Beyond the Obvious: Why Volunteer?

By Theresa Maguire

Why volunteering is so much more than earning a complimentary badge.

I have found that those who volunteer for the Specialty Coffee Association are almost as passionate about volunteering as they are about coffee! Everyone takes a different path to their first volunteer experience. Maybe it all starts with a simple desire to help, or a way to earn a complimentary Expo badge, but I believe the benefits of volunteering go way beyond that. Why else would people return year after year to be a part of the SCA volunteer team? Below, some of our volunteers share their experiences with volunteering.

Tyler Duncan, Topeca Coffee

Volunteering for SCA has given me access to tremendous opportunities. Whether I’m instructing, making sure classes have the supplies they need, or even doing the dishes, I’m able to be a part of something larger than myself. Through volunteering I’m able to connect with friends across the state, the country, and the world. I have made lifelong friendships and have become partnered with a cause that benefits people from all walks of life. Not to mention, I get to grow in my knowledge and understanding of what’s happening in the world of coffee, and in my cup of coffee. Volunteering is an invaluable resource for myself and to the coffee community!

Emeran Langmaid, A&E Coffee & Tea

The SCA and guilds provide access to the ever evolving world of specialty coffee. I started volunteering to gain access to that knowledge. As a small business owner in a remote region on the specialty coffee map, I was pretty removed from what was happening in the industry. By tapping into the SCA as a volunteer, I was tapping into the main source of information. Everyone’s journey into and through specially coffee is unique. It is pretty amazing to be part of introducing the world of specialty coffee to people. For those that have found it their life’s work, it is even more rewarding to help take them along the journey. Volunteering has allowed me to share my knowledge with people on the trail.

Trey Malone, Black Coffee LA

My first experience in volunteering for the Specialty Coffee Association was at the Global Expo in Atlanta, GA in 2016. The SCA cultivates a community within the specialty coffee movement that is unlike any other field I’ve experienced. By volunteering with the SCA, I’ve had the blessing of being invited into that family. Within one year of being heavily involved with the SCA and its events from a volunteer perspective, I’ve been able to build a network of friends and co-workers that spans globally. Working alongside staff and contractors within the association has given me such an appreciation for the effort and labor that goes into sustaining the privileges we enjoy in specialty coffee. From connection to the producers, to networks of cafes, to research essential for the development of our products, to the web of experienced professionals; we get to be a part of a movement that fuels an industry.

You can see our volunteers are passionate about being part of something bigger then themselves and giving back to the industry they love. This may take many different forms, whether it is being one of the 600 plus volunteers that fill 1200+ shifts at Expo, or sharing coffee knowledge as an instructor, or being involved in a leadership role shaping not only the path of the association, but the direction of the industry as well. It is through the passion of our volunteers that our association stays creative and remains sustainable in an ever changing landscape.

Theresa Maguire is the Volunteers Manager for the Specialty Coffee Association.