Recommitting to a Global Vision in Madrid – 25 Magazine, Issue 8

Recommitting to a Global Vision in Madrid – 25 Magazine, Issue 8

PPeople work in coffee for many reasons.

The SCA’s Executive Director YANNIS APOSTOLOPOULOS shares the outcomes from the organization alignment meeting that took place in Madrid this past January.

It’s a love for the drink, a love for the process, the places, and the people. But it’s also a belief that coffee can be more: more than just a commodity, more than just a transaction, more than just buyers and sellers. There are basic human values that go hand in hand with coffee, and as a community connected by it, we believe in the need to make coffee better.

The specialty coffee community plays the most important role in this quest. Specialty coffee, and its rise in the last decade, has had a profound influence on the global coffee industry, but there is plenty of work ahead. While the specialty sector leads, the community must continue to grow, finding new voices, more communities who believe in better, amplifying our sphere of influence as a result.

This is where the SCA comes in. We are a community of communities. A strong network of individuals that share the same values on what specialty coffee is and a desire to influence how coffee impacts lives throughout the value chain. We are a movement defined by our shared purpose, values, and community.

Over the past two years, the scope of the SCA’s work has changed dramatically. Two continental organizations became one, relaunching as a global entity with an aspiration to represent specialty coffee and its communities all around the world. We’re not there yet, but the path is clear and, in January, a series of meetings took place in Madrid to align our board, senior staff, and a wide array of dedicated volunteers with the organization’s purpose, strategy, and goals for the next few years.

A Chance to Reconnect and Recommit

The meetings were a response to many voices in our volunteer leadership calling for an opportunity to connect, engage with different committees, and learn from different viewpoints. The past years have taught us the danger of working in silos, and the value found in new connections, fresh dialogue, and big ideas. Madrid was a chance to start the year in this mindset, and also included the first meeting of our new board, the most diverse in the leadership history.

Attending the meetings in Madrid made me realize the potential of our industry, the urgency of our challenges, and the cause for excitement. It also underlined the importance of community, a word we maybe use too much, but which is at the core of everything we do.

At its most rudimentary, the SCA offers the industry a neutral network: a framework to help support any and all activities that share our values, and work towards our purpose. Through this, we seek a broader impact by spearheading research and innovation, sustainability initiatives like the Coffee Price Crisis Response Initiative, and delivering it all via our dynamic education programs and global portfolio of events.

The expectations of our communities are as big as they are varied, and while we try to reconnect with those who feel distance, we know there are many who never felt engaged at all. If we want to provide real value to our communities, and bridge the gaps, we first need to engage in open, honest (and sometimes difficult) dialogue. We’ll need to develop mechanisms to listen better. It’s only then – by listening – that we’ll be able to better serve underrepresented stakeholders of the value chain and embark on a journey to understand how we can continue to make the SCA more relevant.

Achieving these steps will require us to listen far better, develop mechanisms to stay connected to our community, and use those inputs to design better community experiences that will keep the SCA relevant and deliver on our common purpose.

YANNIS APOSTOLOPOULOS is the Executive Director of the SCA, a role he takes following his position as Vice President of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe and his many years working and volunteering in the specialty coffee community.

The SCA’s purpose and values were drafted by a group of core volunteers and approved by the board at the time of unification.

SCA Purpose

The SCA will foster a global coffee community and support activity to make specialty coffee a thriving, equitable, and sustainable activity for the entire value chain.

SCA Core Values
Relevant Member Value

We serve our members as a nonprofit global platform that: 1) provides world-class events, education, research, standards; 2) promotes best practices and professionalism that are inclusive of and adaptive to context; 3) amplifies voices within the specialty coffee value chain.

Sustainable Coffee Industry

We advocate for the sustainable growth of the coffee industry through collaborative partnerships that pursue equity, prioritize mutual benefits, and result in positive impact throughout the coffee supply chain. We work to improve understanding of critical social issues and inequities through proactive efforts, focused attention, education, and dedicated resources.

Community of Communities

We value diverse perspectives by listening, centering, and adapting to unique local characteristics while encouraging a sense of global community for cultural and economic exchange. We recognize local communities and facilitate development of infrastructure, communication, and sharing within and among coffee communities.

Best People

We recognize that diverse perspectives are needed to have a well-balanced and dynamic representation of and for membership. This includes (but is not exclusive to) race, gender, age, nationality, sexual orientation, member category, and career, as well as in intersections of these identities. We develop, empower, and retain the best volunteer leaders and staff to engage our membership and external audiences by fostering an informative, inclusive, rewarding, and mutually supportive environment.

Ethical Operation

We demonstrate integrity of business practice and nonprofit governance. We comply with local regulatory requirements and act with unyielding dedication to our self-defined commitments. We inspire trust through transparent communication and acknowledgement of accountability, and improve performance through aspiration, self-monitoring, and member engagement.

Respect for the Individual

We create, produce, and support discrimination-free and harassment-free safe spaces for personal and professional collaboration, growth, and learning. We recognize that membership benefits and participation in activities differ depending on identity, background, privilege, and access to resources, and we acknowledge that every member has a voice.


Special Thanks to Our Issue 8 Sponsor, Bellwether

Bellwether makes more than a first-of-its-kind, zero-emissions, commercial roaster. They make it possible for you to source, create, roast, and share coffee in a responsible way that connects our community and brings equality to our industry. Learn more at

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