Importer Perspective | Creating a Common Language of Service


by Joe Marrocco, Café Imports

Our consumer base not only seeks out the specialty coffee industry for our delicious offerings, but for an elevated service experience. Simply having good or consistent coffee is not good enough in today’s world; our entire industry was born out of a desire for deeper connections between people. Roasters want more information about terroir, customers want to know the producer that grew their coffees, baristas want to taste the raw coffee cherry. We all want a deeper sense of connection to each other and the products we serve. We are curious, collaborative, and communal. As an industry, these traits have served us well.

Service, the true commodity that we exchange, is the lynchpin which holds our industry together. At Café Imports, we understand this principle. The SCAA Event provides us with one of the best opportunities to keep our hands and minds at work through service. Teaching, cleaning, making coffee, showing up early, staying late, and offering assistance at every chance, we have been able to make the same kind of connections with our customers as a barista would in a cafe. We are involved from beginning to the end, serving people, and thus connecting to people: real people.

The SCAA Event is a meeting of specialty coffee’s brain trust. You see, as SCAA members, we are owners of the organization. If you own a shop, you don’t leave the water running. If you own a roaster, you don’t let chaff build up. We own this thing. By coming together with our co-owners and really owning it, serving the membership as if they were our own customers, we are speaking the language of our industry. This language of service is only spoken through real action. The Event provides us a genuine opportunity to put our words into action, with the people that we speak to on a daily basis. As I look at other successful companies within the SCAA community, I see that they have joined the team and served as we have.

As an ambassador of Café Imports, I am able to carry with me the pride of a company that is built on industry support. When we attend events like this, our companies and our families are supporting our work by their financial support and covering for us during time away. We have the responsibility to maximize this opportunity, and service is the best avenue. We can then walk away enriched, and having enriched others, which turns directly into sales, connections, and new relationships.

The SCAA Event celebrates one of the most diverse bases of any industry. People from all over the world, all social classes, levels of education, and facets of production and distribution come together in one place. Having a common language of service, even when we all speak different languages, is essential to our unity and success. At Café Imports, we view this trade show event as an opportunity to celebrate that diversity.

The Event has served our industry by gathering up the links of the coffee chain into one big heap of connectivity and interaction. It has provided the opportunity for us to share and engage; but this sharing and engaging is only possible inasmuch as we are willing to serve. The companies and individuals who step up, take on the task, and seize the opportunity to facilitate the growth of those around them are the ones who end up affecting the most links along this diverse chain. Without this common language, our engagement quickly becomes meaningless. I simply don’t observe companies who join in service failing to become successful. There is a link.

Café Imports will once again be at The Event this year. We will be serving people coffee, teaching classes, hosting customers, sharing knowledge, supporting baristas, roasters, and producers, connecting the links in the chain that we are affected by, and hopefully sitting down with you for a cup of delicious specialty coffee. We look forward to seeing you in Seattle!

Additional Info: Get involved! Visit to find out how to become a volunteer at The Event.

joewFather, husband, home cook, fisherman, roaster, barista, green coffee salesman, hunter, teacher, musician, student, and all around busy guy, Joe Marrocco has a life that is full of people, places, and fun. Joe enjoys to serve, share, and create. Joe’s coffee career has included roasting for Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Company in St. Louis, MO, selling green coffee for Café Imports, serving as a Chapter Representative for the Barista Guild of America, competing and judging barista competitions including a regional win, and lots of educational opportunities. Joe is excited and honored by the opportunity to serve on the Roasters Guild Executive Council. He hopes to bring a passion for service, and a deeper connection to the barista community.