Arriving back at my desk on Tuesday after the SCAA Annual conference, I began the process of mentally dissembling all the information gathered through the Symposium and the regular conference. Here is a partial list of those moments that best show the highest qualities of the Specialty Coffee industry.
Rick Peyser. Is it possible to say too much in praise of Rick. He is our resident saint in coffee. For years he has preached, often in the wilderness, about Los Meses Flacos, the thin months. I think I first heard about this from Rick about 5 years ago, and he has written about it several times in CoffeeTalk. For those who do not know what this is about, let me explain. The thin months are the period between the end of the harvest and the beginning of next years harvest when a farmer must support all his family’s and farm’s needs just on what was earned through the last coffee harvest. In a recent survey across Central America, fully 2/3’s of small holding farmers said that they were unable to maintain a normal diet for their families through the thin months. This condition is so prevalent that Los Meses Flacos is well known and widely accepted through out coffee growing regions as a general condition of life.
Now the message is gaining momentum in the coffee consuming countries. At the SCAA Rick Peyser, along with the Coffee Trust presented a film about Los Meses Flacos called “After the Harvest” narrated by of all people, Susan Sarandon. It is a masterpiece of visual and emotional documentary that bring forth this crucial issue with absolute clarity. If you care about coffee, you must see this film. Rick Peyser, Green Mountain Coffee, The Coffee Trust, and all those involved in the making of this film are to be congratulated. We are in their debt.
Grounds for Health. GFH celebrated its 15th anniversary at the SCAA conference and what a magnificent achievement. Grounds for Health is dedicated to ending the scourge of cervical cancer in developing countries. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death by natural causes of women of child bearing age in the coffeelands. Although rarely lethal in developed countries, for a variety of reasons hundreds of thousands of women die from cervical cancer every year around the world. What is extraordinary is that the disease is completely preventable and treatable if discovered early. For about 25¢ a kit, the disease can be diagnosed in a single visit and then, if a woman is found with cancer, for a bit more the treatment can be performed the same day. Everyday, Grounds for Health is saving women’s lives, literally.
This year, Grounds for Health was awarded the SCAA Sustainability Award for their work. A very big achievement. GFH’s big sponsor is Green Mountain Coffee – again, as well as Royal Coffee, Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee, and ECOM. CoffeeTalk too is proud to be a (lesser) sponsor and Kerri sits on their Board.
The International Women in Coffee Alliance. The IWCA experienced its breakout moment at the SCAA this year. Dedicated to developing chapters in coffee growing countries through which coffee women in consuming countries and producing countries can build strong relationships, support each other, and train in better business and agricultural practices to develop quality and higher value. The IWCA signed charters with two new chapters at the SCAA this year – the Dominican Republic and Burundi, raised thousands of dollars to further support programs with a donor appreciation dinner as well as the now-traditional IWCA breakfast, and secured funding for scholarships to allow women from origin to attend the second IWCA International Conference in El Salvador to be held later this year.
With the addition of the Dominican Republic and Burundi, the number of countries with Women in Coffee Chapters rises to seven, with another twelve waiting in the wings to fulfill the requirements to become chapters and join those groups already enjoying the benefits of the IWCA. CoffeeTalk is proud to also be a sponsor of the IWCA and Kerri sits on their board as well.
These are just a few of the great moments at the SCAA. We truly have a great association and industry. Thank you.