It has been some time since I have posted anything here. I have “thought I should” many, many times. I am now moved to say something when, ironically, I feel my voice, un-voiced for so long, was being misappropriated. Some SCAA Past Presidents (I have collegially referred to our motley crew as the “Passed Out Presidents,”) have seemed to assert that we are “all” against SCAA/SCAE unification when, in fact, only eleven of 38 (well, 37, footnote to follow) who had the opportunity, signed the original anti-unification communication. Further, it is my understanding that all ten of the most recent SCAA past presidents support the merger. The language that has been used against unification of the two trade associations has alarmed me on many levels. The following is a response to the anti-unification rhetoric that has come from a very vocal sub-segment of our group, which, as far as I can tell, compose less than a third of our total. This communication was written in collaboration with others (I am not the “leader” of this group) and relied heavily on the contributions of Paul Thornton and Mike Ebert. The signers of this specific message follow and they include me, Timothy James Castle, Coffee Curmudgeon (although, between the two of us, it is not settled as to who is whose avatar):
“Dear fellow SCAA members –
We are writing to you as a group of former SCAA presidents who are concerned about the level of discourse in regards to the possible unification of the Specialty Coffee Association of American (SCAA) and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). While we all favor unification, we would like to encourage you to do your own research, learn about this issue and make a personal decision. This unification has been voted on by the SCAE and their membership has approved it. Our membership has been voting on this same measure since July 5, 2016 , and will be voting until August 5, 2016. There is still time to engage in the dialog regarding the unification (or not), let your concerns be voiced and your opinion heard. Between now and July 5, there will be a number of webinars and live forums in which you may participate. Just as important, we encourage dialog between yourself and other SCAA members you know and on social media.
We believe that there are compelling reasons for our two associations to unite and valid concerns that many of you may want to address before you make your decision. But we do believe that the SCAA’s Board of Directors and the SCAA’s executive management are acting in good faith in recommending the merger. We believe the financial data they are presenting is accurate and current. We also respect and acknowledge the recent vote of the SCAE’s membership to proceed with unification.
In writing to you, we are asking for your help, as we believe that the more of you that diligently research this issue, the better our decision-making process will be, and the better able we will be to proceed with the decision we make. Contrary to some harsh, false and unpleasant rhetoric we’ve read recently, we believe that the more members who are involved in this decision, and the more that this issue is discussed, the better off we all will be.
If you aren’t the voting member of your company or organization we encourage you to find out how your company’s vote will be placed. If you are the voting member, we encourage you to research this very important decision and ask your colleagues directly or through social media, what they have heard and what their thoughts are on this issue before placing your vote.
Recently, with regard to the citizens of the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union (Brexit) we’ve heard and read a lot about citizens of the U.K. asking themselves, after the referendum, what their vote meant and what the ramifications of it would be. We don’t want to make that same mistake. While the stakes are lower for us, we a mere trade association and not a nation, after all, we are, as an industry, responsible for the future livelihoods of millions of people around the world who are responsible for picking coffee on one end of the value chain to serving cups of coffee to hundreds of millions of coffee drinkers every day, on the other.
This issue isn’t only about you, it’s about a lot of people who depend upon our industry to get it right and add value to coffee for all of us — value that, we believe, increases when it is shared. So please learn as much as you can about this important issue and vote with the hope that you are doing the best you can for your business and our industry.