The Northwest coffee community came together on Thursday to welcome Debbie, Hill, who has just been named the Alliance for Coffee Excellence’s (ACE) new executive director. Debbie replaces Susie Spindler, who founded the organization and is now retiring in Montana.
The Alliance for Coffee Excellence is best known for organizing the Cup of Excellence (COE) competitions held in coffee-producing countries around the world. ACE and the COE are credited with giving otherwise unknown farmers the opportunity to showcase amazing coffees and fetch high prices from roasters in specialty-coffee markets around the world.
“Replacing the founder of any organization is a large task,” says Jason Long, the ACE Board of Directors chair, “and in the case of Cup of Excellence and Susie Spindler, the task was even larger. But we are thrilled to find someone like Debbie to continue the organization and expand ACE’s role and outreach into the future.”
A former lawyer and consultant, Debbie has an extensive background in nonprofit work and community leadership. “Her work as a consultant for the last four years has been focused on building community partnerships and public policy advocacy, including work on economic development efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, building a school in Mali, and serving as a development officer for Arizona State University College of Technology and Innovation,” reads a press release issued by ACE.
Barista Magazine came together with Roast Magazine to co-host a party with ACE on Thursday, which was attended by a large number of roasters, green buyers, cafe owners, and baristas in the Pacific Northwest. As at any gathering of ACE members and coffee enthusiasts, the vibe was convivial and enthusiastic, with such longtime ACE members as Jeff Babcock, who owns and operates Zoka Coffee in Seattle, having made the long drive down just for the occasion, joining ACE’s Portland neighbor members Portland Roasting, as well as local green importer Sustainable Harvest. Many others representing roasters from throughout Washington and Oregon attended the event.
Top of the to-do list for this party: Meeting Debbie, who couldn’t have been more thrilled to shake hands with and get to know her new specialty-coffee community. Over exquisite appetizers from Foster & Dobbs, a great IPA from Crooked Fence in Boise, wines from Oregon vineyards, and a gorgeous cake made with coffee from Nossa Familia by the talented bakers at Pastry Girl, party guests welcomed Debbie into the fold.
ACE’s marketing and management director Anna Abatzoglou, helped Debbie with a raffle for an assortment of amazing prizes, such as a holiday gift basket of beer and swag from Roast, rare bags of COE coffees from roasters including Zoka Coffee and Nossa Familia, an Africa-themed gift basket of wine from South Africa and a traditional scarf from Kenya from Barista Magazine, samples of every COE coffee from 2014, a limited-edition ACE press pot, and more.
If the party was an indication, Debbie’s going to fit in just fine with the specialty-coffee community. Her vivacious nature, experience in nonprofit work, and whip-smart insights won over the crowd in Portland on Thursday. Stay tuned for news about ACE and COE activities, and opportunities to get to know Debbie. We think she’s awesome.