NKG PACE Introduces Third Class of Partners, Plus Public Resources, to Advance Diversity in the U.S. Coffee Industry

The newest NKG PACE Partners are Jasmin Mitchell and Zion Brown.
• NKG PACE will open 12 lectures to the public, to expand the reach of its education.
• Apprenticeship and education now include QC, Logistics, Customer Service and Trade.

Hoboken, NJ; UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 12:01 AM ET MARCH 7, 2024 – Neumann Gruppe USA (NGUS) is thrilled to announce the selection of its third class of Partners in the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe Partnership to Advance Coffee Equity (NKG PACE).

The selection process included an application, a letter of recommendation, interviews and a multi-part sensory assessment. That is to say: It was thorough and competitive and still the decision making was difficult, as the applicants continue to be outstanding coffee professionals.

Inspired by this reality, and the desires and goals discussed throughout the interview process, the NKG PACE team has decided to open one lecture per month to the public, to increase the availability of free industry information that might aid under-represented professionals in advancing in the U.S. coffee industry. A calendar of events will be shared soon.

Additionally, and with thanks to NKG PACE Education Lead Amanda Armbrust-Asselin, the program’s focus areas continue to expand. While the first year was intensely focused on Quality Control and the lab, the education and apprenticeship components now more comprehensively also include Inbound Logistics, Outbound Logistics, Customer Service and Trade.

“By listening closely to the Partners, and with assistance from industry collaborators, we continue to adjust the program each year,” says Michelle Maisto, NKG PACE program coordinator. “We see so much hard-won wisdom, initiative and entrepreneurial spirit from the Partners and candidates. By adding to that our knowledge of the supply chain, our NKG PACE colleagues emerge as well-rounded coffee professionals who are undeniable assets to the coffee industry.”

She continues, “The work of racial equity is slow and challenging, but the rewards always far exceed the investment. I’m grateful to David M. Neumann, Group CEO of Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, for giving us the space, funding and leadership support to continue working toward genuine growth and change — in the industry, our companies and ourselves. I invite likeminded companies to join us.”

Introducing the 2024–2025 NKG PACE Partners

It’s with great pleasure that we introduce the 2024-2025 NKG PACE Partners, Jasmine Mitchell and Zion Brown, in their own words below. They will begin May 1 in their respective offices. Please join us in congratulating them!

Jasmin Mitchell

Hello! I’m Jasmin, an Army Veteran from Columbus, Ohio, currently residing in Dallas, Texas, where my coffee career began. I pivoted into coffee after being a career nanny for more than 10 years. Coffee was always something dear to me; it lived on my vision board for years until I took the leap and got a job as a barista. I didn’t have any coffee skills or knowledge, but I trusted myself and that my manager (now friend) at the time would teach me the fundamentals of not only being a coffee professional but an even better human.

Since that moment in 2021, I’ve been intentional about learning new skills and immersing myself in education that can not only be useful for a future business venture but also build up other aspiring coffee professionals alongside me. I’ve learned quickly and climbed the ladder to leadership as a manager — a role in which I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to be a great leader.

My goal is to open a coffee concept that serves and promotes healing through coffee, plants and love (community). I’m passionate about the work that I do and have a deep love for those whom I have the pleasure of working with and serving. Community means everything to me, as it has had a huge impact on my life post Covid.

I’m looking forward to this time to focus solely on learning and gaining new skills through experiences I don’t have access to on a regular basis. I’m so proud and honored to be in partnership with the NKG PACE program.

Jasmin will join the Atlas Coffee Importers team in Edmonds, Wash.

Zion Brown

Majoring in Family, Youth and Community Sciences at the University of Florida was life-changing; it allowed me to go beyond the confines of traditional education and engage with a variety of communities. My understanding of community dynamics has expanded as a result of this scholarly endeavor and has highlighted the significance of customizing strategies to each group’s particular needs. It was a humbling experience that brought to light the importance of cultural sensitivity, nuanced awareness and attentive listening in successful community engagement.

My journey into the fascinating world of coffee started at Pascal’s Coffeehouse and developed into a deep investigation of flavors, creativity and community; it’s since been a journey of constant growth.

In November 2023, I traveled to Ethiopia and Rwanda for two weeks through the Barista Exchange Program by CxffeeBlack. This was a significant chapter in my coffee story. I traveled to the very origins of coffee, where I interacted with growers, learned about the histories and customs of Black Coffee culture prior to colonization, and worked with others to imagine its future restoration for the diaspora. My comprehension was deepened by this thorough experience, which also strengthened my resolve to re-establish connections between Black communities and their rich coffee traditions.

Zion will join the InterAmerican Coffee and Rothfos Corporation teams in Hoboken, N.J.

For press inquiries, or to discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact nkgpace@nkg.coffee. Or, follow along on social @nkgpace.
NKG PACE is a paid, one-year green-coffee training program and an endeavor of Neumann Kaffee Gruppe and the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity. The program is open to Black Americans, a group that experiences the largest gap in employment and decision-making roles in the U.S. coffee industry. The program takes place in the offices of the NKG U.S. import companies, Atlas Coffee Importers, InterAmerican Coffee and Rothfos Corporation. www.nkgpace.com
Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) is the world’s leading green coffee service and trading group. Its teams are comprised of more than 3,200 coffee specialists across 60-plus companies in 27 countries and together represent an unparalleled knowledge of green coffee. www.nkg.coffee
Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity (CCRE) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to build greater racial diversity and equity in the U.S. coffee industry. Formed in July, 2020, against the backdrop of racial tension and social unrest throughout U.S. cities, the CCRE was born following the overwhelming response to Phyllis Johnson’s Open Letter to U.S. coffee professionals. www.coffeeforequity.org.

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