The ACE Board of Directors casts vision for the shape and direction of the organization and provides support and guidance for ACE staff and members
Cory BushAntwerp, Belgium - BOARD CHAIR
Cory Bush is the Managing Director of 32cup Specialty Coffee Merchants in Antwerp, Belgium. His coffee career began in East Africa, where he was a regional manager for the TechnoServe coffee initiative, a program which sought to increase smallholder coffee incomes. He then worked as a Senior Trader with Falcon Coffees in the United Kingdom, where he built collaborative, quality-focused supply chains across Africa and Central America. His latest position takes him to Europe where is the Managing Director of the specialty green coffee division of the Swiss trade house Sucafina, with clients across nearly every country in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa. He was one of the inaugural Q-grader classes that graduated in Rwanda back in 2010. Cory previously served on the SCA Sustainability Council, and has been a speaker at the ICO, AFCA, and various other coffee-focused events.
Noelia VillalobosASOCIACIÓN DE CAFÉS FINOS DE COSTA RICA, Costa Rica - VICE CHAIR
Noelia Villalobos is the Executive Director of the Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica and of Sintercafé (International Coffee Week, initials in Spanish) since 2009. Both associations work hard to promote production and consumption of specialty Costa Rican coffee, in and out of Costa Rica. Sintercafé is an annual event recognized worldwide which incorporates both sides of the coffee value chain. SCACR has coordinated COE since its beginnings in Costa Rica, being also the in-country partner for CQI and the WCE counterparty. Noelia holds a Master’s degree in Promotional Marketing from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
Geoff Watts has spent nearly two decades as the chief coffee buyer for Intelligentsia Coffee, now located in Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and New York City, New York. He has served as an official judge in over 30 international coffee competitions and was a pioneer of the Direct Trade approach to coffee sourcing, which uniquely suits him for his position with ACE. Mr. Watts is the past-chair of the ACE Board and a member of the Executive Committee.
Aleco ChigounisRed Fox, USA - Board Member
Aleco is Co-Founder and President of Red Fox Coffee Merchants in Berkeley, CA USA & Red Fox Sourcing Company in Lima, Peru. He began cupping in his late teens at his family’s roasting business, Lacas Coffee Company. Immediately upon graduating university Aleco headed south to Costa Rica to work for The Coffee Source before joining The Neumann Kaffe Gruppe’s San Jose operation, CECA, managing the link between roasters and producers across Central America. Aleco moved on to Portland to inherit the Director of Coffee role from Duane Sorenson. Aleco has extensive experience developing coffee quality & supply chains which he continues to do today at the helm of Red Fox. He has served on close to a dozen COE juries since his first jury in Bolivia 2008.
Hidetaka HayashiHayashi Coffee Institute, Japan - Hayashi Coffee Institute, Japan - Emeritus
Hidetaka Hayashi is President and Founder of Hayashi Coffee Institute. He has also served as a consultant to a number of coffee entities for the last 25 years, including International Trade Centre programs. Hidetaka has been a Committee Member of SCAA International Relations Committee since 2002, and was a former President of SCAJ and a former ACE board member. He has participated in many COE competitions, including the original COE competition in Brazil.
Keita MatsumotoWATARU & CO., JAPAN - BOARD MEMBER
Keita is the Deputy G.M. Sales Dept. of Wataru & Co., Ltd. He has over 18 years of coffee experience and has served on about 15 Cup of Excellence juries. He is multilingual English/Spanish/Japanese. His career started with Wataru in 2000. In 2002 he became Assistant of quality control for Institute del Café Costa Rica ( Icafe). From 2004- 2008 he lived in Guatemala and worked again for Wataru as a representative in their Central American purchasing office. In 2005 he became the first Q grader in Japan but was already licensed Classificado Chamber of Commerce in Santos Brazil from 2000 and a licensed SCAA cupping judge from 2004. 2006 El Salvador was his first Cup of Excellence jury.
Kentaro Maruyama is president and founder of Maruyama Coffee, one of the foremost specialty coffee brands in Japan. In 2001, Kentaro organized Japanese buyers into the influential Japan Roaster’s Network (former Mikatajuku group), which has since been the successful bidder for many top Cup of Excellence lots. Kentaro has been an international jury member more than 50 times over the years. Kentaro is a former Chair of the ACE Board.
Susie SpindlerFounder, USA - Advisory to the Board - EMERITUS
Susie Spindler was instrumental in creating the Cup of Excellence (COE) competition and auction in 1999 and was the Founder and Executive Director of The Alliance for Coffee Excellence-the non-profit organization that owns Cup of Excellence. From its beginning Spindler managed, molded and expanded this renowned global program and directed ACE with a small staff until 2015. She was asked to return to its helm in 2016 and has once again stepped back as advisor and board treasurer. Spindler began her career in coffee more years ago than she will admit but at a time when soft drinks were more popular and coffee was barely identified by country and almost never by farm or variety. At that time she created several successful coffee programs for the International Coffee Organization that helped jump start specialty coffee in the USA. She has also been a founder and marketing director of an endangered wildlife facility, president of a small advertising agency and heavily involved in consumer product marketing research. She holds a graduate degree in international marketing and management.
In 2009 Tim Taylor founded Chicago’s Ipsento Coffee — a farm to table coffee roasting and retail operation. He has since sold the company and now remains in the coffee sector as an independent contractor. Tim has been working in specialty coffee since 2007 when he began importing coffee directly from producers. Tim’s vision has always involved sourcing exceptional coffees from quality-minded producers who receive sustainable pay premiums for their efforts. In 2011, Tim served on his first Cup of Excellence jury and has been committed to serving on juries and bidding on auction lots ever since.
Vanusia Nogueria has been the Executive Director of the Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA) since 2008. BSCA was influential in the first Cup of Excellence competition and has partnered with ACE from the beginning. Vanusia holds a number of advanced business degrees and was a consulting partner at Price Waterhouse Coopers for 15 years. She is also a supervisory board member for UTZ Certified, a nonprofit organization focusing on sustainable farming.
Yuko ItoiTimes Club, Japan - BOARD MEMBER
Founder and CEO of the influential specialty coffee roaster “Time’s Club Inc.” which is a been successful for 33 years. She founded and is the buyer of the group C_COOP established in 2004 and has worked with several small specialty roasters in Japan and other countries. Yuko has served on more than 45 Cup of Excellence juries and purchased more than 100 Cup of Excellence lots including several winners. She established the IWCA Japan Chapter after 10 years of dedication and effort, and currently serves as its chair. She is also the ex-chair of the Roast Masters committee of the Specialty Coffee Association of Japan.
Yunson LeeTerarosa Coffee, Republic of Korea - Board Member
Yunson Lee is the CEO of Terarosa Coffee in South Korea. Over the last ten years, her devotion to excellence and transparency in green bean purchasing has resulted in her becoming one of the most knowledgeable and experienced buyers in the explosive South Korean market. Previously a journalist, Lee continues to write articles and books on coffee origins, preparations and theory. Her company, Terarosa has been dedicated to the Cup of Excellence cause for the last ten years; having bought 70 Cup of Excellence lots which they proudly serve in their 15 coffee shops.
Paul StewartTechnoServe, USA - Board Member
Paul Stewart is Global Coffee Director at TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization that harnesses the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. Paul joined TechnoServe in 2002 where he led a team in Tanzania that developed a coffee wet-processing business model that has been rolled out to over 200 farmer cooperatives across East Africa and created new fully-washed coffees in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Paul resides in Ethiopia, where he oversees programs spanning 13 countries that provide training to 50,000 smallholder coffee farmers on climate-smart farming techniques each month and coach hundreds of coffee enterprises on sustainable business practices.
Diego De La CerdaGuatemala - Board Member
Since I graduated from college, Escuela de Agricultura de la Region Tropical Humeda, in 1998, I’ve been working on my family farms. In 2007 we decided to participate in COE. That year we were 1st place! That experience introduced me to a new specialty market and put me in touch with small specialty roasters. Since 2007 we have been participating in COE with our farms, and a lot of our clients come from COE.
In all these years I have learned a lot about the COE program and I think I can bring a lot of ideas to support and improve the experience of COE. I understand all the coffee chain and I can help other producers to improve the quality of the coffee and teach them how they can take competitive advantage of the COE program.
Aman AdinewMETAD Agricultural Development plc, Ethiopia - Board Member
A U.S. national and Ethiopian native, Aman Adinew after 26 years of living in the U.S. and working as an executive at DHL, Northwest Airlines and 3M, METAD’s founder and CEO, returned to Ethiopia to help modernize Ethiopia’s commodity market. At the invitation of the UNDP, Aman came in as the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the now world-revered Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). Aman focused on establishing quality control and certifications, inventory management, and reengineering the supply chain’s processes. After transitioning his role to new management, Aman left ECX and established a new specialty coffee company, one that would give back to the people of his country and bring the highest quality coffee to consumes; and so METAD was formed. Aman is a third-generation coffee farmer as well. METAD owns and operates farms in Hambela and Yirgacheffe (Gedeb) as well as the First SCAA Certified Coffee Quality Laboratory in Africa. METAD works with over 6,500 Out-growers at both farm locations and support over 65,000 household members. Aman holds an MBA in marketing and strategic management from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota