Celebrating Erna Knutsen’s Specialty Coffee – 25 Magazine: Issue 6

Celebrating Erna Knutsen’s Specialty Coffee – 25 Magazine: Issue 6

MMy welcome to Issue 6 of 25 is deservedly dominated by a note of celebration and sadness, paying respect to the extraordinary Erna Knutsen, a true innovator who passed recently.

Most deserved of our respect for so many reasons, Ms. Knutsen coined the phrase “specialty coffee” in a 1974 publication of Tea & Coffee Trade Journal in the US. Not only the identifier of our niche in the coffee industry, her verbal capture of this new blossoming sector, along with her own work as a key entrepreneur in launching that niche, has resulted in her “specialty coffee” being the leading and bleeding edge of the multi-billion-euro global coffee industry. Remarkable as that visionary feat is, Ms. Knutsen also wrangled with what can only be described as the deep misogyny of a male-dominated industry, breaking wall and ceiling to realize her vision. She is a lesson to all of us. While it is with sadness our community greets news of her passing, it is correct to celebrate her enormous contribution and role in creating said community.

Also worthy of celebration is the 20th anniversary of the foundation of SCAE, created in 1998, reflecting the work of the already established SCAA, established in 1982. In this issue, Mick Wheeler, both a past President and past Executive Director of SCAE, reflects on those early days of specialty coffee in Europe and the important steps taken by innovators of that time, essentially building on the vision of Erna Knutsen.

Please enjoy the many stories of our global community within these pages, and thank you for being a part of the great story of specialty coffee, Erna Knutsen’s brainchild.

PAUL STACK
President, Specialty Coffee Association

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