The Color of Coffee Collective is hosting its second annual symposium in Houston, Texas, from March 10-12th, 2023. Color of Coffee, and its sibling organization, Koffee With Keith, were founded by Keith Hawkins, a 20+ year coffee professional, to foster conversation and provide educational opportunities across the coffee supply chain.
Why It Matters: The inequities in coffee are well-documented, from how farmers are paid for coffee to the wages baristas make behind the bar. Many of these inequities disproportionally fall on people of color. “The Color of Coffee Collective was created to challenge the specialty coffee industry to make equitable changes at every facet of the coffee supply chain,” states a press release about the event.
“I am so excited that there is a coffee event that is truly by and for people of color,” says Hana Yoshimoto, Market Development Manager at Oatly, an oat milk company that is one of the event’s sponsors. “Pouring love into those who experience so many challenges in our industry? I don’t know if I can think of a better reason to come together.”
The Full Extraction: Last year’s Symposium took place in May 2022 and featured panel discussions like “The History of Coffee” and “Origin Perspectives: The Story of Coffee from the Farmer and Producers Perspective.” The 2022 event culminated with a keynote address from Phyllis Johnson of BD Imports and the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity, along with the official premiere of the documentary Cxffeeblack To Africa.
This year’s Symposium is just as jam-packed: the event starts on Friday, March 10th, with a private boat tour of the Port of Houston, followed by a latte art throwdown hosted by Segundo Coffee Lab, Barista Life LA, and La Marzocco.
On Saturday, patrons can attend various breakout sessions, including “Barista Conversations,” “Self Care in Coffee,” and “Buying and Shipping Green Beans.” Attendees can wind down the night at an afterparty at Tipping Point hosted by Oatly. Sunday wraps up with a Sunday Coffee Church service at Doshi House and a live performance by Propaganda and local artists.
What’s More: Hawkins notes that, despite his deep love of coffee and the community he’s found within the industry, he has been “tremendously disappointed with the lack of representation of people of color in the industry’s leadership and customer-facing roles. As a non-profit organization, Hawkins hopes Color of Coffee can continue to inspire conversations and make “substantive changes that will reflect the coffee supply chain from seed to cup,” he says.
And even if you’re not into coffee, Color of Coffee’s Symposium is still a place to connect and learn. “Creating a coffee culture that is genuine in its efforts to be inclusive and informed who just happens to love the people we serve as much as we love coffee,” says Hawkins. “We want to see everyone win because when that happens, we will cease to exist. Come join us!”