Name: Paul Thornton
Title: Coffee Buyer/Roastmaster
Company: Coffee Bean International
How long have you been volunteering for the SCAA?
Since about 1991
What was the first SCAA event you volunteered for and what were your duties?
It was the first Seattle conference…. Perhaps the 3rd SCAA show overall or something. It was around 1991. I volunteered to assist Royal Coffee in setting up a defect tasting. I also participated in it. Spent about 30 min setting up cups with them. Shortly after in around 1999, I started volunteering in the roasting classes the SCAA was conducting.
What is your current volunteer roll and what are your other duties in Portland 2012?
My current volunteer role is 2nd VP of the SCAA, heading up the Standards Committee.
Describe your most memorable volunteering experience so far?
Most memorable was probably the Roasters Guilds’ very first formal Executive Council meeting that took place in around 2001 in Chicago just because that meeting was so monumental. The RGEC wasn’t even called the Executive Council then. That meeting was what kick started the Roasters Guild to be what it is today. A close second was my volunteer time helping to organize the very first Roasters Guild Retreat that took place in my home town in around 2002.
How has volunteering for the SCAA influenced your coffee career?
Just when you think you might know a lot about coffee, you learn you don’t know diddly when you start to work with a group of well engaged people within the industry. Working within the industry as a volunteer has completely inspired my interest in coffee and has given me the realization that one can’t expand upon their knowledge by being strapped inside the walls of your own business. You must get out, approach this industry in a humbling way by realizing there is always more to learn. Listening is and has always been an important role in my career.