Cold brew is red hot — let’s make sure it stays that way

The National Coffee Association is here to help your coffee business navigate cold brew’s evolving regulatory landscape.

Cold brew may not be new, but it’s never been hotter. Demand for the format is off the charts, with 17% of coffee drinkers having had a cup of cold brew in the past week, according to the National Coffee Association’s Spring 2023 National Coffee Data Trends report. Keep in mind, this survey was conducted in January 2023 – the dead of winter – and nearly one-fifth of coffee drinkers were still choosing cold brew each week!

The coffee industry is certainly stepping up to meet this soaring demand. In fact, Technavio reports that the market for cold brew is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 7.73% between 2022 and 2027, an increase of $439.93 million.

What hasn’t kept pace with this rapid growth, however, are clear rules, regulations, data, and guidelines governing cold brew’s safety. Like all coffee, cold brew is safe. But whether you manufacture airtight ready-to-drink cold brew products or serve it from a dispenser in a retail establishment, the patchwork of state and local laws that apply can leave even the most knowledgeable food service professional scratching their heads.

Given the National Coffee Association’s scope covering the entire U.S. coffee market and our vast in-house scientific and policy expertise, we are well-positioned to help fill in these knowledge gaps. To that end, we have been spending the past several years building a library of resources to help keep your bases covered and the cold brew flowing safely into customers’ cups.  The last thing you or your company needs is a damaging recall or costly lawsuit, so the NCA is here to make sure you’re prepared when the health inspector comes a-knocking.

Last year, we added several tools to our Cold Brew Safety Toolkit: a Cold Brew Safety Guide for Retailers, designed to help retail coffee shops maintain a food-safe environment; a model retail Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan, to ensure you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your product and customers; a compliance checklist, to stay on top of what a health inspector might be checking for; plus, several videos and a webcast covering these tools and how to use them. These new resources complement our existing Cold Brew Safety Toolkit for Industry, geared towards manufacturers of airtight RTD cold brew products, originally released in 2018. We also have a comprehensive FAQ to answer, well, the most frequently asked questions about cold brew safety.

Cold Brew Safety Guide for Retailers,

But NCA’s work is not done! The cold brew space continues to evolve, and we’re developing even more resources to keep you on top of the latest developments. This May 16th, 2023, I will be joined by Scott Hawks, food safety and quality expert with Toxstrategies, LLC, to lead a free, practical, hands-on workshop for NCA Members on the latest cold brew regulatory developments, NCA’s cold brew tools and resources, a forthcoming, hot-off-the-press challenge study, and more. (To learn more about the workshop, head to If you’re not an NCA member and currently handle or sell cold brew, now’s a great time to join. A comparable workshop or training held by an outside consultancy could easily run your company much more than the cost of a small retailer’s annual membership with NCA (visit to learn more).  When you consider that top food science consultants charge rates exceeding $400 an hour, becoming part of NCA is a no-brainer, especially when you consider the vast wealth of other, non-cold brew-related resources you’ll also get immediate access to.

As we speak, NCA’s Science Leadership Council (SLC) is also finishing work on the aforementioned comprehensive microbial challenge study and whitepaper, which will be an essential (and required) tool for making the case to an inspector that retail cold brew is not a likely food for pathogens to grow in. I’ll be exploring top-line results of the study at our workshop in May.

On the advocacy front, NCA is working diligently with government and advocacy bodies to solidify a standard in the FDA’s Food Code for retail cold brew specifically. This will give some much-needed clarity to the many coffee companies serving this popular format. Many state and local authorities abide by or model their own regulations after those of the federal government, so this would have a cascading positive impact all the way down the chain.

This is just the beginning for cold brew and for the NCA. With more resources in the pipeline than ever before, NCA is working hard to continually live up to our motto: We Serve Coffee. To learn more about the National Coffee Association, visit

Mark Corey, PhD. is NCA’s Director of Science and Policy. In this role, he oversees coffee science, regulatory, safety, and policy issues and serves as a technical resource to the industry. Mark holds a B.S. in Food Science and Human Health at the University of Maine, an M.S. in Food Science at the Pennsylvania State University, a Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology at the University of Georgia, and has completed a USDA National Needs fellowship in functional foods and human health. He is also a licensed Q-Arabica coffee grader and is PCQI-certified for Human Food.

Earth Day – Coffee’s Sustainability Journey

Happy Earth Day, coffee lovers!

Our shared environment provides myriad gifts to celebrate today and every day, but we would be remiss not to highlight one of our favorite natural gifts: coffee.

With 65% of Americans drinking coffee each day (according to our latest National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) Report), coffee is a mainstay in millions of people’s daily lives, including 25 million smallholder farmers around the world. Coffee is certainly far too beloved and important to take for granted as we all work to protect the health of our environment.

Climate change could have significant impacts on coffee, which is uniquely vulnerable to temperature changes and extreme weather, which can damage plants and worsen diseases and pests. Some estimates say that without mitigations, climate change could reduce land suitable for growing coffee by half by 2050.

Clearly, combatting climate change requires action and achievement across our global society. For our part, the coffee community has been a leader in seeking to make coffee the world’s first truly sustainable agricultural commodity, across all three aspects of sustainability as defined by the United Nations – economic, social, and environmental.

Coffee companies across the supply chain have adopted ambitious commitments and comprehensive programs to achieve sustainability, with efforts addressing everything from land use to farmer livelihoods and more. Highlights and summaries of such efforts are available in NCA’s Sustainability Showcase. As of 2019 (the last year for which we have aggregated data), the coffee community had committed more than $531 million to sustainability efforts around the world.

As just one example, NCA’s 2020 Origin Charity Award recipient TechnoServe specializes in business approaches to reducing poverty worldwide. TechnoServe’s coffee programs across Latin America, Africa, and Asia focus on four key drivers of impact that improve farmers’ livelihoods and create greater value across the supply chain:

●     Better Farming: TechnoServe has trained more than 400,000 coffee farmers on sustainable agronomy practices, helping them to increase their productivity and income.  

●     Better Business: TechnoServe has helped farmers construct 266 new coffee-processing businesses and advised more than 760 existing processing businesses. This support has helped improve coffee quality and market access, increasing the incomes of 500,000 farmers globally.

●     Better Supply Chains: TechnoServe has worked with partners across the coffee ecosystem to develop practical and sustainable solutions to supply-chain issues, including access to finance and improved transparency.

●     Better Environment: Pioneering simple, cost-effective solutions, TechnoServe has helped 843 businesses in the coffee value chain to adopt sustainability standards and create positive environmental and social impacts in their communities.

Research also plays a key role. As part of our overall positive agenda for the future of coffee, NCA works with organizations like World Coffee Research to advocate for investments in research and development that will protect coffee plant health and help meet global demand sustainably, including through U.S. government programs and funding.

To further enhance the achievement of sector-wide goals and the implementation of multistakeholder initiatives, coffee leaders support efforts like the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC). The SCC’s 2050 goals unite public and private sector partners committed to conserving natural resources and helping coffee farmers thrive while producing coffee more sustainably than ever and meeting growing global demand. In SCC’s Commitments Hub, you can explore 169 commitments being implemented from farm to cup.

Numerous other partners are working to drive solutions and measure impact. For example, the International Coffee Organization is currently working with the International Trade Centre to map global coffee sustainability efforts with the aims to:

●     Provide greater transparency on sustainability investments in coffee-producing countries

●     Enable insights on thematic concentrations, synergies, and gaps

●     Encourage further collaboration, partnerships, and coordination

A growing share of coffee meets various definitions for sustainable sourcing. The Global Coffee Platform’s 2021 sustainability snapshot found that about half the coffee sourced by reporting companies met GCP’s standards for “sustainable coffee purchases.” According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, nearly 40% of all coffee purchased in 2020 (1.4 million tons) was sustainably sourced and compliant with voluntary sustainability standards or a corporate sustainability initiative.

In the United States and around the world, coffee drinkers and businesses depend on a truly global supply chain that must start with thriving coffee farmers and a healthy environment. At NCA, we are working hard to support members’ sustainability efforts and to maintain strong multistakeholder relationships that advance the achievement of common goals. That’s something worth celebrating.

The reason is the season: Coffee’s seasonal taste and temperature trends

It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year! That’s right, spring has sprung and the latest edition of the National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report is here.

Commissioned by the National Coffee Association (NCA) since 1950, the NCDT report is the longest-running study of American consumers’ coffee drinking patterns. Polling is conducted twice per year, with results released in the spring and fall, giving coffee insiders exclusive access to in-depth and up-to-date data on consumers’ coffee behaviors and also their overall perceptions, economic situations, and more.

For more than two decades, coffee has been America’s favorite beverage, and that shows no signs of changing. 65% of Americans drank coffee in the past day – more than any other beverage, including bottled or tap water!

While coffee’s overall popularity has not shown much change in recent years, this spring’s report provides an important window into coffee trends as consumers continue to emerge from the disruptions of the last several years. Spring 2023 NCDT results show that past-day coffee consumption is above pre-pandemic levels for all age groups, but some other effects remain.

The pandemic has not changed how much coffee Americans drink – 1.9 cups per person or 2.9 cups per past-day coffee drinker, about the same as in January 2020. However, the pandemic has had lingering effects on where Americans drink coffee.

In the new report, 83% of past-day coffee drinkers had coffee at home, up by 4% since January 2020. By comparison, 35% had coffee away from home, continuing to rebound from a low of 31% in January 2021, but down from 41% in January 2020.

Other changes in the Spring 2023 NCDT can be attributed to seasonal swings. Unsurprisingly, colder temperatures when polling was conducted in January 2023 resulted in some warmer cups – 84% of past-day coffee drinkers had a hot coffee, up 10% from polling in July 2022 (published in October).

Consumption of cold coffee overall (a category that includes both iced and frozen blended beverages) decreased by 13% from July 2022 to January 2023, while iced coffee itself decreased by 40%. Interestingly, frozen coffee doesn’t show the same swing, with consumption remaining steady at 11% since the summer.

Like coffee’s overall popularity, some other findings in today’s report show remarkable staying power. Drip coffee makers have been the most popular preparation method for at least the last 13 years since the question was first included in the NCDT. 40% of past-day coffee drinkers have had coffee prepared in a drip brewer.

In second place, 28% of past-day coffee drinkers used a single-cup brewer, holding steady with performance over the last few years.

Our NCDT insights don’t end there! That’s just a small sip of the data and analysis available in the full report. Stay tuned here on the NCD blog for more sneak peeks and click here to purchase the NCDT consumer research series.

NCA Member Spotlight: ePac Flexibles

Company: ePac Flexibles
Location: Austin, Texas
NCA Member Since: December 2022

What does ePac Flexibles do?

We provide coffee bag packaging for specialty coffee roasters. This includes stand-up pouches and quad packs. In 2023, we will launch our new flat-bottom product following an increase in demand from our customers.

What drives your passion for this industry?

We love coffee at ePac and we will continue to invest in the category and bring new and innovative sustainable packaging options to our customers.

What’s your perfect cup of coffee?

I prefer a semi-automatic machine with a separate grinder. My favorite piece of coffee equipment is the Marzocco.

What sets your organization apart?

We have the largest and fastest digital print network in North America. We offer low SKU runs, and 10 to 15-day deliveries. This is very useful for brand owners that need greater flexibility and agility for their single or blended products and also provides a platform for our customers to generate additional revenue streams through private labels. To summarize, we improve our customers’ cash flows and help reduce waste through our capability to offer low minimum order quantities with unlimited SKU’s.

What does sustainability mean to your organization?

It means a lot to us. We recently joined Project Waterfall which supports global coffee growers with access to clean water. We use digital print technology which means we use less energy. Also, our production processes are automated which means less paper and we recycle our ink canisters to support the circular economy.

NCA Member Spotlight: TODDY, LLC

Company: Toddy, LLC
Location: Loveland, CO
NCA Member Since: 2016
Twitter: @toddycafe
Facebook: @toddycafe
Instagram: @toddycafe

What does TODDY, LLC do?

Founded in 1964, Toddy, LLC supplies home users and cafes around the world with solutions for brewing exceptional cold brewed coffee and tea. Today the Colorado-based company provides everything from the industry’s first cold brew sensory analysis tools to popular commercial brewing systems and models for home use.

What drives your passion for this industry?

Education – and the opportunity to share what we know about cold brew with other coffee enthusiasts around the world. We’re also highly motivated by the chance to make exceptional coffee available to everyone who wants to try it.

The best part of working in coffee is:

Amazing coffee. And the people who appreciate it.

What’s your perfect cup of coffee?

At Toddy, we like to mix things up and try all kinds of coffee, but we also lean toward being cold brew purists. There’s nothing quite like a fresh cold brew over ice.

What sets your organization apart?

An intentional lack of pretense and a passion for customer service. Team Toddy is a diverse but inclusive group of talented and fun individuals with a single goal: to help cold brew enthusiasts brew delicious coffee and tea. We love helping people discover how to cold brew, experiment with brewing variables, and assist with recipe development until they reach their desired results – whether that’s at home or in a busy cafe.

What’s the most important issue facing the coffee industry?

Sustainability in general as well as a strategy and the tools to support industry growth amid climate change. Another critical issue is that we need to find ways to ensure that coffee producers earn a livable wage. So more than one issue, but all are important.

NCA Member Spotlight: iO Coffee

Company: iO Coffee
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
NCA Member Since: 2022

What does iOCoffee do?

Roasting & Green bean (Fine Robusta from Vietnam only)

What drives your passion for this industry?  

The rise of fine Robusta

The best part of working in coffee is:


What’s your perfect cup of coffee?

Quality driven, traceability, sustainability

Why did you join the NCA?  

USA market development

What’s the next big thing in coffee?

The rise of specialty coffee, technology helps a lot and everybody is a barista at home

What’s the most important issue facing the coffee industry?

Traceability, disconnection from the farmer to the consumer

What does sustainability mean to your organization?

To respect nature, the people in the coffee supply chain

Coffee consumption reaches high in 2022

By Dig Insights, NCA Market Research Partner

NCA Members have access to the Fall 2022 NCDT Report Highlights webinar in which Cheryl Hung of Dig Insights gives a detailed explanation of the report’s findings. That webinar can be found here.

Coffee remains America’s favorite beverage, more popular than both tap and bottled water.

Coffee consumption among Americans continues its two-decade high, according to exclusive consumer polling released by the National Coffee Association (NCA). Two-thirds (66%) of Americans drank at least one coffee beverage in the past day, holding steady with increased levels seen earlier in the year. Once again, July 2022 sees more Americans drinking coffee in the past day than any other beverage, including bottled water (60%) and tap water (46%).

The Fall 2022 National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report prepared by Dig Insights on behalf of the NCA found that Americans continue to have a taste for specialty coffee despite tough economic times and rising inflation. 42% of Americans drank a specialty coffee beverage in the past day in July 2022, on par with past-day consumption of traditional coffee (43%).

Cold brew coffee, included in the specialty beverage category, experiences new growth. Past-week consumption of cold brew rises to 20% of Americans in July 2022, growing from 16% past-week levels in January 2022.

For the place of coffee preparation, in-home coffee preparation continues to be most prevalent for Americans, with 82% of past-day coffee drinkers having a coffee prepared at home.

Out-of-home coffee consumption is recovering strongly

Out-of-home preparation remains softer than pre-COVID levels with 28% of past-day coffee drinkers having had a coffee outside the home. However, signs of recovery can be seen in certain out-of-home coffee venues. Consumption of coffee prepared at cafés and coffee shops grows to 14% among past-day drinkers, an increase of 20% from January 2022 levels.

Other key Fall 2022 NCDT findings include:

  • Past-day drinkers are most commonly adding milk or milk alternatives (29%) and liquid creamer (25%) to their cups and sweetening with white sugar (19%) and artificial sweetener (10%).
  • 40% of past-day coffee drinkers use a drip coffee maker for brewing, making this the most common preparation method followed by single-cup systems (24%), cold brewing (14%), and espresso machines (11%). 
  • For past-day drinkers brewing at home, 35% purchase coffee at the grocery store, followed by mass merchandiser (26%), club store (13%), and online (13%).
  • Certain coffee claims show the potential to motivate purchase. Over one-half of Americans (56%) say they are more likely to buy a coffee with the claim “fair price paid to the farmer”.

NCA Members have access to the Fall 2022 NCDT Report Highlights webinar in which Cheryl Hung of Dig Insights gives a detailed explanation of the report’s findings. That webinar can be found here.

Coffee & Chat with Charlie Cortellini, Head of Purchasing, R&D, Quality Assurance, and Food Safety at Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

Charlie Cortellini, a 46-year industry veteran and the current Vice President of R&D and Food Safety at Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

One of the greatest benefits of being a “Next Gen-er” in the coffee business is rooted in the fact that we have so many colleagues who bring with them more experience and time in the industry than we can fathom! Everett Brown, Coffee Trader at Westfeldt Brothers, Inc. and Next Gen Communications Committee Member, had the opportunity to sit down with Charlie Cortellini, a 46-year industry veteran and the current Vice President of R&D and Food Safety at Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA.

Everett Brown: Do you mind explaining a bit about who you are and exactly what you do in the coffee industry?

Charlie Cortellini: As of September 7th, I will have been in the industry for 46 years. I started with Hills Bros. Coffee in quality control and have done everything there is to do in a manufacturing plant throughout those 46 years. At one point in time, I was running 7 plants for Nestle Beverage. I left Hills Bros. Coffee after they were acquired by Nestle and became Vice President of Operations at Chock Full o’Nuts. I then left there and became a part owner of a small gourmet coffee company called First Colony Coffee & Tea in Norfolk, VA. I ultimately left there and came back into a plant I built for Hills Bros. back in the 80s. It is now owned by Massimo Zanetti where I head up Quality Assurance, R&D, Purchasing, and Food Safety. I like to tell people I do everything that nobody else wants to do.

EB: You have family ties to the industry; your son Jason works in the industry. It seems as if the coffee industry is so big yet so small… What does the coffee industry being a “family business” mean to you?

Charlie early in his coffee career at Hills Bros. Coffee

CC: Just as an anecdote, I remember when my son, Jason Cortellini, was “Charlie’s Kid” and now I am referred to as “Jason’s Dad”.

You know, it’s funny because when I got into the coffee industry, I didn’t want to be in the coffee industry, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was looking for a company that would pay for continued education. So, I got hired by Hills Brothers, and the deeper I got the more I realized how entrenched you get. I tell people it’s like the mafia. Once you’re in coffee, you’re in, and you never really get out.

But I think the greatest thing about the coffee business is the relationships. While it’s one of the most heavily traded commodities in the world, it’s a small industry. I’ve known people for 40-45 years and have built lasting relationships. It’s like a family, and you know, sometimes families fight.

EB: How do you see the industry changing for you specifically? For your position? For your age group? For the next gen?

CC: I like to tell people that it was my generation that gave way to the specialty coffee industry. When I started in coffee, the 16 oz. can of coffee was a decent product. Some of the blends that we used, like the 1/3 blend, was a palatable cup of coffee. Of course, you still had your 100% origin-specific coffees, but the main blended commercial coffees were a good cup of coffee.

I joined the industry before the first frost. After that frost hit, the large spike in coffee prices was the first time people really started to meddle with the product. They were adding higher percentages of Robusta, higher moisture coffees, and reducing the packaging size from 16 oz to 11-13 oz servings. Companies tried to get more out of less coffee. I think that this led to the birth of the specialty coffee industry.

I do believe that back then and today are similar in that people want to get a higher-end product. Customers are willing to pay more for better quality. The way to win today is by putting out something better than just your standard commercial coffees. If you’re growing your business on a low-quality product, then you’re building it on quicksand.

EB: In terms of opportunities for next gen members, do you see any markets growing or have any forecast for what trends could be big job growth markets next?

CC: I have a son in the industry and when he was starting, I was pushing him more into the commodity and finance side of the business. In addition to Jason, my son-in-law also just started in a commodities-related role at MZB.

If I am talking to a youngster about getting into the business, you want to have a strong finance/business base. To me, the commodity side of this business is the biggest growth sector of this industry. Where can we go with it? What can we do with blends? How can you get creative and put new coffees together? I am probably the crazy uncle that nobody wants to talk to about this, but I think Robusta has a place in this business that needs to be explored further. There is the potential for growth there that we need to pay attention to.

I think jobs are already and will continue to be created to look at yield, to improve water quality, to become less at the mercy of the weather, to produce a more disease-resistant product, and the list goes on. So, in addition to the finance and commodity side, I think the R&D-related agricultural side of the business will also see big job growth.

EB: The National Coffee Association obviously has a large impact on the industry. What are some interactions you’ve had with the NCA and what are some resources you think people might not know about that could be helpful?

CC: The Scientific Advisory Council is one area that everyone doesn’t truly appreciate and understand. I’ve known Mark (Corey) for a long time and the work they are doing is amazing. I think the NCA has even greater potential to share all the work that the Scientific Advisory Council is doing to develop and research new ways to change the industry.

The NCA has been a great resource for me. Going to an NCA event is like going to a high school reunion. The events are amazing and a great way to reconnect with old friends and network with new ones.

EB: Did you ever have a mentor in your career?

CC: Did I ever have a mentor? Probably hundreds of them. And I think the best mentors for me were the ones I met on a plant floor. It’s amazing how willing people were to teach and train me because I was willing to shut up and listen. A lot of what I know today is because I was trained, not by management people at my job, but by union and non-union workers showing me how everything works and what to do in a roasting plant.

A now retired George Kneisel was another person that, when he talked, I shut up and listened. He taught me so much about the green coffee side of the industry.

And then, down to origin, meeting producers and listening to them and what their plight is and what they go through had a tremendous impact.

EB: I want to end on a lighthearted note… I’m sure you travel a lot. Any wild stories from origin worth sharing? If not, can you share about your favorite origin country to visit and explain why?

CC: There was one trip that stands out in particular as I traveled to Colombia with my son; that experience was a bit more personal than others and carried a lot of meaning for me.

That being said, I will tell you the truth, I have enjoyed every single one of my origin trips. Some of them were nightmares due to weather and logistics, but to me, they all stand out in retrospect as great trips. Being able to be at origin, talking with farmers, and hearing their passion, has always been a true pleasure.

For those of you who don’t already know Charlie, we encourage you to seek him out at the next NCA event to meet him yourself! The coffee industry, particularly those of us developing our careers within the Next Gen segment, are fortunate to have Charlie and his wisdom and experience to look towards for guidance.

And for those of you who do already know Charlie, you are likely aware of how he always has a quote at the bottom of his email signature. As if this interview didn’t capture Charlie’s persona already, his current quote from Will Rogers certainly does: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Coffee & Chat with Mary Petit, Global Coffee Platform

Bent Dietrich, Coffee Trader at American Coffee Corporation and NCA Next Gen Council Member, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mary Petit, Senior Advisor for Global Coffee Platform (GCP). Formed in 2016, Global Coffee Platform has evolved into a widely-recognized multistakeholder association with members united around the vision of creating “a thriving and sustainable coffee sector for generations to come.”

[Bent]: Before getting into the Global Coffee Platform and your work with the organization, can you tell our readers about yourself? How did you get your start in coffee and what has brought you to where you are today?

[Mary]: Well, I got into coffee totally by chance. After graduating from college in Minnesota, I went to work for Cargill as a trader trainee. Unsure of what commodity I wanted to be in, they assigned me to a coffee company they had just purchased, Scholz & Company, in 1983. I started in the coffee sample room and was very lucky to be mentored by some outstanding coffee mentors. It was very important to me; at that time, there were hardly any women in the green coffee trade, and I stuck out like a sore thumb. Notably, they always encouraged me to stand up for my ideas and speak out on issues.

[Bent]: What is the Global Coffee Platform and what does it stand for?

[Mary]: Overall, the GCP is dedicated to creating a thriving sustainable coffee world for generations to come. However, the way we are going about it is quite innovative. GCP is a multistakeholder membership organization solely dedicated to the advancement of coffee sustainability through the collaborative efforts of producers, roasters, traders, NGOs, government and others. The concept is centered around the idea that by working together, we can multiply our efforts and collectively act on local issues and then scale our efforts across the sector. Fundamentally, GCP believes that sustainability is a shared responsibility, and we must work together to improve farmer prosperity, wellbeing and the conservation of nature. The GCP is the first formally structured organization to adopt a facilitating role amongst the industry.

[Bent]: Who founded the GCP, and how did the original idea come to be?

[Mary]: The GCP was founded in March 2016 by the board of the 4C Association and participants in the Sustainable Coffee Program’s activities in producing countries; it started with the idea of forming neutral country platforms and then combining these platforms with consumer facing global members. Together, they formed the Global Coffee Platform as a pre-competitive initiative to create sustainable solutions to advance coffee sustainability. The GCP has an MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] with the ICO, and the idea is to have a structural approach where stakeholders from the sector can come together to identify issues and form solutions.

[Bent]: How does the GCP differ from other organizations tackling sustainability in coffee?

[Mary]: The pre-competitive aspect creates a unique opportunity for companies of any size to learn from each other, leverage collective knowledge, and work to expand the sustainable coffee industry. It makes economic sense.

[Bent]: What is your role specifically within the GCP?

[Mary]: My role is as Senior Advisor. I work with our secretariat team to help members and partners develop solutions that will advance coffee sustainability. This can include things from championing new members, helping develop collective action initiatives, working to sharpen communications, and more importantly, helping to shape goals, strategies and tactics to keep us focused on achieving the high level of impact to which we are dedicated. 

[Bent]: This interview is targeted towards NCA ‘Next Geners.’ Considering your wealth of experience, what advice would you give to young industry members looking to accelerate their careers?

[Mary]: I feel very lucky to have worked in many different areas of the coffee industry. I would say, always be on the lookout for opportunity. Beyond just that, get out there, meet people, and learn as much as you can from them, especially when their perspectives and experiences are different than your own. Don’t think of it as social networking, but rather as working to develop real, solid, true, mutually respectful relationships. Coffee is an industry of relationships. We stand on the shoulders of family farmers. This causes it to be an industry of family values, and this will be your bedrock in challenging times.

My second piece of advice is to set goals for yourself and to earn as many industry credentials as possible in order to help you become a more rounded and more developed professional. Keep looking for innovative ways to improve your professional capacities. I still do it, and I’ve been in the business since 1983. It never stops!

Lastly – be honest, be kind, and approach challenges with a good sense of humor!

[Bent]: To that effect, we all know sustainability continues to be the leading issue in our industry. How would you recommend new members of the industry get involved, make a difference, or have an impact?

[Mary]: My challenge to everyone is to figure out a way to contribute towards sustainability within their own role and to learn as much as you can about the issues you are working with. What choices can you make to create a more sustainable coffee sector? Talk to colleagues and find out what other people are doing. Being a company with clear sustainable advancement goals is fundamental to our sector. Cooperate with others on pre-competitive levels to accomplish mutually beneficial goals for coffee farmers and their families.

Thank you to Mary Petit for her generous time and participation in our latest NCA Next Gen interview piece. For more information on Global Coffee Platform, be sure to check out their website:

As a parting note from the Next Gen Council, may we all keep “Mary’s mantra” in mind as we continue on in the face of new opportunities and challenges:

“Be honest, be kind, and approach challenges with a good sense of humor!” – Mary Petit

NCA Member Spotlight: Rodmac Coffee Company | rodmac web

Company: Rodmac Coffee Company
Location: Miami, FL – United States
NCA Member Since: 2005

What does Rodmac Coffee Company do?

We trade green and roasted coffee.

What drives your passion for this industry?  

Having been born into a family dedicated to the cultivation and commercialization of coffee.

The best part of working in coffee is:

Drinking your own coffee.

What’s your perfect cup of coffee?

I keep looking for the perfect cup.

Why did you join the NCA?  

I received good advice from a good friend.

Best advice you’ve ever received:

Join the NCA.

What’s the most important issue facing the coffee industry?

Climate change.