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265. Nice guys (don’t always) finish last

The 2012 edition of the SCAA Expo proved that nice guys don’t always finish last — among the event’s big winners were some of the nicest guys in coffee.

2012 SCAA Sustainability Award.

This year’s award went to Thanksgiving Coffee for its pioneering work with PROGRESO, REDI and the Dukunde Kawa cooperative to help make coffee farming communities in Rwanda more resilient in the face of climate change.  Accepting on behalf of Thankgsiving was its president, Ben Corey-Moran, who in addition to being thoughtful, sincere and visionary, is simply one of the genuinely nicest people out there.

The award-winning project, titled “Responding to Climate Change: Building Community Based Resilience,” was featured in the recent sustainability issue of The Specialty Coffee Chronicle.  Read about it here.  Better yet, watch a video about the project here.

Congratulations, Ben!

(SCAA typo of the year: The project description printed on the award referred to Thanksgiving’s promotion of community-based “reliance” — the opposite of the goal of “resilience” that the project sought to achieve.  Oops.)

Best new equipment at origin.

Cropster won both the SCAA’s Best New Product and the People’s Choice Award in the “Equipment at Origin” category for its C-sar data management platform that helps everyone on the coffee chain from growers to roasters manage their businesses for greater efficiency and impact.  We believe in the product so much that we are building the database for our Borderlands Coffee Project in Colombia and Ecuador on it.

The three crazy Austrians behind Cropster — Andreas, Martin and Norbert — are not just impressive social entrepreneurs, but happen also to be as nice as they come.

Congratulations, gents!

Brewing Change.

OK, so this wasn’t really an award, but it was an achievement worth celebrating.  Rick Peyser of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters released a book — cowritten by Coffee Kids Board Member Bill Mares and titled “Brewing Change” — that tells the story of his career in coffee.  Read a review of the book here.  Better yet, buy a copy here.  (All profits will benefit Food4Farmers.)

I recently saw Bill referred to on Twitter as a Renaissance Man, and I can’t think of a better way to characterize his restless intellect and record of achievement in so many different areas.  And yes, he, too is a preposterously nice guy.

Rick is of course a tireless leader on issues of sustainability.  He has also been a great friend and mentor to countless people like me in the coffee trade.  As a 40-ish colleague in coffee once told me, “Rick is like everyone’s favorite uncle.”

Congratulations, Rick and Bill!

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(N.B.: I understand there were women winners at SCAA 2012, too.  I also understand Katie Carguilo is a gem of a person.  I am not discriminating here — I just don’t know her yet!)

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