Symposium 2013

Program Information

For our 5th annual Symposium, we put our focus on what is possible: What can be done to solve the unique challenges we’ve been presented with? What are the possibilities in using science, collaboration, and entrepreneurship as tools? And, most of all, what is happening out there that is actually working? This year, we’ll bring scientists, academics, business executives, and thought-leaders together to share experiences and spark innovation, exploring boots-on-the-ground solutions to the challenges of quality, agriculture, and economics.

Symposium is, above all, responsive to the changing specialty coffee marketplace. We’re committed to addressing the most current realities of the specialty coffee world, and as such, we are working on the Symposium up to the last minute, to make it as relevant and valuable as we possibly can. Longtime Symposium delegates make the most out of their experience by completely committing to the process, allowing them to be surprised by the unexpected, and having their thinking challenged. Expect to meet new people and hear new things. It is for these reasons that we don’t offer one-day passes to Symposium, and we encourage delegates to attend social functions and environments.

View Speaker Bios

Day One, April 10

Breakfast: Harvard Club Dining Rooms

Part I: Introduction, Symposium, and the Long View
We begin by looking at macroeconomic and global trends in coffee: Where are we going?  How has our history shaped us, and in particular the past decade? What is the next decade likely to bring? The purpose of Symposium is to come together, exchange ideas, and prepare ourselves for the challenges of the future as businesspeople, leaders, and action-takers in specialty coffee. Leaders of the specialty industry will address the latest indicators for the future of coffee, and the way the Symposium community can best leverage our shared intellect and resources.

        Ric Rhinehart | Executive Director, Specialty Coffee Association of America

        On Symposium
        Peter Giuliano | Director of Symposium, Specialty Coffee Association of America

Part II: Coffee Leaf Rust: History, Crisis, and Response
The biggest coffee news of 2013 is the Coffee Leaf Rust outbreak in Central America, which is having a profound effect on all coffee production there, and will have a particularly powerful impact on specialty.  We’ll examine the history of the disease, the nature of tropical agricultural diseases like Rust, and the best way to mitigate their effect on the specialty coffee industry. Leaders from coffee institutions will outline the current response, including short term reactions and effects, medium term responses, and long term solutions.

        Humans Vs. Pests: The Long View
        Steve Savage | Consultant/Blogger, Savage & Associates

        Hemileia Vastatrix: What do We Know, and What Remains to be Learned?
        Mary Catherine Aime | Associate Professor, Purdue University

        Coffee Leaf Rust in Central America
        Alejandro Keller | Finca Santa Isabel

Lunch: Harvard Club Dining Rooms

Part III: Coffea Genetics: Unlocking the Possibilities
The rust crisis puts coffee’s genetics squarely in our sights: what is our current understanding of the coffea genus? What has led to the genetic restriction we see in coffee agriculture worldwide? How can we conserve the resource of coffee diversity, and use it to preserve, develop, and improve coffee in the future? A series of coffee scientists who study coffee genetics will present a deep dive on the subject, including a primer on coffee varieties, breeding, and biology.

        Everything is Predetermined (for Plants)
        Emma Bladyka | Coffee Science Manager, Specialty Coffee Association of America

        Arabica: From Origin to Extinction
        Aaron Davis | Dr/Head of Coffee, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

        Strategies to Preserve Coffee Genetic Resources 
        Chifumi Nagai | Sr. Research Scientist, Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC)

        Arabica Varieties and their Limitations
        Christophe Montagnon | PHD/Director, RD2 Vision

        The Environment-Gene Interaction: Impacts on Coffee Quality
        Antonio Chalfun-Junior | PhD / Associate Professor, Universidade Federal de Lavras

        World Coffee Research: New Genetic Solutions
        Tim Schilling | Executive Director, World Coffee Research

Dinner: Jasper White’s Summer Shack
This year, we’ve listened to Symposium delegates who wanted to continue the immersion of Symposium while experiencing a real taste of the New England coast. We’ve reserved the legendary Summer Shack restaurant for all Symposium delegates to continue their engagement over lobster, seafood, and wine.

Day Two, April 11

Part IV: Collaboration and Potential
The theme of collaboration has been central to the last two Symposia. This year, we’ll explore new and exciting collaborations that have recently emerged to address persistent challenges in specialty coffee. We’ll examine the potential of collaboration as a way to maximize effectiveness, and address the unique pros and cons of collective action. A series of thought leaders will share stories of their collective actions, and invite delegates to join the collaborations, or begin their own.

        Food Security and Collective Impact
        Shauna Alexander Mohr | Coordinator, Coffeelands Food Security Coalition

        Information and the Power of Unintended Collaboration
        Peter Kettler | Director, Radio Lifeline

        Let’s Talk Coffee: Collaboration for a Healthy Supply Chain
        David Griswold | President, Sustainable Harvest Coffee

Part V: The Power of Innovation and The Market
Collaboration is powerful tool, but the success of the free markets has demonstrated that innovation and enterprise go hand in hand. Small, craft business has been the core of the Specialty movement since the beginning, and we still learn lessons from entrepreneurs who share their experiences and motivations with the Symposium community. We’ll hear from young entrepreneurs and their experiences in the specialty marketplace, and we’ll take a critical look at how market forces influence small coffee producers, young specialty coffee economies, and other specialty foods.

        Able Brewing and the Kone Story
        Keith Gehrke | Owner, Able Brewing

        Building a Business from Coffee Waste: The Back to the Roots Story
        Alejandro Velez | Co-Founder, Back to the Roots

        Taza: A Craft Chocolate Company
        Alex Whitmore | Managing Director, Taza Chocolate

        Traceability and Geocertify: A Story of Innovation
        Arthur Karuletwa | Director of Global Traceability, Starbucks
        Matthew Hodges | Founder and CEO, GeoCertify

        The Asian Coffee Market for Dummies
        Al Liu | Trader & Certified Coffee Specialist, Atlas Coffee Importers

        Mo’ Money, Mo’ Quality, and Other Myths About Micro Lots
        Kim Elena Ionescu | Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager, Counter Culture Coffee

Lunch: Harvard Club Dining Rooms

Part VI: A Deeper Understanding of the Specialty Coffee Consumer
In 2012, Symposium began a series dedicated to consumer research, giving Symposium delegates a cutting-edge glimpse into the mind of the coffee consumer. Building on the findings from SCAA’s first round of research, we’ll present and analyze the findings of a new multi-city consumer study with a particular focus on understanding growth opportunities and how to develop meaningful messaging for consumers in the “specialty growth zone” to assist their movement up the learning curve. This will be an unprecedented and invaluable look for those who seek to build their businesses around how consumers really value the coffee experience.

        Meet the Specialty Coffee Consumer
        Video by Nicholas Cho | Co-Owner, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

        SCAA Consumer Research: An Analysis
        Tracy Ging, Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, S&D Coffee

Both Days

The Sensory Experience Room
This year, we’ve added a tasting room, designed to explore the subjects addressed in the Symposium main room. We’ll taste a number of unique coffee varieties, adding depth and understanding to the coffea genetics series. We’ll explore other foods and flavors, since flavor is the essential underpinning of specialty coffee and the experience which drives the industry.

Conversation Lounges
In addition to lectures in the main room, two environments at the Harvard Club will be dedicated to interaction and connection, allowing Symposium delegates to interact and discuss the topics of the day while watching live-broadcasts of the Symposium talks in the main room. Maximize understanding by discussion with colleagues while never missing a moment of the larger conversation.

Symposium Program

View Symposium Program