Community Spotlight · Caffe Vita, Seattle, WA
Growing up in Seattle at the turn of the 21st century, it was difficult for Terika Raak to ignore the presence of specialty coffee. “Coffee has been part of my life for as long as I can remember,” she says.
And coffee has only become a bigger part of Terika’s life—she’s currently a café manager at Seattle’s Caffe Vita Coffee Roasting Company, as well as a head judge for the U.S. Barista Championship, and a latte art judge and teacher for Coffee Fest.
Terika has cultivated her passion for and expertise in coffee over the course of her life. During high school, she spent time at a coffee shop/pool hall and was drawn to the sense of community she experienced there. She soon started her first job working at Nordstrom, and it was only a matter of time before she ended up on the coffee side of the store. “I eventually convinced the manager of the espresso bar to let me start working there since I was passionate about coffee,” she says.
She eventually moved to Michigan for graduate school, where she worked at JP’s Coffee and Espresso Bar, which then launched the Midwest Barista School. “After I graduated from grad school, I went full time at JP’s and MBS to learn everything I could,” Terika says. “This is where I was introduced to things like barista competitions and Coffee Fest.” She moved back to the Seattle area in 2011, where she has worked for several of the city’s prominent coffee businesses, including the La Marzocco Cafe.
In her current job as café manager at Caffe Vita, Terika’s main responsibilities are to make sure that the café runs smoothly, that the staff has all the tools and support needed to do their jobs well, and that their guests have a fantastic experience. “Caffe Vita is also growing and improving in a lot of areas, so I am able to be part of that and have a larger influence on the company by sharing my 18 years of experience in the coffee industry with them,” she says.
As an experienced barista and café manager, Terika has used Barista Series products for years, starting during her time at JP’S Coffee and Espresso Bar. “Our team was really getting into latte art, and we were excited that there was a plant-based beverage that allowed us to make beautiful art for our guests,” she says. As her coffee career has continued, Terika has often used Barista Series products behind the bar. “Barista Series is made with baristas in mind and to be a tool that helps us do our job better,” she says. “It’s not something that baristas have to approach differently because it is more difficult to work with, which is awesome.”