Let’s Talk Coffee® 2018 Speakers
2018 World Barista Champion and Trainer
Agnieszka Rojewska is the 2018 World Barista Champion. Based in Poland, she has been in the coffee industry for over 10 years, and has worked most of that time as a barista. Most recently, she has served as a freelance barista trainer. Agnieszka is a veteran of coffee competitions; in addition to her 2018 WBC win, she is the four-time Latte Art Champion of Poland, including currently holding the title. She is also a former member of the Barista Guild of Europe.
Square Mile Coffee Roasters
James Hoffmann is the co-founder of Square Mile Coffee Roasters in London. He also founded several other businesses in the coffee sector and works as an advisor to several startups and as a consultant and collaborator. He is the author of the World Atlas of Coffee and blogger of JimSeven.com.
S&D Coffee & Tea
As Vice President of Marketing, Helen Griffith executes marketing strategies and initiatives that improve competitiveness and help to drive profits for both S&D Coffee & Tea and its customers. Under Helen’s leadership, the marketing team develops strategies by channel and product. She also leads oversight of the Sustainable Sourcing team and S&D’s signature Raíz Sustainable sourcing platform. Building on her undergraduate and MBA degrees, Helen started her marketing career at Nestle Foodservice in coffee, tea, and allied products and then progressed through other management and director roles where she developed her expertise in go-to-market strategies. Following a stint in insurance marketing, Griffith joined S&D in 2012 and works closely with the sales teams to deliver successful beverage solutions to customers.
ANDI TRINDLE MERSCH
Andi Trindle Mersch has a varied specialty coffee background, which began behind the espresso bar in 1989 and, since then, includes cupping, training, consulting, green coffee trading and buying, quality control, operations, and writing. Andi currently serves as Director of Coffee & Sustainability with Philz Coffee, SF. She has volunteered extensively throughout her career with the Specialty Coffee Association, serving on the former SCAA board, the Roasters Guild (RG) Executive Council, and as a past president of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance. She most recently served on the CRG Unification Committee and is currently on the Food 4 Farmers board of directors.
Coffee Quality Institute
As Coffee Quality Institute’s technical director, Mario Fernandez oversees the technical services and the projects taking place in different coffee producing-countries, to ensure that they have technical coherence and are adequately implemented. Mario also serves as liaison with the research organizations and enjoys teaching cupping and processing workshops, especially when he gets to talk about naturals. His experience includes many different positions along the coffee value chain, but mostly focusing on the factors that affect coffee flavor and quality. Mario combines his experience in the industry with a passion for scientific research about coffee flavor. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Food Science; an MS in Food Science; and a BS in Food Technology.
Equator Coffees & Teas
Helen Russell is the co-founder and CEO of Equator Coffees & Teas in San Rafael, CA. Under her leadership for more than twenty years, Equator has grown from a small roaster and wholesale supplier into a national brand known for its values-driven approach, award-winning coffee, and impactful action around issues of environmental sustainability and economic empowerment. Helen led Equator to become the first coffee roaster in California to earn Certified B Corporation status and a reputation as an early champion of Fair Trade practices and direct relationships. For twelve years in a row, Equator has remained on The San Francisco Business Times’ list of the Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses, and in 2016, became the first LGBT Certified business to win SBA Small Business of the Year for the State of California. After two decades in the wholesale business, Helen guided Equator toward deepening its relationships with the local community by opening seven retail locations in the Bay Area.
Eli Salomon is co-founder and CEO of Voga Coffee, makers of the Ground Control batch brewer. Ground Control Cyclops is the recipient of the 2018 Specialty Coffee Association Best New Product Award for Commercial Equipment. Earlier in his career, Eli was on the founding leadership team of the Alpha Dominche, where he launched the Steampunk in 2012, which also received the SCAA Best New Product Award. Eli earned his BA and MA in Mathematics from Johns Hopkins, his JD from Harvard Law School, and his MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Fair Trade USA
Colleen Anunu is the Director of Coffee Supply Chain for Fair Trade USA, a product and trade certifier for Fair Trade products in North America, where she manages impact strategy execution, product innovation, and grant-funded partnerships for the coffee category. Colleen currently serves on the board of directors for the Specialty Coffee Association, acting as Vice Chair for the Advocacy center and lead on the association’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion task force. She has roots as a coffee buyer and cupper, and earned a master’s degree in International Development at Cornell University, where she researched the multi-dimensional producer-level outcomes of the Relationship Coffee Model.
As Vice President of Coffee for Colectivo Coffee Roasters, Al Liu oversees green sourcing, all coffee-related operations, and new product development. He has worked with producers and exporters all over Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia for over 15 years and has significant experience in building and maintaining supply chains, marketing and branding of both green and roasted coffee, certifications, and producer relations. Colectivo operates 19 cafes in Milwaukee, Madison (WI), and Chicago, as well as a full-service bakery/commissary.
Ruth Coleman has held positions in the public and nonprofit sectors for twenty-six years. Currently, Ruth serves as the Executive Director of Sustainable Growers (formerly called the Relationship Coffee Institute), the nonprofit affiliate of Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers. In this capacity, she is responsible for overseeing the organization’s operations and managing strategic relationships. In 2013, Sustainable Growers was selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies to bring its innovative economic Relationship Model of development to low-income rural women based in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ruth manages this multi-year project to improve the livelihoods of over 30,000 low-income women coffee farmers from Rwanda and DRC through training and connecting the farmers to the international market. She is a graduate of Occidental College and has a master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Equator Coffees & Teas
Ted Stachura has worked in the coffee industry for over twenty years. He currently serves as Director of Coffee at Equator Coffees & Teas in San Rafael, CA, where he oversees coffee procurement, roasting, and quality assurance. Before joining Equator, Ted was a consultant with Kenneth Davids Consulting, editor at the online publication Coffee Review, co-founder of Coffee Informatics, and the Coffee and Tea Training Program Manager at Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Ted’s passion for coffee is expressed through his study of coffee, daily cupping, and efforts to educate the public about quality coffee.
Premium Quality Consulting
Jan Anderson jokes that she started in coffee at a time when you had to spell out “e-s-p-r-e-s-s-o” to restaurant owners. In her coffee career, she has led several start-up companies, including a coffee distribution and service company in New York City, an equipment rental company, an upscale lifestyle brand of home espresso machines, and now Premium Quality Consulting. In her various roles in marketing, data interpretation, strategy, and business leadership, she has always kept her focus on the consumer as the harbinger of approaching change–change that she welcomes as evidence of an evolving and dynamic industry. As a partner at Premium Quality Consulting, Jan leads the team as strategic visionary, operations expert, and outcome realist. As a longstanding coffee entrepreneur, she underwrites the quality of the PQC name.
OLGA L CUELLAR GOMEZ
S&D Coffee & Tea
Olga L Cuellar Gomez comes from a small coffee-producing town in Colombia. She earned a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Arizona and wrote her thesis on the role of women in coffee production. She’s trilingual and has been working in the coffee industry for over a decade, combining her passion for sustainable models and integrating the farmer’s perspective under a sustainable coffee value chain. In her role at S&D Coffee & Tea she is responsible for leading, planning, and implementing all aspects of S&D’s sustainability strategy, ensuring the organization is prepared to meet long-term challenges and opportunities. Olga joined S&D in 2016 and since then has managed their NGO relationships with COSA, Conservation International, and Supply Shift along with their implementing partners for the Raíz Sustainable sourcing platform. Olga is also committed to supporting and contributing to the industry, participating in diverse boards and industry initiatives including the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, SAFE, CCC, and PGE.
JUAN PABLO SOLÍS-VÍQUEZ
Juan Pablo Solís holds an MSc in economic policy, with an emphasis in ecological economics and sustainable development. His experience in sustainable food systems ranges from facilitating multi-stakeholder platforms to people-centered entrepreneurship. His areas of expertise include microfinance, sustainable agriculture, climate change, gender, energy efficiency, forest management and agroforestry. He has traveled to more than thirty countries across four continents, gaining a broad perspective of global issues along the way. Currently, he works for Hivos as Manager of the SAFE Platform, promoting a movement to scale climate-smart practices in the coffee and cocoa sectors of Latin America.
Throughout his life, Joe Behm has led with three passions: technology, coffee, and community. He first developed a strong background in technology while working in the industry for over two decades. He then founded Behmor, where he combines his technology background of almost two decades with his passion for coffee. Through this combination, his products always adopt state-of-the-art technologies: The Behmor 1600 Coffee Roaster employs a patented smoke suppression technology, and the Behmor Connected Brewer is the first connected brewer to earn SCAA Gold Cup Approval. Advancements like these have won Behmor several awards and recognition worldwide. Joe’s passion for coffee and community led him to start Behmor Inspired, where he travels around the world to meet coffee farmers, and provides roasters and brewers so that farmers can taste the fruits of their labor—often for the first time. Learning how their coffee tastes better with improved soil and growing conditions ultimately means farmers can earn a better living with their product.
Christine Condo is the East Africa Regional Director for Sustainable Growers, an NGO that improves the livelihoods of smallholder women coffee farmers through training and market access. Christine started her career as a cooperative development manager at ACDI/VOCA working with coffee, tea, and maize cooperatives to produce financial and management manuals for agribusiness cooperatives and the private sector. She then oversaw Fair Trade USA’s East African coffee development projects in Rwanda, and worked as a risk manager and financial trainer for Root Capital. Christine has now built a 15-year career transforming the lives of people in the rural sector through women’s economic development.
Premium Quality Consulting
Dan McCloskey is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Premium Quality Consulting. He has spent a lifetime in the wholesale coffee business, selling, managing, and marketing. He is known for his creative approach to problem solving, his sense of humor, and a capability to sustain effort against complex goals over time. PQC starts with the vision to treat the industry like a text—collect it, read it, interpret it—and then apply the insight to the practical needs of coffee brands, sales, marketing, and wholesale operations. This strategy of reading the market puts PQC in a unique position to identify and solve industry challenges. Most recently, PQC’s approach has led to the creation of CYA Cover Your Assets, equipment and service tracking software designed specifically for the needs of the coffee industry.
Manuel Diaz first worked in the coffee sector as a researcher and civil servant from 1988 to 2001. For the past 15 years, Manuel has practiced private consulting in different countries and segments of the coffee industry, mainly focusing on coffee policy and quality management. He is an anthropologist by training and holds a Ph.D. in Development from the London School of Economics. As part of his integrated approach to consulting, he develops applied research and training on coffee agronomy, processing, roasting, and sensory science.
Albert Scalla is a Senior Vice President at INTL FCStone, where he draws on his considerable knowledge of the coffee, cocoa, and palm oil markets to implement risk management strategies in futures, options, and structured products in the international commodity markets. Albert joined Hencorp Futures, which was later acquired by INTL FCStone, more than 26 years ago, and has been an important pillar in the organization in developing risk management programs for all participants in the coffee, cocoa, and palm oil markets, from producers to final consumers. Albert has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus in Finance from Florida International University and is a past President of the Pacific Coast Coffee Association (PCCA).
JUAN PABLO VILLOTA LEYVA
San Alberto Coffee
Juan Pablo Villota Leyva is the co-founder of San Alberto Coffee in Colombia. A proud coffee grower and business owner, he has been described as a leader in redefining the role of the coffee grower in the 21st century. As the Director of San Alberto Coffee, he leads the production and quality operations at the company. Through his work at San Alberto, Juan Pablo has developed an innovative integrated coffee-production approach focused on maintaining absolute control at every step of the coffee chain, creating a differentiated high-end brand value proposition for the company.
Sandra Palacios is the Manager of Cooagronevada, an FTO coffee cooperative of 65 members located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia. Her journey to reach this position was a remarkable one, powered by her incredible perseverance and dedication to coffee. She started producing coffee as a farmer at just 18 years of age, encountering prejudice as a woman in a machismo industry. She then took over her family business, but endured a major tragedy when her father and brother died in a violent attack. A changed woman, she became determined to overcome this horrible event and press on and achieve her goals. In 1995 she became the treasurer and purchasing agent of Cooagronevada, eventually rising to her current role as Manager of the cooperative in 2012 and began university studies in business administration this year at 42 years of age.
Kelly Stein is a freelance journalist who has written about coffee in South America for eight years in local papers, magazines and for international publications such as STIR Tea & Coffee Magazine, Barista Magazine and Standart Magazine. She also launched the first coffee-focused podcast in Brazil and the first coffee-focused bilingual podcast in the world: COFFEA. Based in Brazil, she loves telling stories about the largest coffee-producing country in the world and giving a voice to the anonymous people behind the scenes in the industry. In 2017, Kelly Stein was one of Sprudge’s coffee journalism award finalists, and in less than six months on air, COFFEA was awarded the third-place prize in the radio category of Journalism Award Cafés Brasil.
VERA ESPÍNDOLA RAFAEL
Since 2016, Vera Espíndola Rafael has worked with the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food in Mexico (SAGARPA) on the Plan Integral de Atención al Café (Plan for the Care of Coffee). She focuses on fostering sustainable coffee production in this national coffee program, which has the goal of reviving the Mexican coffee sector by increasing productivity in a sustainable manner. Vera also oversees the market strategy of the program. Vera has a Master’s Degree in Development Economics and a Bachelor in International Business; she has previously worked for Anacafé in Guatemala, researching the coffee supply chain and its value-add for coffee producers, as well as for UTZ (which has since merged with Rainforest Alliance) as Regional Manager for Latin America.
Jordan Dey is Vice-President at GrainPro, a social enterprise dedicated to reducing hunger and poverty globally. Dey leads the company’s strategic initiatives, working with teams in Africa, Asia and Latin America. GrainPro’s innovative grain storage technology eliminates the need for toxic pesticides, protecting the health of both producers and consumers. Also, it is a key technology to protect the quality of high-value commodities as coffee and cocoa.
In 2009, Vava Angwenyi started Vava Coffee, a social enterprise that trades, roasts, and consults on coffee value chains. Vava Coffee aims to contribute to better future prospects for coffee communities and the industry as a whole. Vava is also the co-founder and director business development & fundraising at Gente del Futuro (People of the Future), which focuses on producer profitability and next-generation involvement in coffee. Vava’s vision is to challenge the status quo and promote positive social disruption within the coffee industry.
Karla Ly co-owns Cafe Comunion with her partner, Abner Roldan. Opening the community-focused café after Hurricane Maria has led them to explore new ways of bringing people together through coffee in the midst of adversity. Karla was the content creator and Spanish editor of Perfect Daily Grind, and she studied coffee through La Escuela de Catadores de Honduras, IHCAFE, where she gained a formal education on coffee production, green coffee analysis, and cupping. Karla is focused on highlighting current initiatives in the Latin American coffee community with a focus on increasing transparency, collaboration, and innovation.
KENNETH R. OLSON
Kenneth R. Olson is the co-founder and publisher of the worldwide specialty coffee trade journal Barista Magazine. Since 2005, Barista Magazine has been devoted to its mission of serving people serving coffee. Prior to Barista Magazine, Kenneth worked as a writer, editor, and photographer. Outside of the coffee industry, his work has also been featured in numerous publications including Oregon Humanities magazine and the New York Times.
Gabriela Calderón is a Professional Specialist at the International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health (OIRSA), which operates in nine countries total, among them Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and the countries of Central America. She has worked in the development of coffee science, collaborating in diverse projects with the objective of developing integrated models to better understand climate change, the conditions under which Roya proliferates, and sustainable strategies to manage coffee disease in the face of climate change. Currently she coordinates the Regional Program for Integrated Management of Coffee Diseases and is responsible for developing projects that support the work of the Ministries and Secretaries of Agriculture and Livestock of the member states of OIRSA.
Marie McNeely is a strategic brand consultant with a sterling history of developing new brands, refreshing established brands and initiating successful communication engagements. After a career leading global advertising and digital efforts for clients including P&G, Citi, Johnson & Johnson at Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Worldwide as an EVP and Managing Partner, she helped Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, establish Realizing Rights. Today, Marie leads Branding +, a consultancy designed expressly to connect prose and passion for non-profits.
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