Like many other industries, the coffee industry’s trade associations provide valuable information and keep their constituencies informed. They play a valuable role in holding major players to higher quality standards. They also help organizations with progress toward sustainable supply chains, equity, diversity, and inclusion improvements — the list goes on. But how to navigate the myriad coffee associations?
As someone who once dabbled in the world of business development through association work (shout out Vermont Brewers Association), I know the importance of a quality trade association. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, they offer a strong sense of community and a platform for impactful advocacy. Collaboration amongst those who share a passion and livelihood yields greater results.
So with that, let’s figure out the right coffee association for you. Here’s your crash course on the organizations improving the global coffee economy.
Your Guide To Coffee Associations
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)
The merging of the SCA of America and SCA of Europe (founded in 1982 and 1998, respectively) in January 2017 formed the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). As the proverbial big kahuna of this list, they offer membership tiers for just about anyone, from the individual barista to large corporations.
But what if you’re a member with a devout interest in a particular sub-community? Enter SCA Guilds. The Barista Guild, Coffee Roasters Guild, and Coffee Technicians Guild — all of which fall under the umbrella of the SCA — gives members the ability to dive deeper in their own niche of the coffee world.
While SCA prides itself on being a global community, it affords its members the ability to connect on a more localized level through the ability to join or form a chapter. With chapters spanning the globe, members can benefit from this global network while still sharing information and resources within their local cohort.
If you want to learn more, check out our deep dive: What Is The Specialty Coffee Association?
The National Coffee Association of America (NCA)
The Notional Coffee Association of America started in 1911, making them the oldest coffee trade association in the U.S. Many tout their National Coffee Drinking Trends report as “the gold standard for tracking U.S. coffee consumption trends since 1950.”
Additionally, they’ve been one of the leading resource aggregates for coffee enterprises navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. The Sprudge’s Zac Cadwalader calls their Coronavirus Resource Page “good.”
And Bill Murray just so happens to be their CEO and President. Not that Bill Murray, but it’s still pretty cool.
The International Coffee Organization (ICO)
This London-based intergovernmental organization is composed of forty-three exporting member countries and six importing member entities, one of those being the entire European Union.
Although the United States isn’t a member, The ICO’s participation collectively represents 99% of the world coffee production and 67% of world coffee consumption.
The Green Coffee Association (GCA)
Ever heard of green — aka unroasted — coffee? As unroasted beans are their own commodity, GCA advocates and provides resources for those in the business of importing/exporting, roasting, storing, and trading green coffee.
World Coffee Research (WCR)
A non-profit, World Coffee Research studies the science behind improving yield and quality of coffee. They also look at barriers to improving the livelihoods of farmers and producers.
Climate change, low yields, pests and diseases, and other barriers to quality affect the global coffee industry. WCR brings together the strongest minds in coffee to manage these risks and conduct R + D. They’re currently operating projects in twenty-nine countries across the globe.
Coffee Associations: Honorable Mentions
Brazil Specialty Coffee Association
The Brazil Specialty Coffee Association is on a mission to “increase recognition of Brazilian specialty coffees both inside Brazil and around the world for their high quality and diversity, offering consumers a unique experience.”
Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica
The Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica mission promotes Costa Rican coffee in international specialty coffee markets.
Specialty Coffee Association of Panama
The Specialty Coffee Association of Panama promotes Panama’s specialty coffee in the world marketplace.
Hawaii Coffee Association
The Hawaii Coffee Association is on a mission to “provide a forum for education, communication, and the pursuit of shared goals that are beneficial to the sustained profitability of the entire Hawaii coffee industry.”
African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA)
According to Executive Director Samuel N. Kamau, “About half of the world’s specialty coffees are produced in the fine coffee belt of Africa, which stretches from Ethiopia through Zimbabwe and there is tremendous potential to produce more coffee and coffee of improved quality.”
And yet, coffee from the region only constitutes about ten to fifteen percent of the world’s specialty coffee imports. With a focus on marketing, quality, advocacy, promotion, research, and value for smallholders, AFCA strengthens the East African coffee economy.
Coffee Association of Canada
The Coffee Association of Canada has worked for twenty years to provide industry knowledge and advocate for Canadian participants in the coffee trade on government policies and regulations.
Pacific Coast Coffee Association (PCCA)
PCCA brings together a variety of industry professionals from the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada.
British Coffee Association
The British Coffee Association is “the voice of UK coffee.”
Specialty Coffee Association of Japan
The Specialty Coffee Association of Japan informs and excites Japanese coffee consumers by deepening their understanding of the crop and how it’s cultivated.
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