Since the outbreak of the powerful and merciless COVID-19 virus, the entire human race has been held hostage to its tightening grip. The Specialty Coffee Industry has also been adversely affected from farm to coffee shop. Something has to be done! What? How? Where do we begin?
Saturday, May 30th, 2020 marked the beginning of something new in the Specialty Coffee World. In the midst of one of the most economically challenging moments in modern history, the JUMP Conference gave hope.
Not Just Another Coffee Event
With this reality placed before them, WE THE ORIGIN came up with an idea. It was clear, dialogue is necessary. We needed to understand what was really happening. The best way to accomplish this was to have a conference. Not just any conference, but one that united the voices of the affected in the entire world.
We decided to have 2 panels of experts. One from the producing areas and the other of green buyers/roasters. The selection of panelists was also unique. The producer panel were persons who worked specifically with small farm holders averaging 3 hectares each. These people were the hardest hit and many of them just live by hand to mouth.
The mission of WE THE ORIGIN is to promote sustainability and transparency in the market. Therefore, it was logical that the small farm producers should be the ones represented.
The 2nd panel of green buyers was also unique in that these were experts from all 4 corners of the world.
Both panels were asked specific questions related to how they were affected by the virus, how they are handling the situation and what they are doing to move ahead. As you will see the information was invaluable.
To make the programme even more informative and attractive 2 special presentations were included. One from Karthik Rajendran and the other from Guest Speaker, Ric Rhinehart.
The Programme and its Participants
After some unexpected technical difficulties the programme began with Abbas Alidina from WE THE ORIGIN.
Abbas hosted the event and after a few introductory words invited Karthik Rajendran, who is also part of the WE THE ORIGIN organizing team.
Getting Back in Business While Supporting Small Farmers – Karthikeyan Rajendran
Karthik’s presentation was eye-opening. He shared how the small farmers were adversely affected by COVID and other problems. New market data was also shared regarding who in particular in the retail area are most affected.
People no longer frequent coffee shops as before, mostly due to lockdowns, social distancing and the high costs of maintaining a business running at 50% capacity.
True to the theme of the presentation, emphasis was placed on alternatives to selling our beloved drink. Online sales, concentrated coffees and canned cold brews.
The State of Coffee 2020: This Moment in Time – Ric Rhinehart
It was now time for our Guest Speaker, Ric Rhinehart. This is a man who needs no introduction in the coffee world. He and his colleagues helped define specialty coffee when it was just a good brew. The present generation of the “Coffee Elite” are just building upon the foundation that Ric and his generation built. It was a true highlight to enjoy Ric’s presentation entitled: The State of Coffee 2020: This Moment in Time.
Throughout the presentation comparisons were made with the global financial crisis 2008-09, and with good reason. The coffee circles united and came up with the same idea as what we are doing in the JUMP Conference Dialogue; identify common challenges, how to address those challenges, new ways of thinking, perspectives and plans to put them to work.
We were encouraged to do 3 things:
- Take the prompts that come up in the event and allow them to stimulate our thinking
- Open the dialogue with the speakers and all those attending
- Continue to foster this type of dialogue as we continue with this crisis. To maintain good communications to all in the industry.
The good and bad scenarios are neatly summed up in these points: The Bad News and Opportunities.
Understanding The Small Farmer’s Needs (Panel)
The first panel was moderated by Damian Reed from WE THE ORIGIN.
- Perpetue Musinga from Sustainable Growers in Rwanda,
- Karl Wienhold from Cedro Alto in Colombia,
- Ezequiel Batista from Baru Black Mountain in Panama
- Edgard Bressani of Capricornio Coffee in Brazil
This panel discussed at length the answers to the questions:
- What challenges or problems were brought on by COVID-19?
- How are these challenges being met and with what success rate?
- What can be done to create awareness and really give small farm holders a niche in the Specialty coffee market?
- Why should green bean buyers and roasters buy from small farm holders or you?
How Can Global Consumer Market Bounce Back After COVID-19 (Panel)
The Green Buyers/Roasters Panel was moderated by Abbas Alidina.
- Michael Uhlig from D’Origen in Barcelona, Spain.
- Marty Pollack of Torch Coffee in China
- Rodrigo Diaz of Devoción in Colombia and NYC
- Cole Torode from Rosso Coffee Roasters in Calgary, Canada
- Blake Head of St. Ali Coffee in Melbourne, Australia.
Each panellist had an opportunity to expound on the following questions:
- What challenges or problems were brought on by COVID-19?
- What are you doing to face these challenges?
- What would you like the producers to know about you and business?
The conversations during these panels were truly enlightening. The depth of insight expressed by each panellist revealed a clear and accurate understanding of the situation at hand.
The “New Normal” is taking shape. The JUMP Conference successfully united a broad band of entrepreneurial experts from the main links of the coffee chain and together forged a new direction for Specialty Coffee. If you are employed in any link of the coffee chain this is a must see. Don’t miss it, the “New Normal” has arrived. We invite you to be a part of it.