The first quarter of 2018 has been full of inspiring, and valuable learnings from a variety of industry conferences. January was the first ever International Coffee Expo in Pu’er, Yunnan China, an impressive gathering of industry professionals from throughout the world. Speakers included Jose Sette, Executive Director of the ICO, Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director of SCA, David Roche, Executive Director of CQI, Peter Baker, Climate Change Expert, Ted Lingle, Senior Advisor for the Yunnan International Coffee Exchange many several other industry luminaries.
Topics focused on the transformation of the Chinese Coffee Industry from one of mediocre quality and little to no incentive for farmers to invest in quality coffee production to one where farmers are educated and empowered to choose the level of quality they wish to produce.
You may wonder why there is an image of a Toyota Corolla and a Lamborghini. Ric Rinehart’s innovative and more meaningful definition of “Specialty Coffee” really drove home the point: consumers have different expectations of the product and experience. Coffee is only “specialty” if the consumer experiences a thoroughly quality experience which can only happen if the focus is on quality every step of the way in the journey from seed to cup. Beyond that, the product must presented as an “experience.” In short, specialty = differentiation.
As Michael Boyd said to me, “There is a home for every bean.” By giving these farmers tools and education, they are given a powerful choice: to pursue the lower quality, higher volume market (the Corolla) or the higher quality, lower volume specialty market (the Lamborghini). Knowing each buyer has their own expectations, farmers must be given the tools and information needed to make intelligent and informed business decision. Discussions included:
• Processing for Quality and Consistency
• Financial Security
• Using the Relationship Model to Buy/Sell Coffee
• The Challenges & Solutions to Coffee Sustainability Around the Globe
• Using Marketing to Tell Your Coffee Story
• Global Pricing Dynamics & the Connection to Yunnan Pricing
It is inspiring to see our industry come together to explore new worlds, seek out new coffees, and go where no one has gone before (sorry non-Trekkies, I could not resist). I encourage all of you who will be attending the SCA Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle this month, check out the portrait country: China.