Traditionally November is our annual issue dedicated to sustainability. Here you will find topics and considerations to continue a bright future for specialty coffee addressing significant concerns ranging from climate change to economic survival and more.
This week, 27 of the worlds best lots of coffee from nine different countries were invited by illy Caffe to compete in “Best of the Best” coffee competition at the United Nations. It was an inspirational event that lifted my heart and gave me pause with 100% of the emphasis on the producers who make specialty coffee possible.
The history of this award is especially meaningful to me. When I founded CoffeeTalk back in 1994, my knowledge of the intricacies and nuances of the specialty coffee supply chain was limited. Being a young entrepreneur, I recognized my need for industry leaders as mentors. Thank goodness, I was not shy about asking for help from the best of the best. I was so very blessed that Dr. Ernesto Illy was one of the first to join CoffeeTalk’s Advisory Board. His guidance and knowledge, passion and caring, lead me on a journey of discovery and respect.
Today it is all the rage to talk about “Direct Trade relationships.” This “Third Wave” concept was, in fact, created 26 years ago by Dr. Ernesto Illy, the pioneer of this movement and genius far ahead of his time. Dr. Illy crafted the first competition for green coffee based upon quality and taste and directly rewarded those producers. It was his vision that went on over the next few decades to create such esteemed awards and certifications as Cup of Excellence, Rainforest Alliance Certifications, and more, which have directly influenced the lives of farmers and the quality of specialty coffee available today. I was honored to again be asked to be a judge on their panel for this illustrious award. All of the coffees were marvelous, but, even more amazing, was the presence of the actual producers many of whom had never left their homelands, here in New York City at the United Nations. To see the excitement, joy, and wonderment, of the producers experiencing consumers’ direct appreciation for what they do was inspiring.
And so I hope and dream that this tradition of excellence continues, for this is essential to the future of specialty coffee. Until consumers become aware of the immense amount of labor, passion, and sacrifice required to produce that cup of coffee and directly rewards these producers, the future of specialty coffee will continue to be in jeopardy.
Congratulations to all of the finalists, and most especially to José Abelardo Díaz Enamorado of Honduras, your dedication is an inspiration.