Sara Yirga, Founder & CEO Ya Coffee & Vern Long, CEO, World Coffee Research

Sara Yirga is a Woman in Coffee with a background of Administration and Management of development projects with international organizations. She is consistently attracted to issues of sustainability and sustainable livelihood of communities in her country and in Africa, whether it is through coffee or any other platform. As a result, she and her company YA Coffee Roasters, engaged in establishment and leadership of the Ethiopian Women in Coffee, a national chapter of IWCA; working towards capacity building by bringing to members and non-members particularly trainings that could help them improve their competiveness in the global coffee market.

Sara’s Company, YA Coffee Roasters is Addis based Roast & Export Company. Since establishment, the company aimed at promoting high-end coffee Roasted at Origin and for export to the specialty coffee market. Firm believers in lasting impacts, Sara and her husband Dagmawi are investing in quality both at YA Coffee Roasters, maintaining a standard operation to their value added coffees and by retaining most of the export value within the country of origin; and also plan to engage at farm level establishing a model dry mill for post harvest processing of coffee to transfer knowledge and skills to small holder farmers and cooperative producers.

YA Coffee is currently exporting to buyers in Africa, Europe and the USA. With her first new partnership with a US based Ethiopian company, Sara just launched a coffee corner that caters to the customers in Boston, serving 100% Ethiopian Coffees, made with Ethiopia’s favorite brewing method, JEBENA!

Vern Long is the Chief Executive Officer of World Coffee Research, the world’s first global, industry-driven collaborative agricultural R&D organization for coffee. A plant breeder by training, Long brings 25 years of experience in international agricultural research with a focus on smallholders, and deep expertise on genetic resources policy. Prior to joining WCR, Long served as the director of the Office of Agricultural Research and Policy at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Long has substantial experience convening diverse stakeholders — from industry, government and research institutions—to formulate a shared research agenda to address pressing challenges in agriculture. She received her PhD in plant breeding from Cornell University.

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