Let us introduce you to those who are working hard behind the scenes to ensure the quality and sustainability of specialty coffee around the world
Mr. Ben Pitts WCR Vice Chairman and Secretary Royal Cup Coffee
Ben Pitts is the Vice President of Food Service and Hospitality for Royal Cup Coffee. Royal Cup Coffee was founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 1896 and over the past 100 years, Royal Cup has grown from its small, hometown roots to become a major importer, roaster and distributor of premium coffees and teas. Serving customers in the food service, office and specialty coffee markets, Royal Cup now reaches markets throughout the United States, into Mexico and the Caribbean. Ben has been with Royal Cup Coffee for 22 years. He is originally from Clinton, South Carolina, and has three daughters and a son, who is the oldest and a senior at Auburn.Mr. Shawn Hamilton WCR Treasurer Java City
Shawn Hamilton is the Vice-President of Operations and Coffee Buyer for Java City, located in Sacramento, California. Since 1985, Java City has pioneered initiatives designed to enhance the global village, support the communities and protect the environment. Shawn has been involved in the Specialty Coffee industry since 1987. During his tenure he has worked in almost every facet of the industry from Barista, packaging, roasting, quality control, coffee buying, purchasing, futures and options hedging to executive management. He was instrumental in several mergers and acquisitions within the industry. His experience also includes a proven dedication to the industry and volunteering. Shawn has been a volunteer in Colombia to teach and evaluate cuppers for Coffee Corps, participates as a lead judge in the annual Cupping for Quality for the Rainforest Alliance, and has been a judge for Cup of Excellence. In addition, he is one of the founding members of the Roasters Guild and served for six years on the Executive Council. While on the Executive Council, Shawn served as Chairman and was instrumental in the creation of the overall structure of the Guild. He has also served on the Board of the Pacific Coast Coffee Association.Mr. Patrick Criteser Former WCR Board Chairman Tillamook
Patrick Criteser is the former WCR Board Chairman, Co-CEO of Farmer Brothers Company and President and CEO of Coffee Bean International. Founded in San Francisco in 1912 by a door-to-door coffee salesman, Farmer Brothers is a leading, nation-wide manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of coffee, tea and culinary products. Coffee Bean International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Farmer Brothers, was founded in 1972 as a tiny storefront operation, and is now one of the largest and most respected specialty coffee roasters in the nation. Coffee Bean International was acquired by Farmer Brothers in 2007. Patrick joined Coffee Bean International in 2004 and was named Co-CEO of Farmer Brothers in 2011. Prior to joining Farmer Brothers and Coffee Bean International, he held positions in manufacturing management, strategic planning, and marketing with Procter & Gamble, Disney and Nike. He was also a principal at SmartForest Ventures, where he invested in, and served on the board of, multiple early-stage start-up companies.
BOARD MEMBERSMr. Kevin Jackson The J.M. Smucker Company Mr. Mike Keown Farmer Brothers/Coffee Bean International
Mr. Nigel Hargraves MARS Mr. Sugi Liverani Furio Illy Caffe s.p.a
Ric Rhinehart is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Prior to taking on this position he was the President of a Los Angeles, California based roaster and retailer. Mr. Rhinehart has over the past twenty years held executive positions in several coffee & tea firms. Mr. Rhinehart has designed, developed, and produced a wide range of both tea and coffee products and is co-author of Tea Basics a primer on premium tea, published by John Wiley & Sons in 1998. Mr. Rhinehart is a frequent presenter and panelist on industry issues and trends at trade shows and symposiums. He has served as a Director and Vice President for the Specialty Coffee Association of America, as a Director for Coffee Kids, the Coffee Quality Institute and he was a founding member of the American Premium Tea Institute, where he served on the Board of Directors and as President.Mr. Matt Saurage Community Coffee
Mr. Brett Smith Counter Culture Coffee
Brett Smith is the co-founder and President of Counter Culture Coffee of Durham, North Carolina. Founded in 1995, Counter Culture Coffee is a different kind of coffee company. Dedicated to finding and bringing to market the most exciting, authentic, and delicious coffees in the world, Counter Culture Coffee approaches their work with a passion for the ideal of coffee perfection, a dedication to real sustainability, and a commitment to cutting-edge education throughout the coffee chain. Brett also serves as a director for SouthWings; a non-profit promoting environmental conservation through aviation.
Ms. Christy Thorns Allegro Coffee
Mr. Doug Welsh Peet’s Coffee & Tea
EX-OFFICIO MEMBERSDr. Tim Schilling WCR Executive Director Dr. Vincent Petiard WCR Technical Advisory Committee Chairman
Mr. Murray Ross Paragon Coffee Trading
Murray Ross started his career in the coffee industry in 1986 with a major national coffee roaster. His roles there grew to include managing private label packaging, marketing, coffee and tea brand product development, and finally as a corporate Director of National Accounts. He left to take over as Vice President and General Manager of a major national ready-to-drink tea manufacturer and distributor with responsibilities covering commodity purchasing, manufacturing, quality control, sales all and distribution He is currently working as a trading executive for Paragon Coffee Trading Co. LP of White Plains, NY, founded in 1986 and one of the foremost coffee importing and trading houses in the US. He is also an investor/partner in an emerging national restaurant chain with locations in numerous states. He resides full time in Birmingham, AL.