Geoff Watts fell into the coffee industry by accident.
He started out as a barista and became very interested in the chemistry of coffee roasting after falling in love with the idea of coffee having a large spectrum of taste.
What he never imagined was the doors his new-found love for coffee would open. Most importantly, how his current role as the vice president of coffee for Intelligentsia, a Chicago-based artisan coffee company founded in 1995, would inflict positive change in coffee producing communities abroad.
“It’s a matter of acknowledging that coffee can be a beautiful, complex, delicious beverage that reaches culinary heights as high as any wine or beer or food and then making the selfish decision to reach for that,” says Watts, who has been working with Intelligentsia for the past 23 years.
“Just that simple act creates a chain reaction all the way back to a farm that enables somebody who may have been growing coffee their whole life… to move from being a harvester to being an entrepreneur and influencing their friends around them. It literally could change the trajectory of an entire community’s life. Just that decision.”
Inspired by his travels, Watts formed Intelligentsia's Extraordinary Coffee Workshop (ECW), a summit for coffee farmers to come together and study method, share knowledge, and contribute ideas to improve coffee's intrinsic quality. ECW was started in 2009 and is hosted in a different country each year.
Watch the above Beyond the Brand episode to learn more about Intelligentsia’s work abroad and one of the passionate people leading the effort behind it!