90+ Profiles: Getting to Know Dan Cox

Who are you and what do you do in coffee?

I’m Dan Cox, president of Coffee Enterprises and its affiliates: Coffee Analysts and Coffee Extracts and Ingredients. My job includes: setting the corporate culture; keeping the company profitable; sales and marketing; and functioning as a senior member of the sensory team.

How and when did you get started in the coffee business?

In 1981, I met the founders of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters while playing competitive racquetball at a tournament. We became doubles partners, and one of the founders offered me a job working at the company. I was one of the first employees at GMCR.

What jobs have you held in the industry?

I was the senior vice president at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, senior vice president at Fairwind/Elkins Coffee Company, and am currently president/owner of Coffee Enterprises.

What people and/or things inspire you, coffee-wise?

I’m inspired by coffee companies that put the taste of their product and their employees’ satisfaction first.

In addition, companies that give back to the coffee farmers in many ways. By giving back through organizations like Grounds for Health, Coffee Kids, Women in Coffee Alliance, Sustainable Harvests or just by going direct and forming a personal relationship with the farmer.

What would you like to see change in the industry?

I’d like to see more emphasis on the science of coffee and not just how to make pretty coffee beverages. We need scientific leaders as well as artisan roasters.

If you were to die and come back as a drink, what drink would you be?

A cup of coffee created from a blend of coffees with balance of acidity and body and complex taste evolving over time. What makes you think I won’t come back that way?

What do you consider to be your greatest contribution to coffee?

Getting involved with many trade associations and nonprofit organizations that improve the lives of producers as well as consumers. Challenging the industry to do more, learn more and get things done. Certainly Grounds for Health is a major accomplishment, which is standing the test of time.

What do you think others would say is your greatest contribution to coffee?

Being available to help, being open and approachable. Championing the rights of women.

What’s next for you?

CoffeeEd, growing the organization and providing a good environment for employees to make the best use of their skills.

There are also lots and lots of non coffee-related projects and discoveries to be made.

Has coffee affected your “non-coffee” life? If so, in what way?

I have met a lot of interesting people and have visited 19 coffee producing countries, which I probably would not have done otherwise. I learned first-hand different world views which are all valid.

Who’s the person you’d most like to see us interview next?

I’d love to hear from some women leaders in the field, Christy Thorns, Lindsey Boldger, etc.