In some ways, it’s remarkable that the Oregon Coffee Board only just now formed. When an industry reaches a certain maturity, both in size and number of members, trade groups form to bring attention to the industry’s contributions and pool its political clout. Maybe in the headlong rush and everyday grind of creating a world-class coffee scene in Oregon, no one had paused to say, “Hey, we should get together in a formal, organized way.”
Now they have, and following the Hawaii Coffee Association it’s the first state coffee board in the country. Mark Stell of Portland Roasting has been a prime catalyst for the group. He saw the examples of the Oregon Brewer’s Guild and Oregon Wine Board and believed that coffee could benefit from a similar unification. With several other well-known members of Portland’s coffee community, he pushed hard this year to form the board.
“As a group we’re going to highlight Oregon as an economic powerhouse when it comes to coffee,” he said at a recent planning meeting. To begin, that will mainly come through exposure at national and international trade shows with the intent to build on the Oregon brand of craft drinks that the beer, wine, and even distilling industries have fostered.
The board is still new enough that it’s drafting bylaws and its directors are temporary. Mark expects the vote for its first directors to happen this fall. In discussions with the expanding group of founding members, there’s a sense that the board is a natural extension of the collaboration seen throughout the coffee community. It’s commonplace for baristas to get together, formally or informally, and now it’s the owners’ turn to join forces to push Oregon coffee forward.
—Cory Eldridge is Fresh Cup’s editor.