As the NCA Next Gen Council transitions to the next wave of coffee leaders, we wanted to collectively introduce each council member and allow them to tell their coffee story. For our first Next Gen spotlight, Bent Dietrich from American Coffee Corp. sat down with Jasmine Murphy, Assistant Manager of Green Coffee Trading with The J.M. Smucker Company, to discuss her industry experience and what makes a career in coffee so great.
Bent Dietrich: How did you get started in coffee? What is your current role?
Jasmine Murphy: I have always been fascinated by the complexity and diversity of the coffee industry and was lucky enough to get my start in coffee by chance. After college, I landed a job in a lab working on ready-to-drink milk-based products. When a position opened on the coffee team, I jumped at the opportunity. With the help of an amazing mentor, I quickly learned the ins and outs of the business, from cupping to logistics.
Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working on some incredible projects and contributing to the coffee industry in meaningful ways. In my current role at The J.M. Smucker Co., I lead the sustainability work for such iconic brands as Folgers and Bustelo.
BD: What is your favorite aspect of working in the coffee industry?
JM: One of my favorite aspects of working in the coffee industry is the opportunity for learning and growth. I love the way that coffee brings together so many different disciplines from agriculture and chemistry to finance and hospitality. It’s an incredibly dynamic and diverse industry and I feel fortunate to be a part of it – the passion and community within the industry is exceptional.
BD: As an NCA Next Gen-er, where do you see the industry heading? Are there any exciting developments, products, or innovations that really capture your interest?
JM: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the developments and innovations in the sustainability space are the most exciting and relevant to me and my role. It is crucial that we as an industry — and the Next Gen specifically, as up-and-coming industry leaders — highlight and prioritize sustainability at every aspect of the supply chain. I am thrilled to see the progress and commitments consistently being made by the industry and cannot wait to see what comes next!
BD: One of the best things our industry does is provide the opportunity to travel. Whether it be to an NCA Convention, an origin trip, or visiting customers, do you have any memorable experiences that come to mind?
JM: One experience that comes to mind is when we were driving through Colombia with some colleagues to visit a coffee farm. The roads were treacherous (at least from this Ohioan’s perspective), and our car was struggling to make it up a steep switchback. Eventually, we got out and decided to watch and try to help the driver navigate without rolling off the hill. It reminded me of the dedication that goes into producing every cup of coffee and the challenges that producers face to bring us this amazing beverage. Experiences like this make me grateful for the opportunities the industry provides.
BD: Speaking of conventions, I have to say the NCA Convention has really become a highlight of my year. It feels almost like a family reunion at this point. How has your experience been attending NCA Conventions?
JM: I fully agree — it feels like a family reunion! Being in the industry for 10+ years at this point, you get to know so many amazing people that you do not get to see face-to-face anywhere other than at the conventions. I always enjoy attending and it is honestly one of the highlights of my professional year too.
BD: How did you originally get involved with the NCA Next Gen?
JM: I first got involved by participating in NCA Next Gen events at the NCA Convention and SCA Expo.
BD: What has been your favorite part of working with the Next Gen group?
JM: It is difficult to pick one favorite part, but I would have to say it’s working with such a passionate group of people! The Next Gen has amazing ideas and solid plans to put those ideas into action.
BD: What is something you would like to see Next Gen focus on to help young professionals in the coffee industry?
JM: In my opinion, the Next Gen group can play a crucial role in creating a strong and supportive community that helps young professionals navigate the coffee industry. Spoiler alert: We are already hard at work creating a mentorship program to help foster a new generation of coffee leaders.
BD: Let’s say it’s the NCA Convention and we are hitting a cool, local coffee shop to catch up over a cup of coffee. What is your go-to order?
JM: Depending on the offerings at this cool, local coffee shop, I would either do a pour-over Ethiopian coffee, black, or a vanilla latte with oat milk.