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World Cup Coffee Symposium
Convenes in Amsterdam

BY TIMOTHY J. CASTLE

In a place where the term “coffee shop” has a few meanings, the true definition of coffee was discussed and debated in three days of informative dialogue about the coffee industry.

After successful shows in Vienna and Barcelona, we journeyed north to Amsterdam to celebrate the world’s oldest beverages from June 26 - June 28. Expectations and energy were high as we embarked on our 4th international tea and coffee symposium and exhibition. Two years in the making, the day had finally arrived to unveil all of our hard work to the expectant tea and coffee industries. The RAI Exhibition Centre was teeming with over 3,500 visitors, who exchanged ideas, learned about new products and services, and made new business contacts. Over 185 exhibitors proudly displayed their products for the curious attendees. There were over 97 countries represented at the conference, from exotic locales such as Estonia, Singapore, Uruguay and Zambia.

The Symposium had almost 300 visitors. Delegates who attended were treated to a wealth of information regarding their industries. The topics were diverse, as were the speakers, who represented over 16 countries. From the producing countries to the consuming countries, everyone had a voice. Delegates could pick and choose among topics of interest to them. In addition, they could move freely between the Coffee Symposium and the Tea Symposium.

Each morning, the two contingencies were joined to hear that day’s Keynote Speaker impart his expertise on the crowd. In a show of camaraderie, two industries with so much in common (besides the obvious of a traditionally brown beverage that can be served hot or cold, which competes with soda for its market share and is usually produced in one country and consumed in another) sat elbow to elbow, listening to discussions which could benefit members of both industries.

Roasters, Importers and Producers All in One Room?
To kick off the first day of the Symposium, Amsterdam local, Dick de Kock of The Coffee Company, a specialty coffee outlet, delivered the key-note speech to both the tea and coffee attendees. His speech included a multi-media presentation about ways to make coffee marketable and more widely consumed to the public. To strengthen his point, he showed two of his company’s commercials, which were very “edgy” and targeted to a younger audience. Since older consumers are already dedicated to both beverages, he emphasized the fact that both tea and coffee need to adjust to a newer, younger audience. He also reiterated the fact that exposure means everything. After his speech was over, the crowds split up and went to their respective symposium.

At the Coffee Symposium, chairman of the day, Joaquim Leite of Cooperativa Guaxupe moderated a discussion between coffee producers, importers and roasters about the imbalance of supply and demand, how to solve the oversupply problem, and how to define/promote a quality cup of coffee. The diverse panel had not only representatives from a wide spectrum of the industry but also from around globe. The panel included coffee traders, Neils Andresen, of Andira, who represented Vietnam; Alberto Hesse of Alberto Hesse Trieste, Italy; David Mbugua of the Coffee Board of Kenya; Karen St. Jean-Kufuor, of the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (ACPC); and roasters including Bertel Paulig, executive chairman of Paulig Ltd. and Don Schoenholt, chief executive officer of Gillies Coffee. This panel provided a spirited discussion on the state of the coffee industry today. The delegates were treated to some industry insight. One revelation was that East African coffee growers want to use the information superhighway to help them reach the highest prices possible for their beans.

The second forum also included members of the different factions of the industry as they answered questions about the supply chain, how to market coffee better and origins. The members of this panel included Patrick Bewley of Bewley’s Coffee, Ireland; Carlos Brando, Cafés do Brasil, Brazil; Trygve Klingenberg, Solberg & Hansen, Norway; Jaime Polit, ECOM, Switzerland, and Cesare Zamboni, Segafredo Zanetti, Italy . The discussion was a bit contentious at times, but there was a healthy respect among the participants. It was also informative. For example, Carlos Brando discussed the Brazilian campaign to promote coffee consumption among school children. A study of 150,000 children discovered that young coffee drinkers do better in school and are less likely to abuse illegal drugs.


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