We’re very excited today to report that a list of confirmed speakers has been announced for the 2014 Speciality Coffee Association of America Symposium, a revered two-day event of lectures, direct engagement sessions, and remarkable networking opportunities for leaders (old and new) in the world of coffee. We’re immensely proud that this list of speakers includes our own Assistant Editor Alex Bernson, who will be completing a remarkable run of speaking engagements in the last year that has included lectures at Nordic Barista Cup and Let’s Talk Coffee.


Symposium happens April 23rd–24th in Seattle, Washington, directly before the 2014 SCAA Expo and 2014 United States Barista Championship. We’ll be covering Symposium 2014 extensively in the run-up to the event, but for now we want to point you to an important page being hosted by the event itself, under the heading “Who Attends Symposium“. We’re actively encouraging our readers to consider attending this year’s event. Much more information about Symposium can be found here in the “Plan Your Symposium” section, and of course the event’s web hub is a great place to start.


Mr. Bernson will present alongside an august roster of colleagues as a part of a Symposium session titled “The History and Use of the Coffee Space“. Other presenters in this session include Al Keating (Coffee Supreme), Merry Corky White (Professor of Anthropology at Boston University), Benjamin Wurgraft (NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Bill Sleeth (VP of Design at Starbucks), and Vida Asrina (founder of Kupi Culture).

The other sessions at Symposium sound equally engaging! Here’s a bit more about what attendees can expect at the 2014 Symposium.

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Selling Better Coffee to Selling Coffee Better

“We’ve spent much time at each Symposium focused on the beginnings of the supply chain, looking at problems and opportunities at the origin of coffee. This year we turn our focus to the last part of coffee’s journey: the place where consumers, our customers, interact with the beverage that forms a basis for our commerce. We do this for a critically important reason: the prosperity and sustainability of the entire supply chain of coffee is dependent on the value of coffee at the end of it. The 2014 Specialty Coffee Symposium brings our focus on that value, and some of the variables that influence it.  How can we better understand the ways that people value coffee? How can we learn to enhance that value, improve consumer experience, and enhance prosperity throughout the supply chain?”

Speakers include Ric Rhinehart (SCAA Director), Tracy Ging (S&D Coffee / Symposium veteran), and Dr. Sean Cash (economist with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University).

Sensory Science and Coffee

“Tasting coffee is an individual sensory experience. What do we know about the science of flavor and perception? How can we use this understanding to sell coffee better? Who should be evaluating product quality, and what techniques are available? We’ve collected some of the foremost sensory scientists in the world to deliver an essential primer on this compelling subject, and are putting together a unique-to-Symposium “sensory experience room” to put these concepts into action.

Speakers include Gail Civille (President of Sensory Spectrum), Helene Hopfer (PhD / Postdoctoral Scholar, Deptartment of Viniculture and Ecology, UC Davis), Britta Folmer (Coffee Science Manager, Nestlé Nespresso S.A.), and Dr. Charles Spence (Professor, Oxford University).

Leadership & Innovation

“Our industry can’t move forward without leadership. Symposium continues to be the place where new ideas are hatched, new approaches first see the light of day, and industry leaders share their challenges and propose new solutions.”

 Coffee Leaf Rust: Effects, Response, and Next Steps 

 In 2013, Symposium delegates got an early glimpse of the current outbreak of Coffee Leaf Rust, and its anticipated effects on the coffee marketplace. What has transpired in the year since then? How has the coffee community responded to the outbreak, and what have the results been? And, given our understanding that the crisis is far from over, what will the next year bring?

Speakers include David Piza (Sustainable Harvest), with more to be announced shortly.

Milk – Our Sister In White

Milk is the traditional companion to coffee, and in our shops we sell as much milk as coffee. However, few in the coffee industry know very much about our sister industry. What can we learn about milk to enhance the value and experience of coffee? What if we took milk sourcing as seriously as we take coffee sourcing? What do we know about the science of milk and coffee?

Speakers include Sarah Dooley (Education/Quality Control, Baratza),  Pete Ellis (Owner, Pete’s Milk Delivery), Joe McMahan (Manager of Sustainability Framework, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy), Thom Huppertz (Dr. / Principal scientist, NIZO food research), and Anna Kharbas (Manager of Specialty and Wholesale, Straus Family Creamery). This session will also feature a short film by documentarian Nathan Slabaugh.

Find details and get registered at Want more? Peruse our Symposium and Symposium Colloquium archives.

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