Let’s Talk Coffee® 2016: Prospering in the new reality

Let’s Talk Coffee® 2016: Prospering in the new reality

On the first day of Let’s Talk Coffee® Mexico, Daniele Giovannucci of COSA delivered a presentation to the assembled crowd of coffee producers, roasters, financiers, media, and NGOs titled “The Coffee Industry at a Crossroads.” In it, he detailed the challenges from climate change, low prices, and the departure of young farmers facing coffee, and presented the power of communication throughout the supply chain as a tool to solve these challenges.

Daniele Giovannucci“One of my dreams is that we’re creating a ‘multi-logue,’” Daniele said at Let’s Talk Coffee®. “It’s been a monologue quite often with information going one way, and sometimes it’s a dialogue where they’re talking back. But a muti-logue involves everyone in the supply chain—the community, the farmer, the buyer, and certainly the consumer—being part of what’s actually going on.”

Daniele’s words rang true at Let’s Talk Coffee®, the annual global supply chain gathering that thrives on collaboration, gathering all stakeholders from the specialty-coffee supply chain to forge inclusive business relationships, learn about pressing issues from top speakers, and become stronger as an industry. Let’s Talk Coffee® Mexico, which took place October 13-16 in Puerto Vallarta, brought together 250 attendees from 20 countries, and it was a group deeply invested in the collaborative spirit of the event.

For those who’ve never been, it’s hard to describe what exactly makes Let’s Talk Coffee® such an electric, almost magical event. It’s truly Relationship Coffee in action, with an intimate setting allowing all attendees the opportunity to connect. Henry Wilson, founder of digital coffee publication Perfect Daily Grind, attended Let’s Talk Coffee® for the first time in 2016 and offered this observation: “What Let’s Talk Coffee® offers that’s different from any other conference I’ve attended is that it invites everyone to participate, and everyone’s voice is heard,” he said. “And that’s rare. It breaks down the entire supply chain and then invites people at every stage to share their expertise.”

Here a few snapshots of some of the memorable moments at Let’s Talk Coffee® 2016:Triangulation Cupping

Roasters and producers paired up to form teams for the Triangulation Cupping Competition, overcoming language barriers and other obstacles to put their tasting prowess to the test. The winning pair was Team Chocolate,—featuring Equator Coffees & Teas associate coffee buyer Nate Breckenridge and Hector Hernandez, a cupper at Mexican cooperative Huatusco.

Helen Russell of Equator delivered a personal story for her Keynote presentation, describing the challenges Equator had to overcome on the road to winning the 2016 U.S. Small Business of the Year honor. Sixty-two percent of the sessions at Let’s Talk Coffee® were either led by or featured women, which Helen says was one of her favorite elements of the event. “When women are more present in the supply chain, there’s more collaboration and working together. To have their voices here at Let’s Talk Coffee®, it just resonated with me so much more.”

At the Sustainable Coffee Challenge workshop, the industry collaboration unveiled its new framework to gauge producer feedback, then led producers in an interactive session that saw them walking to various stations to scrawl their opinions on sheets of butcher paper. It was a great moment not just for the collaborative activity but because it resulted in producers expressing their opinions to a receptive audience.

Hernando Tapasco, expert agronomist for the NGO SOCODEVI, delivered a presentation on the event’s second day offering specific recipes and strategies producers can use to improve the quality of their coffee through processing methods. In light of climate change and other challenges, many producers are seeing their coffee quality ebb despite their best efforts. Hernando’s steps for remedying the problem gave producers concrete takeaways they can test at their farms around the world.

one-on-one meetingLet’s Talk Coffee® Mexico provided a unique forum for the industry to explore inclusive business opportunities, learn about cutting-edge industry insights from expert speakers, and connect as a supply chain. I’ll leave you with some of the amazing stats from what was truly an unforgettable event.

Let’s Talk Coffee® statistics:

  • 250 attendees from 20 countries
  • Over 60% of attendees from origin, with producer leaders making up 40% of participants
  • A program with 12 LTC Talks and 15 panels, workshops, and interactive sessions, from 33 speakers
  • 62% of the program sessions either led by or featuring women
  • A total of 39 coffees cupped or tasted over three days—a total of 1,484 cups!
  • 46 one-on-one meetings between roasters and producers held during the event, establishing new relationships and transparent business connections