Tuesday, August 22, 2006

the times they are a changin'

[disclaimer: as with most things, i see through a glass darkly on this issue and don't have all, or perhaps even a majority, of the facts. but that's what bloggers do, isn't it? as always, reader feedback is encouraged.]

it has been an observation of mine over the years that one can generally camp humans in one of two places: there are those who respect the past and what it meant and those who reach for the future and change. the reasons may be as varied as we all are and can even reach for the opposite scenario as the rationale for holding to one's preference: someone may resist change because one fears the future. sometimes people want to keep things the way they are because they are at a distinct advantage that way and want to pull up the ladder behind them. another may live their lives fomenting changes in the status quo because they have been hurt of otherwise disastisfied with "how things have always been done." or there is a revenge or hate factor: a have not decides to wreck the establishment for the haves simply because they are on the wrong side of society...and so forth.

i guess i tend to be somewhere toward the middle of the pendulum on the futurist side, meaning i realize that nothing lasts forever, and so long as fundamental moral, ethical or other similar weighty lines are not being crossed, blurred or destroyed, i may as well learn to adapt and embrace change and even try to put it to my advantage.

there has been a development in our industry that is causing storm clouds to form as sensibilities on either side begin to line up and count who's with them and why. the long and short of the scenario has to do with the oft-mentioned-in-this-blogspace alliance for coffee excellence's (read: the parent organization for cup of excellence) move to partner with the national coffee association in bringing about a new system for marketing quality coffees not being sold using the current c.o.e.'s auction system.

basically, there are some really great coffees out there that just miss the quality cut for c.o.e. auctions (admittedly, a very high bar to begin with), but that represent the blood, sweat and tears of a bunch of farmers who, without the promise of a c.o.e. auction, are faced with the prospect of realizing a capital loss on their crops. the new cooperation between c.o.e. and n.c.a. would help create an avenue for these very good coffees to find markets and allow more quality conscious farmers the means to "farm another day," so to speak.

so where's the problem? and what hath this to do with whether you're a futurist or a pastist? i'm glad you asked.

traditionally, this type of thing might be thought to fall under the purveyance and rubric of the specialty coffee association of america, the organization that typically coordinates the stuff at the high end of the spectrum, while "lesser coffees" and their peripherals are handled by the commodity-like bottom dwellers in the lowly n.c.a (or so the attitudes are spouting off). to be sure, the n.c.a. is in new territory. they generally do hang out with the big dogs in commodity coffee--those who prefer to package in cans instead of bags.

but i have several thoughts here to share, in case you were wondering, in no particular order.

first, i applaud the n.c.a. for agreeing to this move. it shows they are willing to move in directions they have not traditionally moved in, hopefully because they are recognizing the need to branch into higher quality coffee.

second, i applaud them and the a.c.e./c.o.e. because they are putting together the pieces to do this. a.c.e. doesn't have the logistical prowess the n.c.a. does to pull this off. on that level it makes perfect sense for a.c.e. to find someone who can help make this dream a reality.

third, i fold my hands (the opposite of applauding) at the s.c.a.a. on this one. yet again, they seem to be either falling out of touch or already so far out of touch with what can be because they are either too mired in their own worlds of what is, or because they deem themselves too noble to mix with the commoners down at the n.c.a. level, or for some other unknown backroom political squabbles. in any event, it stinks and it shows, at least to this blogger, that they are not doing their part to keep up with the needs of the industry.

fourth, competition is a good thing. say it with me: a good thing. if you don't think it is, just imagine for a second what you'd be paying for gasoline if there were only one gas company out there. if the n.c.a. wants to upgrade their image by upgrading the substance and product in which they deal, i say let's see what you got. if you can pull it off you will prove to not a few people in the industry (like myself) that we should pay attention to you because you are smart enough to align yourself with one of the most respected organizations (c.o.e.) out there.

does this mean the n.c.a. is the new s.c.a.a.? at this juncture, hardly. but the new s.c.a.a. seems about like the old s.c.a.a. (lots of smoke, not much fire) and one can only expect to roast without a fire for so long before one decides to gravitate toward someone with a ready match.

i say stop trying to attract people based on what you once were and go out and earn people's respect by what you're ready to do for them now and into the future. and in this scenario there is only one organization poised to do that. i will look forward to seeing what becomes of this alliance in the days to come.


At Wednesday, 23 August, 2006, Anonymous Mark said...

Amen, bro.


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