Our Team

  • Erwin Mierisch
    Erwin Mierisch Executive Director

    Erwin J. Mierisch is a 4th generation coffee producer. His family began coffee farming over a hundred years ago when his great grandfather emigrated to Nicaragua to design the railroad. Part of his payment was in land and was fascinated by the mountains of Matagalpa where he recognized the potential to grow coffee.

    Coffee has been part of his life from early childhood but studies took him into petroleum engineering which he didn’t pursue for too long. Erwin dove fully into coffee in 1994 becoming his true passion. Erwin has worked on the entire spectrum of the coffee supply chain since then. From producing, processing, cupping, roasting, exporting, and importing. He has been instrumental in the implementation of specialty quality standards in his own families’ farms, which have come to earn several spots as Cup of Excellence winners in two different countries and has been an active advocate for the value of specialty coffee in several countries including his own. Trained as a processing specialist he has had the chance to share his knowledge with producers across the globe.

    Erwin’s rich history with Cup of Excellence began in 2002 with onboarding the first Nicaragua Cup of Excellence and served as an in-country coordinator. Since then, he has been its operations manager, a skilled head judge, a trainer, and a winning Cup of Excellence® farmer.  He was also involved and helped coordinate the Los Favoritos Private Collection Auction.

  • Gary Urrutia, Honduras
    Gary Urrutia, Honduras Managing Director, Cup of Excellence

    Gary became part of the ACE team in 2018. His passion for coffee started in 2014, working for Volcafe in Honduras as part of the production department.  Eventually, he joined the purchase management team and dealt with procurement around Honduras. Majoring in Logistics Engineering, his thesis was specialty coffee production feasibility; working in coffee allowed him to further develop his skills and learn every day from experiences in the supply chain from bean to cup. After Volcafe, Gary worked in budget management for the National Institute of Technical Education, but he had on his mind the thought of a former coworker who stated, “once in coffee, always in coffee.” His amazing experiences in coffee provoked a strong desire to come back to this fascinating industry. Now, as Auction Manager for COE, based in Honduras but overlooking other origins, Gary enjoys working in operations and logistics. He likes traveling and meeting people from different cultures, as well as eating and Sunday barbeques.

  • Kathia Lopez, Nicaragua
    Kathia Lopez, Nicaragua Auction Manager

    I was born in Honduras in 1991 during my childhood, my family moved a lot, one of the countries that we move was Nicaragua, one of the most amazing places in the world. During college, I decided to study Marketing, was in my last years at the university that I discovered my passion for coffee.

    I started working in the coffee world in 2014, as an intern in the Specialty Coffee Association of Nicaragua (ACEN). I spent six amazing years learning about cupping, roasting, markets, logistic, producers, and sales; I’ve worked with the Cup of Excellence Program, National Barista Championship, National and International Expos, and for the last three years I was the Director of Marketing and Logistics in ACEN.

    In 2020 I made my Master Degree in Coffee Economics and Science – Ernesto Illy in Italy and started working for Caravela Coffee as Operations Consultant in Nicaragua, this company has given me the opportunity to work directly with different farms, dry processes, exporting and cupping amazing coffees.

  • Gabriela Salcedo Bolaños, Colombia
    Gabriela Salcedo Bolaños, Colombia Logistics Manger

    Gabriela was born in Bogotá Colombia. She studied finance and commerce and obtained her master’s degree in International Relations. She began her professional life working in international cooperation projects with governmental and non-governmental organizations.

    She entered the world of coffee in 2017 when she began working as executive director of ASECC and Coordinator of Cup of Excellence Colombia. There she was involved with the entire specialty coffee process from plant to cup and could see the impact of the COE program on the lives of the coffee growers and their communities.

    Gabriela enjoys exercising in nature with her dog and of course dancing.


    Alea joined the ACE team in 2020. She grew up in Michigan, but has spent many years in Oregon, and never grows tired of the Portland food and coffee scene. Although she is new to the coffee industry, she has a background as an Office Manager and Commercial Photo Producer, which all share the same multi-tasking and organizational qualities. She is looking forward to utilizing her skill set in a new setting, with a great team. When she is not traveling or exploring; she loves to spend time in her garden. She was raised to have an appreciation for nature, and also enjoys the many aspects of the wilderness surrounding the area via hiking, biking, kayaking, and skiing.

  • Alex Pond, USA
    Alex Pond, USA Sr. Education & Project Manager

    Alex started in coffee in 2005, working as a barista in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon. In 2009 he competed in and won the Northwest Regional Barista Competition. Alex has worked guest barista shifts in Iceland and Sweden and has volunteered for numerous national and international coffee events, including the Nordic Barista Cup, as a USBC Judge. In 2012 Alex joined the team at Portland’s Heart Coffee Roasters. Over nearly six years at Heart, Alex directed their training programs, managed quality control, and worked as part of the green buying team.

    Alex enjoys travel, Oregon’s incredible natural beauty, and Cats. He is also a pretty good cook.

  • CC SU, China

    A firm believer of education and a dedicated coffee origin servant, CC has been heavily involved in origin development in Asia since her graduation as the 1st Chinese Coffee Master in 2014. Seen as one of the key participants of the development of coffee in Yunnan, CC has been invited to present on Yunnan Coffee via various channels, including the International Tea&Coffee Symposium (Chiang Rai, 2019), International Women’s Coffee Alliance Breakfast (Seattle, 2018), etc. and paper media like Global Coffee Report.

    Having studied in Europe and worked closely with international companies and organizations including the Coffee Quality Institute, ACDI/VOCA, and the Yunnan International Coffee Exchange, CC is well versed in western and Chinese cultures and is an effective communicator. She is excited and honored to be using her experience and knowledge in coffee and project management in her new role with ACE.

    Outside coffee, CC enjoys cooking, baking, singing, and dancing. As a shutterbug, CC’s photos have been used by different coffee companies, cafés, and magazines. Two of her photos ranked Top 10 in the ICO International Coffee Day 2018 Photo Competition.

    Certified Q Arabica Grader and Q Processing ProfessionalMsc. in Food Innovation & Product; Msc. in Coffee Economics & Science

  • Laurie Linn, USA
    Laurie Linn, USA Marketing and Member Liaison

    Laurie joined ACE in 2015 to help out around the office and developed a love and passion for both the coffee and the organization. In 2016 she moved into the role of Membership and Marketing and built lasting relationships with other coffee enthusiasts throughout the world. Laurie took a brief hiatus and returned to ACE in the Spring of 2023 anxious to once again work with members and share the goal of the organization to find exceptional coffees and reward the farmers who produce them. 


    When not traveling, Laurie pursues her passion for art, music and dog training with her amazing Australian Shepherd Maggie Mae.

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