January 26, 2021

Introducing Virtual Producer & Roaster Forum 2021


The past 12 months have fundamentally changed the way in which coffee professionals communicate and collaborate across the sector. All across the industry, physical events have been cancelled and virtual conferences, digital panel discussions, and online learning courses have emerged in their place.

However, in response to the demand for a world-class, cutting-edge virtual coffee experience that sets a new standard for digital events in the sector, we are proud to announce the upcoming Virtual Producer & Roaster Forum (Virtual PRF) and the Producer Roaster Matchmaking programme.

Virtual PRF 2021 will take place on April 5 & 6, 2021. Read on to learn more about what’s planned for the event.

Learn more about Virtual PRF here

Virtual PRF: An overview

All around the world, businesses have adapted to a landscape of uncertainty by taking their events online.

While this has changed and evolved quickly over the last 12 months, the PRF team outlined a clear aim for this virtual event from day one: delivering a humanised digital event experience that drives green coffee sales in Honduras.

Virtual PRF will leverage the industry-leading Airmeet platform to deliver an event that is fundamentally centred on networking. The coffee sector is grounded in positive, direct relationships, and that is at the heart of this digital experience.

The PRF team has spent months communicating with stakeholders in Honduras and beyond to develop the agenda for this event. Sponsors, partners, and other key industry organisations have defined the need for a safe and accessible forum that still delivers same coffee sector expertise that characterised previous Producer & Roaster Forums.

In response to these needs, Virtual PRF will offer a customised, all-in-one digital coffee sector event experience that focuses on sharing knowledge and building relationships. It will take place across two days in April, offering dozens of panel discussions, presentations, and virtual booths, as well as a range of networking opportunities.

Karla Calidonio is the Head of Promotion at the Honduran Coffee Institute, IHCAFE, a PRF Diamond Sponsor. She says: “We think Virtual PRF 2021 will facilitate relationships between Honduran producers and international buyers despite the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the coffee sector.

“IHCAFE encourages all actors involved in the coffee supply chain, particularly roasters and coffee buyers, to participate in this event.”

Introducing the platform

Airmeet is an all-in-one digital event platform that supports attendees to build real connections online. Virtual PRF will be the first time Airmeet has been used in the coffee sector.

By using a tailored, customised version of this industry-leading platform, the event will provide attendees with the ability to network virtually in a way that the coffee industry has never previously seen.

Virtual PRF will provide all attendees with the ability to start one-to-one discussions with other stakeholders at the event, and its social lounge and virtual booths will support brands and sponsors to hold the right conversations with the right people.

Martin Mayorga is the Founder and CEO of Mayorga Organics, a PRF Diamond Sponsor. He says: “It’s great to see that the team has developed a custom digital platform that can deliver value for stakeholders across the wider supply chain, with a particular focus on driving green coffee sales in Honduras.”

Virtual PRF will offer four main “areas” for guests to network one-to-one, attend panel discussions, join targeted group discussions, and more. These are:

  • The stage. The stage will be where all major presentations, panel discussions, and exhibitions take place throughout the course of Virtual PRF. An exciting range of speakers and panel discussions are planned, which will cover some of the most pressing topics in today’s coffee sector. Guests will be able to tag and “bookmark” future events that they want to attend; they will then be able to register these in their individual calendars, which will send an alert ahead of time.
  • The reception. The reception area will be an official welcome area for all attendees. In the reception, both attendees and speakers will be provided with an overview with everything going on at the event. This will include an overview of the stage, sponsor branding, and various other features.
  • The arena. The arena is an exhibition area for companies and sponsors from all across the coffee sector. Within the arena, a number of virtual booths will be hosted by stakeholders from all areas of the industry. Attendees will be able to freely drop into these booths to interact directly with representatives of the companies hosting them. Brands can use these virtual booths to hold one-to-one video conversations, product demonstrations, share contact details, and more.
  • The social lounge. The social lounge is an area for networking which consists of multiple virtual tables. Guests will be able to join tables themed around certain topics (such as trading & logistics or European market trends) or stages in the supply chain (such as roasting or coffee farming). These tables will consist of up to eight people discussing a certain topic at one time, although many more can watch. 

Beyond this, the event will also have a landing page that showcases key event details (such as the time and description of certain presentations and discussions), a speed networking feature to allow attendees to speak one-to-one for a limited period of time, and simultaneous live translation into either English or Spanish for select presentations and panel discussions.

What Does This Mean For The Coffee Sector?

The aim for Virtual PRF, as with previous physical forums, is to support coffee professionals to build meaningful relationships, share knowledge, and drive coffee sales.

Mark Zhou is the Founder and CEO of MTPak Coffee, a PRF Gold Sponsor. He says: “2020 was a challenging, game-changing year. However, it has taught us the value of strong connections and good, solid business relationships in the coffee sector. 

“We need to incentivise relationship building more widely throughout the coffee supply chain in new ways, by leveraging innovative digital tools and platforms.”

Virtual PRF and the custom platform that has been developed for the event will be a world-first in the coffee industry. The aim is for the platform to drive meaningful interaction between coffee producers, roasters, and other major industry stakeholders.

Digitalisation is already a key topic in the coffee sector. Using this event to bring people together from all around the world, across various steps of the value chain, presents an invaluable opportunity.

However, in addition to Virtual PRF, we are also announcing the launch of Producer Roaster Matchmaking. This separate activity has been planned to meet the principal aim of all past and future PRF events: driving green coffee sales.

Producer Roaster Matchmaking will create an inclusive sales portal for producers for both micro and macro lots. This will meet the needs of farmers of all sizes, while also providing an attractive option for larger roasters and green coffee buyers. Increased financial security will be provided by a minimum order size of half a container.

Roasters who are interested can view the matchmaking website to learn more and contact exporters who are working directly with the PRF team.

Elisa Welchez is the Brand Manager at Café Honduras, a PRF Host and Producer Roaster Matchmaking partner mill. She says: “The matchmaking activity represents a great opportunity for coffee producers in Honduras.

“This past year we were not able to network at the usual fairs, so the platform fills a gap and gives us a chance to present our coffee to potential customers. We are definitely looking forward to experimenting and making the most of this innovative tool provided by the PRF team.”

With Virtual PRF and the Producer Roaster Matchmaking programme, the PRF team aims to leverage an industry-leading digital events platform to realise the future of virtual coffee sector engagement.

Martin says that this is more important than ever. “The wider coffee supply chain [needs to engage] with farmers in a way that is both productive and supportive,” he explains. “I’m very excited that PRF has adapted to the current reality.”

Karla adds: “Our producers proved their ability to respond to the challenges they faced throughout 2020. We have started 2021 with positive expectations, and are excited for what this year will bring.

“Involvement from a range of industry stakeholders will mean attendees can help support the coffee-producing families who have strived to maintain their production despite the challenges of the past 12 months.”

Virtual PRF will take place on April 5 and 6, 2021. For more information, you can visit the PRF website here, as well as the FAQs here (sponsors), here (technical), and here (attendees).

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