Our Team


The Cup of Excellence program and trademark are owned and managed by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Inc. (ACE), a US-based non-profit organization. ACE works in partnership with the host country coffee organizations to execute the Cup of Excellence competitions and ensuing online auctions.

ACE is overseen by a Board of Directors. A small team of staff manages every aspect of the COE program to ensure success.

  • Darrin Daniel, USA
    Darrin Daniel, USA Executive Director

    Darrin Daniel began his career in specialty coffee in the ’80s working as a barista and later as a roaster’s assistant for the Eugene, Oregon roaster/retailer Coffee Corner, Ltd. He has worked for coffee companies in Seattle, Portland and Denver. His early work with illycaffè began his interest and growth into coffee education and training. Daniel’s was the Head Green Coffee Buyer for Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Director of Sourcing for Allegro Coffee/Whole Foods Market. Daniel’s has travelled to over 34 countries sourcing green coffee and tea. He has forged numerous relationships with coffee growers, mill managers and private and public organizations in Latin America, East Africa and the Indo/Pacific.

    He has served on the Sustainability Council for the SCA and the Executive Council for the Roasters Guild of America. He currently serves on the advisory board for Roast Magazine. Brandon Loper’s 2014 Documentary A Film About Coffee features Daniel’s travels to Rwanda as Head Coffee Buyer for Stumptown Coffee Roasters. He has presented at numerous trade events; including SCA Expo in Seattle, Washington, Re:verb in Guangzhou, China and Sustainable Harvest’s annual Let’s Talk Coffee in Panama. His writings have appeared in Roast Magazine, SCA’s Magazine 25, Barista Magazine and Standart Magazine. Daniel’s previously served as a  judge on 5 Cup of Excellence Juries, beginning with his first in Honduras in 2005. In 2015 he was awarded Imbibe Magazine’s Coffee Person of the Year.

    Outside of coffee, Daniel’s is a student of poetry and loves Mountain Biking and cooking. He can’t tell a good joke and is a horrible dancer.

  • Gary Urrutia, Honduras
    Gary Urrutia, Honduras Field Coordinator

    Gary became part of the ACE team in 2018. His passion for coffee started in 2014, working for Volcafe in Honduras as part of the production department.  Eventually, he joined the purchase management team and dealt with procurement around Honduras. Majoring in Logistics Engineering, his thesis was specialty coffee production feasibility; working in coffee allowed him to further develop his skills and learn every day from experiences in the supply chain from bean to cup. After Volcafe, Gary worked in budget management for the National Institute of Technical Education, but he had on his mind the thought of a former coworker who stated, “once in coffee, always in coffee.” His amazing experiences in coffee provoked a strong desire to come back to this fascinating industry. Now, as a Field Coordinator for COE, based in Honduras but overlooking other origins, Gary enjoys working in operations and logistics. He likes traveling and meeting people from different cultures, as well as eating and Sunday barbeques.

  • Alex Pond, USA
    Alex Pond, USA Education and Lab Coordinator

    Alex Pond has worked in specialty coffee for over a decade. In 2005, Alex started in coffee working as a barista in his home town of Eugene, Oregon. In 2009 he competed in, and won, the Northwest Regional Barista Competition. Alex has had the honor of working guest barista shifts in Iceland and Sweden, and has volunteered for numerous national and international coffee events. In 2012 Alex joined the team at Portland’s Heart Coffee Roasters. Over the course of a nearly 6 years at Heart he worked his way from barista, to managing and leading
    their training department, to working in quality control and green buying. Outside of coffee Alex enjoys traveling, experiencing Oregon’s incredible natural beauty, and Cats. He is also a pretty good cook.

  • Erin Wang, USA
    Erin Wang, USA Cup of Excellence Senior Manager

    Erin was born in Texas and has lived most of her life in California.  She is the 2013 US Cup Tasters Champion and is a certified Q-grader Arabica since 2012.  In 2004, she started working part-time as a barista while studying.  She studied Managerial Economics at The University of California Davis.  In 2007, while in University, she did a coffee internship with the Pacific Coast Coffee Association.  After University Erin worked for Morgan Stanley as a Consulting Group Analyst and was registered as a financial advisor, but returned back to coffee in 2011 with Volcafe Specialty Coffee in Petaluma, California.  In 2013, she moved with Volcafe to live in Honduras working as their Specialty Projects and Sustainable Manager.  After Honduras, she moved to live in East Timor for 2 years working with Olam, where she started and managed their Quality Control Department from zero.  Erin returned back to the USA at the end of 2017 to work for Cup of Excellence in Portland.  She’s excited to be back and happy to use her great wealth of knowledge to manage the COE program.  Outside of work she enjoys yoga, hiking and traveling.

  • Hannah Cocanour, USA
    Hannah Cocanour, USA Information & Content Coordinator

    Hannah was born in Seattle, Washington. She moved down here after graduating from Gonzaga University where she studied Political Science.  This is her first time working in the coffee industry, but she’s very excited to be working with such a global community. Her previous experience is in digital marketing and website management.

    In her free time, Hannah is a ceramic potter who loves to cook, do yoga, and go to concerts.

  • Laurie Linn, USA
    Laurie Linn, USA Marketing and Member Liaison

    Laurie joined ACE in 2015. Although she was new to the world of coffee at that time, she has always been a lover of the best coffee she could find. Prior to ACE she worked for a community college in the business department overseeing a variety of projects. At ACE, Laurie works with members and marketing, Her favorite perk of the job is making new connections and friends all around the globe. Laurie loves music, playing the ukulele, painting, drawing and travel…all while enjoying a cup of COE coffee.

  • Ruth McCabe, USA
    Ruth McCabe, USA Administrative Assistant

    Ruth joined ACE in 2019 as our newest staff member and as such provides logistical support wherever its needed.  In her off hours, she loves to spend time visiting National Parks and pursuing her artwork.

  • Sophie, USA
    Sophie, USA Office Greeter

    Sophie does very little around the office and spends most of her time napping, though she does greet all of our guests and deliveries. In her free time she enjoys chasing squirrels, chewing on her toys, and taking more naps.

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