Over the past five years, a new world has emerged for specialty coffee. Global climate change has altered coffee agriculture and trade, we’ve been confronted with new realities about our supply chain and how it works, and the business of great coffee has flourished, twisted, and turned in unanticipated ways. Through it all, SCAA’s Symposium has served as a springboard for ideas, a safe place for challenging ourselves with the honest assessment of problems, and a forum for the discussion of new discoveries and approaches to coffee.

This year, we celebrate our 5th annual Symposium by acknowledging our challenges, but moving forward into the Realm of Possibilities – those tools that coffee thought leaders and entrepreneurs can use to keep ahead of the curve – innovating, adapting, thriving.

We begin in the realm of Science, exploring the possibilities locked within the biology of Coffea arabica. This species, native to Ethiopia and neighboring regions, has become the foundation of our commerce yet grows increasing vulnerable due to human-related environmental changes. In a powerful series of scientific presentations, we’ll understand the challenge presented to coffee due to its history of genetic constriction, the basis of how genes determine the delicious wonder of specialty coffee, and ways that we can use genetic conservation and plant breeding to prepare specialty coffee for  a changing world.

We’ll continue by exploring the potential of collaboration to not only to drive scientific research and development, but also to grapple with challenges posed by global economics and environment. New collaborations have emerged – some springing up within the Symposium community itself – which have the potential to dramatically change the landscape of the coffee trade. Although collaboration itself is not new, these new collaborations have a fundamentally different structure and energy. Is collaboration the new competition? What are some real-world examples of the pathological collaboration we heard about at the last Symposium?

But regardless of the power of collaboration, the most fundamentally powerful element in the coffee industry continues to be the marketplace. Relentlessly destructive, creative, and transformative, market forces shape our industry in surprising ways. In our third chapter, we’ll take a look at the coffee marketplace; the power of entrepreneurship, a hard look at what leveraging market forces means for the coffee trade, tools for understanding the marketplace itself, and ways we can use the power of the market to benefit individually and collectively.

We’ll be releasing more program information in the coming weeks. Register today to secure your seat at Symposium 2013 and explore the possibilities.

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