Driving economic sustainability for farmers and companies: Thoughts from our coffee expert Daniel

From June 6-8th the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is hosting the World of Coffee conference in Berlin, and our colleague Daniel Pedersen will be giving a lecture on data-driven insights into the business case of companies to invest in sustainable coffee. At NewForesight, Daniel has established himself as the coffee specialist with a track record in building business cases for companies to invest in sustainability. Before he leaves, I wanted to know more about his passion for coffee, what his journey has been like here at NewForesight so far and – of course – what his favorite type of coffee is.

I just read that the Danes drink more coffee than the Dutch – nearly 9 kg per person per year! Tell me a little about where your love for coffee started?

My passion for coffee started long before I began my NewForesight career. I have always been interested in the dynamics of the coffee value chain, specifically the complexity of coffee in terms of geography (within and across countries), variations of production methods and the incredible gradient of qualities.

During my Master studies in Agricultural Economics, I conducted extensive field work in Angola for my thesis on the potential for the private sector to rehabilitate the Angolan coffee sector following the 40 years of civil war. Throughout this period, I collaborated extensively with knowledgeable agronomists and coffee experts and realized first-hand the impressive difference between well-maintained and poorly maintained coffee plots.

Now working for NewForesight I get to further develop my coffee (and other agro-commodities) knowledge by combining quantitative modelling with in-depth technical and actionable advice to drive implementation of sustainability interventions.

What drew you to NewForesight?

After I graduated, I was interested in working for a company that focused on economic sustainability for both farmers and companies. NewForesight offered just that – a mindset that focuses on smallholders and market-driven solutions to solve key sustainability challenges.

To me, economic sustainability is the driving force behind change. Personally, a farmer will not be able to adopt better environmental practices without being able to afford a basic standard of living: therefore, driving a better economic outlook needs to be the foundation. Just the same, to ensure long-term sustained efforts requires a business case for companies, and the sector at large.

Working for NewForesight allows me to contribute to changing the mindset within companies and institutions, which is instrumental to drive large-scale and long-term change. A super exciting challenge!

You started as a Junior Analyst, and now you are an Associate Consultant. In a short time you have taken on a different role and responsibilities. What has this journey been like?

A year and a half ago, I packed his my bags and moved from Copenhagen to Utrecht to start my NewForesight career as a Junior Analyst. Then, 3 months later I was promoted to an Analyst position and then 5 months later I was promoted to an Associate Consultant.

Moving from an Analyst to Associate Consultant position brings along quite a bit of changes; you have more client contact, more and broader responsibility, you start managing more junior people, you manage projects and above all, you are driving the thinking and (methodological) development of projects.

For me, this professional journey has been exponential and NewForesight has been amazing for my professional development, being very conducive to the individual and professional that I have become.

Currently, I lead many of our Service Delivery Model case studies (“SDM”; essentially a supply chain structure by which companies deliver services to farmers, read more about this here). Within these projects I’ve built up valuable experiences on various intervention and sustainability projects, meet passionate people implementing sustainability projects on the ground and – most importantly – I get to combine my personal and professional interests.

For those interested in what a project could look like, I wrote a piece about the sustainability issues in the Guinean pineapple sector and insights from the field from one of my recent trips.

What are your favorite parts of working for NewForesight?

Well, for me there are a few things. Firstly, my colleagues – they are all equally passionate about the work we do, intellectually sharp, and young; without them work would be a whole less fun. Secondly, my work aligns perfectly with my passions and intrinsic belief of creating a more equal society solve issues of sustainability through market-driven solutions.

Finally, what is your favorite kind of coffee?

I still remember the first time I had a Panamanian Geisha (Gesha) a couple years ago which changed my entire way of thinking about coffee. The complexity in the cup was astonishing, and when offered in a café, that will always be my go-to coffee.
I also really enjoy a Lintong from the Lake Toba region on Northwest Sumatra; the wet-hulling process gives the coffee a distinct flavor profile with a low acidity while full bodied.

Sometimes I bring in different varieties from my work trips for colleagues to taste at the office: I like to experiment though so it’s not always a success but its always fun to try new varieties!

Want to hear more about what NewForesight can mean for you? You are always welcome to swing by for a cup of coffee. Get in touch with Daniel if you want to know more about our experiences and expertise within the coffee industry.

And join us at the World of Coffee conference in Berlin June 6-8th and be sure to see Daniel in action at during his lecture on Thursday 6th 10.00-11.00

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