With thousands of specialty coffee professionals gathered in Seattle this weekend for the Global Specialty Coffee Expo, the Coffee Technicians Guild seized the occasion to hold its largest meeting yet on Friday, with nearly 100 people in attendance in a ballroom at the Washington State Convention Center.
An official trade guild of the Specialty Coffee Association, the Coffee Technicians Guild—created in 2016—has the distinction of being the first guild created since the merging of the Specialty Coffee Associations of America and Europe formed one global association. The guild’s aim is to provide a voice for technicians within the international coffee community, as well as standards and accreditation for that community. They’ve established three committees—events, membership, and education—and set about getting the word out and gathering members.
At the Friday meeting and mixer, the guild’s leadership team took to the stage one by one to introduce what the guild has accomplished so far and call for the community to make their voices heard in this newly formed guild. “We’ve got a ton of exciting things going on, but we’re still at the crowd-sourcing stage,” said Hylan Joseph, chair of the guild’s membership committee. “We need your help. We need ideas. We need you guys to help guide us in how we’re going to drive what’s going to be valuable to members.”
Core to the Coffee Technicians Guild’s strategy is hosting membership-driven events growing local communities that will serve the greater international community. The guild will host community-focused events such as ‘Gearhead’ parties bringing together seasoned and new technicians to participate in hands-on activities, learn skills, and share knowledge. “Every technician knows some little trick that gets the job done a little quicker and easier,” Marty Roe, founder of Kansas City’s About the Coffee and a founding Coffee Technicians Guild member, said at the Friday meeting. “These events will offer a forum for us to share those things.”
The guild will have larger gatherings as well, building on their initial summit in November 2016 in Kansas City that brought together 50 technicians. Another mixer will be held at June’s World of Coffee event in Budapest, Hungary, with two more Coffee Technicians Guild summits to follow in 2017: one in Greensboro, N.C., July 20-22, and a to-be-announced summit in Europe later in the year. “Engaging our global communities at large is a big push for us this year since we are the first guild to form in this environment,” said Shad Baiz, the chair of the guild, on Friday.
The guild is currently assembling its Executive Council, with nominations open until June 23 and elections taking place July 3-10. Once the council is in place and initial outreach happens in 2017, the guild will set its sights on creating standardized educational platforms for technicians. “2018 will be our big education push,” said Shad at the event, “where we will set up a formal pathway so we can certify technicians.”
Interested in learning more and getting involved with this quickly evolving guild? They’re eager to hear from the global community and can be contacted here. The industry will surely be keeping a close watch on the Coffee Technicians Guild as it takes shape and forms an important presence in the specialty coffee community.