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October 24, 2022

Entrepreneurship, Coffee, and Resilience

Event Series: Spotlight on the Americas

Man picking coffee berries in basket

Compass Coffee was created in 2013 by Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez after serving together in the U.S. Marines. Following the completion of their first e-book Perfect Coffee at Home (2013), the pair began roasting their own coffee and developed plans to open the first Compass Coffee in Washington, DC. Since then, Haft and Suarez have involved themselves in every aspect of the business - from packaging and distributing to building the store’s furniture. All the while, the company’s growth has been guided by Haft and Suarez's values - finding ethically sourced coffee, providing a quality product, and investing in the professional development and overall well being of their employees. The company sources their single-origin beans from the Serra Negra region in Brazil, the Huehuetenango region in Guatemala, and as well as parts of Colombia, among other countries.

In Central and South America, coffee production ranges dramatically, from large farms in Brazil that collectively produce nearly a third of the world's coffee, to smaller setups in Guatemala and Colombia that rely on organizations like Anacafé and the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia to protect farmers and aid in quality management and export. The coffee producing regions of the Americas are experiencing significant climate-related challenges as rising global temperatures disrupt the specific environments required to produce the beans. What are the challenges and benefits of sourcing coffee through small scale farmers, and what impact does Haft’s business have in the coffee growing regions of Central and South America? How did Compass Coffee adapt and manage through the pandemic and subsequent supply chain disruptions? How will climate change continue to affect coffee growers in the region, and what can be done to adapt current practices to new climate realities? The Georgetown Americas Institute welcomed the founder of Compass Coffee Michael Haft to discuss business development, economic resilience through the pandemic, and the importance of sustainably in the coffee industry.

Featuring

Michael Haft is co-founder of Compass Coffee, an award-winning and fast-growing company dedicated to quality coffee roasted in Washington, DC. Haft operates multiple cafés in the DC metro area and roasts coffee for many leading restaurants, hotels, and government institutions. He also currently serves as a board member for Union Kitchen. Previously, Haft was a strategic advisor at the software development company Prefect. In 2013, he co-authored the e-book Perfect Coffee at Home (2013) with his business partner Harrison Suarez. Haft served in the United States Marines from 2009 to 2013, where he met Suarez. He holds a bachelor’s of business administration in entrepreneurship from Washington University in St. Louis.

Alejandro Werner is the founding director of the Georgetown Americas Institute and a non-resident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute. He recently completed almost nine years as director of the Western Hemisphere Department at the International Monetary Fund. Prior to that appointment, he was undersecretary of finance and public credit in Mexico’s Finance Ministry and held several positions in that ministry and the Central Bank. He also taught at leading universities in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in economics from ITAM.