by Margo Callaghan
The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) gathered in Portland, Ore. last week for its annual convention. As in past years, this group – the largest specialty coffee organization in the world – recognizes one individual upon whom it bestows a “Lifetime Achievement” award. This year Dan Cox of Shelburne received the prestigious honor.
Cox’s career in the coffee industry began in the early 1980s with the then fledgling Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, where he started working as a retail clerk. Over the course of his 11 years with the company, he would rise through the ranks to the position of executive vice president and partner. In 1993, Cox branched out and started his own business, Coffee Enterprises, in Burlington. The company initially began as a purveyor of private label coffee for major restaurants. With the growth of specialty coffee’s popularity, Cox was able to capitalize on specific needs in the rapidly expanding industry by offering his expertise in the area of quality control protocols and programs for the major players in the coffee field. In 1996, Cox’s company expanded to include Coffee Analysts, a coffee testing laboratory, and then Coffee Extracts and Ingredients. The latter supplies Ben and Jerry’s and others with proprietary recipes for coffee extracts to be featured in premium ice creams.
Throughout his career, which included three terms as president of the SCAA, Cox worked behind the scenes to improve the plight of coffee farmers. He was involved with the advent of the non-profit organization Coffee Kids, where he was one of the first members of its advisory board in the late 1980s. Coffee Kids is dedicated to helping children in coffee-farming communities.
In 1996, he co-founded another non-profit organization, Grounds for Health (GFH), an initiative focused on bringing free cervical cancer screening to women in coffee growing communities. So far, 30,000 women in four countries have been screened and treated, and GFH will be going to Peru this year for the first time.
Cox lives in Shelburne with his wife, artist Casey Blanchard. Their daughter Julia is currently attending Skidmore where she will be graduating this spring.
Read more about Dan Cox’s impact on the coffee industry in the book “Brewing Change, Behind the Bean at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters” by Rick Peyser.
by Margo Callaghan