Back in time nourishing the present in coffee

Coming back to SCAA in Boston made me realize how time has gone. First time I ever attended SCAA was when I was working with the Guatemalan Coffee Growers Association in 1999. Liz Rodriguez, how was then the marketing coordinator, asked me to organize Guatemala’s participation at the exhibition in Philadelphia. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.

I came back almost ten years later just to realize that time has gone. Not only because of how old we have gotten, but how much we have lived, experienced, how things in coffee have changed. For example, it was nice to see how all the producing countries have now oriented their booths to brewing and cupping. Back then, our concern was brewing in Bunn´s drip coffee makers that would store the beverage in air-pots. Keuring system, domestic roasters are now on demand.

But also, it remind me of how small the industry is in terms of friendship and getting along with everybody.

After five years working in the international promotions of Anacafé, I then was the Cup of Excellence in country coordinator. It was also a great coincidence that the year of Guatemala’s Cup of Excellence program 10th edition, I was hired by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, who runs the program, to work as a regional coordinator for a short-term contract and the reason I visited SCAA again.

It is extremely amazing to be able to work with professionals that have changed the way coffee has been produced, perceived, rewarded, cupped, packed and even traded. Being on their side, as a collaborator, you can see that setting the trends is not easy, but is always fascinating and adventurous once you understand what the market needs, when and how it needs it.

Back in that time, Erna Knuttsen from Knuttsen Coffees and pioneer in trading specialty coffees came to my mind when I saw the floor plan at the expo. She was one of those few ladies in the coffee industry, with such a grace and charming that you can´t forget. A Norwegian woman descendent who always knew what she wanted, practical and with a clear path to follow. My surprise was to see here again in this show with her inseparable John Rapinchock. She conserves that same sympathy. I was really thankful to have the chance to see her one more time. Now, thousands of women are present in every other area of the coffee business.

Walking down the aisle of the exhibition, in one of those booths I found Don Holly, who is now with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. He used to work for SCAA and together with Mike Ferguson visited Guatemala on a pre-tour for SCAA´s origin trip in 2000. Charles Jones, from Jones Coffee Roasters, joined us in that unique and hilarious journey of discovering the best farms in Antigua, Atitlán and Huehuetenango for their members to visit.

The sole fact of seeing all the scenery of SCAA show brought a lot of feelings: the excitement, the nerves, the exhausting work, deadlines fulfilled, lunches skipped, thousands of distances walked, soared feet, super funny moments shared with our co-workers and  friends. In one word, the nostalgia of a time lived and who it combines to the present where you realize things have changed and you are still in the way to perceive them.  It all nourishes the path for new and exciting challenges ahead.


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