Last Friday, the 12thof October 2018, the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) held its Annual General Meeting to elect a new board, who will represent us as an industry, our collective interest and as coffee people.  With gratitude and great humility, I was honoured to accept the position of President for ASCA.  I write to you today to introduce myself, to express my gratitude to the people who have worked tirelessly to bring us here, to acknowledge the responsibility you have entrusted me with and resolve to do all that I can to continue to better our industry body.

First, it is important in life and business to reflect on the past, before lamenting over or dreaming of the future.  Only in doing so can we learn from our failings and celebrate our successes.

ASCA is in the strongest position it has been since its inception in 2001 and has gone from strength to strength – financially, structurally and operationally.  ASCA has made a number of key advancements, including securing ownership of its intellectual property, introducing the #ASCA Top 12, the Australian Coffee Chain Challenge, the ‘Eleanor Genovese’ Women in Coffee Award and we are proud to run what are, arguably, the best regional and national competitions in the world.

I would personally like to acknowledge and highlight the efforts of three individuals and one corporate sponsor: Brent Williams (outgoing President), Jeremy Regan (outgoing Secretary), Andrew Kremmer (past Treasurer and Vice President), and Prime Creative Media. Together, each of them played a key role in bringing ASCA from the brink of the abyss (insolvency and relegation) and ultimately onto the path we walk today.

By dedicating countless hours of work behind the scenes, leveraging their professional networks for the benefit of the Association, and acting with immense integrity over a number of years, they have earned my absolute respect and I am grateful to now count them friends. I would like to thank them for their contributions on behalf of all current members, sponsors and future stakeholders.

As to the future, I’d like to introduce myself, so that you as members, sponsors and future members can get to know the person you have placed your trust in.

My name is Kieran Westlake and I was born into a family of publicans and restaurateurs. I have lived and breathed hospitality for most of my life, including having my own café. My current day job is ‘Head of Channel Strategy’ for publicly listed, hospitality equipment funder – Silver Chef Ltd (ASX:SIV). Simply put, I am Silver Chef’s coffee guy and I am tasked with finding unique ways to provide capital and options to our coffee partners – Café Owners and Coffee Roasters, ensuring they have the best chance of success and importantly, options when it doesn’t go to plan.

Two and a half years ago, I was asked to join the ASCA board as Treasurer and since then have served as Vice President. I am proud to say that in that time, my contribution together with those above have ensured ASCA is where it is today, and positioned for the future.

My leadership style is based on honest, inclusive and open communication; to never shy away from the errors of the past, but to address and learn from them to continuously improve and lead people from a place of care.

To the future
I am tremendously excited about the opportunity we now have as an Association to do some amazing things. Things that have been talked about for many years, but we haven’t had the resources to act on.

We will resurrect our discussions about education, develop careers and pathways in coffee; develop a sense of tribe and community; provide WCE judging pathways; provide opportunities for barista members to raise their own personal profiles and brands to further their careers, and opportunities for business members to further differentiate their brands in a highly competitive and fragmented market.

All of these things have been made possible by the strategic foundational work of our past board and members and, with the help of our competitions committee and countless volunteers, the newly elected board can now work towards achieving these objectives.

Last, and in order to serve you best, I need two things from you:

  1. Communicate with your Association: without your input, we cannot understand or deliver what you need or want. Email me, or another member of the board, with your ideas, innovations, initiatives, concerns, desires, suggestions – this is our collective association, we are all working towards its betterment and we need to harness our best ideas.
  2. Hold me, and your newly elected board, responsible and accountable to the standards of the roles to which you have elected us.

On behalf of the board and personally, thank you again for the opportunity to serve you over the coming year. I look forward to sharing a coffee with you all in time.

Kieran Westlake
President, Australian Specialty Coffee Association