Flavor as the common thread for coffee quality along the value chain

Coffee cupping prep ©2019 Decisive Moment, NCA Convention

The role of cupping in specialty coffee

By Mario R. Fernández-Alduenda, The Coffee Quality Institute
Excerpted from The Sustainable Cultivation of Coffee
Discount available for NCA members


The popularity of coffee is still growing, but the definition of what makes a ‘good’ cup of coffee is complex.

It might be tempting to think that it is largely subjective, with so many types of coffee grown around the world, so many processes to consider throughout the value chain, and so many local and national preferences.

However, the sustainability of the industry depends on the value placed on certain types of coffee. Local economies can thrive or fail, depending on the desirability of their crop.

The growing preference for ‘specialty’ coffee, sold at a premium price, is making the quality question even more critical. The ability to distinguish specific characteristics that make some crops more desirable than standard commercial coffee has become a major consideration over the last 20 years.

Physical characteristics of the bean or cherry are not good indicators of flavor in the cup, so how is this important choice to be made?

Continue reading

Getting Started in Coffee Branding

It’s more than a logo.

To learn more about coffee branding, NCA members can access the on-demand webinar, “Getting Started in Coffee Branding.”

By Michael Wilson, Creative Director, Made Visible Studio

Branding is not some sort of black magic.

Rather, it is a methodic process by which an organization defines what makes them unique and how they are different from the competition.

A brand is a promise of an experience. It is up to you, the owner of the company, to decide and control what kind of experience that is going to be.

Continue reading

3 Highlights From the National Coffee Association USA Convention 2019

Specialty coffee cupping session at the NCA Convention in Atlanta
Spencer Turer (Coffee Analysts), Julie O’Brien (The Coffee Trust), and Monica Walker (Walker Coffee Trading) enjoying a cupping session led by Blue Donkey Coffee at the NCA 2019 Convention in Atlanta

Pt. 1: The Crema the Crop


Leaders, experts, and entrepreneurs from across the coffee industry came together for the 2019 NCA Annual Convention in the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The 3-day event was themed “Coffee at the Crossroads” and sponsored by Community Coffee, which is currently celebrating its centennial anniversary as a family-owned company.

From networking events to specialty coffee education, the jam-packed (and highly caffeinated) conference offered something for everyone.

Here, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorite moments, with more to come in the weeks ahead.

(If you attended #NCA19 and want to share what you’ve learned, share a comment below or tag @nationalcoffeeusa in your photos!)

Continue reading

The Buzz Is Brewing at Blue Donkey Coffee

IMG_6310.jpg

Blue Donkey will  host a specialty coffee cupping session at the 2019 National Coffee Association Convention in Atlanta, March 7-9

Atlanta Coffee Shop is Making Waves with National Coffee Leaders


As Atlanta grows, so does the city’s specialty coffee scene – and one of the hometown favorites is about to make a big splash with coffee executives from around the world.

Despite this excitement, Atlanta’s Blue Donkey Coffee remains true to its commitment to specialty coffee, personalized for coffee lovers.  The latest Blue Donkey café is just their second location, opening last fall in an upcoming area east of downtown on the edge of Grant Park.

Continue reading

TRUE Green & Roasted Coffee Taste Descriptions

Green-coffee-beans-598148512_4000x2670.jpeg

Exploring TRUE coffee descriptions: Trustworthy, Realistic, Understandable, Enticing

A Shared Industry Vocabulary to Keep Us On the Same Page

Learn more about coffee quality: Join Blue Donkey Coffee for a specialty coffee cupping at the 2019 NCA Convention in Atlanta, March 7-9


Part I: How To Communicate TRUE Coffee Quality

The following article was originally published as the first installment of a 2-part special series in Tea and Coffee Trade Journal in the July/August 2018 and September 2018 issues

By Spencer Turer, Coffee Enterprises – via LinkedIn


Aroma and taste descriptors are most easily understood when primary flavors are referenced for the perceived attribute.

When attributes are categorized into groups it becomes difficult to understand their meaning without additional training or explanations. Confusion is created when conclusions are used for flavor descriptions, or when adjectives or verbs are used in place of nouns when presenting descriptions.

Continue reading

From Invisibility Towards Inclusivity: Building Diversity In the Coffee Industry

44060045971_fde4b7950e_b

Daiane Vital embracing her mother Vanilda de Souza Vital, south of Minal Geraris Brazil. Photo: Danielle Sereio

“The industry must do a better job at telling coffee’s history, beyond those who carried the bean throughout different parts of the world…”
– Phyllis Johnson, BD Imports, NCA Board Member


In the most recent issue, Roast Magazine published an insightful and important article by Phyllis Johnson, NCA board member and BD Imports president & co-founder.

Strong Black Coffee, Why Aren’t African Americans More Prominent in The Coffee Industry?” features perspectives from 14 black coffee professionals.

The following is a summary of the original piece, with new reflections and an update from Johnson’s recent trip to Brazil during International Coffee Week.

Continue reading

New Seasonal Flavors Spice Up Fall Coffee Menus

pumpkin-latte

4 in 5 consumers say they look forward to fall seasonal items the most

Is this the end of pumpkin spice?

By Amanda Topper, Mintel

The following is an edited excerpt from the Mintel Blog. Read the full post 


Wake up and smell the coffee: Pumpkin spice’s reign as top autumn coffee beverage may be coming to an end.

Menu mentions of pumpkin-flavored coffees declined 30% from Fall 2015-Fall 2017, according to Mintel Menu Insights. This decline was driven mainly by a few quick-service restaurants (QSRs).

Continue reading

How to take Great #Coffee Photos for Instagram

Snip20180305_7.pngPhoto: @tanitotoro via @peoplebrewcoffee

[Editor’s note: The NCA Next Generation Council is leading an NCA Instagram photo contest! Follow the National Coffee Association at @nationalcoffeeusa and tag us in your coffee photos with #NCAUSA for a chance to win agreat prize donated by Bunn. Deadline: March 15]

Instagram is a powerful platform for coffee businesses of sizes: the platform has a community of 800 million, with 500 users million using it every day (second only to Facebook, via Hootsuite). And with 80% of Instagrammers follow at least one business, it’s a great way to engage consumers.

There are a lot of great ways to use Instagram to showcase your brand, from promoting new products to sharing a glimpse into your company culture. And fortunately for our industry, coffee is particularly photogenic. But getting that perfect shot (espresso or otherwise) requires more effort behind the scenes than you think.

Over on the MistoBox blog, Melissa Hall reached out to some of the most talented coffee photographers for their top insta-tips on bringing out your coffee’s best side. (Be sure to check out their feeds for even more caffeinated inspiration – and follow the NCA at @nationalcoffeeusa.)

Continue reading

New Orleans Credited With Creating the Coffee Break

“It is a little thing perhaps, this drinking of coffee at odd times, but it is very characteristic of the city itself. Men in New Orleans give more thought to the business of living than men in other American cities.”
Excerpt from “Fabulous New Orleans” by Lyle Saxon

Beignets-and-Coffee-475556676_2448x2448.jpeg

Join the National Coffee Association in NOLA on March 15-17 for the NCA Annual Convention 2018, and connect with the coffee community while experiencing one of the most vibrant – and historical – cities in America. 

The following excerpt is from the Times-Picayune

New Orleans has long been a coffee city.

Continue reading