Disclaimer: I work part-time as Senior Creative Advisor for SCAA, a role that began last August.
I work in coffee because of the people in coffee – the great coffee is simply a benefit. It’s taken me around the world and connected me to an incredible community that never seemed to recognize borders, certainly I never did.
From the early days of Flickr, the community has always been at once global and intimate to me. We connected because we wanted to learn more, and knew we were the minority in a big industry. From there, technology, events, volunteerism and friendships kept us in touch.
To me, SCAA and SCAE always felt like two departments of the same vision, except each one spelled a word differently. My involvement in competition, and subsequently with World Coffee Events – a company co-owned by both associations, showed me what a unified model would look like.
With staff spread across four continents, and the support of the parent associations, and impassioned volunteers, the WCE is able to produce events that engage coffee communities all around the world, providing valuable exposure and connectivity to producers, roasters, baristas, importers, allied companies, local communities, and home enthusiasts. It works great.
I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot in my career, and often feel the perspective shifts resulting from such travel invaluably inform my professional competency.
I’ve worked in Dublin, London, a few weeks in Canada and Chicago. Volunteering and events have allowed me to travel the world and learn first hand about the beauty of our diversity. Engaging that diversity taught me a lot, but also emboldened me to hang on to my preferences, something I was most recently chided over when Charles Babinski mocked my preference for the single-shot 5 oz cappuccino during our live-commentary for the WBC in Dublin.
I cherish the things that make us different, it keeps things interesting. I oppose anything that would seek to homogenize our industry and do not accept that this proposed Unification would do that. I mean for goodness sake, it’s Specialty Coffee. It’s the idea that not all coffee tastes the same, that some is really delicious from one part of the world made by one bunch of people, and another tastes really delicious but different because it was grown in a different part of the world by a different bunch of people. In what world would anyone act to blend it all together!?
If they did, I wouldn’t work for that association, and I wouldn’t be a member. I joined SCAA as an advisor last summer, and saw first-hand how committed the staff and leaders are to embracing and promoting diversity. The constant conversation is ‘how can we better serve members, how do we get stronger but stay local’. I knew SCAA had good people, but was genuinely blown away by how true their intent is. Any of my close friends reading this will have heard me report as much over the past year.
Bringing the associations together seems like a no brainer to me and I’m yet to hear a convincing argument why it shouldn’t happen. It’s an important decision, and there should absolutely be discussion, but I have little time for fear-mongering and personal attacks.
If you are in a position to vote, or in a position to encourage the person at your company who is able to vote – I encourage you to learn about the SCAA and SCAE’s proposal at SCAAUNIFICATION.ORG. If you are curious to hear an opposition argument, you can find one here as rebutted by Nick Cho, and another rebuttal of the same post by Heather Perry – here.
Please vote. Thanks