Takeaways

1

As CEO of the National Coffee Association, Bill leads an organization dedicated to supporting, promoting, and advocating for the US coffee industry.

2

Bill believes that curious, educated consumers can help shape the future of the coffee industry into a more sustainable system.

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3

Each year the NCA highlights charitable organizations that serve coffee-growing communities, as one way to support the agricultural heart of the coffee industry.

Bill Murray

CEO, National Coffee Association

Expertise: coffee industry, coffee and health, coffee agriculture, coffee industry trends

Coffee insight: Coffee trees, which are the source of coffee cherries, can live twenty to thirty years.

Coffee fun fact: Before joining the NCA, Bill served as the Executive Vice President and Co-COO for the Motion Picture Association of America; during those years he regularly received scripts and visitors intended for that other Bill Murray.

U3 Top 3 What’s your favorite brewing method? drip What’s your coffee drink of choice? black How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? 3 to 5

Bill’s Coffee Origin Story

In 2014, Bill was working as the CEO of a society for public relations professionals when he realized he wanted to try something new and saw a posting for a job as the CEO of the National Coffee Association (NCA). He wasn’t a coffee-industry insider when he initially applied for the job with the NCA, but he read, researched, and studied up on the industry before his interview. “I did not pretend to be an expert,” he explains. “But we talked about associations, we talked about industry change, and it turned out we’ve been a good fit for each other.”

As Bill prepared to transition into his new role, he threw himself into learning all he could so he could hit the ground running. He used his vacation time at his previous job to learn more about coffee. Bill says, “I spent two weeks in Colombia. We went from laboratories to research facilities. So before I showed up on day one, I kicked the tires a little bit, and I was really excited.”

Bill’s Current Role

Bill has served as the CEO of the NCA—an organization that focuses on, to use his words, “the business of coffee”—since 2014. At the NCA, Bill leads a time that helps coffee companies—big and small—by serving as an advocate for the industry and by offering tools to help coffee businesses grow and thrive. As part of that work, they offer a variety of services—from hosting a yearly convention for coffee professionals to publishing market research on coffee trends to promoting research on the health benefits of coffee.

What Fuels Bill’s Work

Bill says he’s inspired by the impact he can have by serving the coffee industry and helping it become more successful, the impact of which creates ripples that extend far beyond the coffee industry itself.

He explains, “I help a really important industry be more successful. That means more jobs, it means more tax income, it means stronger supply chains for the people that rely on them. And for all of us who are just coffee drinkers and not professionals, it makes our mornings better. So one of the reasons…I love what I do [is] because I think it reflects how I want to see the world and what I want to see happen as we get older.”

What Bill Wants Coffee Drinkers to Know

Bill believes that coffee drinkers have more power than they realize in helping to promote an industry that supports coffee entrepreneurs, long-term sustainability, and great coffee. It starts, according to him, with being curious. “If you want to make a contribution or donation to a charitable organization helping coffee farmers, that’s a great thing you can do,” Bill says, “but the most important thing that consumers can do is learn about their coffee.”

Being educated consumers can help coffee lovers not only understand and appreciate where their coffee comes from—which will help them better understand the price of sustainable, ethically sourced coffees—but also appreciate the amount of knowledge and work it takes to bring really great coffee to market. That information can completely reshape your perspective on your morning cup. For example, Bill says that coffee drinkers are often surprised to learn that coffee grows on trees and that those trees can live 20 to 30 years. That knowledge paints a pretty incredible picture of the rich, complex agricultural system that makes your whole bean coffee: “Imagine rows of coffee that have been there through a generation that are providing your morning cup of coffee and what that means—what it means for the environment, what it means for the farmers, and what it means for where your coffee came from and how far back it goes.”

How Bill Cultivates Community through Coffee

Bill said one of the realizations that’s shaped how he thinks about coffee is understanding the challenges, the knowledge, and the planning required to be a coffee farmer. Bill points out that while farmers in the US benefit from things like government subsidies and reliable roads, coffee farmers very rarely have access to those same infrastructure systems. That reality is the inspiration behind the NCA’s Origin Charity of the Year program, which seeks out organizations supporting coffee-growing communities.

Each year, the NCA chooses a top charity and several runners-up, celebrating those and helping them gain greater visibility and attract more donors. By highlighting and supporting organizations that help coffee farmers succeed, the NCA is helping to support the agricultural heart of the coffee industry.

In 2023, for example, they selected Days for Girls, an organization that supports women and girls in coffee-growing communities by giving them access to personal hygiene products and menstrual health education, combatting the stigma around menstruation and allowing women to manage their menstrual health so they can continue to attend school and work during their periods.

Where You Can Find Bill

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/williammmurray/

National Coffee Association website: https://www.ncausa.org/

NCA X: https://twitter.com/nationalcoffee

NCA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nationalcoffeeassociation

U3 Coffee exists to create the most meaningful coffee experience for millions of mindful, motivated humans like you. Because here, we’re United by Coffee.

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