Michelle Johnson has worked in coffee for seven years, starting as a barista in Washington, DC and moving on to becoming an influential coffee community organizer in Phoenix, Arizona. She’s now the Marketing & Community Director at Barista Hustle in Melbourne, Australia. She first made waves bringing forth the conversation of racial equity and coffee with her blog, The Chocolate Barista in 2016. 

A challenge she feels is affecting coffee businesses worldwide is a lack of accessibility to education. There’s a huge gatekeeping problem of information for a lot of people: people of marginalized identities, people who don’t speak English, baristas in producing countries, and the producers themselves. On the note of those in producing countries, she feels strongly that if we can increase this accessibility of information to them, it’ll help aid in producing better quality coffee.

Check out some of Michelle’s previous talks:

Tamper Tantrum: NYC — Laying The Groundwork for Diversity

Specialty Coffee Association — Changing Power Structures (“The Intersectionality Panel”) 

I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast — Intersectionality Recap

Tymika Lawrence has worked in coffee since late 2010, starting as a barista who didn’t know very much about coffee (and pretty much just wanted a job with better hours than bartending). She was able to take courses at Counter Culture Coffee in her first month at that cafe, and that ignited in her a serious love of coffee. Over the next 6 years she would go on to work for Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and Counter Cutlure Coffee in New York City, where she learned and honed her skills in resource management, training, and education. Tymika currently works in sales for Genuine Origin, an importer that works with roasters and producers outside of the traditional supply chain model.

In Tymika’s words, her NRF presentation will discuss how, “As an agricultural industry, sustainability is one of the is one of the primary issues facing coffee–and rightfully so. Oftentimes when we talk about sustainability, we’re referring to land viability, and environmental impact. Truthfully, all resources have their constraints, and can be exhausted without careful and thoughtful planning. Why then, do we not extend this thinking to all of the inputs that make up our industry?

We understand that different varieties and origins have something different, and necessary to contribute to the diversification of our offerings. We endeavour to showcase different qualities, instead of trying to make those coffees fill niches that don’t make sense for their profiles. Somehow, we have yet to approach one of our more precious resources with the flexibility and understanding we do coffee, and it shows. [My] presentation will centre on the conservation of the human resource and encourage roasters to widen their definition of what sustainability means, and its applications in their business this side of the supply chain.”

Check out some of Tymika’s previous talks:

SCA Panel: Changing Power Structures

Boss Barista Part 1: In this episode she addresses creating inclusive workplaces.

Boss Barista Part 2: In this episode she addresses racial inequality in the United States.

The Barista Monologues: Discussing the Experiences of Women in Coffee: This was a panel for a recurring coffee event in NYC, called “This Coffee Thing”.

Gilberto Baroana is a fourth-generation coffee farmer from El Salvador, who also works as a green coffee buyer, miller and exporter.

Amongst his many activities and achievements working throughout specialty coffee, Gilberto’s farm’s lots have placed at Cup of Excellence 15 times, he has designed and implemented micromills throughout Central America, and he is both a board member and distributor of Grain Pro in El Salvador.

In Gilberto’s upcoming presentation, “Improving coffee quality through different coffee processing methods,” he will talk about the past eight years of his experiments with different processing methods (honeys, washed, and naturals), and how they have improved his coffees’ cup quality.

This year, his lots won five of COE El Salvador’s 2018 places. One of them paced in the top-10 and was one of his experimental processing lots.

Fabiana Carvalho is a Brazilian neuroscientist who received her MSc in Biochemistry (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil) and her PhD in Psychobiology (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and University of Glasgow, UK) investigating neural processes of memory, sensation, and perception. She has also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the King’s College London, UK studying the interplay between genes and environment in shaping cognition and emotion.

She is currently completing her second postdoc at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her research project is focused on understanding perception as an anticipatory and constructive process instead of a mere passive and reactive process. Last year, ‘specialty coffee’ became an object of study of her project in the context of multisensory flavour perception. She is interested in scrutinizing the influence of extrinsic factors (that is, ambiance factors) on the expectation and perception of flavour in specialty coffee. This research project has been conducted under the supervision of Prof Charles Spence at University of Oxford, UK.

Her presentation in the NRF will introduce the topic of multisensory flavour perception, show the well-known associations between senses (cross-modality) and how it affects perception of flavour in food and beverages, and present her findings on specialty coffee.

Check out Fabiana’s publications:

— The shape of the cup influences aroma, taste, and hedonic judgements of specialty coffee. Food Quality and Preference, 68, Sep 2018, 315-321 (available online 5 Apr 2018: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329318300855)

— The Coffee Sensorium By Fabiana Carvalho: A Revolution Of Flavor Perception (http://sprudge.com/the-coffee-sensorium-by-fabiana-carvalho-a-revolution-of-flavor-perception-130477.html)

— List of publications: https://scholar.google.com.br/citations?user=JhEWH7sAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra

Tim Wendelboe runs his own roastery and espresso bar in Oslo, Norway where he imports, roasts and serves high quality coffees.

Apart from winning six Nordic Roaster competitions with his team, he was the 2004 World Barista Champion and the 2005 World Cup Tasting Champion. Tim has also published several books on coffee. Tim spends a lot of time working together with the producers he buys coffee from in order to improve the quality of their coffees.

He is also working on his own coffee farm, Finca el Suelo, in Colombia where he uses his knowledge in soil biology to grow coffee free from pesticides and mineral fertilizers. His NRF 2018 presentation will be an update on how Finca el Suelo has developed over the past year since NRF 2017.

Marjorie Canjura is a coffee professional born and raised in El Salvador. She began working in coffee seven years ago with a project that introduced Salvadorian farmers to the production of honey and natural coffees as alternative processing methods: a first in her country. Since then, she has been involved in the specialty coffee industry as a quality advisor, assisting farmers, millers and cooperatives to improve quality throughout all the steps within the coffee production and processing chains.

Majorie currently works at Belco, a green coffee importing company based in France, where she oversees quality at origin. She believes there are many production challenges that can be approached in better ways, through innovation, integration and transparency applications. Aside from assisting coffee suppliers in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, Marjorie also works as a technical advisor for female coffee farmers through a program in Nicaragua. Soon she will also teach a coffee module at a university in Honduras.

Her NRF 2018 presentation, “The Power of Innovation at Origin” is based on her experiences in combining green coffee sourcing and technical advising to Belco’s coffee suppliers at origin.

In Marjorie’s words, “Coffee consuming countries are always at the forefront of innovation, but why is innovation still a challenge almost impossible to overcome at origin? The conception of considering people from producing countries as simple farmers and not as partners or colleagues can give us a clue. Terms such as sustainability and transparency can never take place in this industry if the lead actors in charge of creating so precious beans do not open their minds and exploit their potential and if such efforts are not fairly appreciated by the final buyers.”

Read Marjorie’s work:





Gail Hochachka has spent 17 years working with non-profit organizations in sustainable development in Africa, Latin America and North America on diverse themes such as rainforest conservation, community development, women’s empowerment, sustainability leadership, global value chains, and climate resilience.

She is currently is a PhD candidate at the University of Olso, Norway, working in the AdaptationCONNECTS project (Combining Old and New Knoweldge to Enable Conscious Transformation) to develop new understandings of whether and how different types of transformations can contribute to successful adaptation to climate change. She is carrying out this research in the coffee-producing communities of Guatemala.

In her upcoming NRF presentation: “The orchestra plays as the Titanic sinks: How a technical approach to climate change adaptation is necessary but insufficient” Gail will talk about technical adaptation to climate change as having been referred to as “necessary but insufficient”. To assume a technical solution is possible belies the full complexity of the issue. In this talk, Gail will take a deep look at this, with some preliminary research from the coffee growing regions of Guatemala as an example.

Both parts of the above statement are important. “Necessary” refers to the fact that every adaptation counts. As communities grasp a fragment of the full complexity of the climate change issue and seek towards addressing it they often do so with technical adaptations—techniques to respond to roya fungus, to address water shortages, to protect against winds, to plant more robust varieties. She suggests that each and every one of such technical efforts contributes to the whole; those community-based versions of adaptation are simply necessary, not only to survive the current set of impacts on coffee farms, but because they make sense to the local farmers, such technical adaptations also help to sustain buy-in, commitment, and follow through on adaptive actions. In other instances, where experts ‘prescribe’ what should be done, it has resulted in less local follow through and were much less effective.

The last part of the statement, “but insufficient,” refers to the moral question that this raises: How can it be that individuals and communities are encouraged to adapt to and under unjust, unsustainable systems? Infinite technical adaptations can be endlessly wrought at a local level, while never addressing the overarching systems creating the problem of climate change in the first place. How might a useful balance of ‘necessary’ and ‘but insufficient’ be found, that could be brought to bear in adaptation? What role might a global value chain play in this larger efforts towards transformation? And, could a skillful collaboration between roasters and other actors in a value chain support this two-tiered approach to adaptation?

In summary, while often the metaphor of the orchestra playing on the deck of the Titanic is given to get people to look at the bigger picture of the issue at hand; here she is suggesting we need both—some beautiful music that attends to our immediate state of vulnerability, as well as a bigger-picture view of the whole of transformation that is needed.

Check out Gail’s work:

Integral Transformation of Value Chains: One Sky’s Integral Leadership Program in the Brazil Nut Value Chain in Peru and Bolivia: https://integralwithoutborders.net/resource/integral-transformation-value-chains

Climate Resilience Photo Journal: Climate Change Adaptation and Human Development: https://integralwithoutborders.net/sites/default/files/resources/ClimateResilience%20photo%20journal%20FINAL%20full%20size%20eng%20and%20spanish%20SMALL.pdf

Integral Adaptation to Climate Change: https://integralwithoutborders.net/sites/default/files/resources/O%27Brien_Hochachka_FINAL.pdf

Developing Sustainability, Developing the Self – An Integral Approach to International and Community Development: https://integralwithoutborders.net/resource/developing-sustainability-developing-self-integral-approach-international-and-community

Video: Sex, God, and Integral International Development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT8HtAGOXak

Margaret Fundira became Product Manager: Coffee & Cocoa at Lallemand in August 2017. Previously she served as Director of Biotechnologies at Anchor Yeast (a subsidiary of Lallemand). Margaret has a Masters in both Microbiology and in Business Administration. Her knowledge in microbiology has seen her successfully execute different roles in the group for the past 14.5 years. These range from Technical Sales Management, Business Development and the General Management of the Biotechnologies business. Margaret brings a wealth of experience to the coffee business, supporting and adding value to the coffee production process.

Her NRF 2018 presentation is titled “Coffee fermentation: a small step in the process, great for coffee quality” where she will explore the following: 

Fermentation in coffee is often referred to some biochemical reactions leading to the removal of the mucilage from the bean. But in fact lots of microorganisms are present at this step of the coffee process and can be involved for good or for bad… Indeed indigenous flora can be diverse and some microorganisms can play an important role on the demucilagination but also on the quality of the final product. The first part of this lecture will present an over view of the microorganisms potentially present in coffee, what is known about them in terms of metabolism and growth conditions, based on their implication in other fermented products. In a second part we will illustrate through a wide experience in other fields the interest of using selected microorganisms for a better control of fermentation through the limitation of the growth of undesirable indigenous microorganisms and for a better sensory quality. Finally, in a third part, the link with the coffee process will be made. We will share our experience with the application of selected yeast in Arabica and Robusta coffee processing where a noticeable positive impact in terms of biocontrol is foreseen and a positive contribution to the sensory quality of the final product is confirmed.

Tyler Youngblood and his partners started Azahar Coffee, a Colombian exporter that also roasts and serves specialty coffee at its own cafés in Bogotá, while on a road trip through South America in 2010. They currently work with some of the world’s leading specialty roasters and importers under a model of transparency that takes quality and farmers’ cost of production into account rather than the “C” price.

In addition to letting us know how he got involved in coffee in Colombia in the first place and what it’s like to export from there under a transparent model, Tyler’s presentation, “Why Transparency Is Good For Business: A Sustainable Coffee Buyer’s Guide” is about creating a coffee buyer’s guide for professionals interested in paying sustainable prices. As we all know that the future of small-scale coffee farming is in jeopardy, his company is making this a priority. By understanding farmers’ costs of production on a regional basis and placing them into the context of their local economies, he believes that we can collaboratively produce minimum prices for our industry’s companies to respect — in the process inviting consumers to support the ones that do.

Chris Hallien has worked in specialty coffee since 2000. His experience includes green buying through to roasting and detailed research and analytics in areas like chemical, sensory & quality analysis. Chris has held roastery production roles in companies like Intelligentsia Coffee and product development roles in companies like Mars and Kraft. His work at origin includes Latin America & East Africa with a focus on farm-level practices. As both a C & Q grader Chris holds many coffee qualifications and is also a certified food scientist.

As product manager for Roast and Lab Chris focuses on research, development & new product initiatives at Cropster.

In his coming NRF presentation “More or Less: Balancing Effort and Elegance in Coffee Roasting Operations”, Chris will explore various concepts for improving workflows and efficiencies that can support sustainable growth in coffee companies of all types and sizes.

Chris has worked with several companies to help reduce operational complexity. This has resulted in improved transparency throughout the supply chain, enriched relationships with suppliers and customers, provided more consistent quality in finished products and critically, reduced both waste and energy consumption. While companies have differing opinions and priorities on these issues, all are relevant to a company’s health and image. Taking an approach that is all encompassing–such as the ones Chris advises on–allows each company to the reap benefits in all areas of their business and creates a better work environment.

Geoff Woodley has been working in coffee for over 10 years. Currently working as the Marketing Manager for IKAWA, Geoff was previously Brand and Coffee Director at Detour Coffee in Canada. In his time in the industry he has spent most of it buying and roasting coffee, and creating ways to connect it with people. Through his years in coffee he’s been lucky enough to spend a good amount of time in origin countries, from judging Cup of Excellence competitions to purchasing trips, and roast for a number of special occasions. All of which prepared him for his current role very well.

Geoff’s workshop will explore sample evaluation and how coffee professionals actually go about it. Sample evaluation is a critical step for business–both for those that are producing and selling coffee, and for those that are purchasing. Often underestimated, sample evaluation is a fascinating slice in time when a coffee is most vulnerable, and often misjudged. Like the Olympics or Iron Chef (or Great British Bake Off), the circumstances on the day can make or break it’s reputation. However, the process should be fair, the refs unbiased, and each coffee should have an equal shot at showing what it’s all about.

The session will be interactive, and will also contribute to a global project looking at how people approach their sample evaluation, with the goal to understand and effectively improve it, and highlight the most effective approaches.

How Best To Roast For Espresso: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxiNW1d4bos

IKAWA https://www.ikawacoffee.com/for-professionals/