Donald n. schoenholt

"Founding Father" Specialty Coffee Assoc. of America "Founding Father" The Roasters' Guild

Donald Schoenholt, Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Lifetime Achievement laureate, and member of an old and respected coffee family, is President, and coffeeman at Gillies Coffee Company, founded in 1840. A roaster, cupper and teacher of renown, Donald has written hundreds of articles on coffee subjects during his six-decade spanning coffee career. He has been quoted in prestigious publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Crain’s New York Business, The Tokyo Shimbun and The Times of London, and hometown journals as the Elyria Ohio Chronicle Telegram, and the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Schoenholt, has been called, “Father of America’s coffee renaissance,” as he was 1st among US roasters to bring world recognition to America’s cup in the 1970’s. His knowledge, professional probity, and personal character have made him a leader to three generations of American coffee roasters.

Don founded both the Roasters Guild, and Specialty Coffee Association of America, serving as inaugural year chief executive of both organizations. He is a founding member of Kona Coffee Farmers Association, Hawaii USA. He was among the first boosters of Coffee Kids®, Grounds for Health, Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), Women’s Coffee Alliance, Coffee Trust® and Cup for Education. Under his stewardship Gillies became New York’s 1st Fair Trade Certified, 1st Organic Certified, and 1st Smithsonian Bird Friendly (shade grown) Roaster as Don believes it is the roll of independent small businesses to be pathfinders. His vision of a specialty coffee community has proven to have been both prescient, and modest as today an industry stands where in his youth there was, in the words of coffee author, Mark Pendergrast, only, “a scattered band of fanatics."

Donald helped write the specialty coffee traders’ Green Coffee Contract, served on the 1st SCAA Forward Planning Committees, and was a charter member of the SCAA Green Coffee Arbitration Panel. When SCAA was financially plundered by the theft of $465-thousand, Don chaired (with his coffee friend Tim Castle)a team of “First Responders” raising a quarter-million dollars in a few weeks to literally keep the lights on at SCAA. He has served as Gourmet / Specialties Editor at the prestigious Tea & Coffee Trade Journal for over 35 years and serves on the Roast Magazine Advisory Board. He also contributes to CoffeeTalk. Mr. Schoenholt was the first individual recipient of the Drachman Award for coffee excellence, and was named among the 25 most influential people in the coffee industry during the previous quarter-century by Gourmet Retailer Magazine (2004). He has contributed his expertise to many books on coffee as well as to numerous governments, The United Nations, The World Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, private corporations, museums educational institutions and media.

In addition to the SCAA Lifetime Achievement Award Donald holds accolades from Jamaica WI, Tanzania Coffee Board, Coffee Growers of Colombia, Coffee Kids, Roasters Guild, and The Coffee Brewing Center. Mr. Schoenholt was Tea & Coffee Man of the Year in 1998, and was honored in 2010 as SCAA Distinguished Author. Mr. Schoenholt has been featured on television in Japan, Jamaica, and National Public Radio (NPR), Crain’s NY Business, The Food Channel and NBC’s The Today Show in the United States. He can be seen currently in “Good Coffee Men’” a film produced by the Green Coffee Association (USA).