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New AFCA Director Gilbert Gatali on the 20th African Fine Coffees Conference

AFCA Conference

A scene from a previous AFCA conference and expo. All images courtesy of the AFCA.

As the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) prepares for the 20th iteration of its flagship event, the African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition, the group is operating under new executive leadership and a renewed commitment to its members. 

Longtime coffee professional Gilbert Gatali began his role as the executive director in June 2023. Formerly managing director at the Rwanda Small Holder Specialty Coffee Company (Rwashoscco) and then founding partner at vertically integrated Rwandan coffee company KZ Noir, Gatali is now embracing his role promoting coffee at the continental level. 

“I have always been passionate about coffee and the people behind it,” Gatali recently told DCN. “I have always believed coffee has the potential to transform lives — in fact, I have witnessed it.”

Gatali and the AFCA are now working with the Inter-African Coffee Organization (IACO), the Robusta Coffee Agency of Africa and Madagascar (ACRAM) and the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority (ECTA) to present this year’s African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition, which is taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Gilbert Gatali

AFCA Executive Director Gilbert Gatali.

“Ethiopia is known for being the birthplace of coffee, and what better origin than Ethiopia to showcase where some of the finest specialty coffee comes from,” Gatali said of the event, which holds the theme “Specialty Coffee at Origin.”

Presentations and opportunities within the conference are designed to highlight AFCA’s two core activities: trade and market expansion; and product and quality enhancement. Business-to-business meetings will provide space for coffee producers and buyers to connect, while all attendees of the show will receive access to numerous market insights and connections. 

The event will also feature the Africa Youth Barista Championship and the AFCA-led Taste of Harvest green coffee competition. The Taste of Harvest involves individual member countries and then provides awards at the continental level, in order to help promote “quality as a driver for value addition,” according to Gatali. 

AFCA coffee conference

The AFCA is also working on an ambitious plan to develop coffee campuses through partnerships in each of its member countries. Currently, AFCA consists of 11 member countries, including Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

“[The AFCA] is constantly looking at innovative ways to deliver value to the vast membership base that we have,” Gatali said. “We want to professionalize the African fine coffee sector through building capacity, creating market linkages and hosting coffee events.”

The African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition takes place Feb. 6-10 at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa. Registration is available here. 

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