CoE, ACE and the NCA

coffee competitions, auctions, best of panama, etc

Postby Tim Dominick on Fri Jul 28, 2006 7:20 pm

Marshall wrote:The most plausible way for the majors to enter the high-end specialty market is to buy out some of the people on this board and let them start serious, semi-autonomous specialty divisions. It happened in wine, and it happened in the independent movie business. Don't be surprised if representatives start approaching you with large bags of money in the non-too-distant future. Your shiftless great-grandchildren will thank you. :D


There were a few majors that got into organic coffee this way several years back. It worked out OK for the majors and not so well for the former owners. Those golden parachutes had holes in them..

DeCadmus- true enough, Peets has Esmerelada and their "JR reserve" 1/2 pounders on their site. Tunes do change and you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows... However, GMCR and Peets are and always have been way more dialed into quality than any of the major, major majors.
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Postby Marshall on Fri Jul 28, 2006 8:07 pm

Tim Dominick wrote:
Marshall wrote:The most plausible way for the majors to enter the high-end specialty market is to buy out some of the people on this board and let them start serious, semi-autonomous specialty divisions. It happened in wine, and it happened in the independent movie business. Don't be surprised if representatives start approaching you with large bags of money in the non-too-distant future. Your shiftless great-grandchildren will thank you. :D


There were a few majors that got into organic coffee this way several years back. It worked out OK for the majors and not so well for the former owners. Those golden parachutes had holes in them..


It all depends on how well you negotiate your deal and (sometimes) how well the business continues to perform. Two of my old clients sold their specialty baking business to Sara Lee some years ago, stayed with them for several years and left quite wealthy.

I know most people don't get into specialty coffee just for the money (one of the many great things about the business). My point was that you shouldn't assume the majors are plotting to get into specialty coffee by driving out its best people.
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Postby malachi on Fri Jul 28, 2006 8:31 pm

geoff watts wrote:the main reason CoE is partnered with them is because the SCAA has not been very receptive.


what a shock.
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Postby Steve on Sat Jul 29, 2006 12:10 am

I think spending big money on auction lots isn't a decision, it's a mindset. Its pursuit of fine coffee, at any price and I don't see the 'big� roasters really being able to get into there heads that paying 4 times or more for there coffee (in some cases much more) as a good marketing ploy. Just image the meeting with the non coffee guy from marketing going to the non coffee guy from purchasing and saying I have got this great idea lets pay lots of money for some coffee, because its good advertising. Ok but its coffee right? Yes. SO lets just get 4 containers of this for the one container of this.


If you look down most of the auction result sheets, its full of people who have handed over there lives to the pursuit of finding awesome coffees to share with there customer base. There will always be some exceptions to this rule, but on the whole I don't think I'm too scared about star$'s or anyone else taking away my mots.

Cup of excellence coffees need to be marketed in a special way, and this is time consuming, and not an easy way to sell coffee. The story of the people, the competition and everything else needs to come with it. How does Craft or any one of the other big roasters communicate the relationships and stories behind these special coffees on one bag of coffee?
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Postby td on Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:12 am

Although it is certainly possible for the big roasters (food conglomerates; P&G, Nestle, etc...) of the world to unite and to "buy up" the majority of specialty coffee. It is highly unlikey that companies which have been such fierce competitiors for so long would sit down and "collude" to squeeze us all out. Also, it does not fit their business model- they require supply, and price stability- to make long term business decisions.

In fact, recent history is somewhat illustrative of this fact. During the recently ended coffee crisis, when these multi-national food companies could have easily leveraged their buying power and squeezed us all out, relatively cheaply, they did just the opposite. They chose instead to dive straight to the bottom and reap the substantial profits available to them by buying even lower grades of coffee even more cheaply. Why would they invest in better quality supply, when they could throw marketing muscle at the problem instead? Now that is something they truly understand.

Starbucks however, is a completely different issue from P&G and Nestle. An issue that bears some close watching.

On the issue of marketing, well we left that door wide open. Under the SCAA's Objects and Purposes section b) To Provide Education by:
(1) identifying a common set of terms that define coffee types...to enable retailers and consumers to accurately evaluate specialty coffee.
(3) recommending a set of labeling guidelines to properly identify origin-of-label coffees versus proprietary blends and brands.

In other words, those involved in the SCAA, myself included, have utterly failed to institute any programs to fulfill 2 of our stated top priorities. Thus leaving the door wide open to deceptive marketing to consumers and retailers alike. We have instead squandered our collective power over petty little turf fights, and instituting standards for things like competitions, and who gets to use what logo for which purpose, things that have nearly zero bearing upon the overall growth of our trade.

As currently organized, our association is not working for those of us that wish to grow this thing from the quality side. I cannot help but feel that the ACE/COE/NCA issue is but one little indicator of an overall credibility problem for the association.

It is time to reorganize ourselves and our priorities. For, in the end, it is our businesses and livlihoods that are risk, the association, does not exist if we do not survive. Perhaps we should have a Constitutional Convention of sorts, a Re-Constitutional Convention? What say Stakeholders?
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Postby Tim Dominick on Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:52 am

Interesting TD, I just had an email from the NCA showcasing the launch of online "webinars" with Sherri Johns for espresso 101, a woman from Fetco for brewing and one from Rick Pyser relating to sustainability for passion and profit.

Hmmm, does the NCA sense a bit of blood in the water? Perhaps this has less to do with the mega roasters wanting to take control of specialty coffee for their own usages and more to do with the NCA's desire to grow membership outside their traditional base?
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Postby trish on Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:21 pm

Tim,
I doubt they care so much about growing their membership with us...we are the Mom and Pops, (as Jay reminds us...how many drinks for referencing Jay?)
It is more likely that the NCA sees the surge in Specialty and wants to be a part of it...even if it's just 2% of their production now. These seminars are a service to their current member base, for sure. Probably at the request of their members.
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Postby Tim Dominick on Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:01 pm

True enough Trish, just my big brother thingy rearing its head...too much time absorbing the conspiricy-laced brain waves of local eco-activists and paranoid coffehouse customers...

That'll be 3T+3T(2J)= 12 drinks, down the hatch. (Play with espresso and you'll buy into my nut-hatched theory better)
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Postby td on Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:43 pm

It is not a "conspiracy theory" to believe that the NCA would want to expand their membership to include the most dynamic segment of the coffee industry. Additionally, if they did not care about us "mom and pops" then how did they get your e-mail address, mine and many others, and why did they e-mail us all? So obviously, they do care about us- somehow,in some small way. Whether or not they are really going to chase us- who knows? But...

I, for one, am ready to be romanced a little. My current professional association relationship is breaking my heart!
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Postby onocoffee on Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:23 pm

Romanced a little?

Personally speaking, I like to kiss before I get... well, you know.

Unfortunately, it's been more of the latter rather than the former.



.
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Postby Mark Prince on Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:53 pm

The NCA is doing a bit of romancing, actually. Word is, they've been reaching out to a few people who it's become apparent are dissatisfied with the SCAA, or have stopped involvement with the org. Reaching out to explore new avenues and potential educational, marketing and informational strategies.

Interesting development....

Mark
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Postby Alistair Durie on Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:33 pm

CoffeeGeek.com article by Susie Spindler: The Cup of Excellence and the NCA
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Postby nick on Sat Aug 19, 2006 2:31 am

Alistair Durie wrote:CoffeeGeek.com article by Susie Spindler: The Cup of Excellence and the NCA


What a mistake.

:x
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Postby Alistair Durie on Sat Aug 19, 2006 11:25 am

:?: could you elaborate on that nick...
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Postby MarkG on Sun Aug 20, 2006 7:49 pm

James Hoffmann (abbriviated) wrote:In the last few auctions Gala have been buying lots that they will roast for one major supermarkets own brand - that supermarket is Waitrose, and is considered the premium supermarket in the UK.

Anyway - Waitrose have been offering CoE coffee for some time now and what amazes me is how hard it is to find the CoE logo on the packet.

The real shame of it is that the job that Gala do roasting it means that all that is great and wonderful about the lot is not unlocked, instead being trapped in an bean roasted too fast, too dark.


This is mind numbing Jim and sums up the way mainstream UK supermarkets treat coffee. What is the point of paying a premium for quality merchandise and then not only failing to clearly state what it is on the packet but to destroy it by subjecting it to the same poor standard roast that is used for any old commercial grade coffee?

I do not believe that anyone would deliberately ruin something that they had paid a premium to purchase and can only assume that they have little or no understanding of the preparation methods for gourmet coffee, making an assumption that a roast is a roast without the realisation that in general commercial coffee is over roasted to mask quality issues. It appears they prefer to leave top quality beans in the hands of bulk roasters without a thought that it should be treated differently.

Coffee in the UK is a mess. Cafes in general either serve beverages made badly from poor standard beans, or manage to destroy half decent beans through lack of care and/or knowledge. We have so few decent coffee houses here that I truely believe most people have never tasted decent coffee, and now the supermarkets are ensuring that the public don't experience the benefit of quality beans even though that is precisely what they are selling in this instance. Ridiculous and saddening.

This does not bode well if it is the way COE coffee is going to be treated in the UK in future by the large organisations that are becoming involved with the scheme on this side of the pond.
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Postby Jim Schulman on Mon Aug 21, 2006 6:32 pm

MarkP wrote:The NCA is doing a bit of romancing, actually. Word is, they've been reaching out to a few people who it's become apparent are dissatisfied with the SCAA, or have stopped involvement with the org. Reaching out to explore new avenues and potential educational, marketing and informational strategies.

Interesting development....

Mark


I checked out their website in response to all this. There seems to be new content aimed at specialty roasters and cafes.

Also, I don't know if they have changed this, but their smallest membership class (less than 3000 bags or 10 stores) is $250/year. Is Robert Nelson smelling SCAA blood in the water?
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Postby fleck on Mon Aug 21, 2006 11:55 pm

What a mistake.

a mistake nick? to further get the money to coffee farmers they deserve for quality coffees? i had the opportunity to sit on the jury this year in nicaragua and one night we all had dinner with a bunch of producers. myself and gorge howell were sitting at a table with about eight growers who opened up my eyes to, what they view as, a flaw in the cup of excellence system. they were quite vocal about it.

64 coffees made it to the international jury, 25 got awarded the coe award. close to 40 coffees did not go to auction. these coffees, however, are sitting in a bonded warehouse until the day that competition is over. if they don't make it to auction, they go back to the farmer or cooperative to sell. well, may 12 is kinda late in the game if you are trying to peddle your coffees to a western market of roasters and importers who have likely locked down their nicaraguan coffees for the year, outside of the auction lots. what does that mean? in many cases the farmers are getting a more commercial price for their coffees, yet these are the NEXT best 40 coffees out of the country. that 65th coffee that barely missed the cut off to the international jury now has a head start in the market because it's not going to the final round.

so susie rolled by our table and these farmers asked her what kind of solution the ace and coe could come up with to solve this. george and i were screaming, "micro-lots, micro-lots!" but, as susie stated in her article, this takes even more work and time and money. getting those samples to importers or roasters as seperate lots would be a monumental task, and thus far the ace only has the resources to deal with the coffees that win the coe award. susie promised the farmers sitting at my table that a solution would be in place, "hopefully within the next year." well, unlike the scaa, it looks like the ace and coe is sticking to its word and getting some help from an organization who is actually willing to give it.

when i heard about the whole nca thing initially, i kind of thought that this would be how they would be involved based on what susie had said that night. i didn't want to jump to conclusions before i heard it from the horse's mouth.

am i thrilled that the nca is the organization coming to help out? no, but what are you gonna do when the association that is supposed to help promote the most speciaiaty coffee has no interest in helping out at all?

do you think those farmers care where that money comes from? they have to eat too, nick. how do you think they would like it if you were sitting at the dinner table and told them that you'd rather see them not get paid the $$ they deserve just because you don't like the dudes giving them the money?

--stephen
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Postby ypoedza on Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:13 am

you are so right it makes my head hurt stephen! as much as i dont want to see the wrong people get a hold of these coffees, the money is right for the farmers. the more money the farmers get the more control they will have over the market and their own destinies. in the long run that will be better for coffee.
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Postby nick on Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:30 am

fleck wrote:a mistake nick? to further get the money to coffee farmers they deserve for quality coffees?

Umm, no. That stuff you wrote, I mostly agree with you. The "mistake" was communication.

(Totally not kidding: It's frankly nice to know that not everyone listens to the podcast)
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Postby coffeetaster on Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:41 am

ypoedza -

Who are the wrong people for CoE coffees?


Large commercial roasters do not have the micro-capacity for this coffee, and CoE seeks the best coffee in limited supply and single traceable lots.

Micro-roasters have the right capacity, but who will determine the skill necessary to produce the best roast? CoE coffee are judged at cupping profile, not production roasts.

How to best brew and serve CoE coffees? Will a consumer destroy the best coffee in the world using a $19 Mr. Coffee drip coffee brewer?

The coffee aficionado who buys too much roasted coffee and then allows it to stale before brewing and consuming? Or who uses a weak coffee to water ratio and does not bring out all the coffees character?

There are too many variables after the coffee auction in the tree to cup chain. Thus, which limiting this fine coffee to only a select few is a mistake.

I feel the CoE will have a fighting chance for survival, competing against all the other coffee auctions and competitions, by reaching out to more roasters who can support the program as customers. However the true reason is to provide as many CoE coffees into the marketplace where the customers and consumers can seek and find the best coffees available to their taste preferences.

This is not an attack on coffee quality or the CoE. This is marketing 101, and without an expanding market of roasters and consumers the CoE may not be around to showcase these amazing coffees.

There is a great amount of coffee available - let the best rise to the top and provides the consumers with access to the most amazing coffees we have to offer.

Just my two-beans worth.
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Postby fleck on Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:23 am

There are too many variables after the coffee auction in the tree to cup chain.

too many variables for what? quality coffee for the consumer? NO WAY! not if you educate your customers. please see:
http://forum.coffeed.com/viewtopic.php? ... ight=#6071

sure, i wanna see farmers get money like they should, but let's look at long-term sustainability. until more people start grabbing the bull by its horns and closing the massive disconnect between producer and consumer, the cycle will just keep going. i agree with dan, these coffees would provide a much greater benefit to long-term sustainability in the coffee industry if they were in the hands of roasters who are attempting to close that disconnect and geting people to actually appreciate these coffees. simply throwing money at farms is a short term solution, but we have to look at the long-term. it's very tricky.

maybe kerry can pay a lot of money for these fine coffees and grind them up, boil them down, and put them into a syrup ... yum yum! a new syrup from every origin. holy crap i'm on to something!

--stephen
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Postby trish on Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:21 pm

fleck wrote:am i thrilled that the nca is the organization coming to help out? no, but what are you gonna do when the association that is supposed to help promote the most speciaiaty coffee has no interest in helping out at all?

do you think those farmers care where that money comes from? they have to eat too, nick. how do you think they would like it if you were sitting at the dinner table and told them that you'd rather see them not get paid the $$ they deserve just because you don't like the dudes giving them the money?

--stephen


Well, we don't know for sure that the scaa does not want to help at all. Just because the scaa did not take COE up on their offer doesn't mean they don't intend on helping out farmers. That's a big conclusion jump, especially when you consider that the "scaa" is not some faceless, untouchable entity. It came down to a group of people that made that decision way back when...and who's to say there aren't new butts in those seats now...or soon to be new butts.
There was probably a conflict for the other thing that Lingle wanted to develop- namely the Q contract, auction, and cuppers certificate. That program, in its perfect form, would have done some of the stuff that CoE was not doing at the time. So to again charcterize the scaa as not suportive of producers is unfair. Was it a good thing to reject the offer and also let a bad feeling fester? Heck no.

And I do think that many farmers are starting to care about who gets their coffee, (but most are hoping that the hype from auctions will get them noticed by Starbucks or something. They tell me that to my face, anyway.)They want repeat business, and I think that CoE has done a good job in that area too.
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Postby ypoedza on Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:41 pm

look, the most important thing is for the farmers to get more money for exceptional coffees and there by improving the quality of coffee. thats the main goal. if that goal can be achieved AND the coffees fall into the hands of a roaster who will do those coffees justice even better. the more we work out the variables along the chain the better the coffee is going to get and the more money the farmers are going to get. i mean if some one buys these coffees and doesnt do them justice theyre decreasing the value, that seems pretty basic to me.
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Postby Marshall on Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:14 am

For anyone who had any doubt where the NCA is going, today (Aug. 22) P&G announced its "Folgers Gourmet" line, to be launched with a $20m Saatchi & Saatchi ad campaign in September. This will be something they call a "gourmet-inspired coffee" with higher quality beans (some will be flavored), and it is aimed at the "traditional" American coffee drinker who wants to indulge in a small luxury on special occasions. Priced at about $9/lb. this will be quite a departure for the Folgers brand.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/22/business/media/22adco.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin (May require NY Times registration).

Should be quite interesting to see if P&G can persuade the public that Folgers can be an upmarket brand. I think it's good for farmers -- part of the trend to reward them for better coffees. But it's another sign that competition is heating up for roasters who care about quality beans.
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Postby coffeetaster on Wed Aug 23, 2006 6:52 am

Stephen "

Thanks for the response, especially the link to your post regarding education and comparison to the wine industry. I believe that we are saying the same thing, but using different words.

Passion, dedication, sincerity, attention to detail, education and educating, enthusiasm, and integrity are the landmarks for true coffee specialty professionals. This is true for individuals and corporations independent of size or location.

Unfortunately, within our beloved industry, and even within the SCAA, NCA, BGA and RG, there are those who do not follow the ideals listed above. Not everyone is leading the charge on quality and education. Not every roaster has the opportunity to develop relationships with producers to positively effect sustainability.

The best coffee in the world can be ruined a multitude of ways during the tree to cup cycle. Without the right hand, machine, understanding, and guidance all great coffee could be forsaken.

Also, thanks for the corporate shout out: Kerry Group really appreciates it.
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