“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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NCA Member Spotlight: AMI

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


AMI logo

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


What does AMI do?

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

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

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

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From Invisibility Towards Inclusivity: Building Diversity In the Coffee Industry

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

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


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

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

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

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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

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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

Emerging Trends in Coffee Processing

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David Roche, Coffee Quality Institute Executive Director, will present Emerging Trends in Coffee Processing during the NCA 2018 Convention in New Orleans, March 15-17. (See the full list of educational breakout sessions.)

Here, he explains why the CQI’s work with coffee quality is increasingly relevant today, and what “Q Processing” means. 

There are many industry trends that are rapidly changing the quality of coffee, including new origins, genetics, sensory science, and especially coffee processing.

Coffee processing innovations have changed rapidly in recent years, and many “myths” are being broken. Advances in washed, naturals, honey, and other methods have contributed to a diversity of products and an opportunity for the producer to differentiate their coffee quality.

In fact, processing has the single most impact on quality differentiation and many origins have been experimenting commercially with these methods and applying science.

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Breaking New Ground in Gender Research in Coffee

The following is a guest post submitted to The First Pull. See our guest post guidelines

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Women coffee farmers in Rwanda. Source: IWCA

By Ruth Ann Church and Josiane Cotrim Macieira, The International Women’s Coffee Alliance

In coffee, the women who perform much of the labor – up to 70%, according to the ITC’s Coffee Exporters’ Guide – to grow, harvest, process, and export coffee are all too often invisible.

Few organizations are focused on collecting or publishing data specifically on the women involved in the supply chain for commodities like coffee; and there has been little to no funding allocated to this task. Even in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producing country, the lack of data makes one believe that women do not exist.

Experts agree that women are the greatest untapped resource available to avert challenges to the global coffee industry. But the lack of data on women makes it impossible to understand their impact  in the value chain. This leads to under-performance in the coffee industry, much like how poor recognition of contributions in any industry can cause lagging productivity.

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A Producer’s Perspective: Challenges Across the Coffee Value Chain

Editor’s note: Next month, the global coffee industry will gather in Medellin for the World Coffee Producers Forum to explore how to strengthen farmers, discussing sustainability, labor, managing price volatility, and improving productivity and yields.  Here, Frederick Kawuma, Secretary General of the Inter African Coffee Organization (IACO), sets the stage for these discussions by providing an overview from the producers’ perspective.

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Coffee farmer Feleke Dukamo checks the latest coffee prices. Source: Wikimedia Commons

By Frederick Kawuma, Secretary General of the Inter African Coffee Organization (IACO)

There has recently been a spate of studies analyzing the income of coffee farmers. The first thing that becomes evident is that the income from coffee farming varies depending on the country, and even the region within the country, where the studies have been done.

The second thing that becomes evident is that the income from coffee farming depends on the price the farmer gets for his coffee, which depends on “the market.”

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