Melissa Caia and Lucy Ward are the first recipients of the Australian Specialty Coffee Association’s (ASCA) Eleonora Genovese Coffee Women Awards.
In conjunction with the Genovese family, ASCA introduced the Eleonora Genovese Coffee Woman of the Year, and Rising Star Award, to honour the legacy of Eleonora and recognise the women following in her footsteps.
Eleonora’s son Christian, who sadly lost his mother to cancer in September last year, presented the award on behalf of the Geneovese family, at a sit down dinner held at Panama Dining Room during Melbourne Coffee Week.
Melissa “Mel” received the Coffee Woman of the Year for her contributions to coffee over more than 20 years working in hospitality.
In her current position as Coffee Academy Teacher and Coordinator at William Angliss Institute, Mel’s role includes coordinating coffee training within the institute, managing state and national client’s training programs, and nurturing skill development to improve employability for students from disadvantaged communities.
Mel is an ASCA judges’ calibration and accreditation lead instructor, having judged both state and national barista competitions for a number of years. In 2016 Mel also sat on the advisory board for the Royal Agriculture Society of Victoria Australian International Coffee Awards.
Veneziano Coffee Roasters’ Craig Dickson nominated Mel for the award.
“Mel really is one of our industry’s truly genuine, passionate and selfless people,” said Craig. “She’s worked hard to build up her credentials and has always focused on giving back to the industry with her time and attendance at events and competitions. With her many years of judging experience she is now looked upon as a mentor and a coach for those starting out.”
Through Rising Star Award recipient Lucy Ward’s current role as Sensory Lab’s Procurement Strategist, she is responsible for leading the procurement program in coffee buying and quality assurance.
Starting her career as a barista, Lucy is now a revered ASCA judge, qualified Q grader, a Cup of Excellence judge, and a well-versed sensory skills trainer – in addition to her professional position at Sensory Lab.
Sensory Lab’s General Manager Ross Quail nominated Lucy for the award.
“Lucy has extensive experience in the cupping lab, in the field at origin and is a respected member of the coffee community,” said Ross. “Spending her time establishing relationships with farmers and local businesses, Lucy brings a breadth of experience and perspective that strives to push the industry forward.”
During the award ceremony both Lucy and Mel thanked the Genovese family and recognized the honour of receiving an award in Eleonora’s name.
“Over the years I have met some incredible and inspirational colleagues who have helped me on my coffee journey – Eleonora’s memory definitely fits that description,” says Mel. “I do what I do because I love it and ultimately it’s for the benefit of our coffee industry and commitment to sharing knowledge, information and skills – especially among coffee’s women.”
Image: Nominees Zoe Delany, Melissa Caia, Christian Genovese, Maria Paolilli and Lucy Ward