latin American countries are facing right now are complex, and as many people are working on making things better, all I can do is lean on hope and look towards the future.”


Garett always loved coffee. But until he left for college, he didn’t realize the role coffee played in his family, or how it was rooted in his Mexican heritage. Growing up, coffee wasn’t just a staple in his home; it was the vehicle for connection that brought his family together.

“The more I dove into coffee and my Mexican heritage, the more I learned that the two are connected. Years after learning that there are actual coffee farms in Mexico, I got to visit one. It was a surreal experience.”

Garett is the Flavor Lead at Compass. As a member of the production team, his role is to focus on making Simple Syrups, roasting coffee, making kegs, and everything else that needs to be produced. Newer to the role, Garett’s goal is to work on determining the types of flavors that we want to create as a company. He really wants to hone in on what our customers truly want.

Garett started exploring coffee more in college. Turns out, Compass was the supplier of his campus café. After college, Garett moved back to California where he dabbled in the tech world. It didn’t take him long to realize that wasn’t the route to him, so back to coffee he went. Six months ago, Garett moved back to DC to pursue opportunities at Compass. After months of training in the cafés, he moved to the production team full-time two months ago.

Born in Southern California, Garett is part Mexican and part Irish. For him, his culture resonates mostly with food. Garett says his grandmother is a phenomenal cook, someone who can cook with no recipes, but makes it perfect every time.

Although he has spent time trying to dive into his heritage, he feels that his cultural connection isn’t as strong as others. “It is something I have been wrestling with for years,” Garett said,” It is one of the most beautiful cultures, but there is still so much more that I don’t know.” Since he was a kid, Garett has been asking major questions about his heritage. “What does being Mexican actually mean? What does being a blend of different heritages mean? Am I not Mexican enough? Am I too Mexican?” Garett has his family to help him answer some of these questions, but he says that in reality, it is up to him to learn about his culture and heritage.

“My Dad was a first generation child of an immigrant family, he speaks Spanish fluently and has a strong tie to his culture and heritage.” Although Garett doesn’t have as strong of a connection as his dad, he is learning about his culture through storytelling. “I can’t wait to pass down the stories to those who come after me,” Garett says.

As a child, Garett was not interested in learning Spanish. English was the primary language at his home, and many of his friends didn’t speak Spanish. It took until college for Garett to start learning the language. “I found it hard to learn about a culture, without learning its language. My parents chose this life for me, so that I could choose. I am forever grateful for them, this culture, and giving me the opportunities they gave me.”

As we continue through this pandemic, and these trying times, Garett can see the reconnection that is already happening among friends and family; He looks forward to the day that we can all gather for coffee, or tamales and just spend time laughing together.

“For me, it is important to remember that there is never a wrong time to learn about your heritage. On being hispanic, I am only one of hundreds of thousands of links in a chain going back in history. But I am still a link, and that’s important for me to remember.”

Garett

Flavor Lead

 

“The more I dove into coffee and my Mexican heritage, the more I learned that the two are connected."


Abby

Designer

 

"If I ever have kids, my hope is that I can do justice to their heritage and share the stories of the people who came before me.”

Growing up, Abby wanted to be just like everyone else in her small midwestern town; she wanted “the American Dream.” To fit in, Abby spent a lot of time straightening her hair and refusing to learn Spanish. “There weren't a lot of brown people in my neighborhood or school,” Abby said. Yet, once she started High school and college, she began to appreciate her heritage and embrace all that makes her unique.

“For a long time, my generation was taught to ‘assimilate’ and to not hold on to old culture. Becoming ‘American' was what we all wanted.”

Abby is one of the first graphic designer’s at Compass. As a recent graduate, and new transplant to the DC area, she has been able to work on many new projects with the media team. Typically, you can find Abby drinking a Vanilla Oat Milk Latte at our new roasting facility in Ivy City, where the design team works.

“The moment I stepped into the new Compass facility, I knew I was going to be a part of this, something big,” Abby said. “Finding a company that loved people and loved coffee as much as I did was a dream come true.” Abby said that she didn’t know she could love the job she had, “it really is amazing.”

Abby identifies as mixed and Hispanic; her dad is Puerto Rican and Cuban, and her mom is white. When she spent time thinking about what being Hispanic and mixed meant to her growing up, Abby says that she thinks of family and food. Holidays were spent in the kitchen with her grandmother, cooking, laughing, and dancing.

“My abuelita would make us dance and sing with her; being surrounded by so much joy, laughter, and energy — it was beautiful,” Abby said.

Abby went on to share, “Sometimes I get the sense of imposter syndrome because I don’t speak Spanish. I even questioned if I was qualified to do this interview. But something I realized as I entered adulthood was that despite my mixed heritage, my story is still valid. My story is connected to something bigger, and that is important too.”

Celebrating a month like National Hispanic Heritage Month is so important in amplifying diverse voices. Learning about others' heritage and traditions is how we can all come together to appreciate each other's uniqueness and learn more about each other's different stories.

To celebrate her own heritage, at her wedding, Abby and her father Salsaed for their first dance. “The guests loved the dance, but for me, it was about recognizing this part of who I am,” said Abby.

When asked about what Abby is hopeful for, she said, “I am looking forward to seeing people gather again. Connections are to be made, and life is to be lived. If I ever have kids, my hope is that I can do justice to their heritage and share the stories of the people who came before me.”

Abby wants everyone to remember that it is important to look at someone, and realize you don’t know their story or their heritage. “When you look at me, most people think that I am black and white.” It is important to ask questions just beyond this month and learn about each other’s unique stories.

“Own your uniqueness and your story.”


Erik recently traveled back to his Mother’s small village in Mexico to learn more about his heritage. Her hometown is a small, rural, lush and green area, where all of the food is locally produced. He was able to spend a couple of weeks connecting with family and learning about his Latino Heritage.

“At first it was challenging, since I was so unfamiliar with any cultural references or new Mexican slang.” Spanish is the primary language spoken in Erik’s household, but for him, that makes connecting with his own generation more difficult. He explained that the Spanish his parents speak is more closely aligned with Spanish from the ‘90s. It is very direct, and rooted in respect with elders.

Erik’s dad is from an even smaller village in Mexico. Eventually, his father moved to a bigger town in Mexico, and then proceeded to move to Southern California with Erik’s mother in their early twenties.

“As a first generation Mexican-American child, I learned a lot of my English from PBS television. My parents never fully learned English, so it was up to me and my siblings to teach ourselves the language.”

Now, Erik is the café Manager of our Rosslyn café. After five years of previous coffee experience, he ended up at Compass and was able to work his way up to a manager role, a role he has now had for almost a year. “Working for a small company that values real relationships, gives you the opportunity to be more connected to the coffee and people. The whole company is so accessible, from the production team, to upper leadership, I have learned so much about coffee and the company.”

Working in Arlington has given Erik the opportunity to share his love of coffee with his customers, many of whom are tourists from Latin American countries. As a fluent Spanish speaker, he finds that when he can use his first language to communicate, he is able to have a more in depth conversation with his customers about coffee, and Compass.

“It is nice to acknowledge the existence of those from Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries,” said Erik. He explained that it can be easy for cultures to get erased after the first generation; “it is important to keep learning about our culture and heritage.”

A lot of Erik’s traditions center around food, family, love, and connection. For Erik, relationships are prioritized. “Keeping in contact with people is something that has been a major focus for my family, especially as we have all grown up.” Every year, Erik looks forward to the holidays. They are one of a few times of the year that he can spend time with all of his family. Most of the holidays are spent in the kitchen, where his mom makes up recipes, and his cousins spend time laughing.

After Erik moved to DC, he had a challenging time connecting to his heritage. He found the Mexican-American community to be smaller here than in Southern California, and missed all things familiar, like family and food. Once he discovered a Latin American market that sold many of the ingredients he was used to, he has spent a lot of time trying to recreate his family's recipes. “I Facetime my mom a lot to ask her questions. Turns out, she doesn’t use many recipes.”

Having two cultures mixed together has been an amazing experience for Erik. “It is humbling and teaches you to appreciate what you have, and where you came from.”

“The world is going through a turbulent time. The challenges many Latin American countries are facing right now are complex, and as many people are working on making things better, all I can do is lean on hope and look towards the future.”

Erik

Café Manager

 

"Growing up with multiple cultures is humbling and teaches you to appreciate what you have, and where you came from."

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