ECWx Notebook: Small is Beautiful

ECWx Notebook: Small is Beautiful

It’s been more than 18 months since I published this account of our inaugural ECWx event: ECWx 2018 Colombia.  At the time, the memory of the event was still fresh. I was excited by the potential of ECWx to deliver real value to smallholder coffee…

ECW 2018: Bolivia

ECW 2018: Bolivia

As 2018 draws to a close, we look back at an Intelligentsia milestone: our 10th annual Extraordinary Coffee Workshop, held September 6-13 in Bolivia.

ECWx | The Big Idea

ECWx | The Big Idea

Before joining the team at Intelligentsia in 2016, I spent 14 years working for an international development agency.  A long-time collaborator in that work with a track record of innovation had so much success in rolling out new initiatives in part because he thought through…

Being there

Being there

The core principles and standard practices of our Direct Trade program contribute to the resilience of our supply chain partners by insulating them from risk.

ECW: What’s risk got to do with it?

ECW: What’s risk got to do with it?

Once a year, we convene all our Direct Trade partners from around the world — more than 50 growers and representatives of farmer associations, washing stations and exporters from 15 countries on four continents — for a week of farm visits, cupping sessions, presentations, meetings,…

Busting the microlot myth

Busting the microlot myth

The idea that Direct Trade is all about microlots is pervasive.  And persistent. And, at least in our case, dead wrong.

Escaping the commodity trap

Escaping the commodity trap

From the day we opened the doors at our original location on Broadway in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood back in 1995, our business has been built on quality-based differentiation: we have always worked to deliver the best coffee and the most elevated experience in the marketplace.  When…

The signal and the noise

The signal and the noise

Arguably the most important principle of our Direct Trade model is the one implied in the name: a commitment to direct engagement with the farmers who grow our coffees.

The Four Horsemen

The Four Horsemen

Beginning about a decade ago, the term resilience began a steady climb to ascendancy in the field of international development.  In that domain, resilience refers to the ability of disadvantaged people to draw on different forms of capital — financial, natural, physical and social —…

Risk, resilience and Direct Trade

Risk, resilience and Direct Trade

Last month, I was invited by old friends at the Sustainable Food Lab to join its annual Leadership Summit in Mexico.  

The Intelligentsia Extraordinary Coffee Competition: Best in Inventory

The Intelligentsia Extraordinary Coffee Competition: Best in Inventory

Last month, we gathered our entire supply chain in San Francisco for the annual Intelligentsia Extraordinary Coffee Workshop. The event itself is nothing new: this is the ninth year in a row we have convened our Direct Trade partners from around the world for ECW,…

ECW 2017: Technology Tuesday

ECW 2017: Technology Tuesday

Today our ECW agenda is devoted entirely to the topic of technological innovation, mostly, but not exclusively, in the coffee sector. Geoff Watts, our Vice President of Coffee, Intelligentsia’s first employee 22 years ago and one of the chief intellectual and material authors of the…