Peter Giuliano, above, the director of coffee for the influential roasterCounter Culture Coffee, announced to his staff yesterday that he is leaving the company to become the director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Symposium, an annual ideas conference for the industry. He is one of the pioneers of direct trade, a practice that revolutionized how coffee is sourced: if you ever had a coffee from a particular farm or micro-lot, direct trade gets some of the credit.
“I’m continually inspired by what Peter has done,” said James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle Coffee. “What he has implemented is a guidepost for all of us, and it’s something we aspire to do as well. I’ll also say that he’s done more than anybody. Nobody’s a close second.”
Mr. Giuliano, 40, has been in the business since 1988, when he was asked to pull a shift as a barista after a co-worker failed to show up for work. He went to Counter Culture Coffee, based in Durham, N.C., in 2000. The following year, he started visiting the farms that supplied Counter Culture as the company’s buyer — a highly unusual practice at the time for a small regional roaster.
“I was on a mission that year to really figure out what made coffee taste like it did,” Mr. Giuliano said. “After having worked in coffee for 13 years already, I was finally understanding coffee preparation, roasting and tasting, and I was finally ready to go deeper into agriculture. I had experienced other food epiphanies in my own front-yard farm, and I knew that there was something to discover by spending time working on coffee farms. Turns out, that was the beginning of an entirely new rabbit hole.”