by Kimberly Easson, JavaVentures
In 2005, I was on the board of directors when SCAA became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact and committed to being a partner in addressing some of the world’s thorniest global issues — food security, maternal health, climate change, education, and poverty alleviation. Whoa — who us? It’s kind of overwhelming if you think about it.
Yet, the specialty coffee industry is filled with caring people — people who know that coffee is more than just a delicious beverage, it’s also a means to make a difference in farming communities around the world, and the fragile ecosystems in which coffee is grown. Thanks to many visionary individuals and organizations, great work is already being done. SCAA is helping to advance these endeavors — and Expo is a great place to learn about them, and to see where you might want to get involved.
Over three days at Expo, organizations doing good work have a chance to share their programs and ambitions with attendees from around the world. Through these events, we can celebrate the good work being done through coffee, connect with the issues to understand how we can each play a part, and contribute to the work of these organizations with our time and money.
While the issues we face as an industry are genuine and often heartwrenching, the venues offer a comfortable place to learn and to be a part of a broader network and conversation about the impact coffee makes around the world. Being at these events gives even new attendees the chance to rub elbows with many of the industry’s thought-leaders and noteworthy individuals.
Yet with so much going on in a short three days, how do you choose where to participate? Expo offers an event to suit your fancy. You can race to the finish, share a meal, or raise your glass for a toast! Here are just a few of the options (in order of schedule):
Are you a runner? Join the JavaJog for a Cause — a 5K run/walk or 10K race to raise money for women coffee producers in the Congo (Friday, April 25, 7:00/7:30 a.m.). Seattle is the first official race for this terrific event that links fitness and coffee with a great cause. Compete for prizes and do your own fundraising to really “go the extra mile” for these women who face unfathomable challenges.
Are you an environmentalist? Then the Rainforest Alliance Breakfast may be for you (Friday, April 25, 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.). Learn about the latest accomplishments of the Frog! Enjoy breakfast among industry leaders and engage in dialogue about how to move the industry toward greater sustainability.
Concerned about food security and coffee farming families? Coffee Kids’ reception is the place to be (Friday, April 25, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.). Check out the Grow It Forward campaign, which is helping families diversify their incomes to afford nutritious food year round — even through the notoriously difficult “thin months” between harvests. Share a toast to these valiant efforts and celebrate all their supporters and program participants who are investing in the future of coffee. Join Coffee Kids for this distinctive celebration of coffee, coffee farmers, and the change that is possible when we work together.
Interested in women’s issues? Learn more about the contribution of women in the global coffee industry at the breakfast of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (Saturday, April 26, 7:30 – 9:00 a.m.). Not just for women — everyone is invited to promote possibilities for women in coffee around the world. Proceeds will be used to support quality of life and other projects for women in coffee producing countries. The IWCA is a global peer network that advocates for women from seed to cup. IWCA not only provides access to resources but also promotes a forum for connection.
Quality guru? Coffee Quality Institute’s annual luncheon is a good bet (Saturday, April 26, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.). See how CQI’s Q program, Coffee Corps, and technical services work in more than 17 countries is creating a global language of coffee quality and value which helps farmers (and the industry as a whole) to be more competitive. Honor the winner of CQI’s Leadership Medal of Merit.
It is possible to arrange your schedule to participate in all of these — to take it all in — if you are so compelled. I encourage you to join us for one or more of these terrific “doing good” events — to celebrate, to connect, and to contribute. I guarantee that you’ll be inspired by our world of specialty coffee, and maybe even be moved to get involved. At the very least, you’ll be glad that you saw the world beyond the beverage, and connected with what really makes specialty coffee great. I know I am. See you there!
Additional Info: Find information on attending fundraising events at The Event! Visit scaaevent.org/specialevents
Kimberly Easson, based in Washington, DC, works with clients throughout the agricultural value chain to improve sustainable supply relationships, in particular with small-scale agricultural producers, coffee and with a focus on women. Through her company, JavaVentures she has lead hundreds of coffee industry professionals on tours throughout Latin America and Africa to foster better understanding between roasters and farmers. She is a past board member of the SCAA, member of the Sustainability Council, Co-Founder and past-President of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) and Co-Founder of the JavaJog for a Cause.