Longtime coffee professional Marcus Young has joined coffee software company Cropster with the title of demand generation manager for education, content and event creation.
The Q Grader, authorized SCA trainer, natural wine maker and past coffee competition judge was previously the director of business operations for Portland, Oregon-based green coffee trader Sustainable Harvest and the co-founder of Portland-focused Central City Coffee.
As Young now takes a first crack at building business for Cropster, we took the opportunity to ask him these three questions:
DCN: What about coffee inspires you most?
Marcus Young: The people inspire me. Coffee attracts the most amazing people in the world.
Our industry, like all, has serious issues related to diversity and inclusivity — but many in specialty coffee have refused to accept the status quo. This work is happening at every step of the supply chain: Farmers are working alongside NGOs to increase incomes at the farm and for farm workers; baristas and roasters are working to create cafes and companies that are more inclusive; and others are working to diversify all levels of specialty coffee. We have groups dedicated to environmental action and a future for coffee in the face of climate change and other factors.
My peers show up and do the hard work of actively fighting to improve our industry, sometimes risking personal reputation and income to do the right thing instead of taking the easy path.
The fact that we have an activist movement fighting to make coffee more diverse, more inclusive, and more accessible is incredibly uplifting. I am inspired every day to do my part and to listen and learn.
What about coffee troubles you most?
I am troubled by the inequities in coffee, and that despite the years of effort by so many, we continue to fail on the most basic promise of an equitable industry.
The reality of a volatile and often speculative C-Market that excludes many producers and the downward pricing pressures from multinational roasting companies, plus profit-driven vertical integration causes real problems for growers and local communities reliant on seasonal income from coffee production.
Highly technified production by huge producers further keeps prices down and harms coffee producers with fewer resources who often work with less sophisticated methods.
On the side of roasting and retailing, there is far too little diversity in the demographics of many coffee consumers and working at all levels in many coffee companies. We need to increase diversity at all levels.
I see improvements and new bright spots in our industry. I’m motivated to find ways to positively impact livelihoods earned from coffee, both upstream and downstream in the coffee industry. But, I am an impatient optimist; we need to do more, faster, and collectively. That’s one reason I’ve moved into the technology space at Cropster.
If it weren’t for coffee, what would you be doing?
Over the past few years I’ve started making natural wine with my wife Devorah and buddy Valerian. The results have been delicious. We’re not adding any yeasts or sulfites; we’re not filtering; and we’re doing all the production by hand at our home.
The required attention to detail and data collection to pull this off, and the tasty bottles produced at the end of the process is so rewarding. It connects me to the land and farmers. We’re building relationships with minimal intervention vineyards and planting and caring for a small number of vines. I could easily see landing in the wine world if coffee didn’t have my heart.
Is there someone in coffee who inspired you? Nominate them for DCN’s “Three Questions Series” here.