Max Quirin
Guatemalan National Coffee Growers Association

Working in the coffee industry is a natural fit for me. All of my life, I have been growing coffee on my family's century old farm in Coban, Guatemala. From my earliest memory, I would walk the coffee fields or spend time in the mill. This gave me an appreciation for what a special product coffee could be, and how often this was not recognized by the buyer or consumer.

In 1988, we reorganized the family coffee business and I was named General Manager. Working not only on the farming side, but also as an exporter, I began to see the importance of developing long term relationships with importers and roasters. Based on mutual respect, many of these relationships have grown and continue to this day.

In 1993, I began working with ANACAFE (Guatemalan National Coffee Growers Association) in various positions; first as a member of the Board of Directors then as Vice-President and President. It was a turbulent time in the coffee industry as countries struggled to find the best way to combat the price crisis. During this time, I represented ANACAFE at the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (ACPC). I believed that in order to survive the coffee crisis, Guatemala had to focus on producing quality coffee and that through its quality it would be rewarded with better prices. Today, Guatemala is a leading producer of quality coffees and a pioneer in defining coffee producing regions based on climate, soil, altitude and cupping characteristics.

During my term in ANACAFE, I also collaborated with producers, importers, exporters and roasters with the vision to work together as the only way to forge ahead and compete against other beverages.

For the last several years, I have witnessed significant, positive changes in the coffee industry. No longer is coffee sold around the world as simply Arabica or Robusta; instead, increasingly, coffee drinkers are discovering the distinct aromas, flavors and unique characteristics found in coffee from each world region. Much of this change would not have been possible were it not for the SCAA and its leadership role in developing standards for specialty coffee and its educational and promotional programs.

My work with the International Relations Committee of the SCAA from 1995-1997 and currently since 2002 has shown me that the future of the SCAA should be focused on increasing consumption of specialty coffee. There is still significant market share to be gained by educating consumers on origin and marked regional differences. In 1997, I coordinated the chapter "Portrait of a Country" for the SCAA Annual Convention. This work allowed me to set up standards by which a country would be presented to SCAA members.

I strongly believe that the specialty coffee industry has made a difference for millions of people in coffee producing countries: from barely surviving to having a decent income. The SCAA can play a vital role in ensuring that specialty coffee continues to be a force for good in the years to come.