More than a mood booster: Coffee’s role in supporting mental health

By William “Bill” Murray, NCA President & CEO

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, an important time to recognize that nearly 20% of Americans are believed to experience mental illness. Offering care, empathy, and support to ourselves, and others – and openly discussing mental health issues – are all important for our wellbeing.

There’s no substitute for seeking help from professional healthcare providers and finding support from family and friends, but there are small steps we can take to support our mental health. For example, there is a growing body of literature that recognizes the positive effects exercise has on anxiety, stress, and depression. And yes, your daily cup of coffee can play a mood-boosting role in the short term.

The 66% of Americans who drink coffee each day probably already appreciate the mood boosting benefits of our favorite brew. In fact, evidence shows that coffee’s mental health benefits go beyond that warm and fuzzy first-cup feeling.

Studies have found that drinking coffee is associated with up to ⅓ lower risk of depression. An analysis of multiple third party, independent scientific studies conducted by former NCA Science Advisor and Harvard University neurologist Alan Leviton found that not only is drinking coffee associated with decreased depression risk, but that the greatest mental health benefits come from drinking at least two cups of coffee per day. 

Of almost 10,000 adults studied in the fifth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, those who drank at least 2 cups of coffee per day experienced a 32% lower prevalence of self-reported depression than people who did not drink coffee.

In a study of 14,000 university students in Spain who continue to be followed, those who drank at least four cups of coffee per day were more than 20% less likely to be diagnosed with clinically-significant depression.

While further research is necessary to determine the exact relationship between mental health and the more than 1,000 natural compounds found in coffee, the positive impact it has on mental health may be related to certain anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and microbiome-promoting properties – properties that are also associated with coffee drinkers’ significantly reduced risk of developing certain cancers and chronic diseases.

Scientists think that some of coffee’s natural compounds called phenols and melanoidins may have “prebiotic” effects – that is, they may help healthy gut bacteria produce fatty acids and neurotransmitters that benefit mental health.

Whatever your moments of self-care look like, take time to check in on your own mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, please know you are not alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HELLO to 741741.

In the meantime, call a friend, connect with family, find some quiet time away from all the devices, and enjoy a simple cup of coffee – which, it turns out, is more “amazing” than “simple.” After all, while you care about coffee – coffee cares for you, too. What other beverage does that?

NCA: We Serve Coffee.

 Not sure if you’re an NCA Member? Check our Membership list. If you’re not a member but could benefit from access to this research or other key industry resources, explore your Membership options.

Words of Wisdom from NCA Board Members: Part II

Back in February, we launched a new series, “Words of Wisdom,” bringing career development stories and top-notch advice from industry leaders right to your inbox! For this second edition of “Words of Wisdom,” Michelle Dunaway, Sales Executive at Mercon Specialty, spoke with Jonathan White (White Coffee Corporation), John DeMuria (Volcafe USA LLC), and Michael Gaviña (F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc.). White, DeMuria, and Gaviña are all current NCA Board Members and long-time leaders of both the National Coffee Association and the industry overall.

Jonathan White

Executive Vice President / White Coffee Corporation

An attorney by trade and lifelong New York resident, Jonathan White, Executive Vice President of White Coffee Corporation, was born into the coffee business. White Coffee Corporation was founded by Jonathan’s grandfather in 1939, and his father carried on the legacy, spending over 40 years in the business, advocating for and developing the specialty coffee trade long before there were a plethora of chain and microroasters.  

Jonathan explains, “I grew up with the smell of coffee in my father’s station wagon; there was never a time he would not help a customer with their emergency needs and he would be sure to not only meet but to exceed their expectations. After practicing law and gaining experience in helping to run a variety of organizations, I joined the company in 1990. It is very rewarding to see our company’s growth and to serve our customers for many years – multi-generational in many cases – and to have many of our team members with White Coffee for 10, 15, and 20 years or more. “

“Our business has continued to evolve and grow, from the independent local stores and delis to national chains of club stores, supermarkets, hotel chains, and online retailers.  We also have worked with many licensors and private label retailers to develop proprietary brands.” In his role, Jonathan is involved in many aspects of the business, including oversight on commodity purchases, major account sales, financial oversight, team management/building, strategic direction, and day-to-day management.

Career advice for the younger generation in the coffee industry:

  • Diversify both your business channels and your skill sets.
  • Embrace change and flexibility as the world will continue to evolve. Expect the unexpected!
  • Ask lots of questions, and don’t always accept the first answer you get – assume nothing.
  • Think ahead and consider various scenarios and how you would best respond.
  • Always be selling! Create a unique selling proposition (for either yourself or for your product).
  • Develop lifetime relationships. Appreciate varying perspectives.
  • Aim for constant learning, improvement, and giving back to your community.

Favorite pastimes: Jonathan loves baseball (especially the NY Mets!), all kinds of music, travel, and reading all kinds of non-fiction books (especially those about current events/politics).

John DeMuria

Managing Partner / Volcafe USA LLC

Prior to joining the coffee industry, John DeMuria (JD), worked in banking on Wall Street, with a focus on coffee, cocoa, sugar, and grains. Volcafe, formerly known as Volkart Brothers, recruited JD, initially to work in finance, but he later transitioned into trading. In his first two years trading, JD worked to learn and absorb as much information as possible; at this time, differential prices were gaining prominence and the futures contract was evolving. From there, JD went on to manage the Colombia and Central America books.

Reflecting back on the start of his time trading, it brings to light just how much trading has evolved over time. Back when JD started in the business, trading was done by a telex machine and all documentation was done by hand. JD explains, “You had your telephone, telex, and a calculator. The telex operator was probably the best trader on the floor; every offer, every bid, went through their hands!”

Career advice for the younger generation in the coffee industry: “Be determined & dedicated.  Hard work always pays off. Live your dream and have a passion for what you do. Getting involved in Next Gen is a great opportunity to engage at an earlier age and early stage in your career.”

Favorite past NCA memory: “Being invited by your boss to the NCA Convention was the highest achievement; you said to yourself, ‘I made the inner circle.’”  JD has served on the NCA board since 2007.

Michael Gaviña

Managing Director of Financing and Accounting / F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc.

Michael was born into the business, meeting and networking with others across the coffee industry since an early age. Previously serving as the Purchasing Director at F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc., his current role is now that of Managing Director of Finance and Accounting. Michael explains that despite the formal titles, in a family business, you wear many hats; his experience ranges from sales to sustainability to equipment servicing.  

Career advice for the younger generation in the coffee industry: “Be of service.” [Publisher’s note: As you will observe through his favorite past NCA memory below, Michael certainly exemplifies the phrase, “practice what you preach,” and we are very appreciative of the role that Michael had in the development of the NCA Next Gen Council!]

Favorite past NCA memory: Michael played an integral role in the creation and development of the NCA Next Gen Council with the mission of nurturing, building, and developing the next generation of industry leaders.

Recommended reading: “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

Many thanks to Jonathan, JD, and Michael for sharing their stories and advice for this edition of “Words of Wisdom!” Their leadership and service to the NCA is admirable and tremendously appreciated! 

Four Revealing Coffee Trends You Need to Know

By William “Bill” Murray, National Coffee Association President & CEO

The world of coffee has never been more complex – which is why having consistent, transparent data about coffee drinkers is crucial for your coffee business. 

We’ve just released the Spring 2022 survey of U.S. coffee drinkers, the latest addition to NCA’s legendary coffee trends research, the NCDT – National Coffee Data Trends – with important findings about the rapidly changing consumer landscape.

But it isn’t only the data that is new: Last year we also introduced a new online interactive data and visualization platform, which allows subscribers to NCA research to run custom reports on the vast datasets contained in the NCDT report.

The Spring 2022 NCDT report is now available for purchase, and key highlights include:

1. Nationwide coffee consumption is at a two-decade high. 66% of Americans reported that they had consumed coffee within the past day. This is up a staggering 14% since January 2021 – the largest year-on-year increase we have seen since we began gathering data.

2. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Americans’ coffee drinking habits. While 27% of coffee lovers (up 8% from January 2021) are venturing out of home for their brew more frequently, out of home coffee consumption still has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. In addition, we found that at-home coffee consumption remains elevated; 84% of Americans had coffee at home in the past day, up from 4% in January 2020.

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3. The popularity of specialty coffee is at a five-year high. 43% of American coffee drinkers chose a specialty brew in the last day – up by 20% from January 2021. Learn more about specialty coffee in our new, free-to-download specialty coffee breakout report, produced with the support of the Specialty Coffee Association.

4. Americans love espresso-based beverages. Cappuccinos and lattes are tied for the most popular espresso-based drinks nationally, followed closely by plain espresso and café mocha.

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As the country begins to emerge from the worst public health crisis in recent memory, it is only fitting that coffee — backed by decades of independent scientific evidence showing its unique health benefits — is more popular than ever.

 Industry leaders are telling me, over and again, that they have never seen a more complicated, challenging business environment. Our motto here at NCA is “We Serve Coffee” – whether by providing accurate market data, championing fact-based regulation, or celebrating the science of coffee and health. I invite you to acquire our latest market research, as well as learn how joining the NCA can support the strength and success of your coffee business.

 NCA: We Serve Coffee.

 Not sure if you’re an NCA Member? Check our Membership list. If you’re not a member but could benefit from access to this research or other key industry resources, explore your Membership options.

Coffee & Chat with Vern Long, World Coffee Research

By Danielle Woods, Manager, ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) with Inspire Brands, Inc.

In honor of Earth month, we are featuring one of the most prominent organizations in the coffee industry that is using global agricultural R&D to address and mitigate climate change for coffee: World Coffee Research (WCR).

Vern Long is CEO of World Coffee Research, the only industry-driven organization advancing agricultural innovation for coffee, formed to help the industry secure the long-term supply of quality coffee.

Vern, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I started my academic life in plant breeding, with an interest in genetic diversity and how to mobilize that diversity to address challenges. Variety development was always something I was excited about. When I was 16, my family was driving cross-country, and my mom brought a big stack of National Geographic magazines. I began reading a story about genetic diversity and how it can address the world’s biggest challenges, and from that moment I was hooked.

How did you end up in coffee?

I was doing research in Senegal and Zimbabwe, looking at food systems and how we use agricultural systems to deliver on those goals. I wanted to move from direct research to managing partnerships so joined USAID to help launch the Feed the Future Initiative. This was a broad interagency effort where we developed an agricultural research strategy to enable agriculture to drive economic growth and be a lever for reducing poverty. Over 9 years I managed agricultural research collaborations focused on developing new varieties in many crops, trying to better develop collaborative research to enable scientists to accomplish more together rather than going it alone. I realized there was an opportunity in coffee. The countries producing coffee are very competitive with one another, and have insufficient budgets given the challenges they face. I believed I could bring a lot of experience from working on global research collaborations to support coffee. As an avid coffee drinker, when I understood all of the challenges, it seemed even more urgent to get into coffee at a personal level. [HN1] 

What are some of the challenges within the coffee sector today?

Varieties are a technology that farmers rely on, whether they are tomato growers or coffee farmers. The last time the world had a truly global collaborative research program to produce real innovation in coffee varieties was in 1967, when the Timor Hybrid was mobilized to create coffee leaf rust resistant arabica varieties that are now growing all over the world. So many other crops continued making progress over the years, while coffee did not at a global scale. Mobilizing diversity is critical to our ability to survive with the climate challenges ahead of us. Plant populations across the world are crossed to create new genetic combinations —they can do things that their parents cannot. There are real gaps in coffee, and it is important to develop greater interaction among scientists and the plants themselves which we will achieve by supporting a global coffee breeding network.

What are some of WCR’s strategic priorities?

We are launching a global breeding network that is aligned with the importance of our crop. Coffee drives economic opportunity in many producing countries; it is important to millions of people for a variety of reasons. We are developing varieties to support that need, while preserving the quality that consumers and coffee companies want and identifying the characteristics for farmers to enable their success.

Breeding is critical but it also takes decades, and farmers are planting trees today that will be in the ground for the next twenty years. We know that if they plant the wrong tree, there are consequences. At scale, this poses tremendous risk in terms of supply. So, in addition to variety development, we need to provide tools to support farmer decision-making with the varieties we have available today. WCR has created technical tools to help farmers determine the right variety for them, to have access to healthier plants, and to feel sure the seeds are using are genetically pure. Farmers need to know going in what type of tree they are producing so they can manage it successfully.

How do you reach farmers with your technologies and tools?

What we do drives change, but research and development happens upstream of farmers. We partner with national coffee institutes and organizations like Technoserve to make the connection between new varieties, nurseries, and farmers. At WCR, we want to make sure we have a relevant portfolio of technologies to share with farmers through our partnerships.

How can organizations get involved with WCR?

We believe that every company in the coffee sector should invest in agricultural research and development for coffee’s long-term existence, whether that’s via WCR or another mechanism. There is a huge gap in the funding of coffee agriculture research and development. If you look at investment levels for other crops with similar economic value as coffee—there is a profound gap. We need to acknowledge the gap and recognize that if we want to have coffee in the years ahead, we need investment. To put it bluntly: the alternative is that our children will all be drinking synthetic coffee – which is more than simply a shift for consumers, it removes an important source of revenue for farmers and producing countries. When you are a member of WCR, you drive the agenda. Companies that are not participating do not get a seat at the table to weigh in on the varieties of the future.

What is something you want the coffee sector to be aware of?

We need to make sure the industry understands the risks facing the coffee industry but recognize the opportunity as well. If you look at the success of other crops, we can bring those tools and technologies into coffee. If we want to continue sourcing coffee from diverse origins, we need to understand we have a choice in the matter and a collective responsibility to drive investment to support our collective goals. But protecting coffee is bigger than just our industry. Coffee produces revenue for lower income countries and contributes significantly to human welfare.

Now it is Earth Month, what does Earth Day mean to you?

Things are pretty grim around the world and there is a lot going on that can make you feel powerless in the face of large planetary challenges. We need to sequester more carbon in biomass on the planet. We need more trees to help reduce emissions. Those of us involved in tree agriculture—i.e., the entire coffee industry—can play a role. There is a unique opportunity for coffee to do something for the entire global community. We are in the tree business, and trees are a technology that if deployed well and thoughtfully can help us sequester a tremendous amount of carbon. Farmers need more productive coffee trees. Young growing trees absorb a lot of carbon dioxide. Renovating coffee farms at scale has the potential to solve two problems at once. If your organization has a priority to reduce emissions or a commitment to net zero, trees are a very promising place to start and investment in agricultural research and development can deliver.

To learn more about WCR’s efforts visit

 [HN1]If we need space, could cut this line

The Gender Equity Index: An Innovative Tool to Benefit Coffee’s Hidden Workforce (Guest post from Equal Origins)

By Kimberly Easson, Founder and CEO, Equal Origins (formerly The Partnership for Gender Equity)

Women play a crucial role in producing coffee, contributing anywhere between 40-80% of the labor it takes to get coffee beans from the farm to your final cup. 

However, coffee is generally thought of as a “man’s crop.” In some coffee-producing countries, a man’s identity as a coffee producer is essential to defining their self-worth and position within the community. 

Women’s roles are often undervalued, impacting their ability to gain new skills and seize the same opportunities available to men. Even though the coffee industry invests more than $500 million per year in farmer education and technical support for global producers, much of that investment doesn’t reach or benefit women. 

The Gender Equity Index (GEI) is an exciting new tool to ensure women can access the services they need to be successful. At Equal Origins (formerly The Partnership for Gender Equity), we developed the GEI for companies that provide sustainability education and technical support to farmers and farmer organizations. 

The GEI is a tool for coffee traders like ECOM, EFICO and Caravela; development organizations like Lutheran World Relief and Technoserve; and government agencies like the Colombian Coffee Federation and ANACAFE. The GEI tool helps ensure that these organizations’ programs reach women equally to men and gives them targeted recommendations to improve their efforts.

A Collaboration for Change 

The Gender Equity Index is a 67 question diagnostic tool that focuses on five pillars of gender equity: 

  • Organizational Capacity
  • Strategy and Analysis
  • Reach Women
  • Benefit Women
  • Empower and Transform 

Equal Origins returns a report with a score and targeted recommendations for each user who takes the diagnostic test. From this report, the user can develop an action plan to improve their performance on gender equity, and share their progress with industry partners, investors, and internal stakeholders.  

We developed the GEI with a number of partners and experts. In 2021, ten companies invested $127,000 to help develop the tool: Lavazza, Barrie House Coffee, Allegro, Paulig, ECOM, Caravela, 4C, EFICO, Jot, and Lutheran World Relief (MOCCA). Leaders within each organization also provided their expertise and knowledge to ensure the tool was relevant and addressed their organization’s needs. 

In addition, we invited experts from a wide range of backgrounds to ensure the tool relies on current best practices in gender and development. We also relied heavily on the work done by a research team at Yale University’s Jackson School of Global Affairs. With funding from Women Forward International, we asked them to identify the gaps in existing services. They compiled their findings in a report entitled: “Gender Equitable Service Provision in Coffee and Cocoa: The State of the Industry.”

We’ve tested the tool with a dozen partners so far. So far, our testing group reports increased awareness about how their current programming impacts women and many plan to redesign internal systems with gender equity as a goal. “Going through the GEI diagnostic sparked necessary conversations between two of our field teams about what we need to do to integrate gender equity into all our projects and programs,” says Pam Schreier, Global Sustainability Senior Manager for Cocoa at ECOM. (You can read more about how ECOM and Caravela have benefitted from using the GEI below).  

However, the GEI isn’t just an internal diagnostic tool. Roasters can ask their trade partners to use the tool. From there, they can assess how equitable their sustainability programs are and brainstorm specific efforts to promote gender equity applicable to their position within the industry. 

“From a roaster standpoint, the GEI tool is a great way to engage our business partners and begin the necessary discussions on gender equity,” says Craig James, NCA member and CEO of Barrie House Coffee in Elmsford, New York. “Barrie House has numerous sustainability programs that we’re actively involved in, but how do we start to truly raise our own expectations to maximize our support of these important programs? One approach is embracing the need to establish gender equity as a recurring budget item within our organization’s annual planning cycle.”

Fostering a More Equitable Coffee Future

For several years now, the coffee sector has invested in initiatives to support women’s entrepreneurship and leadership — often through sourcing “women’s coffees” or coffee grown by women.

These are essential efforts that must continue, and now with the GEI, the industry also can reach women working behind the scenes. 

We’re referring to coffee’s hidden workforce or the women working on farms where the titled landowner might be their father or their spouse. Their significant labor often goes unseen. By recognizing that gender equity is a sustainability issue, we can work to embed targeted and specific initiatives to ensure capacity building programs also reach and benefit this vast hidden workforce. 

With the GEI, the industry can begin to understand the issue of gender equity using a shared language. Much like the language of coffee tasting, building a shared understanding can facilitate conversations for action and impact among partners globally. 

“The GEI is an empowerment tool,” says Kimberly Easson, Founder and CEO of Equal Origins. “It’s difficult to know how effective any one action is, and the GEI is a simple tool that gives people the language to assess their gender equity capacity. Not only does the GEI provide essential context, but it also offers companies who want to do more or do better a launching pad to start. It’s a tool that empowers people to take action now to promote gender equity.” 

No coffee is grown without the help of women. It’s time they are offered the same opportunities as men to learn, grow, and prosper.

How can I get involved? 

  • Learn more about Equal Origins and our mission to build a more equitable coffee future here:
  • If your company wants to learn more, adopt the tool, or support our work, we encourage you to contact Equal Origins at 
  • We encourage roasters to ask their supply chain partners to publicly report their efforts toward building gender equity aligned with the Gender Equity Index. 
  • If you are a coffee lover, we encourage you to learn more about your favorite brands’ efforts to address gender equity.
  • Share these facts about women in coffee and get people talking! We’ve created a few social media graphics you’re free to use (find them at — tag @equalorigins in your post! 
  • Even though the coffee industry invests more than $500 million per year in farmer education and technical support for global producers, much of that investment doesn’t reach or benefit women. #GenderEquityIndex
  • The GEI is an innovative tool meant to ensure that women can access the services they need and are recognized equally for the work that they do. #GenderEquityIndex
  • “Coffee can’t grow without women, and it’s time they are offered the same opportunities as men to learn, grow, and prosper.” See how Equal Origins’ new Gender Equity Index is helping to make change possible. #GenderEquityIndex

What Others Are Saying About the GEI: 

“Using the GEI was a great learning experience for our team. It helped us quantify what we know and don’t know about gender equity. The GEI will help us to write a technical assistance program that puts gender equity at the forefront. We have already learned so much through using this tool.” Alejandro Cadena, Caravela Coffee

“Going through the GEI diagnostic process sparked necessary conversations between two of our field teams about what we need to do to integrate gender equity into all our projects and programs. Both field teams work in countries with ongoing projects that focus on women but don’t really expand outward. The GEI helped both teams see what they could do to impact the entire coffee supply chain and address equity on a larger scale. We’re happy to see what happens when we use the tool in other coffee- and cocoa-producing countries.” Pam Schreier, Global Sustainability Senior Manager for Cocoa at ECOM.

NCA 2022 Preview: Behind the Scenes with Scott Clemons

Each year, the National Coffee Association Annual Convention presents a full program, filled with dynamic speakers and sessions covering an array of topics from coffee data trends, to logistics, to coffee and health, and so much more. Among those sessions is one that is so well received that it returns year after year and continues to be a highly anticipated keynote session at the NCA Annual Convention: the economic outlook with Scott Clemons, Chief Investment Strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

Michelle Dunaway, Sales Executive at Mercon Specialty and NCA Next Gen Council member, spoke with Scott to learn more about his background and career and to give you a sneak peek at what is to come in his session at #NCA2022. (Scott will be presenting his session, “2022 Vision: The New Normal,” on Wednesday, March 9, from 10:10 – 11:00am EST at the National Coffee Association Virtual Convention.)

Upon graduating from Princeton in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics – a rather unusual degree for Wall Street – Scott joined Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. [BBH], where he still works today, 32 years later, and now holds the position of Chief Investment Strategist.

Early on in his career, Scott earned the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation, to not only learn the skills and practical applications of financial analysis, but to also demonstrate his dedication in investing to both his clients and his firm, BBH.

Scott credits much of his professional success with skills learned on the job. He began his career with BBH in London in the early 1990s as an Analyst & Portfolio Manager. This was an exciting time for European economics; the European rate mechanism had come into play – a precursor of the Euro – and the world saw the fall of the Soviet Union and the iron curtain which led to the introduction of the market-based economy in Eastern Europe.

After five years of working in Europe and traveling all over the world asking questions, he came to a fork in the road: to commit to life in London or to return to the United States. In the late 1990s, Scott made the United States his permanent home, and he switched his attention to domestic markets in the role of Portfolio Manager, U.S. Equities for BBH. Come 2005, Scott took advantage of an opportunity to be on the client-facing side of the business, transitioning to the role of Relationship Manager for the NY office location of BBH.  

Along the way, Scott has always been curious about how things work, what motivates and drives decisions, why something is the way it is, and what such things can tell us about the past and the future.

Today, Scott holds the position of Chief Investment Strategist. In his own words, Scott described his role as, “the guy that gets to look around at everything going on in the world and try to make sense of it.” So, what does this mean for his clients? Scott explained that the clients of BBH are running businesses, so they appreciate the guidance and advice on everything they need to know that will benefit their operations.

Scott does not think of himself as an economist – economics is not his academic background – but rather as a curious guy who likes to know how things work, who takes the time to read, analyze, study, and then synthesize information so that he can convey the explanation to an audience allowing them too to make better sense of the world economy.  

Question: What is the secret to success in investing… and to life in general?

Scott: “Read voraciously.

There is a rationale for this: success is a question of pattern recognition. For example, if you are a professional athlete, you can recognize the play in front of you. You think, “I’ve been here before and know exactly what to do.” The challenge is how to develop good pattern recognition. Experience is gained a day at a time, but there is an out to that; you can get more than one day’s experience at a time by borrowing from the experiences of others. That, is how reading comes into play.

[Author’s note: Scott reads The Financial Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.]

In order to develop a differentiated insight, you need to read very broadly. Markets are just the intersection of human emotion. Markets, the economy, and businesses are a collision of human emotions – fear, greed, anxiety, lust, excitement, aversion, regret – and these all these get measured by the S&P 500, through GDP, or through corporate profitability terms. At the end of the day, it comes down to understanding people.”

The single best analyst of human emotion was William Shakespeare. Some of the best investors Scott has ever worked with play with uncertainty and doubt; the single best explication of the psychology of doubt is Hamlet – the whole play is about the perils of indecision.

On the other side of the equation, some of the best investors Scott has ever worked with have such courage in their convictions; it’s the opposite extreme. Once again, the single best psychological analysis on the perils of certainty is William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

The challenge is to identify the psychological extremes in our own thinking and to react to that. In short, what makes you a better investor is anything and everything, because it all adds to your ability as a thinker to identify patterns more readily and more originally.

Question: Are there any opportunities that those of us in coffee should be looking for?

Scott: “They way in which consumer behavior has shifted during the pandemic is fascinating. What is the role of coffee outside of the home? Are coffee shops a delivery mechanism for caffeine? Do coffee shops need a mobile app to serve more quickly? Or are coffee shops a gathering place for entrepreneurs and solo workers to come and sit for a long period of time?”

Sneak peek! What can we expect at Scott’s upcoming lecture, “2022 Vision: The New Normal,” during the NCA Virtual Convention?

Scott shared that there are four big transitions underway that will dominate conversation in the United States and in the global economy:

  1. A transition in economic leadership away from government spending and emergency support
  2. Inflation/deflation – inflation is a price we pay for monetary support
  3. Interest rates – history has taught us that the “why” the Fed is raising rates is important. If the Fed is raising interest rates in response to more confidence in economic activity, then markets and businesses see this as necessary for the economy to continue to flourish. If, on the other hand, the markets decides that the Fed has lost their grasp on inflation and they are scrambling to catch up, this can be disruptive. Which narrative wins out?
  4. A surge in productivity – the silver lining as we are doing more with less

Throughout the course of the conversation, Scott mentioned how Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. is renovating their NY office and adding in an upscale coffer bar. As exciting at this already sounds for all of us coffee lovers, Scott made a noteworthy comment. He explained that in the past, they [BBH] have thought of coffee as a caffeine delivery mechanism, but now they have changed their thinking; they recognize that coffee is what brings people together, so now they see coffee as a connector.

Although we will not be sharing coffee with each other in person at NCA this year, don’t miss out on these connections! Be sure to register for #NCA2022 and check out Scott’s session, “2022 Vision: The New Normal,” on Wednesday, March 9, from 10:10 – 11:00am EST at the National Coffee Association Virtual Convention.

Words of Wisdom from NCA Board Members: Part I

As Next Gen-ers in coffee, we are fortunate to be surrounded by so many remarkable industry leaders, many of whom serve the coffee community via their roles on the NCA Board of Directors. Michelle Dunaway, Sales Executive at Mercon Specialty and NCA Next Gen Council member, rounded up some great words of wisdom from several of these leaders. From advice on career advancement to what they’re currently reading, check out these NCA Board Members’ words of wisdom below.

Bruce Goldsmith

President & CEO of Baronet Coffee, a 4th generation coffee roaster with 100 years of history defined by tradition, family & commitment to exceed expectations.

Bruce has served as Chair of the NCA Board of Directors and is currently an active NCA board member.

He has been in coffee since 1988 when he started doing research into “gourmet” coffee, what we now know as Specialty Coffee.

His advice to the younger generation in coffee: “Get involved, don’t be afraid to ask questions [and] voice your interest, so that when an opportunity arises you are prepared to seize it!

The NCA is a 110-year-old organization and is trying to evolve … so get involved and look for opportunities, meet people — you never know what will come out [of it].”

Favorite radio shows: “How I built this” by NPR

John Boyle

President & CEO / Managing Director at Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

John has been involved with the NCA for 14 years, 10 years as a board member and has been with MZB for 15+ years.

His advice: love what you do and get involved! 

“I think it is very important to enjoy what you do. Certainly, being in the coffee business, it does help to love coffee and to understand the entire supply chain all the way back to origin; the history, where coffee comes from; there is a lot to learn [about] how the whole supply chain works.”

Be passionate, be driven and be aggressive, speak your mind, but always do it with a perspective – [understand] where you can really make an impact and drive change [to] affect the broader industry.”

Career advice: “Work hard and deliver on your commitments.”

Favorite NCA memories: “Seeing how the NCA has evolved and the true leadership position it has taken as the voice of the coffee industry. Prop 65 was a moment when the industry rallied together, focused on an issue, and the outcome benefitted the whole industry.  This is the picture of success.”

Matt Saurage

4th Generation family owner of Community Coffee Company

Matt started his career in coffee at a young age and realized coffee is an industry experiencing constant change.  Evolution is inevitable, so he advises to “learn continually, challenge yourself and be open to new ideas.  In the coffee industry, your reputation is your most valuable asset.”

Other tips:

  • Be a lifelong learner
  • Listen
  • Surround yourself with people with different ideas and perspectives
  • Take action!

Matt travels with his AeroPress and brews Community Coffee signature Dark Roast blend – his favorite.

“To the future of coffee, salut!”

Miguel Moreno

Head of Coffee business, Grupo Nutresa

Advice on finding advancing your career in coffee: “Find the right place and person to talk about your career plans — about what you believe you can do and what you can achieve.”

“Ask questions: what do you need to do better and what do you need to do to improve?”

“Go beyond your role, when you are in a meeting have an opinion, be present. Every topic matters, always have an [integrated] view of the information and everything that you have access to.”

Books he recommends:

  • Think Again – Adam Grant
  • What works, Gender equality by design – Iris Bohnet
  • Exponential Organizations – Salim Ismail

Paul Feldman

Managing Director at Brown Brothers Harriman (Commodity Finance)

“Be curious, there are no bad questions.”

“Make sure you always try as much as you can to be a good listener, but don’t hesitate to challenge — always being respectful.”

Paul never thought or planned he would become a banker. “Don’t plan your career path [based on] where you think it has to go… having a plan is great, [but] recognize the serendipity involved in life. Be ready, if necessary, to have your plan dramatically change or even dissolve over time.”

Michelle Burns

Executive Vice President-Global Coffee, Tea and Cocoa at Starbucks Coffee Company

Michelle has been in the coffee industry for 30 years. Getting to where she is now required many moves within the company that expanded her knowledge in business development, relationship management, negotiation and operations, store development, and more — all driven by the willingness to lean into opportunities.

She says the essential ingredient for developing relationships is having shared goals. There must be a benefit to everyone in a partnership; gaining mutual understanding and the support that coming together creates.

To grow your career, she advises to be “driven, intentional, purposeful … [and] open.”

“Knowledge of the issues is important, but it’s also critical to remember who we serve and why: the producers and every other link in the value chain. The nuance of understanding all the parts of the value chain is critically important and valuable, as it is our duty as an industry to truly understand the magnitude of the issues we are facing and in order to create a sustainable future for coffee.”

On diversity, she advises you to “be inclusive and hear alternate points of view; diversity must absolutely be part of the future.”

What Michelle is currently reading: Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard – Chip Heath & Dan Heath

A Blast from the Past: Looking Back at Past NCA Conventions

By: Nora Johnson, Next Gen Council Member and Commodities Manager at Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

For many in the coffee industry, the month of March has become synonymous with the National Coffee Association Annual Convention. It’s the time of year when highly anticipated economic and trade outlooks are shared, former colleagues are reunited, keynote speakers inspire, and new industry participants get their first taste of the special and unique world that is the coffee industry.

As you know, throughout the entire year, the NCA works tirelessly on behalf of our beloved industry and the Association’s membership. From crucial advocacy to in-depth research and toolkit preparation, from Member Alerts to educational webinars, the benefits of NCA membership are endless; the Annual Convention is another one of those cherished benefits that has become a hallmark event for the coffee industry.

Before we dive into the excitement for NCA 2022, let’s first look back a few years at past NCA Annual Conventions to see how we got here today!

Going “all the way” back to 2019, (author’s note: I think we can say “all the way” given how far we have come throughout the course of pandemic years!), we find ourselves in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme for NCA 2019 was “Crossroads,” and the conference featured three key-note sessions:

  • Shannon Huffman Polson, Author of, “The Grit Project,” and one of the first women to fly an Apache helicopter in the US Army
  • Joel Sartore, Nature Photographer and National Geographic Magazine Contributor
  • Steve Battista, Former Sr. Vice President, Brand, Under Armor, Inc.

For a comparison of the times, at the time of the NCA Annual Convention in 2019, the coffee market was trading around $0.9685.

Heading into March 5-7, 2020, in Austin, Texas, we now find ourselves at the 2020 Annual Convention. It is likely that you remember it well as it was quite possibly the last in-person event that you attended prior to the onset of the pandemic in the United States. Although we did not know at that time just how much our lives would change over the next year, the theme for the Convention was very fitting “The Challenge of Change.”

NCA 2020 featured sessions on a variety of topics, including two sessions that are highly anticipated each year:

  • 2020 Vision with Scott Clemons, Brown Brothers Harriman 
  • Preview to the National Coffee Data Trends 2020

At the time of the NCA Annual Convention in 2020, the coffee market was trading around $1.1135.

Enter: 2021. Given the impact of the pandemic, gathering in person for a large event was not an option, yet the “magic of March” for those of us looking forward to the NCA Annual Convention carried on through a new, virtual format. The theme for the 2021 Convention, “Together Toward Tomorrow,” was certainly one of hope, and this message resonated throughout different sessions, such as:

  • Ideation to Action: Sharing the Risks and Rewards of Sustainability in the Coffee Value Chain
  • Superhero Leadership During Uncertain Times, featuring Brett Culp, award-winning documentary filmmaker and founder of the non-profit, The Rising Heroes Project

At the time of the NCA Annual Convention in 2021, the coffee market was trading around $1.3280.

So what’s up next? That’s right – the NCA Virtual Annual Convention 2022, “A World of Possibilities,” is just around the corner on March 8-10, 2022. For more information, check out the details of the Virtual Convention here:

See you there!

Logistically Speaking, Part 3: Janet Colley of The Dupuy Group

Bent Dietrich, NCA Next Genner and Coffee Trader with the American Coffee Corporation, recently sat down with Janet Colley, Vice President of the Dupuy Group, for her take on the history of Dupuy Group, the current logistics landscape for coffee, Covid-19’s impact on the supply chain, and more.  

Before we get to the scary part (supply chain crises – *gulp*), tell us a little about yourself, and about the Dupuy Group.

My great grandfather, John Dupuy, started Dupuy Storage & Forwarding in New Orleans in July of 1936.  My dad still has one of his business cards that says, “Coffee Exclusively.”  Dupuy has been dedicated to the coffee industry for almost 90 years.  I proudly represent the 4th generation of ownership.  My Dad, Allan, is still the current President / CEO.  We are the last two remaining family members currently working for Dupuy.  It is a great source of pride for me to be able to continue representing such a longstanding and well-respected company.

The warehousing industry has been one of those silent pillars in the supply chain that never really shut down during the pandemic. How did Covid impact Dupuy at the outset of the pandemic? What was the initial response?

Thankfully, Dupuy has been blessed with extremely committed and loyal workers.  However, as the pandemic progresses, we are certainly starting to feel the labor issues that are plaguing the industry.  Wages are going up, available skilled labor is harder to find, and we have unfortunately started to feel the pain of these challenges.  We are working hard to make sure to create and maintain an inviting and stable culture for our team.

How has Dupuy been impacted by the supply chain bottlenecks, starting with the back-ups at the ports? How has that changed over the past several months?

Once again, these are challenges that we have started to see recently.  Unfortunately, it is generally our customers (importers, roasters) who are affected the most, so we are doing our best to mitigate those issues as best we can.  Trucking shortages, port equipment unavailability… these are just a few examples of problems that we are being asked to help solve on a daily basis.  As we all know, these are issues that are prevalent coast to coast, port to port.

So once the coffee has arrived at Dupuy’s warehouses, I know Dupuy is active in blending, sampling, and performing other services for your clients. Have these services been significantly delayed or affected by today’s logistical climate? 

As a matter of fact, the demand for our value-added services has increased significantly and has remained steady for several months.  It has been a very interesting trend to watch. 

Throughout the economy, we see costs going up. As a coffee trader, I see the coffee futures market up double compared to last year. Freight rates have tripled or more, and differentials are higher. Long story short, the cost of doing business has gone up significantly.  Has this been the case for Dupuy? If so, what has changed?

Absolutely.  In the service industry, we see price increases in almost every aspect of our business.  From insurance to stretch wrap to pallets, prices are rising consistently, and we are having to pass some of those costs along to our customers, unfortunately.  No one in customer service likes to raise prices, but we do take comfort knowing that we are certainly not alone.

What changes have you seen on the trucking and transportation side?

I’ll probably give the standard answer of anyone in any logistics-based business these days… fewer drivers, higher prices – “’nuff said”!

With bottlenecks and shipping delays making news headlines and thereby increasing consumer awareness, are there any other challenges that aren’t widely reported that the warehouses have had to overcome?

I honestly think that everyone these days is familiar with the issues that we encounter in our industry.  From the exporter to the importer to the consumer, no one is immune from the truth.  We are not experiencing anything that any other service provider is not.

What is one thing about the Dupuy (or about coffee warehouses in general) that you wish more people knew?

I love telling the story of Dupuy.  I love that we are family owned and operated.  And I love for people to know our history.  In addition to our history, I want people to see our vision and our future.  We are not just a warehouse.  We are not just four walls with people unloading, storing, and loading.  We are a partner in this industry.  We are a vital part of the supply chain and we can offer services that defy the traditional perception of a “warehouse.”

How to get the most out of your eCommerce digital content

This is a guest post from HINGE Global, which recently held a webinar on how digital content can help you achieve your coffee eCommerce goals. NCA Members can view a recording of the webinar here, and learn more about Hinge’s Amazon Coffee Data Dashboard here.

In the US, eCommerce has grown by 32.4% since the start of the pandemic, and the US Department of Commerce shows that by the end of 2021, eCommerce will make up 13% of total retail sales (up from just 4% 10 years ago). 

The “endless aisles” of eCommerce means that consumers have easy access to millions of products that meet their specific needs. In 2021, there were 36,263 coffee products across 1,769 different brands, over 100X more than a typical grocery store!

All this means that winning in eCommerce requires a different approach than traditional retail stores.  E-Commerce managers need to make sure that the products can be discovered by consumers (via search), that consumers understand the product benefits (via the product detail page), and that consumers are persuaded to buy (i.e., conversion). Plus, consumer expectations continue to rise. Consumers shop multiple channels and are constantly comparing product offerings across sites.  This means that best-in-class digital content is critical to helping brands win in eCommerce.

1. Great copywriting (and keywords) helps your product be found in search.  The goal of copywriting to improve your brand’s organic search rank within the category.  Improving organic search results will also improve the return on advertising spending, because your marketing dollars will not have to work as hard. The secret to great copywriting is the artful blend of channel-specific keyword research, coupled with persuasive and clear writing, all while staying true to your brand’s voice. 

2. Product photography and lifestyle images drive conversioneCommerce shoppers spend less than four seconds before they click on a specific product listing. This is why it is critical to have eye-catching and appealing digital images. Product images need to grab shoppers’ attention, communicate the key benefits, and persuade consumers to buy the product.  Given the importance of product images, we strongly recommend that eCommerce sellers have at least 5 images per product listing.  To maximize eCommerce sales, all images should be created with a mobile-first approach.

3. Enhanced Brand Content (also known as Rich Media or A+ Content) boosts conversions by 12%-36%, according to In fact, some retailers are starting to mandate the use of Enhanced Brand Content because of the improved customer experience.  Enhanced Brand Content typically sits below-the-fold, just before product reviews.  Because of this position, many consumers will scroll to this section while they do additional product research before making an online purchase.

HINGE GLOBAL is a leading full-service eCommerce agency, with particularly strong experience in Coffee and Foodservice.  Their team of eCommerce experts can help you optimize your online product detail pages, copywriting, and enhanced content.  Additionally, through their partnership with Salsify, HINGE GLOBAL can publish all your digital content to all your eCommerce sites, including,,, Shopify, and more. Reach out to HINGE GLOBAL for more information at