NKG PACE Celebrates Its First Graduating Class

6. April 2023

Hoboken, N.J., USA; Hamburg, Germany; April 6, 2023 Neumann Kaffee Gruppe and the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity are delighted to announce the graduation of the first class of NKG PACE Partners!

The program, developed by NKG and the CCRE to welcome greater diversity into the U.S. coffee industry, offers three individuals each year employment at a Neumann Gruppe USA company, with both QC apprentice work and a comprehensive education in green coffee and the functions of a green coffee importer.

The inaugural Partners — Jayy Terrell, Charles Umeano and Porttia Portis — all completed monthly themed coursework, performed daily QC lab responsibilities, studied specialty and commercial coffees and markets, completed the Arabica Q Grader exam, spent time with NKG export company Ceca in Costa Rica, attended a number of industry shows, learned from NKG colleagues from London to Mexico to Papua New Guinea, and overall gained an tremendous education in coffee — while meaningfully contributing to their respective teams. They will be greatly missed.*

“While some cautioned that we were taking a big risk with this program, we chose to trust our instinct. We are happy and proud that it worked out so spectacularly,” said David M. Neumann, CEO of Neumann Kaffee Gruppe. “Of course, a lot of that has to do with the quality of the three participants. They were fantastic individuals from the start, and now they’re also highly skilled, with outstanding educations in coffee. Any company in coffee will be very lucky to have them.”

Mr. Neumann continued, “As I was sure they would, everyone at Atlas Coffee Importers, InterAmerican Coffee and Rothfos Corporation welcomed the Partners, created a positive atmosphere and helped to make this an overwhelmingly positive experience. I am proud of our North American (and Costa Rican!) colleagues and friends who were so key to this success.”

Phyllis Johnson, founding director of the CCRE, also offered her congratulations to Porttia, Charles and Jayy on completing the program. “The inaugural class of PACE partners brought value to the workspaces at NKG, offering their trusts, talents and commitments in helping to further diversify the U.S. coffee industry where diversity is lacking,” she said. “I commend David Neumann and NKG for taking action, offering leadership, courage and resources, in order to build a life-changing educational program that speaks to greater diversity. I’m thankful to the CCRE Board, volunteers and sponsors who helped to also make our work possible.”

Ms. Johnson continued, “Inaction is complicity in upholding inequities. We cannot advance through spectatorship. We invite all leaders in the coffee industry to join us in this work. A shift to build a corporate culture that welcomes diverse ideas and individuals is one that will thrive in the future.”

While the coffee community has been verbally supportive of the program, it’s still in need of financial supporters. “We hope to continue NKG PACE, which has genuinely enriched everyone who connected with it,” said Mr. Neumann. “But we’ve said from the start that it will only be possible with support from the coffee community. We’re still hopeful that will happen.”

New Beginnings

Charles Umeano has been hired by La Colombe, in New York City, while InterAmerican Coffee has hired Jayy Terrell to be the Quality Specialist in its San Diego office (thus the asterisk). Porttia Portis will begin looking for employment opportunities in July. She brought strong writing and marketing talents with her to Seattle, and while at Atlas Coffee Importers developed not only excellent QC skills but a passion for coffee education. We welcome any company with a relevant opportunity to either contact us or Porttia directly at .

On April 26, the second class of NKG Partners will join Neumann Gruppe USA and begin their new roles. We look forward to welcoming them in and to the positive ways they’ll no doubt leave their imprints on the program and help to further improve it each year. Congratulations to our incoming Partners and to our NKG PACE Graduates!

Please note that the images provided here may only be used for editorial purposes and must be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the source (source: Neumann Kaffee Gruppe). We welcome information about how the materials are used as well as specimen copies.

NKG PACE is a paid, one-year green-coffee training program and an endeavor of Neumann Kaffee Gruppe and the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity. The program welcomes in three individuals per year and is open to Black Americans, a group that experiences the largest gap in employment and decision-making roles in the U.S. coffee industry. Press inquiries may be addressed to .   

Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) is the world’s leading green coffee service and trading group. Its teams are comprises of more than 3,000 coffee specialists across 26 countries, who together represent an unparalleled knowledge of green coffee. 

Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity (CCRE) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to build greater racial diversity and equity in the U.S. coffee industry. Formed in July 2020, against the backdrop of racial tension and social unrest across the United States, the CCRE was born following the overwhelming response to Phyllis Johnson’s Open Letter to U.S. coffee professionals.