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New NCA programs target small business needs: the NCA is introducing various challenging approaches and partnerships, and continuing their proficiency in educating the industry.

(Staff Report)

A new slate of NCA programs reflects an enhanced focus on the needs of smaller businesses across the industry. The new offerings extend the NCA's long tradition of education and service excellence to this growing industry that includes cafes and gourmet roasters. Currently, a majority of NCA members are small and medium-sized companies.

Cup of Excellence

Among the initiatives, NCA formed a strategic alliance with the Cup of Excellence Program (COE) of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Inc. (ACE). The NCA-COE alliance will extend the COE's reach to more industry participants and strengthen the link between producers, U.S. roasters and NCA members.

"The alliance reflects NCA's ongoing commitment to quality and focus on premium coffees as an important sector of the industry and membership," said Robert E Nelson, NCA president & c.e.o. "NCA's broad U.S. industry expertise, membership and services can strengthen and broaden Cup of Excellence's outstanding contributions to the entire U.S. coffee industry; supporting quality and providing tremendous benefits to producers as well as consumers."

"Our two organizations share a deep appreciation of premium coffees and the benefits that greater knowledge of the variables affecting quality have for consumers and the industry," said COE program director, Susie Spindler. "Our joint focus on creating enthusiasm and consumer appreciation for exemplary and unique flavor profiles will benefit the entire coffee industry."

The link between the NCA and the COE enables the development of comprehensive strategies to raise the profile and appeal of COE coffees across all segments of the industry. The alliance will also focus on strengthening the financial backing for COE, thereby facilitating the expansion of the program into a greater number of producing nations.

NCA Webinar Series

The NCA also introduced their Webinar Series, which is a monthly series of web-based seminars hosted by industry experts. Participants log onto a designated website and become part of a live, interactive virtual classroom. This system enables attendees to interact with presenters in real-time via voice or text messaging, along with features like Webcams and polling.

The Webinars cover topics with special value for smaller companies in the cafe and gourmet roaster segments. For 2006, topics included espresso basics, brewing essentials, cafe branding, coffee-shop employee training, and marketing and promoting certified coffees. The sessions were hosted by Sherri Johns of WholeCup Coffee Consulting, Karalynn McDermott of FETCO, Tom Mitchell of Strategic Coffee Concepts, Bruce Milletto of Bellissimo Infogroup, and Rick Peyser of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. A new lineup of Webinars will be offered in 2007.

Training Videos

Also new from the NCA are training videos, which offer fundamental coffee knowledge for all industry professionals. The videos cover roasting and agronomy, and are targeted to give non-technical professionals a fuller understanding of the coffee production and roasting process. The videos are a free resource to NCA members (as online streamed video), and are available on DVD for purchase by non-members.

The roasting video aims to give cafe personnel, as well as roasting company employees that work away from the roasting plant, a basic knowledge of the process. The agronomy video takes importer, roaster and retail employees on a virtual tour of a coffee farm, running through the basic steps involved in growing, packing and milling coffee.

Educational Offerings

Programming at NCA's 2006 Fall Educational Conference also included new sessions targeted to the smaller, gourmet sector. Among these topics were espresso excellence; roasting, grinding and brewing innovations; retail marketing; coffee as a component of nutritional and energy supplements; and new cold and iced coffee beverages.

The Conference offered its first barista demonstration featuring competition-winning baristas plying their craft. Sherri Johns, a driving force in the world of barista championships, hosted the session. In another first, an intensive espresso course, was offered at the training facility of Lavazza. Participants got formal training, as well as a chance to try their own hand at the exacting, yet creative art of espresso-based beverage creation.

Also, NCA has assembled some of the most popular book titles that address the specific needs of coffee house owners and entrepreneurs. Topics ranging from technical information on coffee manufacturing to how to start your own coffee bar.

Government Affairs

Most of NCA's legislative affairs activities also have a direct or indirect impact on small business income and expenses. Whether it's blocking regulations that would increase port fees or force expensive labeling requirements, NCA responds to any national or state initiatives that would hurt their bottom line.

NCA successfully convinced California Governor Schwarzenegger to veto legislation that would have placed an additional tax burden on imported green coffee. That cost, totaling more than $500 million a year, would have been passed along to all roasters and retailers.
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Title Annotation:Association Updates
Comment:New NCA programs target small business needs: the NCA is introducing various challenging approaches and partnerships, and continuing their proficiency in educating the industry.(Association Updates)
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Words:782
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