It’s a new year and there is everything to look forward to in life in general and especially in world of coffee.
In the last quarter of 2015 I took on a brand new coffee role, which is part of the reason why this blog has been pretty inactive. I currently have the pleasure of working (part time—I’m still wearing a few other non-coffee hats) as a Sales Rep and Educational Liaison for Ally Coffee, a green coffee importing company with a commercial office in Florida, a specialty lab in South Carolina, vertically integrated farm and export operations in Brazil, and, as of September 1, 2015, a mobile sales and education presence run by yours truly out of a very large overstuffed purse.
I still contribute occasionally to Fresh Cup Magazineand Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, but I now devote my coffee know-how/wherewithal to helping green coffee, grown and processed by quality-centric producers, make it into the hands of roasters who will treat it right; in layman’s terms I am a salesperson. For all the chills “Sales” sends down many spines, I love following the legacy of Willy Loman and the street cart peddlers of the world a lot more than I thought I would.
Choosing to move from writing about coffee to being involved in the businesses of buying and selling coffee is a transition I have been looking to make for some time. I am the first person to climb the nearest soapbox and lecture on the importance of grassroots journalism, authentic travel writing, substantial trade press, and the intrinsic value of both narrative and exposition. However, no amount of good will and gravity in the prose of the writer or understanding and awareness on the part of the reader puts food on people’s plates. Coffee is a leafy tree, a finicky bean, and a greasy puck of grounds; it’s a business in all its forms. To write about coffee is to still be an observer, and I am ready to get my hands (almost) as dirty as back when I was a nomadic picker in between interviewing farmers and to get to work in conjunction with other coffeepeople to make the business of coffee tick.
Extolling green coffee attributes over the phone might seem more Willy Loman and less Latin American agriculture, but because I know it all starts with the soil I get to keep that in the back of my mind during sales calls, sample deliveries, and surprise visits. I’m not just selling something; I am a representative of all the people who put in their work before me. Because I know so many of those people personally and talk to them regularly, I hope I come across as authentic.
Here’s the pitch: Ally Coffee sells commercial coffee by container (or fraction thereof) and specialty coffee buy the bag. If you want a box of Organic Natural Screen 13/14 Brazilian grinders and one bag of El Salvador high grown, Honey Pacas from the shady side of the mountain, I can offer you both. Ally’s Specialty and Commercial divisions are run by people who really know coffee; they are the people who are developing new trends and are on the forefront pushing boundaries from the farm to the grouphead; innovative people who also know the history of coffee’s politics and finance because they’ve ridden those waves and weathered those storms firsthand.
One of the reason’s I’ve been drawn to the coffee industry since the first day I walked onto a coffee farm in 2012, is because so many people in the industry are self-made, self-taught, and self-directed. From farmers to bankers coffee attracts people who are curious enough to ask, dedicated enough to find out, and industrious enough to make curiosity and discovery into something new—not theoretically, but tangibly.
It’s exciting to look at the new year knowing that there is a new team of experts at Ally I can learn from every day. It’s also exciting to tell you that if you want green coffee or if you want to visit a farm I can take you there and get you some instead of just telling you about it.
It’s 2016. Let’s make some coffee.
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