On October 13-16, Let’s Talk Coffee® will hold its 13th gathering, bringing together roasters, producers, financiers, and other stakeholders throughout the specialty-coffee supply chain in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Leading up to the event, we’re profiling some of the people and elements that makes Let’s Talk Coffee® a unique, must-attend event. Head here for more info and to register today!

At each Let’s Talk Coffee® since the event’s inception in 2003, we’ve learned amazing things from professionals who are either in the industry or in some way connected to it. Each of us has a stake and a story to share, and when we come together, we are able to innovate and create the strongest possible version of the coffee supply chain. Below are a few stories about leaders who have journeyed to Let’s Talk Coffee® to share their expertise and push for a healthy, sustainable coffee industry.

Rick Peyser gave a prominent talk about his rich career at our last Let’s Talk Coffee®, in Panama in 2014.

untitled-41-5Rick became well-known in the coffee industry during his 27-year tenure at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, where he led a team focused on improving living conditions for coffee producers and their families. He is also a past president of the SCAA and served on the board of Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). Currently he serves as Senior Relationship Manager for Coffee & Cocoa for Lutheran World Relief.

Rick attended global Let’s Talk Coffee® events many times during his career at Green Mountain. One of his areas of focus was food security for smallholder coffee farmers; in 2007, working with the research center CIAT, he interviewed smallholder coffee farmers and found that 67% of the interviewees faced food insecurity for three to eight months a year. To combat this problem, Rick founded the nonprofit Food 4 Farmers, which works with coffee-producing communities to formulate sustainable solutions to hunger.

In Panama, he reflected on his career working with smallholder farmers and showcased a few success stories to illustrate the impact of a transparent supply chain. Please click here to view Rick’s presentation.

Let's Talk Coffee 2012Sergio Fajardo was a guest of honor at Let’s Talk Coffee® 2012 in Colombia, which he attended while serving as governor of the country’s Antioquia department. Fajardo studied mathematics at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá before entering politics; he served as the mayor of Medellín from 2003-2007 before becoming Governor of Antioquia. He is currently a private citizen after finishing his term as governor in December 2015.

In his appearance at Let’s Talk Coffee® 2012, he spoke to the industry about the state’s investment in coffee to make the region a new and desired origin of specialty coffees. He talked about how the transparent leadership of Medellín (Antioquia’s capital) generated trust among its people. This governmental shift helped transform the city into what it is today. Participants at the conference were quick to relate the power of transparency and trust in coffee relationships to the capacity for impactful and sustainable change.

Fajardo’s leadership in pioneering new relationships with the city’s citizens, as well as calculated investment in infrastructure and technology, parallel Relationship Coffee: reinvesting in the supply chain through cooperative infrastructure, increased market access, productivity gains, livelihood projects, and capacity building.fsensionfsension

mphillipsBaristas have been contributing their unique leadership perspective to Let’s Talk Coffee® since early in the event’s history. An impressive roster of baristas—many of them world or national barista champions—have regularly attended the event, participating in competitions, crafting beverages for non-barista participants, and often taking part in the program.

Among the world-renowned baristas who have attended Let’s Talk Coffee®:
Alejandro Mendez (2011 World Barista Champion)
Stephen Morrissey (2008 World Barista Champion)
Michael Phillips (2010 World Barista Champion)
Fabrizio Sención Ramirez (2-time Mexico National Barista Champion; 2nd place, 2012 World Barista Championship)
Phuong Tran (2005 United States Barista Champion)

fsensionFabrizio is a Let’s Talk Coffee® regular and a well-known figure in Mexico’s specialty-coffee industry. He will be involved with this year’s event in Puerto Vallarta, along with several other baristas who will share their knowledge and make incredible drinks for Let’s Talk Coffee® attendees to enjoy.

Those in specialty coffee do their best to make the industry vibrant and strong, and we all work to create and uphold these virtues. But we also look to leaders for guidance and wisdom. One of the reasons Let’s Talk Coffee® is such an important industry event is that it provides a forum for leadership that is also collaborative—leaders can share their knowledge, but the entire supply chain can then participate in the conversation created by their insight. We look forward to engaging in new, vital conversations at the upcoming Let’s Talk Coffee® 2016 in Mexico. Find out more about the event here!