We wrap up our interview with former SCAA president Mark Inman by discussing how he adapts to changes in our industry.
BY KATRINA YENTCH
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Editor’s note: Yesterday, we began a discussion with longtime coffee professional Mark Inman, who served on the board of the formerly known Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) as president in 2008, and was also a board member of both the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) and Roasters Guild. Today we conclude the interview by talking about changes he’s seen in the industry and trends that he thinks may or may not succeed as they continue to grow.
You’ve been a part of the industry for a long time, and have likely seen a ton change within that time! How do you adapt and accept, reject, or work with changes as they develop?
In the old days, when I was younger, it would be to rebel against it and fight. I was a great activist and I would be ready to fight over concepts any day with people. But what I realized is that there’s a time and a place for that, that type of energy. And in many cases if you really want to see change happen you can’t be so combative all the time. And so you have to learn to nuance your influence.
A lot of the stuff like latte art, throwdowns, I think all of that stuff is great. Does it address a bigger picture in coffee? No, not really. But it’s got so much great energy. I think that when I was the chair of the WBC, we could’ve just done throwdowns in a café at nighttime with drinking and loud betting and that would’ve been just as entertaining as the really staged kind of stiff competition. So some of the things that people are doing these days are fantastic. So yeah, it’s to be more of a listener, to be more of an encourager, to be a mentor where you have to. But not everybody cares about my opinion or wants my input on whatever is happening in coffee today.
What are some trends you see in coffee this year that you’d like to see grow?
I think the more and more people that are focusing on farmers and equity within the coffee chain … that’s not really something that is a trend that consumers necessarily know about. That could be the support of women growers throughout the world. I was on the IWCA board for awhile, which seemed a bit ludicrous for a male in a women’s group, but to me, it was my fascination with what was going on there. I’ve done a lot because I’ve got ADD and I latch onto these ideas and want to know everything about them, so that was one.
The support of women growers, the equity chain, trying to give more to the farmer, and focus on varietal and getting consumers as excited about coffee as something like wine as something like the micro-beer movement.