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Some annual events are worth coming back to. In Fall 2012 we traveled to Antioquia, Colombia, to attend the 10th annual Let’s Talk Coffee event presented by Sustainable Harvest. We hosted a panel that featured some of the brightest minds in specialty coffee, cupped a lot of coffee (including some robusta), and learned a thing or two (or five) about the world along the way. We left quite sure that Let’s Talk Coffee was no run of the mill ride on the Java Junket train; it is an important global coffee producer oriented event, and since it’s closed to the general public, the opportunity to report from and participate in Let’s Talk Coffee feels even more important. We believe in this event.  

This year’s takes place in Salinitas, El Salvador beginning October 30th, and will again be in attendance to cover and participate at Let’s Talk Coffee, hosted by our friends and partners at Sustainable Harvest. Its key note speakers are representatives from the Stanford Design School, with whom SustHarv has been collaborating with on some exciting new projects, as well as Oliver Strand. Registration for this event is available by invitation only from Sustainable Harvest, and if years past are previous indication, folks from the coffee buying and consuming end of the chain will be greatly outnumbered by folks from the coffee producing side of the chain.

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But this year, for the first time ever, public registration is now open for Sustainable Harvest‘s brand-new event Let’s Talk Roya. Let’s Talk Roya takes place November 3rd-6th in Salinitas, El Salvador, immediately after Sustainable Harvest’s signature Let’s Talk Coffee event. LTR is a project coming out of Sustainable Harvest’s Roya Recovery Project initiative, which has been working to build awareness of the massive Roya (coffee leaf rust) epidemic facing Latin American growers right now. Here’s a bit more of what Sustainable Harvest has to say for prospective attendees:

The open event will leverage the Let’s Talk Coffee® model of bringing coffee supply chain stakeholders together for direct conversations and collaborative problem-solving. The conference will offer a forum to learn more about the disease from industry experts, discuss recovery strategies and walk away with practical and actionable recommendations.

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Let’s Talk Coffee is an invite-only focused on bringing the major stakeholders in the international coffee supply chain together. Let’s Talk Roya is open-registration and designed to be a more specifically action oriented event that is accessible for all parties affected by the epidemic, so that immediate, workable solutions can be developed for what is very much an immediate problem. There is of course a big focus on producers’ concerns, and many resources, from agronomists to finance sources to agricultural organizations will be on hand to deliver presentations, discussions and support.

True to Sustainable Harvest’s holistic approach, Let’s Talk Roya also has a big focus on helping roasters understand and respond to the new challenges introduced by Roya.

Attendees will have the unique opportunity to cup Roya-affected coffees in an effort to establish a new common language of taste between roasters, suppliers, certifiers and others relative to the upcoming Central American and Peruvian harvests. This expectation-setting will be critical in maximizing supplier market opportunity in light of Coffee Rust’s impact on cup quality. The event will also feature farm trips where participants can witness the impacts of climate change on coffee farms firsthand.

For an additional fee, attendees will also have the opportunity to spend a full day visiting Roya affected coffee farms in El Salvador to experience the scope of the challenges first hand.

The coffee rust epidemic is a gigantic, immediate crisis that all sectors of the coffee industry need to respond to. With a wide array of experts, attendees from all across the industry, and a focus on action, Let’s Talk Roya promises to be a valuable staging ground for that response. Registration closes Sept. 29th, so sign up soon, and if you can’t make it, the talks will be made available online here, and of course will have industry leading on-site coverage all weekend.

Again, we remain enormously impressed by the scope and tone of Let’s Talk Coffee, and we’ll be there live from El Salvador to continue the dialogue at this year’s first-ever Let’s Talk Roya. Consider joining us there, registration is here. 

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