David Griswold, President and Founder, Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers. David’s coffee career began in 1989, when he was helping organic coffee cooperatives in Mexico find new markets for their coffee. There, David saw the enormity of the challenges farmers faced. Not only did coffee producers need access to markets that would pay them a fair price for their coffee; they also needed a significant amount of training and education to understand and succeed in the global export and sale of their coffee. There were thousands of men and women who depended on coffee for their livelihood but had no idea how to sell it.
It was then that David was inspired to develop a new kind of relationship-based business model that would bring everyone in the supply chain together. The model was grounded in transparent engagement and would use its earnings to provide training and education to farmers in developing countries so that producers could move from subsistence to sustainability. In 1997, this was formalized as Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers. Since then, Sustainable Harvest has grown into a company of more than 40 dedicated staff members with offices in the USA, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Tanzania. Sustainable Harvest imports coffee from around the world and serves top roasters like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Whole Foods/Allegro Coffee, Ben and Jerry’s, and Peet’s Coffee with a unique social enterprise business model to create sustainable livelihoods for thousands of small scale coffee farmers.
David served as President of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) from 2003 to 2004 and led the association in its Third Sustainability Conference. He has served on the International Coffee Organization’s Sustainable Task Force, the Advisory Board for Coffee Kids, and the Board of Directors of the SCAA. In 2008, David received the SCAA’s Outstanding Contribution Award in recognition for his contribution to the SCAA and the specialty coffee industry. He was previously the Chair of the SCAA’s International Relations Council.
Prior to his work in coffee, David worked in international development as a journalist in the developing world during his Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, and at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. He began his work at Ashoka under the mentorship of William Drayton as Ashoka’s first Communications Director, a position he held from 1987 to 1989. He also served as Director of Coffee Programs for Conservation International.