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!)

1. Monica and Carl Walker, Walker Coffee Trading, awarded NCA Volunteer(s) of the Year Award

Carl and Monica Walker at the 2018 NCA Coffee Gives Back Day of Service in New Orleans
Carl and Monica Walker at the 2018 NCA Coffee Gives Back Day of Service in New Orleans

Monica and Carl Walker’s family company, Walker Coffee Trading in Houston, Texas, is about many things – but at its core are long term relationships they cultivate with friends and family, customers and suppliers.

This spirit of community and commitment shines through in everything they do.

While introducing the 2019 NCA Volunteers of the Year (the first time the honor has been shared between recipients), NCA Chair Michael Gaviña shared the following anecdote that captured their award-winning attitude:
“Last year, during our NCA Day of Service in New Orleans, about 200 of us gathered to help update a local school – we were painting, and digging, and moving things. We had such a great turn out for this event that we ran out of supplies. The Walkers, without a moment’s hesitation, ran to Home Depot and personally bought the extra supplies we needed so we could continue our work.”
And that’s just the beginning. Working as a team, the Walkers have gone above and beyond to give back to the industry – from  NCA strategic planning, to simply lending a hand wherever it’s needed.

2. The Coffee Trust named NCA Origin Charity of the Year

The Coffee Trust was named the second-ever recipient of the NCA Origin Charity of the Year Award, sponsored by Mother Parker’s Coffee and Tea. (Last year’s recipient was Grounds for Health.)

The Coffee Trust works in the war-devastated Ixil region of Guatemala to build prosperous and empowered coffee-growing communities.

The NCA Coffee Gives Back Program aims to shine a spotlight on the organizations dedicated to communities at origin, because we believe that amplifying these stories is important for the entire industry. And in her acceptance remarks, Julie O’Brien, The Coffee Trust Board President, shared that as a result of this recognition, the organization received an additional grant from one of their donors to further fund their work.

This year’s 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 Gives Back Charity Showcase.

3. Sustainability Conversation – and Collaboration

The coffee community is committed to building a brighter future for the entire supply chain. And the best way to move forward is together.

To help facilitate cooperation and collaboration across the industry, Conservation International’s Sustainable Coffee Challenge held an all-stakeholder meeting proceeding the NCA Convention (expect more news coming out of that soon!)

Working pre-competitively with a growing alliance of organizations across the sector, the SCC can help coffee companies of all sizes get involved, see a measurable impact, and move towards true sustainability.

“The biggest opportunity we have [as an industry] is collective action,” said Miguel Zamora, Director of Market Engagement, Rainforest Alliance, during his breakout session on labor concerns at origin. “Pre-collaboration makes you more effective.”

Learn more about joining the Sustainable Coffee Challenge

Stay tuned – next week we’ll share insights from the new NCDT, the NCA Day of Service, and behind the scenes at the SLC Coffee Science Fair!

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