NCA Member Spotlight: TODDY, LLC

Company: Toddy, LLC
Location: Loveland, CO
NCA Member Since: 2016
Website: toddycafe.com
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
Website: www.iocoffee.vn

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:

Passion

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: https://www.globalcoffeeplatform.org/

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-coffee.com | rodmac web

Company: Rodmac Coffee Company
Location: Miami, FL – United States
NCA Member Since: 2005
Website: www.rodmac-coffee.com

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.

Logistically Speaking Part 2: Port of Virginia, Not Just Any Port in the Storm

By: Nora Johnson, Commodities Manager at Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA and NCA Next Gen Communications Committee Chair


News from ports around the world has taken the globe by storm over the past 18 months – from record-breaking cargo volumes to record-breaking counts of ships at berth, everywhere you turn you hear shipping-related news. Despite these headlines, how familiar are you with port operations and the many roles and responsibilities that come with it?

Nora Johnson, Next Gen Council Member and Commodities Manager at Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, had the opportunity to speak with Joe Harris, Vice President and Spokesman for The Port of Virginia®. Read on to learn about how the Port of Virginia, along with so many other ports around the world, has adapted and leaned into this new phase of logistics and shipping.  

The interview below has been condensed and edited for clarity with approval from the interviewee.

Shipping containers at the Port of Virginia

Nora Johnson, NCA Next Gen: Can you share some history on the Port of Virginia? How did the Port get to where it is today?

Joe: Back in the ‘60s, all of the individual terminals in our harbor at that time – Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal, and Norfolk International Terminals – were owned and operated by their respective cities; they were competitors to each other. In addition to competing for business, they would go up to Richmond (Virginia) and compete for money.

In the mid-to-late ‘70s, the Governor of Virginia suggested that we look to unify the ports under a common flag in order to leverage them as a whole as opposed to utilizing them as individual pieces. He was successful in getting that done – the state bought the respective terminals from the different cities and unified them under the Virginia Port Authority flag with Virginia International Terminals (VIT) acting as the operator for all the terminals. Then, in 2010, we leased the Richmond Marine Terminal, and 2 years later we leased the Virginia International Gateway (VIG).

We, Virginia International Terminals, now own and operate Norfolk International Terminals, Newport News Marine Terminal, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Virginia Inland Port, and Hampton Roads Chassis Pool, and we lease Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal.

This really creates a collaborative atmosphere. By owning and operating all the terminals, we can share information and solve problems quickly and with ease, as we do not have any other competing economic interests that we have to satisfy. We call it the “Virginia Model,” and right now, it is yielding significant positive results for us.

Port of Virginia’s terminals.

Nora: I had never really considered the competing ownership interests and how that could impact port operations.

Joe: The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the biggest ports in our nation. In that harbor, there are 13 or 14 terminals that are each owned and operated by different entities. While they are neighbors, they are competitors too. Contractually, there are obligations with different shippers, motor carriers, and railroads. At LA/Long Beach, to bring cargo that was contracted by and intended for one terminal into a neighboring terminal and to sort out all those pieces quickly and economically could be nearly impossible.

The LA/Long Beach situation is no single entity’s fault; LA/Long Beach handles around 10 million units in one year. All of the East Coast ports combined can only handle about 8.5 million units. That’s how big and significant LA/Long Beach is.

Nora: The Port of Virginia has been an active and dedicated supporter of Virginia’s efforts to become the “Caffeine Capital.” Can you elaborate on the Port’s role in this endeavor and its overall involvement within the coffee industry?

Joe: Coffee had been coming into Virginia for years, when suddenly, we saw this cluster growing. We got behind it as best that we could bringing in the warehouses, getting the ICE (Intercontinental Exchange) designation, and really nurturing the growth of the coffee industry.

What happened was rather organic and outside of our control. One roaster saw another roaster doing well and saw available land and labor and said, “Oh, wow! You all are only 20 miles from a port? This must be a good place.” This reaction started the “it must be good over there effect” and it has by and large stuck, even with movement within the industry. It has been a good piece of business for us, and it had led to good relationships that we are always happy to support however we can.

From a larger perspective, much of the cargo that comes into New York stays in the New York area to serve that population. Aside from the coffee business here in Suffolk, Virginia, so much of our cargo goes outside of Virginia so it is a different dynamic in terms of the market. We say that we serve the nation’s heartland: Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Dayton, Louisville, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and St. Louis, among other cities.

Nora: How has COVID impacted the Port of Virginia? Would you walk us through the different “phases” of COVID since March 2020 through today and how each phase impacted the Port differently? 

Joe: When COVID was at its peak, we saw cargo volumes fall off like we could never have forecasted; manufacturing and shipping dried up. It’s important to note that the Port of Virginia never shut down, never laid off a person, and never cut any benefits. We kept working, but we just weren’t moving as much cargo.

Then, vaccines began to roll out and some confidence returned. Last September, we saw volumes go from a little bit of upwards growth to shooting steeply up and they have not since come back down. The record volumes continue. Some of this volume is “catch-up cargo” that was ordered during the COVID slump and never made it ashore originally, and another portion of the volume is related to cargo that was ordered by many of the companies and retailers who did not want to get caught short again. In turn, they bought high volumes and stuck it in their warehouses. As we speak today, we are in the thick of moving retail cargo for the holiday season. You have a lot of different needs piling on top of each other which is creating a lot of cargo that is moving towards the United States.

Nora: What did the Port of Virginia do to accommodate these record volumes? Staffing and operations all had to change, right?

It did not – and it’s really a matter of timing! The first summer after COVID hit, we had just finished up an $800 million expansion, renovation, and modernization of our two primary container terminals – Virginia International Gateway and Norfolk International Terminals. The initial slow down at the start of COVID allowed us to get our hands on this new “animal” that we had; then, when the volume spiked up, all of that infrastructure, investment, and training really paid off. The modernization, bringing in 21st century technology, and having a truly talented and seasoned operations team made a meaningful difference. The terminal is only as good as the people running it. In addition to that, we have great labor relations with our union. The union never took a day off, and to this day they are out there hustling. The men and women show up night and day, rain or shine, hot or cold, and they go to work and make it happen. That is critical! All of these factors are really working in our favor right now. Every day we are looking at our operation, trying to tweak it and figure out where we can be a little more efficient, a little more productive, and always be safe. We look at what we can do tomorrow, next week, and even next month. Since we own our terminals, we can really look at things holistically – we can say, “We are doing really well over there, so how can we translate that effort and make it happen over here?”

Regional map showing the strategic location of the Port of Virginia

Nora: Would you say that being agile is critical for the Port right now?

Joe: Yes – and “agile” is a word that we are using often right now. We can see a challenge or a problem, gather around the table, and truly have an answer within a couple of hours and then begin implementing the solution that afternoon or the next morning. Not all ports can do that.

Nora: Do you talk and communicate with other ports regularly?

Joe: Everyone is willing to put in a collaborative effort, but it is less about what a different port is doing to solve a specific problem, but more so about understanding volumes and planning. For For instance, if we know that a ship is going to be arriving in Georgia and that it is already off schedule, we will call Georgia and see how long it’s going to be in port there so that we can get all of that data into our system and be better prepared.

Nora: Wow. It’s hard to imagine how this will all come to an end!

Joe: It’s going to take patience and a lot of hard work, but it will end. It takes time for any amount of capital to translate into productivity. That’s nobody’s fault – that’s just how it is – building, marketing, integration; it is a conundrum, but there is an end.

Nora: How do these record volume levels and the experiences of the past year impact future plans for the Port of Virginia?

The plans that we have are not in response to what we are seeing today, but the timing is good, and it will benefit us if we ever go through another period like this. Right now, we are investing $350 million in deepening the channels that support the Port of Virginia. Once that is completed in 2024, our channels in the harbor will be 55 feet deep, the ocean approaches will be 56 and 59 feet deep, and the channels will be wider. These wider, deeper channels will allow the big ships to pass – we will have two-way traffic of the biggest ships that are currently afloat. We will be able to hang the flag of the deepest port on the US East Coast!

Our future plans don’t stop there… This winter, we will begin to redevelop the railroad operation at Norfolk International Terminals; we are going to double the rail capacity there. We will also be renovating the North Side of Norfolk International Terminals. We intend to make improvements to expand our capacity up at Virginia Inland Port while also looking to add in more barge service at Richmond Marine Terminal. We are marketing Portsmouth Marine Terminal as a multi-use facility, bringing in tenants that are going to serve the offshore wind industry – we are going to help to grow an entirely new industry.

We are continually spending and renovating – it is a never-ending cycle of investment and reinvestment, and you must do that to stay competitive and relevant.

Nora: With bottlenecks and shipping delays now making news headlines and increasing consumer awareness, are there any other challenges that aren’t being seen by the “common eye” or that aren’t being widely discussed that the Port has had to overcome?

Joe: What many don’t understand is that there are so many pieces involved within the shipping and logistics supply chain that all must work well together in order to prevent any backup.

One of the issues that the Port of Virginia is keeping a close eye on is the availability of chassis. A chassis is the wheel set that a truck driver uses that the container gets put on top of. We own and operate about 16,000 chassis. Typically, a truck driver comes in and rents a chassis, normally for 2-3 days, and does all the business that they can over that time and then they return it. Currently, we are seeing chassis on the road for 12 days at a time! Warehouses are packed, and with labor shortages at warehouses, the containers don’t get unloaded as quickly and the chassis don’t get returned as quickly. That means that we don’t have as many of those units coming back to the pool so that the next driver can get one. We are trying to add chassis to our fleet, but a lot of the steel for chassis is cut in China and must be shipped to the US, and then they must be assembled, so at times, we are challenged by the supply chain too.

I do always go back to the “Virginia Model” that I mentioned before. Imagine that we say, “We need more chassis, what can we do?” Well, we might open the chassis yard for returns all day on a Saturday. We don’t have to figure out how to do that – we own the chassis yard and the chassis. It is as easy as putting the message out to the trade saying, “Open on Saturday, please bring back available chassis.”

Nora: Earlier in the year, all eyes were on the Suez Canal and the obstruction caused by the Ever Given. Did this have any impact – direct or indirect – on the Port of Virginia?

Joe: We saw a couple of delayed vessels, so yes, it had an impact, but it didn’t really disrupt our way of doing business. We had 6 or 8 ships that were delayed, but they were delayed to the point that at least we knew where they were and that they would be here on this date so we could arrange our schedules to accommodate them.

Nora: It seems like that is a major point that you just made there; you knew what and where the issue was with the Suez Canal, whereas today, all of the delays are interconnected and span across different ports that are having unknown interruptions making schedules unpredictable. Would that be a fair distinction, anticipated versus unanticipated delays and disruptions?

Joe: Yes – I read recently that only 18% of the world’s container fleet is on time. The remaining 82% is off schedule. To every port, that presents a real issue. In the larger sense, trade likes predictability and right now it is very unpredictable. You are constantly tracking vessels and trying to predict ETAs. It is a real challenge for planning. We are very fortunate that we have been able to plan and accommodate both ships that are on and off schedule without having to put ships out to anchor to wait.

Nora: Has the Port of Virginia had any situations like that throughout this time, with ships at anchor waiting for availability to unload?

Joe: No, we have not. We have had instances where we contact ships and ask them to slow their speed a bit. If we have vessels on berth and know that there isn’t going to be a slot for a ship that is steaming down to us, we may ask them to pull their throttle back some so that they do not have to anchor and wait. The captains and ship owners would much rather slow down than anchor and wait as well.

Nora: The ultimate question… and one to which there may not be answer! What do you see in the future for 2022 in terms of the Port of Virginia and global shipping and logistics?

Joe: Cargo owners are realizing that they must be more diverse in their supply chains. So that might mean moving 1/3 of cargo to the West Coast, 1/3 to the Gulf Coast, and 1/3 to the East Coast. Our goal is to keep any new cargo with us – we call it “sticky” cargo. Regardless of any disruption or natural disaster on any one of those coasts, you would then still have cargo coming in. This kind of supply chain diversification would allow the cargo owner to keep that cargo moving.

2022 will probably be as busy as 2021, at least for the first half of the year. As an industry, we are trying to catch up while running full speed ahead. We are not forecasting a slowdown for next year. In the bigger picture, the public will need to be patient and understand that what the supply chain is faced with today is not anyone’s fault nor is it any one industry’s fault. It is not political, there is not one node along the supply chain that is holding something up. It is truly the perfect storm, and there is a whole lot of effort being put into resolving it. It will correct, but it will just take some time.

Nora: What is one thing about the Port of Virginia (or about Ports in general) that you wish more people knew?

Joe: People don’t always recognize the role that ports play in the American economy. 20 years ago, I sat with our then port-director at lunch and he explained that all you really need to know about shipping is that if your house was built after the 1980s, seven eighths of what is in it and seven eights of what it is made of came in on a container ship. The port industry is truly critical to the economy with the amount of goods that come in on container ships.


Addendum: One positive takeaway from the shipping and logistics challenges and opportunities of the past 18 months are the lessons learned. After speaking with Joe Harris and hearing about these times from the eyes of the Port of Virginia, I can personally attest to the value that exists in learning from the experiences of those in different areas of the supply chain.

In sharing these stories and experiences through the Logistically Speaking series, and on behalf of the National Coffee Association Next Gen Council, we hope that you too may benefit from hearing about the different lessons learned and experiences had across the supply chain.

Many thanks to Joe Harris and the Port of Virginia for their participation in Logistically Speaking: Part 2!

Next Gen’s WFH Must-Haves

Next Genner Jonathan Gabbay, Trader at RGC Coffee, shares the gear he relies on to maximize his productivity when working from home.

We’ve all had to adapt to a “new normal” in the age of covid-19. If anything, it’s propelled us into the age of the teleworker. This can be daunting and exciting at the same time. If you’re like me, you have the option to go in to the office or work from home (WFH), but most people don’t. WFH is no longer a luxury but a critical business decision that has allowed countless organizations continue being productive while social-distancing.

Since so many of us have no choice but to embrace it, we may as well learn to love it, or make it somewhat bearable. Below are some items outside the obvious that have helped me attain piece of mind and maintain concentration from my new work-cave (or -cage).

A reliable pair of noise-canceling headphones are essential to maintaining a distraction-free working environment.

Useful Gear

Noise cancelling headphones – How else are you going to listen to dope beats while plugged into the grid. I bought a lower-end pair of Sony’s on black Friday and they’re great. You don’t necessarily need the highest end to get good use out of them. Plus these have built in Bluetooth and can connect to my computer and double as a headset.

Cable Management – Part of having a zen workspace is removing all the noise, including visual noise. Well, we’re in the 21st century and we’re still tripping over wires.  The ‘clean look’ of my office is just as important to me as how well my computer functions or the speed of my internet (ok almost). If you’re like me, you have a hard time keeping things clean, but a simple Cord Hider Box Organizer or Sleeve Cord can make your life a lot easier and the setup look way nicer.

Stay Organized

An example of what not to do.

USB Multi-Charger Cable – one cable, for multiple devices. Double check if it can connect data as well as charge your device. Same goes for a multi-charger adapter for USB and USB-C (a lot of devices are moving towards this).

Desk Pad – centers you and your work space, forcing you to stay organized. Also doubles as a mouse pad so you can throw away your old one.

Phone Stand – Somewhere to put down your smartphone and video chat. Bonus points if it has a built in wireless charger.

Desk Tray – throw all your mail or temporary documents in there to keep things clean. I have still yet to get one so the other half of my workspace looks like paper-mageddon. 

The Flare

RGB Headphone Stand – ok, this one is way out in left field and safely entrenched in the completely unnecessary category… and yet… I’m a night owl, or a close-to-middle-aged version of one. When my house goes quiet and I’m alone with my thoughts, I dim the lights and feel at peace with the soft lighting in my work-cave. The ambient lighting also matches my google wifi router and my air diffuser (more on that soon) to compliment the soft relaxing beats that put me in a work-trance.

Air Diffuser – I never in a million years would have expected to enjoy this. I was wrong. My partner recently introduced me to this product. You have to repeatedly spend money on ‘essential’ oils, but once you find out which scent you fancy you can buy cheaper in larger quantities. Mine is matte black, matching the look of my office, and has the aforementioned LED lighting. Personally I find stimulating all the senses enhances my productivity (and you can go full Costanza and add the pastrami sandwich for good measure).

The non-negotiables

I will keep this section short. A quiet workspace, a solid computer and monitor, and most importantly, a very good chair.

The first two are obvious. You need the right tools to do your job and the having a solid home setup is critical. However what is the most overlooked aspect is a really good chair. Think of it this way, you spend a little extra on a mattress that you spend 1/3 of your life on. You splurge on the memory foam or a special pillow. Your chair is your mattress, just for your conscious self for another 1/3 of your life. Don’t get a good chair. Get a really good chair. 

If you have any cool items you’d like to add to this list, send us a line and we’ll include it in the next article.

Coffee & Chat with John Demuria, Partner, Volcafe USA

Jonathan Gabbay (RGC Coffee) recently sat down with John “JD” Demuria, Managing Partner at Volcafe USA and past Chair of the NCA Board of Directors, for a retrospective on his time in the industry and what is in store for future coffee professionals.

How did you get into coffee?

The first 4 years, in the late 70’s, I started in the banking side, which gave me pretty good insight into the commodity sector. I was young and energetic and eager to learn from people. I was doing it from the side of a banker, not a trader, with Volkart Bros, which is known today as Volcafe, and I was able to take advantage of an opening on the trading side. I started in the low end. Not everybody starts in the boardroom, you have to pay your dues and learn and understand the fundamentals in all areas. I was fortunate being able to work with a group that was very much about educating and teaching and starting from the basics.

John “JD” Demuria

Starting your career in coffee the industry was different. Young coffee professionals have never experienced a Brazil frost or the ICO quotas that you’ve had to combat. What is the biggest difference in what we’re experiencing as an industry today vs when you were starting out.

The thing that sands out the most is the technology we have. Back in the day, we had a telex operator and long distance phone calls were not reliable. So your telex operator was your most important trader on the desk.  Today we talk across the world for free. Back in the day, there would be a frost in Brazil, and we’d know about it a week before the farmers in Brazil even knew about it! Today it’s instantaneous.

We didn’t have volatility like we had today related to macro issues, hedge fund trading, speculative trading, geo-political issues, currencies, climate change along with the supply and demand of coffee itself. In the early days it was flat price, we didn’t work out differentials yet. There wasn’t a big need to hedge like we do today. And we went from simple futures trading to buying underlying futures, options and all the different products out there today.

As a follow up to the above question, what piece of advice would you offer someone starting out in coffee?

I think the most important thing when you start out, no matter your background or education, is to understand that coffee is not a thing you can learn from a textbook. Take advantage of the people who come ahead of you, ask questions, and listen. Take the opportunity to learn. You will eventually get to the same result, but your approach will be different dealing with a different demographic and environment. You’ll have a whole new set of tools to work with but a whole new set of challenges to deal with.

Also relationships. At the beginning, I took the time to get out and network with people. Obviously it’s very different today. But I would encourage anyone to reach out and forge those relationships, they will come back to help you in the longer term.

As the industry has changed, so has the focus of the NCA. What are some of the bigger shifts in focus you’ve seen?

The focus has always been on making sure that we protect and promote the industry. This is an association that is 108 years old. Along the way a lot of changes and adjustments were made. Today we are more relevant than we were in the past and I think what’s important is having the right leadership in place. We’ve always been the voice of the coffee industry, but we lost that voice for a while. I mean that we were always the proactive voice when something would go wrong on the regulatory side, a health scare, or a scientific problem. When someone needed information, they’d come to the NCA. That kind of got lost. Today we are an association that is now leveraging the science behind coffee, and that is the Scientific Advisory Committee. A couple years ago, no one knew they existed, and today they are working on cold brew, prop 65, diacetyl among others. We had a great win with the IARC report. They hadn’t looked at coffee closely since 1992 and we successfully had coffee removed from the list of possible carcinogenic products. That was a great win for the association that has come back to help us with the prop 65 fight in California.

In your opinion, why should young professionals get involved in the NCA and how would they benefit?

Your voice doesn’t get heard if you’re not there. There’s no better way to make a mark in your industry than engagement. You have a voice if you get out and participate. If you are active, your voice will be heard. We all have a common goal to promote coffee and consumption and to try to proactively solve the issues in the industry.

Also being engaged allows people the opportunity to network and hear about other businesses and see how they’re doing. Maybe share some of the problems you have in the industry you have worked on.

The best thing we did as an association is to start the next-gen council, because it gives you that voice and you report to the boardroom. There’s also new projects coming down the road and its super important for us to develop the next wave of leadership in the industry. 

As past chairman of the NCA, what accomplishment are you most proud of?

My biggest takeaway when I retired as chairman, was how well the board worked together, how we all moved in the same direction. We all saw things eye to eye, and I think a lot had to do with Bill Murray’s leadership. The way they recognized the problems, gave resources, created the Next-Gen. We had the results of IARC, which needed emergency funding, and raised awareness of the Scientific Advisory Group (as mentioned earlier, they worked on prop 65, IARC, diacetyl, and cold brew standards that were just released).

We wanted to expand our global footprint. We are no longer a North American association, we’re much more than that and operate in a global space. The issues we deal with as an industry are not unique to us, they are global issues. We have to have common voices with other associations and not draw a line in the sand, but work together as a global unit.

Since this interview took place, a lot has changed in the coffee world and abroad with the global Covid-19 pandemic. We revisited this interview and followed up with JD early in 2021 to find out what has changed and how the NCA and his own business has adapted.

In 2021, what can we expect from the NCA and how has the association adapted to this new world?

(Laughs) I think the question is ‘what has not changed?’ Both in our personal and professional lives. We’ve had to learn and adapt on the fly and look for silver linings. With the NCA, we’ve had to keep everyone informed and on the same page. The association is very complex, there’s scientific research, office work, serving membership needs all will defending the needs of the industry in the political and scientific landscape. My hat is off to Bill Murray and the NCA Team for creating resources and toolkits that are extremely useful and keep everyone informed and safe. Each year the Association recruits, sends out info and different opportunities for people to get engaged.

What opportunities have now manifested for young professionals that were not there before Covid?

We can expect the future of the convention to be a hybrid type of event, that will be a combination of in-person and virtual meetings. Professionals can still co-mingle with people with years of experience. There will be new opportunities for new membership to get involved in the Next-Gen (committees) and for the younger generation the chance to attend the main event virtually when they may have not been able to before.

What has saved you in your own business?

What has saved us? Multiple things and they are difficult to prioritize. First, the team I have in place is spectacular. They have made sacrifices and shown dedication, and I’m very proud to say they are extremely young and diverse. Eight or nine are in the millennial category. Diversity helped us adapt to new technology, customer service, given us accessibility 24 hours a day and set up virtual meetings weekly with clients. We’ve adopted peoples’ homes, basements, kitchens. Mancaves became work caves. And we’ve added some extra technology like having multiple screens. A minimal investment has led to a massive benefit.

Coffee and Chat with Jasmine Murphy, Assistant Manager, Green Coffee Trading at The J.M. Smucker Company

By Danielle Wood, Sustainability Manager, Dunkin’ Brands

Danielle Wood, Sustainability Manager at Dunkin’ Brands, recently sat down with Jasmine Murphy, Green Coffee Trader for The J.M. Smucker Company (JMS) to discuss her background, how she got involved in coffee, her current role with JMS, and her advice for budding coffee professionals. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.


Jasmine Murphy, J.M. Smucker Company

How long have you been working in coffee?

I’ve been working in coffee for eight years – two years at JMS and prior to that I worked with Nestle at an R&D center in Marysville, OH.

How would you describe your role at JMS?

I am in the green coffee trading group, but my primary role is with sustainability. I am tasked with driving and managing the sustainability strategy forward, which includes projects linked to sustainability and green coffee.

What’s your favorite memory with NCA?

I really enjoy having the opportunity to meet and see people I work with regularly, face to face, and get to know them a little more. Especially when I was first starting out in coffee, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to the trade. With NCA, you get the opportunity to learn from coffee experts. In this industry, everyone wants to help each other learn.

Being an NCA Next Gen-er yourself, what advice do you have for other young professionals in coffee?

I would say, don’t be afraid to ask questions. People in coffee typically spend their entire career in coffee, or leave and come back. It seems like a big industry, but it’s actually very small and relationships are extremely important. Don’t be afraid to use the resources and people available to you. Make sure you’re fostering relationships with people and reach out to keep those relationships strong, as you never know when you’ll interact with those people in the future.

What’s something you’ve recently learned that you wished you’d learned sooner in your career?

I wish I pushed harder for myself in the beginning of my career. Especially as a woman, it is important to advocate for opportunities for training and travel. Over time I have learned to push for myself and bring opportunities up early, and often. For example, I wish I became a Q Grader earlier on in my career as it has helped me gain credibility in my quality approvals. Don’t be afraid to fight for yourself and your development.

Jasmine at origin.

What is something about coffee or the coffee industry in general that you wish more people knew about?

I wish people understood how many people are involved in growing and processing and the other steps throughout the coffee value chain. So many steps are involved to get to what ends up in your cup.

Speaking of your cup, how do you prepare your coffee?

I am not a coffee snob, I am a Q Grader and cup all the time, but right now I’m drinking coffee that was made in a normal drip coffee maker and has lots of liquid creamer. I also have all of the coffee making tools including a Chemex, French Press, Nespresso, etc., but I usually use a drip coffee maker.

What excites you most about the coffee industry now?

Moving forward, even the major players are seeing huge value in sustainability and understanding how sustainability risks can impact the coffee business and future of coffee. We are seeing a movement driven by the needs of the industry and consumers, and the industry is truly trying to push progress forward. Sustainability commitments are coming out almost monthly, and a lot of big players are jumping on board.

With all the momentum you just mentioned, what technology do you see having the biggest impact on coffee in the future?

Having more connectivity for farmers. It will be imperative for producers to have increased access to phone or internet connectivity to report on their crops. We are not there yet in every origin or region. Being able to receive texts would make a huge impact especially from a sustainability perspective.

I know this is almost impossible to imagine, but what would you recommend for someone who doesn’t like coffee or isn’t a regular coffee drinker?

We see young coffee drinkers starting with really sweet drinks, coffee with a lot of creamer, or specialty drinks – try that out. There are so many ways to prepare coffee, so if you don’t like drip coffee, it doesn’t mean you won’t like a well-prepared espresso. Just give it a try, there are so many options out there, you will probably find something that you like!

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the coffee industry?

Sustainability issues, climate change, aging farmer population, really any of the sustainability challenges that we’re hoping to address under the environmental, social, and economic risk spectrum. These risks need to be recognized in the near-term. Luckily, more companies are taking this seriously to meet the short-term goals for coffee sustainability.

As a young coffee professional, what are some challenges and opportunities that come with working for such an established, well-known brand?

In my career so far, I have been extremely lucky to work for such well-known and established coffee brands. There are so many resources available as they have well-established relationships, but also have opportunities for trainings, travel, [professional] development and more. I have been able to piggyback on the established relationships built by JMS and Nestle. Growth as a coffee professional would have been much more difficult in a smaller coffee company.