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! 

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?

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Photo Recap: NCA 2019 Day of Service

How Coffee Gives Back to the Local Community

The annual Coffee Gives Back Day of Service may have been the most labor-intensive portion for attendees at the NCA 2019 Convention – but it was also the most fun.

Hosted by Jolly Elementary, outside of Atlanta, GA, the (waitlist-only) event was led by the NCA Next Generation Council in partnership with Network Volunteers.

From painting to planting to power-washing, volunteers pitched in to help with much-needed school beautification and maintenance projects. (One overwhelmed teacher shared that she and her husband had been working on weekends and spending their own money to make classroom repairs.)

In one afternoon, the NCA team made the kind of progress only possible when a committed (and well-caffeinated) community comes together for a common cause.

Here are a few highlights from the NCA 2019 Coffee Gives Back Day of Service:

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Meet the NCA Next Generation: Amber Gray, Starbucks

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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.

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NCA Member Spotlight: AMI

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Read previous NCA member spotlights, or check out our complete list of members


AMI logo

COMPANY: AMI
LOCATION: Bristol, UK
TWITTER: @contact_AMI
FACEBOOK: /AMI
NCA MEMBER SINCE: Nov. 2018


What does AMI do?

AMI is Europe’s largest consultancy dedicated to providing business information for the global plastics industry.

With more relevance to the coffee industry, AMI’s lead packaging consultant, Martyna Fong, has championed the development of the single serve capsules expertise. She has a thorough understanding of the supply chain, global trends, and technical innovation in the segment.

AMI is keen to assist the NCA community with its market intelligence as well as specialist single serve capsules conferences – in North America and in Europe.

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Building a Legacy of Leadership: NCA Chair on Family Values and Coffee’s Next Generation

Join the NCA Next Generation council for a professional development breakout session and networking event at the NCA Convention in Atlanta, GA

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Michael Gaviña delivering his General Session remarks at the 2018 NCA Convention

Exclusive Q&A: Michael Gaviña, F. Gaviña & Sons

“We really have something special, we have a very collegial industry that is passionate about a product that our customers hold dearly.”


Michael Gaviña is the current of the National Coffee Association. He is a fourth-generation executive at F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. (FGS), responsible for pricing raw materials and managing inventory. A Coffee Quality Institute Q grader, he joined FGS in 2002 as a buyer. He is has served as CFO of DF Roasters since 2015.

Here, talks to Next Generation Council Communications subcommittee member Kyle Bawot about what he’s learned over his career, the challenges ahead for coffee businesses, and his hope for next generation of industry leaders.

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Meet the Real Bill Murray

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Bill Murray speaking at the 2018 NCA Convention in Atlanta

Behind the scenes with the President & CEO of the National Coffee Association USA


William (Bill) Murray has served as President and CEO of the National Coffee Association (NCA) since 2014, following leadership positions at the Public Relations Society of America and the Motion Picture Association.

And clearly he’s kept caffeinated. In a few short years, the NCA has evolved as an organization to provide enhanced member benefits and educational opportunities, while also serving as a critical advocate on key industry issues like the Prop. 65 labeling case in California.

Here, he talks to Zach Olsen, Regional Sales Manager at Bunn USA and incoming Chair of the NCA Next Generation Council, about his career, the coffee industry, and Caddyshack.

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Meet the NCA Next Generation: Shelby Westfeldt Mills

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Mardi Gras World at the NCA 2018 Convention

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. 

 

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Shelby Westfeldt Mills
President, Coffee/Tea Trader
Westfeldt Brothers, Inc.
NCA Next Gen Council

Interviewed by Janet Colley Morse


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

It was right after Katrina in 2005 and I was living in New York City interviewing for jobs in advertising. My dad had to relocate Westfeldt Brothers to North Carolina, and asked if I would work on the New York Board of Trade (now the ICE) as a clerk and assist WBI.

I put everything on hold and started immediately. I fell in love with it!

If you ask how I ended up at Westfeldt Brothers, that was probably because my mom made my dad give me a job.

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

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NCA NextGen is Going to Geneva

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Bon voyage! 

Members of the NCA Next Generation Council to attend the 9th annual Swiss Coffee Trading Association Gala Dinner.

By Guillaume Zbinden, Be Green Trading
On behalf of the NCA NextGen Council


Switzerland is an important country for the coffee trade and roasting industry, and serves as the headquarters for several major coffee trading houses and roasters. (The country is even one of the world’s top five coffee exporters.)

This year, leadership from across the international coffee industry will come together for the 9th annual Swiss Coffee Trading Association Gala DinnerOctober 11-12, 2018, in Geneva. It’s part of the SCTA Conference & Dinner 2018, “Making Waves.”

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How One Coffee Company Is Empowering Positive Change at Origin

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The following post is an edited excerpt of contend provided by Volcafe. Volcafe is an NCA member company. (Learn more about contributing guest blog posts to National Coffee.) 

Visit the NCA Coffee Gives Back Charity Showcase to learn more about how NCA members are working to support coffee communities at origin. 


Child labor is a big problem in some of the poorer areas of Uganda, which includes coffee producing communities. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution.

Any resolution demands a dedicated, sustained effort. It must get to the root cause of the problem and improve the economic viability of households so that parents can afford to let their children attend school.

Some coffee companies are choosing step up and take action to empower positive change at origin.

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