“Handouts Don’t Work”: Empowering Coffee Communities to Thrive

Inside the community-driven mission of The Coffee Trust, NCA 2019 Origin Charity of the Year

The National Coffee Association recognized The Coffee Trust as the recipient of the 2019 NCA Origin Charity of the Year Award, sponsored by Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee, during the NCA 2019 Annual Convention in Atlanta.

Two Award finalists – meriting special mention – were Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc. and Strategies for International Development.

[Read the NCA News release and visit the NCA Coffee Charity Showcase to learn more.]

Here, Bill Fishbein, The Coffee Trust Founder and Executive Director, explains from the field what makes this organization so special – and how they are happily working themselves our of jobs in communities at origin.

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3 Highlights From the National Coffee Association USA Convention 2019

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

Pt. 1: The Crema the Crop


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

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

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

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

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Sustainability Standards: More Complex For Coffee Than Wine

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Leading sustainability standards for coffee are truly international and used worldwide.

By Morten Scholer, former UN advisor and author of the recent book Coffee and Wine: Two Worlds Compared 

 Part I: Sustainability Standards For Coffee – With Hidden Agendas


The coffee sector looks up to the wine sector for several reasons – including the wine sector’s long and prestigious history, the sensory descriptions, the sophisticated branding with use of terms like terroir, and the (sometimes) high prices.

While the coffee sector can no doubt learn a lot from wine, there are also areas where the wine sector has reason to admire coffee – and sustainability standards is one of them.

Sustainability standards are in several ways more complex for coffee than for wine, especially in terms of developing the standards, training, compliance, and monitoring.

This is certainly not to say that it is easy for the wine community, but here are four of the reasons.

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Boom Time for the Brazilian Coffee Industry

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Signs show that 2019 will bring even better results.

By William (Bill) Murray
President & CEO, National Coffee Association


The Brazilian coffee industry is flourishing.

The latest update from the Brazilian Coffee Exports Council (CECAFE) indicated 2018 was another bumper year for the largest producer and exporter of coffee in the world. “Statistics show that Brazil maintained its world leadership position and signs are that 2019 will bring even better results,” said Nelson Carvalhaes, Chairman of the Brazilian Exporters Coffee Council.

CECAFE’s recent update is full of interesting trends and statistics for coffee producers, connoisseurs, and consumers alike. And given Brazil’s scale in the global coffee market, updates from CECAFE always act as a useful barometer on the health of our industry overall.

Let’s take a look at the top four key takeaways:

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Coffee Clickbait Goes Bananas

Banana and coffee for breakfast

New research on coffee and climate change indicates an urgent situation for crops at origin

Behind the headlines on the future of coffee, according to science – and how you can get involved.

By William (Bill) Murray, NCA CEO & President
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Complete with the typical clickbait-style headline, a recent article intoned that the global population is imminently doomed to a world without coffee – and “not much” can be done about this “on a personal level.”

Sounds grim.

But it could be easy to miss the glimmer of hope buried in the last line:

This future could look bleak for morning coffee drinkers, but with the help of farmers and scientists, our cup of joe can be protected.”

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Pt. I: Sustainability Standards For Coffee – With Hidden Agendas

Farmer with hat looking the coffee plantation field

Changing from conventional to more sustainable practices

By Morten Scholer, former UN advisor and author of the recent book Coffee and Wine: Two Worlds Compared 

The following post is first in a two-part series 


Almost half of all coffee is produced under one of the recognized sustainability standards. That’s 70 million bags, or four million metric tons.

However, only around a third of sustainably recognized coffee is eventually traded and labelled as sustainable – a discrepancy that is being addressed by all parties involved in attempts to reduce the gap.

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Coffee Gives Back: Showcase Spotlight

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Applications for the NCA 2019 Origin Charity of the Year Award are due December 10. Learn more


By William, (Bill) Murray, NCA CEO & President
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Now more than ever, our communities and neighbors could use a helping hand. In the coffee industry, our community crosses borders with our supply chain, and giving back is no longer optional.

Here at the National Coffee Association (NCA), we decided about a year ago that – rather than starting yet one more program to help others – we were uniquely positioned to help in a different way.

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Part 2: What Does Direct Trade Coffee Mean?

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The following post is the second in a three-part series that looks at how the coffee industry can become  more circular and direct across the supply chain. 

Part 1: Transparency and Traceability Across the Coffee Supply Chain


By Dr. Terry Tudor and Dr. Nicholas Head, SusConnect Ltd

The global coffee industry is growing. However, it is important that there are measures taken to ensure that this growth is circular and that small farmers and producers benefit along the way.

A direct trade model, which takes account of circular business models, along with the use of blockchain technology, offers the opportunity to realize these goals.

“Direct trade” is a term used by coffee roasters who buy straight from the growers, cutting out both the traditional middleman buyers and sellers, and also the organisations that control certifications. Continue reading

Part 1: Transparency and Traceability Across the Coffee Supply Chain

cup-coffee-and-sunny-trees-background-511097429_5085x3676.jpeg

The following post is the first in a three-part series that looks at how the coffee industry can become  more circular and direct across the supply chain. 


By Dr. Terry Tudor and Dr. Nicholas Head, SusConnect Ltd

The global coffee industry is growing. However, it is important that there are measures taken to ensure that this growth is circular and that small farmers and producers benefit along the way.

Continue reading

How One Coffee Company Is Empowering Positive Change at Origin

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

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


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

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

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

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