Meet the NCA Next Generation: Amber Gray, Starbucks


The following Q&A is from the NCA Next Generation Group, a National Coffee Association initiative to engage and support young professionals and emerging leaders across the coffee industry. 

Join the NCA Next Generation Council for young professionals in the coffee industry at the NCA 2019 Convention in Atlanta on Friday, March 8.

Amber Gray
Mgr Sr Coffee Operations, Starbucks
NCA Next Gen Council Member

How and when did you get involved with the coffee industry?

I got involved in coffee in 2013 when I joined Atlas Coffee Importers in north Seattle.

Having a culinary degree, I was trying to find an opportunity that would allow me to stay connected to the food and beverage industry, but still utilized my analytical background.

I worked in their Logistics department, managing and coordinating orders from green coffee warehouses to various customers across the US.

What interested you in joining the NCA Next Generation group, and then becoming part of the council?

I found out about the Next Gen council opportunity while on an origin trip in Costa Rica. Experiencing the first 10 feet of coffee inspired me to find a way to contribute more to the larger conversation.

I hope to help inspire the next generation, especially women, to get involved in coffee and supply chain.

What is your favorite hobby, and how did you get started with it?

I love to run.

I started running in 2008 after I moved to Portland. Growing up with asthma meant I spent most of my time behind a Nintendo rather than doing various physical activities. I also smoked for a long time.

After I got to Portland I quit smoking, the asthma had finally gone away and I started eating healthy – seemed only natural to start running. J I’ve since logged thousands of miles and finished two marathons.


What was the most memorable gift you’ve received?

I don’t know that it’s the most memorable gift I’ve received, but my Garmin GPS watch definitely gets the most use.

What’s the best and worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Best advice: “Question everything.”

Worst advice: “You should just quit then.“

What is something you will NEVER do again?


What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

“How do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?”

What’s your claim to fame?

My metabolism.

What job would you be terrible at?


What are your 3 favorite movies?

Lord of the Rings (trilogy, extended edition), Moonstruck and Breakfast at Tiffany’s


As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A lawyer or a dancer.

What is your favorite thing about your career?

Working with and helping people. In my role I get to interact with people across the globe – building and maintaining relationships is very fulfilling for me.

I’m also able to help many people throughout our network by way of process efficiencies, system improvements, knowledge sharing and advocating.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Mac-n-cheese, probably with a side of fried okra.

What would you sing at karaoke night?

Something I hopefully wouldn’t remember the next day 🙂

…You don’t want me up their singing, I wasn’t meant for the stage.

Learn more about the NCA Next Gen


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