2013 Speakers

Mary Catherine Aime
Associate Professor
Purdue University

Dr. M. Catherine Aime earned her doctorate in Biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and completed her postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford in the UK. She moved back to the States to work as a research molecular biologist with the USDA-ARS, Systematic Botany and Mycology Lab in Beltsville, MD in 2003. She now is employed at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, as an Associate Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology and the Director of the Arthur and Kriebel herbaria. Her primary area of research focuses on the systematics, evolution and biology of rust fungi. All fungi in this group are obligate plant pathogens many of which cause major diseases in crop plants.

Emma Bladyka
Coffee Science Manager, Specialty Coffee Association of America

Emma joined SCAA in 2012 to lead initiatives around providing greater insight and deeper scientific understanding of specialty coffee to its membership. She has investigated a variety of scientific topics relevant to the specialty coffee industry by way of original research projects, expanded scientific-based educational content, and has lent her expertise to SCAA’s publication, The Specialty Coffee Chronicle, as well as mainstream media outlets. She oversees a variety of established SCAA programs and is the staff liaison to the SCAA Standards Committee, as well as the SCAA Liaison to World Coffee Research (WCR). Emma holds a M.S. in Botany from the Univ. of Wyoming and B.A. in Ecology.

Antonio Chalfun-Junior
PhD /Associate Professor
Universidade Federal de Lavras

Antonio Chalfun-Junior obtained his Graduate degree in Agronomy and Master’s degree in Crop Science from Universidade Federal de Lavras and his PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from Wageningen University And Research Centre, Netherlands. Since 2006 he has been an associate professor at Universidade Federal de Lavras (UFLA) in the Departament of Biology at the Plant Physiology Sector teaching the courses Plant Physiology, Plant Genetic Transformation, Molecular Biology and Molecular Mechanisms of Plant Development at undergraduate and graduate level. His research line is focused on the plant development and reproduction, specially flowering on coffee, sugarcane and pineapple.

Nicholas Cho
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

Nick is the brewing, barista training, and retailing specialist for Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters in San Francisco, California. Nick founded murky coffee in 2002, which developed to be the Washington DC’s premier coffeebar, winning barista competitions and recognition around the specialty coffee industry. Over the past few years, Nicholas served as a director on the Barista Guild of America’s Executive Council, on the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Board of Directors, on the World Barista Championship Board of Directors, and as the chairman of the United States Barista Championship. Nick is an active member and volunteer for the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

Aaron Davis
Dr/Head of Coffee
Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

Dr. Aaron Davis is the leader of coffee research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (United Kingdom), and has been working on coffee since he joined the Kew staff in 1997. His work on coffee includes the naming and classification of species, molecular (DNA) studies, conservation and climate change, sustainable development, and coffee pests. He is committed to the training and supervision of students in Africa, Madagascar and Asia. Aaron is the world’s leading authority on wild coffee species, and has travelled widely in Africa and Madagascar examining indigenous populations in situ. Over the course of his career he has discovered more than twenty new species of coffee plants.

Tracy Ging
Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, S&D Coffee

Tracy has spent the last fifteen years in specialty coffee scaling products and programs on a global level. She is currently the Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility for S&D Coffee. She recently served as Deputy Executive Director of SCAA where she was responsible for overall operational activities. Prior to joining SCAA, Tracy was the Director of Marketing for the Coffee Quality Institute, rapidly establishing its Q Program worldwide and gaining experience at all levels of the value chain, working in more than fifteen producing countries. She was also the brand strategist behind a significant amount of growth at Da Vinci Gourmet across multiple channels, including specialty, foodservice, and grocery.

Keith Gehrke
Able Brewing

Keith Gehrke’s passion is to serve coffee to people in a positive way and create environments within which to enjoy it. He started in coffee in 2003, as a barista for Pacific Bay coffee.  He then turned his attention to roasting, and he worked as a coffee roaster for such coffee leaders as Victrola Coffee, Flying Goat Coffee, and Ecco Caffe. In 2009, he began working on the project that became the Kone filter, which led to the founding of ABLE brewing- a coffee brewing and design company- in 2012.  Keith’s focus remains on his family and community, and his favorite thing to do is simply serve great coffee to his friends and neighbors. 

David Griswold
Sustainable Harvest Coffee

David Griswold is the President and Founder of Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers. Sustainable Harvest’s unique Relationship Coffee Model results in a reliable, traceable, and premium product for coffee roasters. David’s coffee career began in 1989, when he helped organic coffee cooperatives in Mexico find new markets for their coffee. Together with a group of farmers, he co-founded Aztec Harvest, the first coffee importing and marketing office owned by small-scale Mexican coffee growers. He also worked as Director of Coffee Programs for Conservation International and served as President of the SCAA from 2003 to 2004. In 2008, David received the SCAA’s Outstanding Contribution Award in recognition of his contribution to the SCAA and the specialty coffee industry.

Matthew Hodges
Founder and CEO of GeoCertify

Matthew Hodges developed the GeoCertify traceability system in 2007, in partnership with the Clinton-Hunter Foundation and went on to develop GeoCertify-ID in 2008, an extension that uses mobile phones to record the sales of coffee cherry by individual farmers. In 2009 he launched Peace River Coffee, a small-batch roaster in the U.S., as a way to plug traceability into the consumer market. Mr. Hodges has degrees in education from Harvard University and in fine arts from Penn State University. Prior to coffee, he worked in research at M.I.T., Digital Equipment Corporation, and Hewlett-Packard.

Kim Elena Ionescu
Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager, Counter Culture Coffee

Kim delights in exploring the areas where coffee and business interests overlap with environmental and social themes. When not tackling assumptions about sustainability in specialty coffee, she spends her time cupping coffee, writing and speaking on behalf of Counter Culture Coffee, where she serves as a coffee buyer and the company’s Sustainability Manager.

Arthur Karuletwa
Global Coffee Traceability Director, Starbucks Coffee Company

Arthur Karuletwa is currently the Global Coffee director of Traceability at Starbucks Coffee Company. Over the last 9 years his passion for coffee and farmers led him to work with GeoCertify, a tech company, in developing a coffee supply chain tool that enhanced visibility/traceability within coffees complex supply chain in Rwanda and Ethiopia. Prior to this, he worked as a consultant as Rwanda’s marketing strategist in positioning the Rwanda Signature Coffees™ brand globally. He was also the founder of Bourbon Coffee SARL, Rwanda’s first full espresso bar café with 6 global outlets. 

Alejandro Keller
Manager, Finca Santa Isabel

For the last 20 years, Alejandro has worked as Manager for Finca Santa Isabel, a family coffee business located in Guatemala. In 1997, Finca Santa Isabel became the second coffee estate to become Rainforest Alliance Certified for complying with the comprehensive environmental and social standards established by Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Agriculture Network. Nine years ago, it started with its organic program and is now certified organic. Finca Santa Isabel also roasts coffee for the Guatemalan domestic market. Alejandro serves on the Board of Directors of Anacafe and is Vice President of Procafe – Association of Producer Exporters of Guatemala.

Peter Kettler
Radio Lifeline

Over the past 25 years Peter Kettler has worn a number of different hats in the specialty coffee industry: barista, café manager, roast master, retail chain owner, senior trader, director of coffee as well as NGO director & development director. In 2004 he founded Radio Lifeline, a non-profit that seeks to provide remote farming communities with access to information that can have a significant impact on their lives through the use of sustainable radio technology and weekly farmer-focused broadcasts. Radio Lifeline’s initiative in support of coffee farmers, the Coffee Lifeline project, was awarded the SCAA’s annual Sustainability Award in 2010.

Al Liu
Trader & Certified Coffee Specialist, Atlas Coffee Importers

Al sources certified coffees from Latin America and Indonesia, working with clients around the U.S., Canada, and Asia/Pacific. Over the past few years he has managed Atlas’ sales in Asia and has witnessed rapid growth in specialty coffee in that region. Prior to joining Atlas in 2008, Al was Director of Culture & Communications at Alterra Coffee Roasters in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He holds a BSFS in International Politics from Georgetown University and a MA in Urban & Environmental Policy from Tufts University and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia. Al has served on the SCAA Board of Directors and is a member of the SCAA Sustainability Council.

Shauna Alexander Mohr
Coffeelands Food Security Coalition

Shauna is coordinator of the Coffeelands Food Security Coalition, a new, collaborative effort that aims to enable, connect and support solutions to seasonal hunger in coffee producing communities.

Shauna has extensive experience in the areas of sustainability, strategy and the design and facilitation of complex stakeholder engagement processes. Her passion for coffee began in 1996 while researching her master’s thesis on shade-grown coffee in Costa Rica.

Christophe Montagnon
RD2 Vision

Dr. Christophe Montagnon is a coffee & cocoa expert combining recognized scientific skills together with long-term experience in research management and public private partnership. He just founded ‘RD2 Vision’, a company connecting people for impacting R&D and Technology Transfer in tropical crops, for the benefit of growers and the whole value chain. He’s part of several coffee research initiatives aiming at conciliating coffee productivity and quality and is coordinating the International Multilovation Variety Trial of the World Coffee Research, and is a founding member of the International Coffee Genomic Network (ICGN) and the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA).

Dr. Chifumi Nagai, Ph.D
Senior Research Scientist, Hawaii Agricultural Research Center (HRAC)

Dr. Chifumi Nagai is the Senior Research Scientist for the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC) and an Affiliate Graduate Faculty of the University of Hawaii.

She has over 30 years of research experience in genetics, plant breeding and biotechnology of tropical plants including coffee and cacao.

Her current coffee research makes use of breeding and DNA techniques for the development of new coffee with unique characters.

She has an active collaboration with the coffee industry in Hawaii and international locations including Madagascar and Japan.

Steven Savage
Consultant/Blogger, Savage and Associates

Born in Denver, Colorado, Savage completed his undergraduate studies in biology at Stanford University and then his Ph.D. in plant pathology at the University of California, Davis. He has worked at Colorado State University, at DuPont, at Mycogen and since 1996 as an independent consultant in agricultural technology. Since 2009 he has also been active as a blogger and speaker talking about food and agriculture issues. Savage and Associates offers consulting services to the technology companies, food companies, grower organizations and investors who are contributing to solutions in agriculture, in terms of productivity, but also environmental stewardship.

Timothy Schilling
Executive Director
World Coffee Research

Dr. Schilling is a plant breeder and agricultural development specialist with strong market orientation and experience in agribusiness. He currently serves the industry as the Executive Director of World Coffee Research (WCR) a non-profit, collaborative research and development program to grow, protect and enhance the supplies of quality coffee while improving the livelihoods of the families who produce it through agricultural research. The program is funded by the global coffee industry and managed by the Norman Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M University. Dr. Schilling led the U.S. SPREAD and PEARL projects in Rwanda that assisted the government transform the coffee industry over a 10 year period.

Alejandro Velez
Co-Founder, Back to the Roots

Alejandro Velez is the co-founder of Back to the Roots, an urban mushroom farm in Oakland, California. He and co-founder Nikhil Arora created the company during their senior year at the University of California, Berkeley from a belief that business can be used for good. After graduating summa cum laude in 2009, they founded the mushroom farm that now makes grow-your-own sustainable mushroom gardens using entirely recycled coffee grounds as the soil. He hails from Medellin, Colombia, and is also a cancer survivor. Today, Velez has been named one of 2012 Inc 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur list, PODER Magazine’s 20 Most Influential Hispanics under 40, Hispanic Net’s 2012 Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and one of BusinessWeek’s Top 25 Social Entrepreneurs.

Alex Whitmore
Managing Director, Taza Chocolate

Born in Boston, MA and raised in the greater-Boston area, Alex Whitmore was always captivated by food, travel, and culture. After earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Vassar College, Alex spent several peripatetic years working many odd jobs in many odd places: captain of a private yacht, restaurant server and cook, parachute packer for skydivers, boat builder for America’s Cup boats, bike courier, and fleet manager for the fledgling car-sharing service Zipcar. In 2006, Alex teamed up with his friend and Zipcar colleague Larry Slotnick, and his wife Kathleen Fulton to found Taza Chocolate. Alex and Kathleen live in Union Square in Somerville, just minutes from the Taza Chocolate factory.