Brit Alexandria, a white nonbinary person with shoulder-length brown hair and glasses, wearing a denim jacket. They're sitting with their arms draped across their knees. White text set against a blue background with pink rectangles reads, "Brit Alexandria (they/them)... on writing a novel, being "a lot," and The Non-Binary Barista"

Brit Alexandria (they/them) on writing a novel, being “a lot,” and The Non-Binary Barista

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Buy Brit’s novel: All We’ve Ever Done
Brit’s blog: The Non-Binary Barista
The Twelfth Annual Sprudgie Award Nominations
Umeko Moyotoshi’s “A Better Table” interview with Alice Wong
Umeko Moyotoshi
Alice Wong

Transcription | Brit Alexandria (they/them) on writing a novel, being “a lot,” and The Non-Binary Barista

Arielle: Brit Alexandria and I have confusingly parallel online presences. I’m a coffee person, they’re a coffee person. I run a coffee and trans stuff blog, they run a coffee and trans stuff blog. Both of our websites were nominated for Sprudgie awards, both of us write candidly about mental health and workplace advocacy. But earlier this year, Brit released a full-length, sci-fi fantasy novel, so I guess now I have to write a freaking book! 

Brit, who is sometimes referenced (at least in my brainhole) by their longtime username “Blogger Brit” , has been writing online since 2006. Formerly a lifestyle blogger, Brit launched The Non-Binary Barista in early 2020 to give themselves—and the coffee community—a space to talk about coffee, fun little coffee experiments, disability justice, gender, workplace dynamics, and so much more, and to share resources for marginalized baristas. They also use their social media for similar purposes, and are constantly seeking new ways to show their support for people around them.

Brit just has lots of great thoughts about a whole array of different topics, and doesn’t tend to limit themselves to discussing or addressing any one particular thing—only that, from what I can see, pretty much everything they do both on and offline is filtered through their desire to make the world a kind, safer, happier, healthier place for others.

This episode mentions mental health, ableism, and workplace mistreatment.

This is Brit Alexandria on writing a novel, being “a lot,” and The Non-Binary Barista

Hi Brit!

Brit: Hello!

Arielle: I’m so excited to have you on the show—finally. Can you kick us off by introducing yourself—name, pronouns, and your big 3?

Brit: Hi, my name is Brit Alexandria, I use they/them pronouns, and I am a Sagitarrius sun, a Capricorn moon, and a Scorpio rising, which usually gets very wide stares, and I usually respond with, “yes, I am a lot.” 

Arielle: (laughs) I relate to that, though, ‘cause any time anyone hears I’m a pisces, they’re like, “oooh.” Umm, I’m a Pisces sun, Taurus moon, Gemini rising.

Brit: I love that.

Arielle: (laughs) So like, I cry a lot, but I’m also like, multi-faceted.


Brit: And very sociable, and very like… a comfortable person to be around.

Arielle: Thank! I like to think so. Which is funny because we… we’ve actually never met in person, which is still kind of hard to believe.

Brit: Yeah, I… I love the story, like, kind of the story of how we met, and how our lives have, like, intertwined actually. We’ll get more into this later, I think, but I run a blog called Non-binary Barista—which is all about coffee and being nonbinary, among other things—but I kind of started the blog because I saw your blog and was like, “woah, someone’s also writing about gender and coffee? That’s so cool!” So I, like, followed Arielle and was… we became friends because we were like, “hey, we write about stuff, the same stuff, that’s so cool, let’s be friends!” And then, like, a year later, I was, like, up for kind of the same award that I found you through…

Arielle: Oh yeah, Sprudgies!


Brit: And you were the one who actually told me, “hey, you got nominated for this award!” So it was a whole, full-circle, like, a year later moment.

Arielle: (laughs) I totally forgot that last part had happened, that I was the one that told you. Yes! Oh my god, I love full circle moments. So, a little birdie—and the birdie is you—tells me that you are an astrology gay, so I’m wondering: what is it that you love about astrology?

Brit: So, I think I love astrology… I love astrology, and the enneagram, and Meyers-Briggs, and basically any personality test that I can get to know people better through, like… especially with astrology, I’m not one of those people where I’m like, “Ah, I can tell exactly, like, when you’re going to stub your toe because your Pluto is in the eleventh house,” or anything like that. But I usually kind of just go off of peoples’, like, basic charts and I’m like… like with you, where I’m just like, “ahh, you’re probably a very comfortable person to be around, like, you probably have very deep emotions, but you’re very good at conversations.” 

And it’s very kind of, like, broad, but it helps me get to know people better. Like, “oh, this is why, like, you get angry at certain things, because, like, you process something this way, and that’s when, like, you feel anger or sadness or whatever, cause like, maybe you don’t understand something, or maybe, like, it rubs you the wrong way, or whatever.” Like, I just love kind of getting to know people and astrology is one of the ways that I think helps me do that.

Arielle: I also feel like a lot of queer and trans folks are into astrology, and I’m always curious, like, do you think there is something uniquely queer about astrology?


Brit: Me and a friend actually had a conversation about this a while back, and we kind of came to the realization that a lot of queer and trans people have religious trauma, and astrology is, like, our first encounter with something close to religion that isn’t toxic. Like, it can definitely become toxic, or you can have people that use it in toxic ways, but like, it’s the first time that you kind of feel like, known and understood and like there’s something you can kind of believe in, and you don’t know why it works, it just does. But like, for all of us who kind of grew up with, like, a God that’s supposed to love us and know us, and who’s made us, like, in his image, and now all of a sudden, like, people have distorted that, or hurt us with it, or weaponized it, that we… we’re still kind of looking for that community, and that connection that we come across astrology and we’re like, “a-ha! I found it! Like, I found other people who like astrology, so we can talk about it… people have different beliefs, or like, different interest levels in it, but yeah—it’s like kind of the first religion that we come across that isn’t inherently, like, homophobic or transphobic.

Arielle: And is that… is that your story with astrology, do you feel like that’s kind of what drew you to it?

Brit: A little bit! I think astrology kind of drew me in because I don’t know how it works, it’s just, like, the more I looked into it, the more I kind of, like, interacted with people, and like, read their chart, I was like, “I don’t know why this makes sense, it just does.”

Arielle: (laughs) Yeah, I found that with people, like, I feel like I really relate to my chart a lot of the time. Like, sometimes I read it, though, as like, “this app has been watching my life unfold and has something very personal to say.” And I know that it’s, like, just vague enough that it can kind of apply to everyone, but at the same time, some of them are so specific that I’m like, “there is no way that there’s, like, not something to this. Cause it’s almost uncanny sometimes how much certain things apply to my life.


Brit: Yeah, and like, I’ve had people talk to me about, like, reading their chart—and I don’t do it for… in any professional context, I just do it for fun. But like, some people are like, “oh, well, you know them really well, like, that’s how you’re able to read their chart,” and then I’ll be like, “well, I don’t know you, like, show me your chart and I’ll see what I can, kind of like, read from it. And I’ll be like, “oh, well I think that typically, like, are misunderstood a lot because you think that you’re very emotionally, like, there to everyone else, but people don’t always pick up those signals,” or like, “you interpret things this way, you act this way, blah blah blah, like sexually, you’re typically like this, like that’s how you have relationships,” and they’re like “oh my gosh, how did you know all of that?” Like, “I did, that’s just what I get from your chart!”

Arielle: That’s so funny. I love that. Do you use, like, the… the, like, Co-star, any of those types of apps and stuff, too?

Brit: I have co-star, and I frequently get mad at co-star, ‘cause some of the notifications just don’t make any sense.

Arielle: Yeah.


Brit: Or it’ll be like, “you are an ocean of sadness,” and I’m like, “What?”

Arielle: (laughing) See, I get that one, but I’m a Pisces, so like, it’s not far off.

Brit: Yeah. I remember, like, just after my last relationship ended, it was like, a month or two in, and I was like, “okay, you know, like, I think I’m almost ready, to like, kinda get back out there, like, maybe go on a date or something, not anything serious. But I think I’m, like, getting emotionally ready.” And literally my co-star notification, was just like, ten minutes later, was like, “are you using relationships as a way to avoid your problems?”

Arielle: Oh my god.


Brit: And I was just like, “I’m gonna throw my phone out the window of this car!”

Arielle: (laughs) Um, I recently downloaded The Pattern.

Brit: Oh, I love The Pattern.

Arielle: I feel like that one is a little bit more spot-on, like, sometimes too spot-on for comfort.


Brit: I think the reason why it feels so accurate is because it doesn’t explain why. Like, the… with Co-star, like, when you actually kind of read more in depth, it’ll be like, “you process emotions because your Pluto is in this house, and that’s why you tend to do this,” or whatever. The Pattern is just like, “you’re starting to realize that your goals are actually able to come to fruition, you should meditate on that,” and you’re like, “how did you know that that’s what I’ve been thinking about for the last week?”

Arielle: Like, just vague enough that all of us can kind of apply it to our lives at any specific point, but specific enough that it feels really targeted.

Brit: Yeah.

Arielle: So, you alluded to this earlier, but you have been a writer for many years, both online and recently in print with your first book, which is staring at me off of my bookshelf right now.


Brit: (laughs)

Arielle: So, I’m curious—what first inspired you to start writing?

Brit: I remember being a little kid and just being like, I couldn’t sleep at night so I would just tell myself stories all the time. And then, as I got older, I got into different fandoms, and started kind of, like, making up my own little side stories. And then, I am definitely a child of the internet, so I found, like, fanfiction.net and things like that, and was like, “woah, people actually, like, write down their little side stories? That’s so cool! I want to do that.” So I started doing that, and then my mom one time, like, I was like, “hey mom, I came up with a new story idea.” And she was like—not in a demeaning way, but more in a challenging way, of like, “Brit, that’s really great, but like, you have such creativity, why don’t you write your own stories?” And it was like, this mind-blowing moment of like, “oh yeah, books have actual authors!” 

Arielle: (laughs)


Brit: “It’s not this just, like, academic, like, heavy, classical thing, like, I can write stories of my own. So I used to carry around, like, a two inch binder of, like, notes, and stories, and all of this stuff, and I’ve just kind of been writing ever since, and evolved into writing novels, and poetry, and nonfiction, and just have never really stopped.

Arielle: Yeah, so tell us about your book. You recently, like, a few months ago slash… when was it? When was…? Time is fake

Brit: like, March? I think?

Arielle: Okay, yeah. That sounds about… yes, cause I had it delivered right before I left for surgery, so that makes sense.


Brit: Mhmm.

Arielle: So, tell us about your book, like, how did you decide that you wanted to write it, what was it like to write it for you, just tell us about it.

Brit: Yeah, so I… I have a character-driven, high-fantasy novel called “All We’ve Ever Done,” and it’s about kind of the children of the rulers of three elfin kingdoms, and them kind of fighting who they’re expected to be, pushing past what people expect of them… a lot of conflict involved. And I always say I write fantasy for people who hate to read it, because I hate to read it most of the time. I think a lot of fantasy is mostly written by white men, and also they either have, like, sixty characters cause they’re gonna kill twenty of them off, and bring ten of them back or it’s paragraphs and paragraphs of them describing what trees look like, or goblins look like, and I don’t have the attention span. So I write very, like, character-driven books, because I also hate flat characters, and I think a lot of fantasy books, it’s very much, like, the chosen one motif, so the actual character really doesn’t know anything about the world but is somehow supposed to save it, or it’s about a very flat character, and it’s really about the world and the adventure, but the character that you’re following doesn’t really matter, so.

I like writing about romance, and conflict, and internal turmoil, and all of that. 

Arielle: Was that “10 pages on a goblin” comment, was that a dig at Lord of the Rings, or…?


Brit: It’s… it’s a dig on a lot of things. 

Arielle: (laughs)

Brit: I… I remember when one of my friends who read The Count of Monte Cristo for a book report, and he was like, “Brit, there seriously is an entire paragraph about how his collar, like, folded on his neck.” So, I think about paragraphs like that, I’m just like, “why?”

Arielle: I think about that not just in fantasy books, but I remember very vividly, Grapes of Wrath starts off with, like, 25 pages of—no joke—a turtle crossing the road.


Brit: Yeah. John Steinbeck has chapters that are called “hoop doodle” where it’s literally just him, like, pontificating, and having good fancy writing that has nothing to do with the story and he calls it “hoop doodle” because he knows that it has nothing to do with the story, it’s just like, “here, you can read this if you want to.”

Arielle: That’s how it felt, like, I felt like we were supposed to read into the turtle crossing the road, but it makes a lot more sense that we weren’t actually supposed to, and it’s just “hoop doodle.”

Brit: Yeah.

Arielle: So, I’m curious, with your book—you know, I know you’re writing fantasy, but do you feel like any portions or aspects of it draw from your own personal experiences, from aspects of your life?


Brit: Yeah. I think—I do this in fantasy, but I also do this in my science fiction stories, where I talk a lot about feelings regarding, like, sexual assault, or just like internal conflict with not only what is expected of me, but what people think that I should do, and how sometimes there really isn’t a right choice—that people are gonna think the way they think of you regardless of what you do, so you kind of just have to make the right decision for you, as well as like, figuring out what you prioritize and what you love. So, a lot of what my main character, Rosalind, struggles with in the book is that she has a lot of people that she deeply cares about and loves and all these people that kind of don’t like her actions, no matter what she does, and she has to kind of decide, “okay, I need to just prioritize these people and what is safest and best for them, whether people like it or not, whether, like… it might be a sacrifice for me, but this is what I care about.” I also write science-fiction, and that’s when I really get to play with ideas that are kind of, like, politically charged or, uhh, more activism-involved. So, I’m working on a very intense book that is a sci-fi book about human trafficking…

Arielle: Oooh.

Brit: …and it’s also got… it’s also one of my more diverse stories, it has a character that has very severe mental illness that is not the bad guy. I feel like more of my kind of—not just political opinions, because I don’t think it’s just political, but just a lot of my opinions on people and how characters should be portrayed in novels comes out more in my science fiction than it does in my fantasy, but it’s… it’s still there in fantasy.

Arielle: That’s really interesting, and that—yeah, just like, flipping that narrative on the head of wherein mentally ill characters get demonized and portrayed as the villain, like, because of their mental illness, which very much translates to the way people often relate to folks who struggle with mental illness in real life is, like, we’re constantly villainized, we’re constantly misunderstood because of aspects of our mental illness that may not be under our control.


Brit: And it’s usually, like, either their mental illness is severe enough that they’re the bad guy, or it’s not so severe that it’s just kind of, like, “oh, look, like, isn’t it cute that they struggle with depression, like, on occasion? But like, throughout the entire novel they’re mostly fine.”

Arielle: Yeah.

Brit: Like, they have one bit where they’re kind of sad, and it’s usually about something that’s actually worth being sad over, and they call it depression.

Arielle: (laughs) Which is just such a misunderstanding that, you know, people think that depression is just major sadness, when it’s just so much deeper than that, it’s so much more.


Brit: Yeah. But it was like, I want to make a character that is 1) not a bad guy, 2) that is incredibly brilliant, like, is vital to the story, is vital to what’s going on in the story, but is also severely mentally ill, and that’s a major plot point and a major struggle, but it’s also not like, “wow, they are completely incapable of doing anything, their mental illness somehow makes them super dangerous to everyone else.” Like I… I didn’t want that narrative, again.

Arielle: Yeah. I love that. We have enough of that narrative. Totally.

Brit: Yeah.

Arielle: So, then there is your blog, The Non-Binary Barista—which, if y’all listening to this have not checked it out, please stop what you’re doing and check out The Non-Binary Barista, which is Brit’s blog… which, speaking super broadly, it’s about workplace dynamics in the coffee industry. So first off, I’m curious, like, what inspired you to start writing about coffee, and workplace dynamics, and gender?


Brit: So, I used to run a lifestyle blog, and I’ve been blogging for various things since, like, 2006, I wanna say? But I ran a lifestyle blog for, like, three years and then due to technical things, I lost it. And that was very devastating for me. But all of my social media handles, everything else, was all Blogger Brit, and so it just kept staring at me in the face that I am not blogging. And I tried different blogging projects, and they never really took off, and then at the beginning of 2020, before the panorama, we knew anything about what was going on, I was like, “you know, I have all these thoughts about, like, the coffee industry, and being nonbinary within the coffee industry, I’ve been working in it for three years at the time, now four, and in multiple states that I feel like I have a lot to say about it. But I don’t wanna, like, get super excited about this project and then drop it off in, like, two weeks… so I’m gonna sit down and, like, give myself 20 minutes and write down, like, the ideas that I have and see if I have enough for actual content. And I filled three pages in 20 minutes of actual, like, “okay, I’m gonna write about this, I’m gonna write about this, and this” so I was like, “okay, clearly I have a lot to say.” 

I think my, like, article document right now on Google Docs is, like, nine pages?

Arielle: Oh my god.

Brit: So, I… I don’t have any, uhh, problem coming up with ideas at this point.

Arielle: Yeah, there’s just so much to write about. So, can you talk a little bit about the specific topics that you have written about, or that you want to write about, and sort of what draws you to those specific topics?


Brit: Yeah. So, my main goal has always been… when I first started in the coffee industry, any time that I had either a bad day, or a bad interaction with customers, or just feeling weird about being nonbinary, as—you know, sometimes it happens, you have issues of body dysmorphia, or like, you’re the only queer person working, or the only genderqueer person working in a shop that… I had a lot of thoughts on that, but any time I tried to voice it, everyone was kind of like, “well, that’s what you get for working in a new wave shop” or “that’s what you get for, like…” I don’t know. But it… it just kind of always seemed like, “well, this is life.” And I didn’t like that answer, so I… one of the main, core reasons why I started The Non-Binary Barista was to give resources and talk about these issues for baristas that wanted advice, that wanted help, or that wanted to know that they weren’t alone in the coffee industry. So, I write a lot about 1) being nonbinary, and being genderqueer or just queer in coffee. Umm, I write about being neurodivergent and disabled in the coffee industry. So, I write about having ADHD working in coffee and how that affects me. I have an article that I am working on right now about having Borderline Personality Disorder, and how that affects my job. I’ve talked about ableism, and different things like that, about trauma responses and how that comes out in your work, and how bosses can be understanding of that.

But I also write about just general resources for marginalized baristas, so some explanations like, “here’s how to use a Kalita filter that’s not from a white, cis coffee bro that’s gonna look down on you for not knowing how to use it” or umm, weird coffee experiments, where I’m like, “hey, what if we stacked pourover cones to make coffee?”

Arielle: (laughs) One of your most, uhh, famous coffee experiments.

Brit: Yeah. So it’s just kind of, like, a huge reflection of all of my interests in the coffee world, which is about brewing, and having fun, and making good coffee, but also just recognizing and humanizing people that work in the industry, ‘cause sometimes it’s really great and sometimes it sucks.

Arielle: What kinds of conversations have come out of, like, some of the things you’ve written, out of your activism? And what are you hoping to accomplish through writing this stuff?


Brit: I think the most important conversations that I’ve had are people that are actually seeing themselves reflected in my blog, which just warms my heart every time someone’s like, “I thought I was the only…” like “I didn’t know that ADHD affected my work, and reading your blog, I now see that I have all of these.” Like, they knew that they had ADHD, but like, it was the first time they kind of saw someone actually addressing something every specific that they had felt. Or, just like really connecting with other people who are, like, “I have never heard anyone talk about trauma responses.” Or like, someone actually coming to me and being like, “I had such huge body dysmorphia the other day, and I used your tips from the blog post you wrote, and it instantly made my day better. And I’m just like, “oh, thank… I’m so happy it helped you.”

Arielle: I love that. That warms my heart.

Brit: Yeah. Yeah, I’m hoping that, like, I can just keep making content that makes people feel seen, and just keep these conversations going. ‘Cause like I said, the conversations are starting now to, like, humanize baristas—and especially humanizing marginalized baristas—but it’s still not quite there, like, I still want more conversation about how to make more accommodations for disabled baristas, like, I want to see more people of color in the coffee industry. I want more just coffee experimentation, and people to have fun with their job…

Arielle: Yeah.


Brit: And to actually, like… let’s look at how we can make the job better, it doesn’t—and like, I have a lot of conversations with people, and in my blog, where I talk about… just open the line of communication between you and management, between you and your boss. I can’t tell you exactly how your shop should run, because not all shops run well and the same. But it’s only gonna start to be better if you guys figure out what system works for you. 

Arielle: Um, so I know you were saying that a lot of the conversations you’re having that have come out of your blog have been with folks that have felt seen by your work, but have you been in conversation with folks that might be reading this to see how they can support other people? Such as, like, shop owners and managers? And, if so—what’s that been like, how has that gone?

Brit: I think what people find interesting about my blog is that I have the perspective not just, like, “hey, all shop owners are bad, let’s only talk about baristas” ‘cause I didn’t want it to be, like, this insular conversation. So I think it is a really interesting thing that people always point out, that they’re like, “I didn’t even know that I could talk to my boss about this,” and I’m like “yes! You can!” Like, your boss can only fix it if they know about it, and I’m not gonna say that all bosses are fantastic and they’re going to fix it right away, or even fix it permanently, but at least you tried… and if they don’t try to fix it, then you know to try to go somewhere else.

Arielle: Yeah, but sort of like, encouraging people slash…almost, like, giving them permission—even though, obviously, you’re not like, giving them permission—but making them feel like they have the right to speak up for themselves, to say what they need to say, to communicate what they need to communicate about their needs, about creating a workplace that works for them.


Brit: Yeah. And like, I’ve also had conversations with, like, some of my prior bosses who are like, “I didn’t even know you needed this,” like, “I could have totally grabbed this for you,” or “I could have totally made that accommodation for you, I just had no idea that that’s a thing!” And like, not all disabled people are the same—you can have two employees that have the same condition, and they don’t need the same things. So I’m always just like, “no, start these conversations with management, start these conversations with your bosses, because they’re not gonna know that you need help until you say something, and they can’t try to fix it until you mention that you need it.”

Arielle: How do you feel about—’cause I read this thing recently about encouraging leaders and managers to start asking folks about their access needs? Have you seen those conversations happening? How do you feel about that?

Brit: I haven’t really seen that go on so far. Like, I’ve also seen a lot of conversations where bosses kind of assume they know what accommodations are needed, so they just preemptively do it, but then it might be for conditions that their employees don’t have. They’ll be like, “ah! We have mats! On the floor! That’ll solve all the pain problems that baristas deal with!” “Well, we’re only gonna have one barista on shift, so if you have a barista that has, like, problems regulating their bathroom needs, and you have one person on shift, that’s very dangerous for both your business as well as the person employed, ‘cause they can’t go to the bathroom when they need to.

Or like, I had a job where I was having really bad chronic pain with my arthritis in my hands, and I wore one of my wrist braces to work, and one of my managers just kind of flipped out, and was just like, “but! You can’t wear that ‘cause customers are gonna see it! And like, I don’t know how they’re gonna react!” And I was kind of like, “I don’t really care. Like, one, customers aren’t going to say anything, and if they do, I can explain why. But two, like, if they want coffee from me, I can’t make this cappuccino without it. We can go talk to the owner who literally… who literally, very caringly was like, “hey, my cappuccino wasn’t as great today—was there a reason?” and I explain, “oh, it’s because I’m having a chronic pain day, like, I need to go put my brace on.” He was like, “oh, okay.” 

So, it’s like, some… I haven’t seen any conversations like that happening, it’s usually just people that kind of think they know what accommodations are needed, or it’s people that just are like, “well, you’re at your job… so like, if you can’t do the job the way that it’s presented, then you should find another job,” and that’s just not realistic.

Arielle: Yeah. Yeah, like, accommodations can be made, access needs can be met, we just have to be intentional and communicative in order to do that. And it sounds like you’re alluding to some of the obstacles, or perceived obstacles that are in the way of creating truly, like, equitable and accessible work spaces. You know, some of those that you’ve mentioned are like, lack of communication, lack of understanding from bosses, prioritizing customers and optics over the needs of your people. What are some other sort of things that you see get in the way of creating that equity and that access within either coffee spaces specifically, or just more broadly, like, in the workplace in general?


Brit: I think it’s a lot of those, like, perceived optics—which, a lot of people are kind of like, “well, I don’t want to have this conversation with my customers,” so nothing gets changed. So, like, the whole idea of a cashier sitting in a chair while they ring customers up. I’ve heard the argument from many bosses that it’s like, “well, it looks bad. Like, they’ll look lazy, and customers won’t wanna come back!” or, like, “well, Brit has their brace on, so they’re gonna, like, look weak, or fragile, customers aren’t gonna want coffee from them, so they’re not gonna come back” or, like, whatever it is, there’s this idea of, like, this perceived idea of customer service that rather than, like, actually kind of addressing the issue, rather than kind of putting pronouns, or having conversations with customers, or just admitting that there’s going to be one or two customers that are just not great customers—that like, almost like there’s nothing you can do that will please them, that it’s better for the employees, it’s better for everyone all-around if your customers… like, if your employees are happy, rather than the idea that you think that all customers are gonna have a problem with your cashiers in chairs, ‘cause most are not. And rather than actually just having a conversation, like, “oh yeah, I know the chair thing is bit disorienting, but I feel like I can take your order so much better, we’ve actually noticed less mess-ups overall because our cashiers are in chairs, and are easier to focus on, so we decided to keep the chairs.” And the customers are like, “oh! Huh! I never would’ve thought of that!”

Arielle: That kind of connects back to a point you made earlier about how, you know, no matter what you do, there will be people that are unhappy with you. And that’s true of all of us—like, there will always be people that don’t like how we live our lives, or don’t like certain things that we do, or have a problem with our behavior, or the way that they perceive us for some reason or another. And like, we can’t control how people see us, but that shouldn’t affect, like, how we live our lives. Or like, from a manager’s perspective, that shouldn’t control how we treat our people. ‘Cause at the end of the day, like, customers are replaceable, and I know we like to treat employees as replaceable, but we shouldn’t view it that way. We should want to keep people around. And we should want to keep customers, too, but it’s much easier to get new customers than to get, like, great employees that care about a workplace and love working someplace.

Brit: And I feel like it’s so much more rare for a customer to leave because you prioritized your employee in a way that makes it safe for them. Like it’s one thing, I don’t know, if you had just a very rude employee, and you were like, “well, I stand by my employee, even though he called you a bitch!” 

Arielle: (laughs)


Brit: Uhh, versus, “oh, I’m so sorry that the fact that our employee is wearing wrist braces bothers you, but it allows them to make the coffee that you love so much.” Like, it’s so very rare that an accommodation that is actually better for your employees will be so unpopular, because literally the customer benefits from the employees being in a better situation.

Arielle: That is such a great little nugget of wisdom, cause that—I mean, that’s such an important point that I think if more people thought of it that way, they would approach things differently. It is more rare for customers to leave because you’re prioritizing your employees, and yeah, it is better for everyone when a business is prioritizing their employees. People will be happier, people will do a better job if their needs are met and prioritized and that is a win-win game for everyone. The managers win, the employees win, the customers win, like, everyone is happier besides the one or two random people who might just be kind of a jerk.

Brit: And those one or two people that are gonna be kind of a jerk are going to come in regardless.

Arielle: And they’re gonna be a jerk regardless!


Brit: Yeah. Like literally, I worked today, and first customers we had just tested my patience. And there was nothing I could do in their mind that would’ve made the whole situation better. That—it’s just, you’re going to have those people regardless. If you take care of your employees, if you value your employees, it’s not about those customers. 

Arielle: Exactly.

Brit: Like…

Arielle: Exactly.


Brit: Especially, like, in the past couple years, like, I know we tend to get very doom and gloom with how we look at, like, Karens, and people who come into our coffee shops…

Arielle: (laughs)

Brit: But I feel like we do also have a cultural shift going on where people are like, “hey, I want to support more Black-owned businesses, I want to support more businesses that are actually supporting their people, or that, like, make good business decisions, and blah blah blah.” But I feel like if you were to, like, say anything or even, like, make an Instagram post, like, “hey, you might have noticed that our cashiers are sitting down. We decided to do this for these reasons, and our employees are so much happier about it.” Like, not only is it better for the employees when you make accommodations like that, the optics are good.

Arielle: Yeah. I mean, if we’re really concerned about optics, those should be the optics we care about. Like, are we perceived as a place that is good to our people? Are we perceived as a place that is, like, using our platform and our space to shift culture in a direction that creates more inclusivity, and creates more support, and like, spaces of liberation for people as opposed to fewer spaces, as opposed to limiting access, like what… “what kind of optics do we care about?,” I think is the real question that business owners should ask themselves, like, “do we just care about sort of the surface level, like, ‘oh, one or two customers might think that our baristas are lazy if they’re sitting or if they’re, you know, wearing certain bracelets and stuff that make things more accessible for them or do we care about folks knowing that we are a business that cares about our people?’” And, I mean, in my opinion—and I think you’re right, the cultural conversation is shifting—that’s what we should care about is looking like, and actually supporting our people.


Brit: Mhmm. And I think there is a conversation that’s been happening for the last couple years about disabled activism for people that come in shops. There’s a conversation between Umeko Moyotoshi on their podcast, A Better Table with disability advocate Alice Wong where they talk about, like, glass jars and how that’s not always convenient for disabled people ‘cause they may not be able to hold it, or lift it, or how straws are very much, like, something that disabled people rely on, and I think the part of the conversation that is missing is disabled activism behind the bar as well. So I think, when we’re talking about optics, and just like, taking care of your people, that’s something that I am hoping that the conversation is gonna start, in the next couple years.

Arielle: Yeah. Like, there’s been this huge crusade against straws—which yeah, obviously straws cause pollution, but you know, major companies create 70% of the pollution. It is not people taking straws, it is huge giants like Amazon that are creating massive amounts of pollution, and all the crusade against straws is largely doing is making the world less accessible for disabled people as opposed to more accessible.

Brit: Exactly. 

Arielle: So, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. Umm, I’m curious, do you have any words of wisdom for the audience before we part? I know you had so many little wonderful nuggets of wisdom that I will take away from this conversation throughout.


Brit: I think, because I’m a writer, I’m always like—when I have conversations with people about writing, they’re like, “wow, I wish I could write a novel,” “well I wanted to write a book, I wanted to write a poem,” and I’m always like, “do it!” And I swear, the like, light goes on in their head, like no one has ever told them that they could do it. So, if you’re listening to this podcast and you are wishing someone would tell you that you could write your book, or poem, or article, or whatever—do it. Write whatever you want. Whether you want to get it published or not, like—do it. 

And also, like, I always get bogged down by, like, “oh, well, what if what I write is terrible?” For one thing, I always say you have, like, 100 bad pages in you, 100 bad drawings, 100 bad whatever, you just have to write them out, you just have to get them out, there’s no way to get, like, better without writing them out. I’ve written so many terrible things. 

Arielle: (laughs)

Brit: Uhh, and 2) whatever you write down on the page—that is the shittiest it will ever be…

Arielle: (laughs)


Brit: … you can only go up from there. Like…

Arielle: That is true.

Brit: Sometimes I’ll, like, write down or I’m, like, editing, and I’m just like, “Did I really write that sentence? That doesn’t make sense! That is grammatically incorrect.” One time, I was editing one of my novels, and I literally came across a sentence that said, “Though she was strong, she was also strong.” 

Arielle: (high-pitched laughing)


Brit: I don’t know why I wrote that. I don’t even know where I was going with that sentence. It still makes me laugh to this day. But that is the most terrible it will ever be is the first line that you write. You can always go up from there.

Arielle: (laughs)

Brit: So, that’s always what I tell people, is like, do it, write it, like, don’t worry about it being terrible. That’s just part of the process. And 2) it can only get better.

Arielle: No place to go but up.


Brit: Mhmm.

Arielle: Yeah. I feel like every time I write something, my first draft is always, like, three or four times as long as my final draft ‘cause like, ¾ of what I write, I’m like, “I can’t use this! I can’t put this out there!,” and then I’m just sort of like, the David in the Stone, like, chipping away at what is not the final piece to finally get to, like, “ahh! Yes! I feel good about this!”

Brit: Yeah.

Arielle: Ah. Awesome, thank you so much, Brit, for making the time to chat with me today. Are there any social media handles you’d like to plug? Any projects that you’re working on? I know we talked about your book, I’d love to hear where people can get that. 


Brit: Yeah. So I can be found @bloggerbrit on Twitter, and Instagram, and Venmo. Uh, B-L-O-G-G-E-R-B-R-I-T. Uh, if you want to buy my book, you can check out the linktree in my Instagram or my Twitter, and there’s a link to where you can buy that book on there. So…and you can also follow my blog, which is thenonbinarybarista.wordpress.com or you can just go to Google and type in “The Non-Binary Barista,” I’m usually the first thing that comes up. 

Arielle: And all of those links will be in the information for this episode, so if you missed any of that, you can go ahead and click through and find, uhh, everything that Brit just mentioned. And if you really enjoyed this episode and you would like to pay Brit, I definitely encourage all of y’all to go to the Venmo information that they just shared, @bloggerbrit, and pay them.

Brit: Yay!

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