World Coffee Research (for their project International Multilocation Variety Trial)
Coffee farmers typically have few choices about which coffee varieties are available for them to plant. Their choices are often limited by forces beyond their control— low levels of national investment in coffee research, the lack of a professional coffee seed sector, and a tradition among countries of not sharing genetic material. These constraints mean producers often rely on planting material that is susceptible to disease or does not perform optimally in their environment and of which the agronomic traits are not known or available. Until now no comprehensive effort had been made to gather improved coffee varieties from around the globe and make them available to producers in different countries.
The International Multilocation Variety Trial is a first-of-its kind undertaking to facilitate the global exchange of the world’s highest quality coffee varieties and evaluate their performance. The key benefits of the project are: (1) Coffee farmers around the world will benefit from genetic progress through access to new varieties with better productivity, disease resistance and/or beverage quality; (2) Researchers will identify key traits that have allowed different varieties to adapt to different environmental conditions, which will lay the groundwork for major advances in coffee breeding, climate adaptation strategies, and future research; (3) The trial will serve as a platform to monitor coffee disease epidemics; (4) The trial will strengthen local coffee institutions and organizations within participating countries, while transferring knowledge and technology to farmers.
In 2012, World Coffee Research (WCR) built the necessary foundation of trust for countries to be part of this ambitious project. In all, 19 countries are part of the project and more are expected. Eleven countries, one regional network (Promecafé) and one private alliance (Ecom-Cirad) are providing 35 top varieties. Where possible, WCR prioritizes partnering with the national coffee institutes to build capacity and strengthen those institutions.
All participating countries hosting trial sites have agreed to install, maintain, and monitor the plots (on average 1-3 per country). On each plot, a comprehensive list of variables is measured using standardized protocols developed by WCR—including plant vigor, productivity, coffee leaf rust and other disease and pest incidence, bean characteristics, bean chemistry, and cup quality.
The best-adapted varieties can then be made available to producers to increase supplies of quality coffee for those countries. If, for example, Kenya found that a Honduran variety performed exceptionally well in trial sites, it may find an agreement with Honduras to eventually commercialize the variety in Kenya. While there are isolated examples of this kind of exchange taking place historically, there has never been a global framework for it.
The trial follows a careful protocol to ensure that plant material being moved around the globe is disease-free. Beginning in 2014, seeds of the 35 varieties were shipped from donor countries to a in vitro tissue culture lab in Florida, so that disease-free in vitro plantlets could be safely sent to participating countries. By the end of 2015, over 50,000 plants had been shipped to 16 of the 19 participating countries and 6 countries had established the first field plots.
Leonor Gaviña-Valls and the Gaviña Family
Leonor Gaviña-Valls is the daughter of Gaviña’s founder, Don Francisco, and currently runs the company with her three brothers. As a young girl, Leonor would work alongside her brothers and father at their coffee plantation and roasting plant. Now, she is the vice president of marketing and is responsible for the company’s public relations efforts, the marketing of its coffee brands, and overseeing its major charity endeavors.
Leonor is a licensed Q Grader, the only professional accreditation in the industry for coffee cuppers from the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). As a resident Q Grader, Leonor routinely conducts cupping sessions to ensure the richness and flavor of each coffee blend. She actively works to improve the quality of coffee and set industry standards and practices through several organizations. She is also a former board member of the Pacific Coast Coffee Association and a founding member and past president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Leonor received the SCAA’s “Outstanding Contribution to the Association” award in 1994 for her exceptional leadership. She is also a graduate of the 2005-2006 Women in Coffee Leadership Program where her class was bestowed with the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe’s Better Beans Awards, an award that honors those who have noticeably contributed to the improvement in the quality of coffee worldwide.
Leonor holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from California State University, Los Angeles. Leonor is actively involved in several non-profit organizations and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Los Angeles and International Women in Coffee Alliance. She currently resides in Southern California. Recently, Leonor was honored with the CalState LA Alumni Family Award and the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce Large business award.
With regard to the family overall and its company, F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc., is the nation’s largest minority owned family coffee roaster, has been a leading producer of high-quality and great-tasting coffee for more than four generations. Spanning over 140 years, Gaviña’s unmatched experience as coffee growers and roasters dates back to the family’s humble beginnings in the rich coffee-bearing soil of Cuba, where patriarch Francisco Gaviña was born and honed his skills as a coffee producer. After immigrating to the United States with his wife and children, he further cemented the family’s coffee legacy by establishing F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. in Vernon, California in 1967. Today, the company is still owned and run by Don Francisco’s four children: Francisco, Pedro, José, and Leonor.
Outstanding Contribution to the Association Award
Paul Thornton started his coffee career in Portland Oregon in 1982 as a coffee roaster for Coffee Bean International. In 1989, he traveled to Guatemala, which turned out to be his first of hundreds of origin trips over his career. In 1990, he was managing roasting personnel and departmental growth challenges that go with a company growing 30% a year. Paul took the role of Roastmaster and lead coffee buyer while he continued as a production roaster. In 1999, he became a full time green coffee buyer, overseeing growth in roasting and designing and managing green coffee buying processes and procedures as the company grew to a large, well respected specialty coffee wholesale roaster.
Farmer Brothers Coffee purchased CBI in 2006. Paul was promoted to Director of Coffee, overseeing the procurement of green coffee for all three locations while also building a background of knowledge around the best way to utilize market tools. Paul’s team was awarded as a finalist from McDonalds Best Sustainable Supplier for a coffee project in Colombia in 2014 and twice, supplier of the year from Target Corporation.
As an expert in roasting, cupping, and buying, Paul’s primary impacts included the hiring and designing of a world class green buying process, risk mitigation, roaster training, working with management to better understand Specialty coffee and Sales to better understand the coffee industry. Paul worked closely with retailers who deliver to consumers, such as Target, Nordstrom, Einstein/Noah’s and McDonald's, helping them better understand the importance and compelling nature of direct relationships with growers, customized buying models, quality, and helped them realize their coffees true value, in the spirit of educating consumers to improved coffee experiences. Paul is a big fan of finding ways of de-commoditization and connecting growers with consumers, and worked endlessly to meet these goals.
Paul is extremely passionate about coffee. He is a Q grader and SCAA Credentialed Instructor. He is recognized by his piers for his efforts to establish the Roasters Guild, played a critical role around the development of the SCAA’s certificate programs, has volunteered for the SCAA as an instructor and lecturer since 1991, held a Roasters Guild Executive Council seat from its inception to 2008, was elected to the SCAA Board of Directors in 2008 and served as the SCAA President for the 2013/14 year. He also chaired the Technical Standards Committee of the SCAA in 2008 and 2009.
Paul loves the coffee industry, soccer, has 8 children, and 5 grand children. After leaving CBI/FB this past winter, Paul is an independent consultant in the coffee industry.
Special Recognition Award
Tracy Ging recently joined the Volcafe team to focus exclusively on high value, sustainably sourced coffees. Prior to this new role, Tracy was the Vice President of Sustainability and Strategic Initiatives for S&D Coffee and Tea, Inc. where her responsibilities involved embedding sustainability into core business strategies, with major emphasis on ensuring sustainable coffee and tea value chains. Her career has also included roles at SCAA and the CQI. Tracy has been involved in the specialty coffee industry since 1999 and is currently Vice Chair of World Coffee Research, partner on The Coffeewoman Quaterly, and beginning her term as second Vice President of SCAA.
Alfred Peet Passionate Cup Award
Jim Reynolds began his coffee career in 1973 as roaster for Starbucks, which had only two stores at the time. Eleven years later he moved to Berkeley, California and became the coffee buyer and roastmaster for Peet’s. He was involved in the early days of SCAA and served on the board of directors in 1984/85 and has served on numerous committees of SCAA and CQI since. He is past-president of the Pacific Coast Coffee Association. Now semi-retired, he has devoted his coffee career to improving coffee quality at origin and at home.
Distinguished Author Award
Scott Rao has been in the coffee industry since 1993 as a roaster, barista, consultant, and author. He specializes in teaching systems designed to help roasters and baristas produce consistent, excellent coffee. Scott is currently working on a new book and helping to design the DE1, a revolutionary espresso machine.
Scott has owned and operated coffee bars that were well known for their high standards under his ownership. He then went on to consult to others. During that period he saw a need for sound, factually based information on coffee. To that end, he has written and produced four books, which provide solid information in an accessible format: 1) The Coffee Roaster's Companion 2) The Professional Barista's Handbook 3) Everything But Espresso 4) Espresso Extraction.
Distinguished Newcomer Award
Hanna Neuschwander has been communicating about coffee and science since 2004. Prior to joining World Coffee Research she was a communications director at Lewis & Clark College, where she helped professors share their academic work with a wider audience, and a freelance writer focused on the intersection of coffee and culture. She is the author of Left Coast Roast, a guidebook to artisan and influential coffee roasters on the west coast. She has presented about the history, sustainability, and economics of coffee at everywhere from Boston to Panama City. She is based in Portland, Oregon.
Service to the Association Award
Lorenzo Perkins was Director of Education for Cuvee Coffee before starting Fleet Coffee Co in early 2015. He is the Chair of the Barista Guild of America. Lorenzo has won the 2010 and 2012 South Central Regional Barista Competitions, and the 2011 and 2014 South Central Regional Brewers Cup. In between organizing the monthly Austin TNT, he also drinks beer, whiskey, and Campari while helping to grow the specialty coffee scene in Texas through the non-profit the Austin Coffee Society. Lorenzo and his wife Jennifer are the proud parents of a beautiful daughter, Ryn. Sometimes he makes coffee, and sometimes people like it.