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Dagmawi Iyasu Eminetu visits Coffee Enterprises

Dagmawi Iyasu Eminetu visited Coffee Enterprises yesterday to share his journey and his research completing the master’s degree curriculum at Illy’s Università del Caffè. Dagmawi also spoke about his molecular biology and chemistry background, Ethiopian coffee culture, the coffee exchange system there, and coffee-related government structure, including new reforms. It is clear Dagmawi is devoted and open to scientifically advancing the ever-intertwined Ethiopian coffee and culture.

Spencer Turer: The Role of the Roaster’s Guild

Spencer Turer at the cupping table

Spencer Turer at the cupping table

Spencer Turer, our vice president, wrote about the Roasters Guild’s role in specialty coffee industry leadership and the founding of the Roasters Guild for the Flamekeeper column in Roast Magazine (read here).

How can coffee roasters continue to inspire the specialty coffee industry and the Specialty Coffee Association of America?  What will be next for the Roasters Guild?

Common ‘Grounds’: Screening for Cancer in Coffee Regions

In June 2012, nurse practitioner Ellen Starr arrived at the foothills of the Mount Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania, exhausted after a bumpy, two-hour car ride. She and a colleague from Williston-based Grounds for Health were supposed to supervise a local health care provider they had trained to perform cervical precancer screenings.

But no “patients” showed up, and the visitors were perplexed. Another individual — a local health promoter — later told them why.

Starr recounted: “Word got out in the community that a woman would go in, lie down on the table, spread her legs, the nurse would … insert her hand in her vagina, take hold of her uterus, pull it out, treat it or test it, and shove it back again.”

The health promoter and a priest quickly spread the word that none of those rumors was true. Soon enough, women began arriving for tests.

Starr said the incident illustrates the crucial role that community leaders play in aiding the mission of Grounds for Health, which aims to reduce cervical cancer among women in the developing world. It works closely with public health authorities and coffee cooperatives to train local doctors, nurses and community health promoters. The nonprofit coordinates screening and treatment services in areas where the disease is prevalent.

One of the original employees at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters — now Keurig Green Mountain — founded the organization, as a result of a shrewd observation in the field. Daniel Cox was visiting a Mexican coffee cooperative in 1995 and had brought along a friend. Retired obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Francis Fote noted that the women there were dying of cervical cancer at an alarming rate.

Caused by the sexually transmitted HPV virus, cervical is the second most common cancer in women living in less developed regions, according to the World Health Organization. Since the women lack access to screening, cervical cancer often escapes detection until it has advanced and women are exhibiting symptoms. By then, their chances of getting proper treatment for the late-stage disease are poor — hence the high fatality rate: Nearly a quarter-million women in low-income countries die of cervical cancer every year, compared to 35,514 everywhere else, according to the WHO’s ICO Information Centre on HPV and Cancer.

Fote urged his younger friend to start a screening clinic.

“Doc, I’m a coffee guy,” Cox said he replied.

Fote told him: “Well, you have contacts.”

GMCR and Ben & Jerry’s were among the first to front funds for Grounds for Health when it started in 1996. Spanish-speaking volunteer clinicians from the U.S. provided training to local health professionals and read the screening tests.

About four years in, Cox hit a wall. We’ve either got to expand and hire someone full time, or we ought to close shop, he remembered thinking in 1999, after he’d left GMCR and started his own business, Coffee Enterprises. Cox went with the former option, and Grounds for Health hired its first executive director.

Its third, Guy Stallworthy, joined the nonprofit in mid-2014, bringing more than 30 years of experience in health and development.

Ellen Starr and Mesfin Wana in Ethiopia - COURTESY OF GROUNDS FOR HEALTHEllen Starr and Mesfin Wana in Ethiopia

Today, the organization operates in Ethiopia, Kenya and Peru. The group has worked in Mexico, Nicaragua and Tanzania, too. It has screened more than 70,000 women and treated about 5,000 of them. It has also trained nearly 460 health care providers.

Stallworthy said it makes financial sense to keep the number of U.S.-based staff small — it’s currently five — and to train on-site health providers to do the screenings. “It’s all about having greater impact and building capacity,” said Stallworthy. He noted that projected expenditures for this fiscal year are approximately $700,000.

Starr, who is the project’s clinical director, agreed with his assessment. “This is not missionary work. This is not the great white hope coming into Africa and saying, ‘Here, let us provide you services,'” she said. “The [local health] ministries need to be on board, both philosophically and financially.”

Grounds for Health now focuses on sub-Saharan Africa because the need there is great. And it’s able to start “from more of a clean slate,” said Starr. The African countries where it’s working either don’t have cervical cancer prevention programs or have nascent ones that align closely with the nonprofit’s.

Primarily serving women ages 30 to 49, the group uses a visual inspection program. A health care provider rests a cotton swab soaked in vinegar on the cervix for about two minutes. He or she then removes it and evaluates the cervix, looking for white spots that have been made visible by the vinegar. Many U.S. health care providers use the same simple technique.

If a woman tests positive, she can be treated with cryotherapy. This involves freezing potentially precancerous cells with carbon dioxide. Both the screening and cryotherapy are done on the same day, so the woman is tested and treated in one visit.

That makes it more convenient for the cooperatives, which are “wonderful champions” of the work that the nonprofit does and often provide transportation for the patients, Starr noted.

“They want their workers to stay healthy,” she pointed out.

At Stallworthy’s urging, the organization is looking to move into other agricultural industries such as flowers, cocoa and tea, as well as garment factories. Workers in those industries are usually women with limited access to health care, he noted.

“Living in a globalized world, we’re all benefiting from access to products at a cheap price,” said Stallworthy. “It is incumbent on us to realize the inequities that lie behind them as consumers and companies.” In this case, that’s in the realm of women’s health.

“We’re not done until every woman in our target age group has actually been screened,” Starr promised.

Coffee workers - COURTESY OF GROUNDS FOR HEALTH | © ADAM PESCECOURTESY OF GROUNDS FOR HEALTH | © ADAM PESCE

Innovation is also a priority for Grounds for Health. Since spring 2015, the organization has been using a handheld cervicography device developed by Tel Aviv-based startup MobileODT. In-country coordinators take pictures of a cervix with the device and upload the images to a cloud system. From her office in Williston, Starr reviews the images and gives her assessment to colleagues in the field. But Wi-Fi connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa can be unreliable, so it doesn’t always work.

Today Cox, 67, lives in Shelburne and sits on the nonprofit’s board of directors. His main job, he said, is to support the organization by leveraging his contacts in the coffee industry, which continues to be its main source of funding. Grounds for Health has since received some aid from the U.S. government and gets corporate support, too.

Looking back, Cox is amazed by how much the organization has achieved. “I had a little piece in doing the right thing, and it feels pretty good,” he said.

Grounds for Health Coffee Auction

Coffee Analysgrounds-for-health-logots is donating a complete Physical & Sensory Evaluation for 2 coffee products (green & roasted)

For complete auction details, please click HERE

Value: $375.00 

The true measure of any beverage program is the quality: how does is taste? Branding, promotion, and merchandising will capture the first sale, but only quality will keep your customers returning time after time. 

Coffee Analysts is an independent laboratory and consulting firm that specializes in quality assurance, product development, and specification creation of coffee and coffee-related products. Coffee Analysts does not sell coffee; we conduct unbiased scientific analysis throughout the farm-to-cup supply chain. Our experience enables us to provide insights that assist our clients in making informed decisions in managing their coffee quality by addressing practical issues from a scientific perspective.

 

Green Coffee Analysis
(550 gram sample) 
Roasted Coffee Analysis
(4 retail / foodservice packages
  • Visual Color Inspection
  • Moisture Content
  • Water Activity
  • Defect Count / Grading (SCAA & ICE)
  • Screen Size
  • Density
  • Sample Roasting (SCAA Protocol)
  • Cupping by Sensory Panel
  • Complete Analytical Report
  • Net Weight, Oxygen and CO2 analysis
  • Moisture Content & Water Activity
  • Degree of Roast (Agtron)
  • Grind Analysis (Ro-Tap)
  • Bean Breakage & Roasted Defect Count
  • Brewing to Clients’ Recipe
  • Brewed Solids %, Extraction %, and pH
  • Tasting by Sensory Panel
  • Complete Analytical Report

We don’t sell coffee and tea, we help you manage quality. Please let us know how Coffee Analysts can support your coffee & tea programs and help contribute to your success. We provide coffee business solutions.

You can review our coffee laboratory operation online at www.coffeeanalysts.com or contact us directly at +1-802-864-5760 (US 800-375-3398) to schedule a visit in person.

Coffee Industry Leadership in the Age of Superlatives

Today’s DailyCoffeeNcoffee-1324126_1280-620x413ews has featured Spencer’s article on Leadership in the Age of Superlatives:

In the coffee industry, we have developed a habit of using superlatives and exaggerations to communicate our support for people or activities. Considering that in our industry we share the supply chain, technology and often customers with our competitors, it has become vital to our individuality to communicate our points of differentiation.

“Leader” is a title used in the common vernacular to describe a position of authority. This title has become so commonplace and overused that the true meaning has been diluted. In layman’s terms, a leader is a person who commands a group or controls a function. Leadership is an active position requiring the support of others. Leadership in the professional sense takes on two distinct characteristics: organizational and functional. Leadership is best bestowed, earned, or awarded by the group that will be led. Self-appointed leaders rarely exemplify true leadership.

Often in our efforts to extol the virtues of our own operations in order to separate ourselves from the pack, we cite examples of our own leadership activities, and tend to do so with hyperbole and superlatives. This does not reconcile with an industry that values sincerity and transparency.

Organizational Leadership

In today’s coffee business culture, leadership identification is often synonymous with a management designation.

In politics we refer to “party” leaders, in sports we identify “team” leaders, in business we celebrate “company” leaders. Company mastheads, organizational charts, management structures and depth charts list the leaders at the top by virtue of their title, not necessarily by relationship to their success, accomplishments or leadership skills and abilities.

In politics and sports, we have an expectation that seniority or position automatically equates to leadership status. This assumption is dangerous as it leads to unrealistic expectations that put unnecessary pressure and stress on individuals to perform.

Leadership is a skill, an ability, which is different than mere management, and it is not necessarily correlative to a person’s level of responsibility or authority within a given organizational structure. Seniority, length of service, and tenure are all designations that recognize time, yet do not cause or create leadership ability. Seniority can be defined as success at keeping one’s job — which is not the same as excelling at one’s job. Leadership titles that recognize service do a disservice to those who are true leaders.

Recently I attended the Specialty Coffee Association’s Strategic Leadership Summit (SLS), as I have done on and off for the past 16 years. In the past, this meeting was called the SCAA Joint Board Committee Meeting, which I believe to be a more accurate representation and characterization of the program and the attendees.

Serving as a volunteer, as an appointed committee chairperson or in an elected position provides a level of authority and responsibility to perform actions, complete projects and make decisions. These are all management functions, albeit often executive functions. However, volunteering or being elected to a volunteer position does not automatically make one a leader. Conferring leadership status to someone solely based on their title, or fulfillment of their responsibilities, belittles those who are true leaders.

Functional Leadership

There’s a famous quote from broadcast industry executive Don McGannon: “Leadership is action, not position.” Typical management functions such as monitoring workers, organizing tasks, training and coaching, and motivating and participating in projects are often attributed to leadership, and are relevant to enhancing employee effectiveness. Yet only when a manager’s own actions inspire, and when one’s positive attitude influences behavior, do managers become leaders.

Lead barista/roaster, shift leader, team leader, group or committee leader, etc., are the functional identifiers we use in business to recognize authority. Now, take the word “leader” and replace it with manager or supervisor. Do you still have the same opinion for these titles? Is a shift leader the same as a shift supervisor? Functionally, perhaps yes.

Management in business is often referred to as a catalyst function, one that creates or increases the rate of change; or, as a facilitating function, one that coordinates people or activities to make the process easier. Management can also be considered a persuasive function, one that convinces someone to perform a task; or, as a controlling function, one that determines behavior, information, or task assignments.

It is often common to refer to our boss, employer, committee chairman, or association board member as a leader. In my judgement, to misidentify functional responsibility as leadership can produce a false sense of power and confuse performance expectations.

Defining Coffee Leadership

“Management is doing things; leadership is doing the right things.” — Peter Drucker.

Consider the farm-to-cup process. There are very few instances of intellectual, technological or operational monopolies. Just about everyone has full access in our industry; all it takes is time and money to create your program, build relationships, develop products, and establish your business. The reality of the coffee business is thereby established in our values, beliefs and experiences. Coffee leadership occurs when someone changes the paradigm, and which means a change that affects the coffee industry’s worldview. To do this, coffee leaders utilize a specific set of functions and skills that are inherently different than operational management:

Conceptualization: The development of new ideas or concepts. A single coffee leader can change the direction of the business by introducing a way of thinking that did not exist before.

Innovation: Improving the industry by making changes to something established, or by the creation of new products or processes.

Visionary: Having original ideas about what is possible in the future. A visionary coffee leader understands contemporary products and practices and inspires the industry towards a new direction.

Transformation: Enacting improvements by way of thorough change or alteration. A leader reshapes how we think and act in our businesses, and how we interact with other coffee professionals.

Coffee leaders earn the trust, goodwill and respect of their peers throughout the industry through their actions and ideas. They have credibility, as well as the abilities to positively engage fellow coffee professionals, consider what is possible, and enact change throughout the farm-to-cup supply chain. However, if there is failure or no early adopters can this still be considered leadership?

The Age of Superlatives: The Greatest Age of All Time!

Specialty coffee supply chains are often very similar from roaster to roaster. Green coffee, equipment and technology, and even training is sourced from a short list of world-class providers. And yet, one perennially easy way to differentiate ourselves and our products is to communicate, or glorify, our positive attributes.

For the new social class in the coffee industry, leadership is often claimed based on popularity, reputation, competition success, or simply those with a platform to communicate. Our enthusiasm has led to hyperbole and resulted in a cacophony of superlatives that self-aggrandize and confuse the consumers. Customers seek value and quality, and cannot make an informed decision when everyone asserts a leadership position. It takes no effort for anyone to declare expert status, claim the highest quality, claim to be the first or the only person to complete a task or supply a product, etc. We anoint ourselves with leadership status and accept leadership titles when really our intention is just to demonstrate a position of responsibility and authority, or to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

Humility was once revered and respected. We let our actions speak louder than words. Today, an enthusiastic desire for recognition has progressed from mere exaggeration to rampant hyperbole.

What will be your future? Shall your reputation be solidified as a specialty coffee professional, a trusted employee, a respected employer, a valuable volunteer? If so, your place in the industry will be applauded, and you will be admired for your dedication, your contribution and participation. Do you aspire to true coffee leadership? It is a lofty goal. It takes more than just showing up.