World Coffee Producers Forum, 2017

The World Coffee Producers Forum had its first meeting in 2017 in Medellín, Colombia and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. The first forum had representatives from about 40 different coffee-producing countries from around the world, as well as several dignitaries. The titles of a lot of the speakers lends credence to the importance this forum has to the coffee sector.

But why do I find this forum to have been so consequential? First, coffee is largely produced by smallholder farmers and that means it has a large social impact. It is also, obviously something that is produced in rural areas and is often associated with poverty on the one hand, and on the other, it is rarely associated with wealth. There is also a disconnect between the profit margins at the demand end of the value change versus the supply side. This disconnect is often codified by the statement ‘coffee should be more expensive.’ And one of the goals of this forum, was to explore ways to increase the incomes of producers and by extension, alleviate poverty in rural areas of producing countries, which also happen to frequently be developing countries.

Therefore a large theme of many of the speakers on the first day was how to use coffee as a tool to improve economies and in turn, move development forward at a national level. You can see this especially in the Clinton/Santos panel discussion as well as Jeffrey Sachs’ keynote speech.

A second reason this forum was consequential was because of the focus on climate change. The coffee industry is both impacted by and has a big impact on climate change. It can impact climate change in a number of ways, including contributing to or reducing bio-diversity, contributing to or reducing levels of plastic waste, etc. In several of the discussions and speeches, climate change was a central concern and clearly something that must be considered at all levels of the industry.

A forum like this often produces so much information, so many topics to ponder, deconstruct, reconstruct, etc, that it becomes difficult to put all of one’s thoughts together into a cohesive thing and this is certainly the case for me here. However, what follows is my best attempt at at least archiving some of the information and independent thoughts I’ve had and published about the event.

The original web page for the forum has been taken down, presumably to be replaced with something for the new, not-for-profit that has been formed as a result of the forum. Because the old web page is largely gone (though some of it was archived by the Way Back Machine), I’ve included a basic run-down of the program, the speakers, etc below.

Speakers and Panelists

  • President of the Republic of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos
  • Chairman Of The Board Of Directors of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, Mr. Carlos Alberto Cardona
  • President of the Republic Of Costa Rica, Mr. Luis Guillermo Solís
  • President of the Republic Of Honduras, Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández
  • Vice President of the Republic Of El Salvador, Mr. Oscar Ortiz
  • Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization, Mr. José D. Sette
  • Panel discussion: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and former U.S. President William J. Clinton
  • Fernando Serpa, Vice President Sourcing & Procurement Latin America, Walmart
  • Trung Nam Khai Tran, Chairman, 123 Global JSC, Member, Vicofa
  • Juan Pablo Bonilla, Manager of the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Sector, IDB's
  • Ric Rhinehardt, President, Specialty Coffee Association
  • Hernando Duque, Chief Technical Officer, Colombian Coffee Growers Federation
  • Andrea Illy, Chairman, Illycaffe S.p.A.
  • Fred Kawuma, Secretary General, Inter African Coffee Organization IACO
  • Chris Von Zastrow, Director Coffee Sustainability, Starbucks
  • Ronald Peters, Executive Director, ICAFE
  • Alfredo Moisés, Café Montegrande, Mexico
  • René León, Executive Secretary, Promecafé
  • Ishak Lukenge, Chairman, African Fine Coffees Association
  • Vanusia Nogueira, Executive Director, Brazil Specialty Coffees Association BSCA
  • Marcelo Burity, Head of Green Coffee Development, Nestlé
  • Silas Brasileiro, Executive President, Conselho Nacional do Café CNC Brazil
  • Annette Pensel, Executive Director, Global Coffee Platform
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs, Univ. Prof. Director, Center for Sustainable Development, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • Daniel Martz, Director Corporate Affairs, Jacobs Douwe Egberts
  • Bopanna Manavittara Belliappa, Managing Partner, Equinox Inc
  • Britta Wyss Bisang, Program Director, UTZ Certified
  • Enselme Ghouton, President, Agence des Cafés Robusta d'Afrique et Madagascar ACRAM


Day 1

  • Remarks by the President of the Republic of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos
  • Remarks by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, Mr. Carlos Alberto Cardona
  • Remarks by the president of the Republic of Costa Rica, Mr. Luis Guillermo Solis
  • Remarks by the President of the Republic of Honduras, Mr. Juan Orlando Hernandez
  • Remarks by the Vice Presdident of the Republic of El Salvador, Mr. Oscar Ortiz
  • Remarks by the Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization, Mr. Jose D. Sette
  • Panel discussion on "Economic Sustainability and Rural Development To Promote Global Stability and Democracy", with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Former U.S. President William J. Clinton
  • Opening Keynote Speech
  • Three Panel Discussion Groups

Day 2

  • Ministerial Panel: Governmental Politics for the Development of the Coffee Production
  • Installation of the Simultaneous Working Groups
  • Presentation: Conclusions and recomendations for each of the working groups
  • Presentation of the Conclusions and Recommendation sof the Working Groups To The Plenary
  • Approval of the Final Declaration of the World Coffee Producers Forum
  • Closing Dinner at the Botanical Garden

Day 3 (field trip)

Arrival at Esteban Jaramillo Farm

Station 1: National Center for Coffee Research (Cenicafe) & Rosario Station: History and Operation
Alvaro Gaitan, Directory of the National Center for Coffee Research - CENICAFE
Carlos Gonzalo Meijia, Research Assistant, Experimentation

Station 2: Coffee Climate Network
Carolina Jaramillo, Scientific Investigator II, Agroclimatology
Flor Edith Acevedo, Scientific Investigator I, Entomology

Station 3: Varieties of Colombian Coffee
Claudia Florez, Research Scientist II, Genetic Improvement
Carlos Maldonado, Research Scientist I, Genetic Improvement

Station 4: Integrated Management of Pests and Diseases-ENT & PATH
Pablo Benavides, Research Scientist III, Entomology
Carlos Ariel Angel, Research Scientist III, Phytopathology

Station 5: Harvest and Benefits of Coffee in Colombia
Carlos Oliveros, Lead Researcher, Post-harvest
Juan Rodrigo Sanz, Research Scientist III, Post-harvest

Station 6: Quality
Gloria Ines Puerta, Research Scientist III, Quality
Valentina Osorio, Quality

Station 7: Soils in the Colombian Coffee Zone
Siavosh Sadeghian, Research Scientist II, Soils
Alveiro Salamanca, Research Scientist I, Soils

Station 8: Coffee Production Systems in Colombia
Fernando Farfan, Research Scientist II, Plant Science Lucio Navarro, Research Scientist I, Entomology

Day 4 (field trip)

Visit Santa Isabel coffee farm

Tour of the Jerico Municipality

Visit to the Jerico Coffee Cooperative

Working Groups

  • Production/productivity
  • Price Volatility
  • Generational Takeover and Labor
  • Climate Change

Origin Trip

  • Cenicafé's research station, El Rosario
  • Santa Isabel Estate
  • and overnight accomadations at Esteban Jaramillo farm

Final Declaration

The final product of this first forum was the Final Declaration, which clearly defines the problem world coffee producers face as well as the forum’s next steps, which include the creation of an action plan and a world-wide committee consisting of representatives from both consuming and producing coffee regions. You can view the Final Declaration here.

Just recently, in April of 2018, it was announced that the forum will become a nonprofit organization and will have its next forum in 2019, location TBD. This is great news, as the forum gives the producers a collective, organized voice, as well as an opportunity to get that voice heard by those who can make a difference; industry and government leaders.

Audio and transcriptions

I recorded a lot of the presentations and panel discussions and have transcribed some. Some recordings are better than others and I did my best with the transcriptions. Let me know if you find problems!

Day 1

José Sette, Executive Director, ICO (transcribed)
President Clinton and President Santos, panel discussion (transcribed)
Jeffrey Sachs, economist, Keynote (transcribed)
Jeffrey Sachs, economist, Q & A
Economic Sustainability, panel discussion
Rural Development and Economic Indicators Britta Wyss Bisang, Bopana Manavittara Belliappa, Ishak Lukenge
Rural Development and Economic Indicators, Part 2 Sebastian Troeng, Trung Nam Khai Tran, Daiel Martz
Rural Development and Economic Indicators, Part 3 Sebastian Troeng, Trung Nam Khai Tran, Daiel Martz
Corey Watts, Principal, BrightWater , Adaptation to Climate Change

Twitter posts

I have created a Twitter moment of my tweets from the event, embedded below. You can also view it on my Twitter account.

Youtube playlist of all vlog entries

Articles written

Instagram Photos

Below are some of my photos from Instagram. You can find other people's photos from the forum, using the hashtag #WorldCoffeeProducersForum here.

And we're off to see some coffee trees! #WorldCoffeeProducersForum

A post shared by Michael Wright (@michael.c.wright) on

Photos on Flickr

I created an album in flickr of all of my photos from the event that you can find here.
Colombia '17