Beginning this afternoon, my colleagues and I will be receiving friends from all over the world in Costa Rica for the eighth edition of our annual Extraordinary Coffee Workshop.
I have been at Intelligentsia for barely three months, but I have been watching the evolution of ECW with great interest for years and working with growers who have had the exceptional good fortune to participant. So when a colleague asked me recently to summarize ECW, I suggested it could be synthesized into three Cs.
A small group of old friends in the coffeelands helped us build out our Direct Trade model 15 years ago and have been with us ever since. Those pioneers are at the core of our network of partners, but the Intelligentsia family continues to grow, and ECW is the one time every year we can all get together.
In our Coffeebars this holiday season, we are celebrating the spirit of Togetherness. In the afterglow of Thanksgiving, the memory of time spent with loved ones is fresh even as we look ahead to more time with friends and family during the festivities at year’s end. ECW is kind of like that for us–the time of year we can get together with members of the Intelligentsia family to celebrate the year that is ending and to look ahead with excitement to the New Year ahead.
The community we convene every year at ECW is united by a shared passion for coffee and a mutual commitment to surpassing quality. That means every waking moment at ECW is fueled by the best Intelli coffees of the season and driven by thoughtful discussion of what each of us can do in growing, milling, sourcing, roasting and serving coffee to make it, well…even more extraordinary. This year we will visit farms to look at quality-driven agronomic practices, roll up our sleeves together at mills to explore processing innovations that can improve consistency and drive quality gains, and cup coffee together to illustrate key points in our quality conversation. And every year, we bring expert perspectives into the mix to continue to push the frontiers of our understanding of coffee.
The conversations that happen at ECW drive our business forward. The activities of ECW are carefully calibrated to reinforce key messages we want to communicate about our mutual commitment to excellence. Our buyers and our Direct Trade partners meet to carefully review the year that is ending and make commitments for the year ahead. And we recommit to the principles that have gotten us where we are today.
But what happens at ECW stays at ECW. We regard ECW as a safe space for participants in our Direct Trade model–one in which our communications are all focused in uncomplicated ways on building stronger relationships stronger, delivering better coffee better and driving more impact through our model. We haven’t wanted those communications to be distorted by the prying eye of a camera or a live mic.
That holds true this year, but we will be previewing each day’s agenda here on the Intelli blog and covering the event live on social media. Follow @IntelliSourcing on Instagram and Twitter for live coverage of the event.