Building the CTG Brand: A Call to Action from the Membership Committee

By Nick Terry

At the Coffee Technicians Guild Mixer at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston this April, it became crystal clear that our membership has been anxiously awaiting the release of the official education curriculum as one of the primary benefits of membership. While education is one benefit of the CTG, it is far from the only benefit and you can read more about that here. However, because of what we have heard, the Membership Committee and Executive Council think it's important to reaffirm our commitment to you, our members, and to ask for your help in building benefits for all of us.

Some of you may know the story of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson and their first ascent of the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite California, but for those who don't, here is the short version:

The Dawn Wall is the Holy Grail of El Capitan. It's the section of wall that, until Tommy and Kevin, had never been climbed from bottom to top. The climb is 32 pitches (sections) of climbing that are about 150 ft long. In total, the two climbers ascended 3000 feet in 19 days living on the wall.

Pitch 15, called the Traverse, is the most difficult pitch of the wall and took both climbers multiple attempts to complete. Tommy, who dreamed up this adventure, completed the pitch first and then waited a couple of days for Kevin to make it across, after which the weather began to turn and Tommy decided he needed to keep going in order to complete the ascent. Kevin was willing to let go of his own desire to make the summit to support Tommy, so Tommy climbed on and Kevin followed up the ropes without completing the pitches.

After pitch 20, Tommy was on top of Wino Tower, the mark of the end of the hardest climb, and he became overwhelmed with emotion and realized that what he really wanted was for Kevin to feel what he was feeling. At that point he committed to Kevin that he would stay on the wall as long as it took for Kevin to complete the Traverse and catch up to him. He wanted them to finish the Dawn Wall together. Period. And they did.

When I got to the end of this story, I cried. I cried because these two had become bonded in a way that is so rare that most of us will never feel it. They are bonded in being the first people to do something that many people, including them, thought was impossible. I cried because they were both willing to set aside their own desire for success in order to help the other. Kevin and Tommy are two of the best climbers on the planet and they set aside their own ego to reach down and help the other up.  

Now, we aren't 2000 feet off the ground hanging on a rock face, but we are at a figurative Traverse. We have some hard work to do to get across the Traverse so that we can all finish the ascent together. We'd like to ask that you set aside your previous conceptions of what we are doing with the Guild, help whenever you can, and be patient while we continue to iterate and make the Guild everything that it should be; a place of support, education, fellowship, and pride for all members. 

This month, we have an extensive update on the Education Offerings as well as a request of our members and the rest of the coffee community. Please read on and let's all get to the top together.

Help Get the Guild to the Top

It's been a little over three years since the Coffee Technicians Guild’s inception, and we've made a lot of progress. We've grown our membership to ~200 members, we've put on three CTG Summits, had significant representation at two Specialty Coffee Expos, and held about a dozen Gearhead Events across the United States and one in Australia. However, we continue to hear from our members that we need to deliver more value to you. We're working on the tangible things like the Coffee Technician Skills Program, but we'd like to ask for your help here as well.

Whether you're a Guild Member, a shop with a Guild Member as your tech, or just a coffee professional that wants to see SCA and the associated Guilds succeed, we need your help.

How? Talk about the Guild. Period. We need the industry to know what we are and what we do. So, here are some talking points:

  • Guild members are professional technicians. We all join the Guild because we are passionate about coffee and about the profession of repairing and maintaining coffee equipment. Hiring a Guild member technician to work in your shop is a great way to know that you are getting high-quality, professional, and dedicated work.

  • Guild members have access to resources that other technicians don't. All members are invited to join our Slack Channel where they are able to connect with technicians all over the world to discuss issues, learn new equipment, tell stories, share successes, you name it.

  • Guild members are coffee professionals. Not only do members know how to fix your machine, many also know how to dial in an espresso, taste off notes in your coffees, and talk you through the day-to-day barista functions of your equipment.

  • Guild members will soon have access to the Coffee Technician Skills Program to further enhance their technical and business skills. The modules of this program are being designed specifically around the work of the Coffee Technician and will help Guild members to grow in their career.

  • Guild Members have direct access to many manufacturers through Slack and other communication channels making it simpler for them to get in-depth information about a specific problem.

All this means that when you hire a Guild member as your technician, you are hiring more than just someone who will get your machine back up and running. You are hiring someone who understands your business and wants to be your partner to make you successful. So please, if you are a tech or know a tech, encourage them to become a CTG member. If you need to hire a tech to do work for you, ask them if they are a Guild member, if they aren't, encourage them to join, and consider calling someone else who is a CTG member.  

We, the Coffee Technicians Guild, are a small group, but we are powerful, and we can make your coffee business better, so please spread the word and help the CTG finish our first ascent and become the stuff of legend.