Yesterday, April 6 2021, was the second and final day of Virtual Producer & Roaster Forum, the industry-leading digital coffee sector event bringing professionals together from around the world.
Over both days, Virtual PRF welcomed more than 1,500 attendees, including over 1,000 producers. Over 800 companies and organisations were represented at the event, and participants came from more than 50 different countries.
On the second day in particular, there was renewed focus on the event’s capacity for networking, as attendees used the Virtual Booths, Tables, and Speed Networking features to continue some of the discussions started by panels and lectures.
To learn more about what happened at Virtual PRF’s second day, read on.
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The second day of Virtual PRF kicked off with a series of lectures. Food For Farmers‘ Marcela Pino started with her lecture, entitled Crop Diversification: Scaling Impact.
Crop diversification is a key topic for coffee producers; Marcela’s talk looked at how farmers can start growing other cash crops to make themselves more financially stable if there are problems with the year’s harvest.
After this, the event heard from French research centre CIRAD‘s Fred Georget. Fred’s microlecture, Creation of New Varieties of Arabica to Cope With The Impact of Climate Change, examined research from CIRAD and other agricultural research bodies.
It looked at the impact of climate change on coffee producers, and examined how new hybrid varieties of the arabica plant are being cultivated to resist it.
Following Fred’s microlecture, attendees heard from Mercon Coffee Group‘s Jessenia Argüello. Jessenia’s lecture, entitled How LIFT Builds A Better Coffee World, explored Mercon’s LIFT program and how it improves sustainability along the entire coffee supply chain.
After these three lectures, Virtual PRF welcomed the first panel of its second day, featuring speakers from Lutheran World Relief. The Youth and Women in Coffee Growing: The Business Case for Inclusive Coffee Industry panel featured four LWR representatives: Rick Peyser, Ana Ruth Guerra, Dilicia Vasquez, and Roselle Agner.
In this panel, Rick, Ana, Dilicia, and Roselle explored the various challenges for female and young coffee growers in Latin American coffee production, and looked at why greater inclusivity can support sustainability more widely.
The panel was followed by a lecture from Accademia del Caffe Espresso‘s Massimo Battaglia, Understanding Coffee Through Research and Interaction with Origins. Massimo’s lecture argued that hands-on research and interaction at origin is driving greater awareness about and understanding of coffee production in both consuming and producing countries.
This panel explored trends among one of the most important demographics in the coffee sector: millennials. People aged 23 to 38 make up the largest percentage of the world’s coffee drinkers, understandably making them a key target market for roasters, coffee shops, and producers alike.
Next came the highly-anticipated Market Access: The Middle East panel, featuring Maria Pavani of Tres Marias Coffee, Osamah Alawwam of The Roasting House, Abdulrahman Saeed of Sabcomeed, and Karthikeyan Rajendran of THREE Specialty Coffee.
Maria, Abdulrahman, Osamah, and Karthikeyan spoke at length about opportunities for businesses operating or looking to operate in the Middle East, one of the fastest-growing coffee markets in the world.
The next panel was entitled Profiling The North American Coffee Drinker, and featured Andi Trindle Mersch of Philz Coffee, Adam Pesce of Reunion Island Coffee Roasters, and Jennifer Yeatts of Higher Grounds Trading Co.
With an estimate of more than 150 million coffee drinkers on the continent, North America represents a key coffee consuming market. Andi, Adam, and Jennifer spoke about what consumers are increasingly looking for in the US and Canada, and looked at how brands can capitalise on these trends.
This was followed by a lecture from GrainPro‘s Diego Lara: How Storage and Handling Affect the Quality of Green Coffee.
Post-harvest is a critical area for coffee producers; Diego broke down how quality storage and careful handling can combat environmental issues and maximise quality for the end consumer.
After a short coffee break, Virtual PRF returned with a lecture from Simonelli Group‘s Maurizio Giuli, entitled Coffee Waves & The Role of Espresso. This talk focused on the role of espresso throughout coffee’s storied history, from mass commercialisation in the 20th century to the emergence of the chain coffee shop and beyond.
The event then finished up with two final panel discussions. The first was Exotic Coffees & Processing Methods, featuring Dimitri Slukin of Fest Coffee Mission, Ricardo Oteros of Supracafe, and Alex Brooks of Lallemand.
This panel explored how producers are experimenting with processing, and using new and innovative techniques to create flavour profiles that are complex, unfamiliar, and exotic. It also examined how processing can be leveraged not just to improve coffee quality, but also to maintain it.
The last panel of the event was entitled FOB vs Farmgate Price, featuring Sam MacCuaig of Keynote Coffee, Stephen Bannister of Condesa Co Lab, Mayra Orellana Powell of Royal Coffee and Catracha Coffee, and Maritza Midence of Highland Coffee Company.
This prerecorded panel discussion featured four green coffee experts looking to answer a simple question: do higher prices necessarily mean more profit for the producer? It explored how coffee shops and roasters can answer this question, and examined whether or not paying more for coffee makes the supply chain more sustainable.
The event closed with a brief session from organisers Julio Guevara and Henry Wilson, who thanked everyone for attending and reflected on some of the feedback they had received.
With more than 1,500 attendees, higher engagement than ever on day two, and a number of post-panel discussions continuing the conversation after each main session had concluded, Virtual PRF arguably achieved its aim of promoting constructive discussion about the real issues and innovations in the coffee sector.
To learn more about Virtual PRF and future Producer & Roaster Forums, visit the event’s website here.
For more info on Virtual PRF speakers, read our article here.
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