Our Team

  • Darrin Daniel, USA
    Darrin Daniel, USA Executive Director

    Darrin Daniel began his career in specialty coffee in the ’80s working as a barista and later as a roaster’s assistant for the Eugene, Oregon roaster/retailer Coffee Corner, Ltd. He has worked for coffee companies in Seattle, Portland and Denver. His early work with illycaffè began his interest and growth into coffee education and training. Daniel’s was the Head Green Coffee Buyer for Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Director of Sourcing for Allegro Coffee/Whole Foods Market. Daniel’s has travelled to over 34 countries sourcing green coffee and tea. He has forged numerous relationships with coffee growers, mill managers and private and public organizations in Latin America, East Africa and the Indo/Pacific.

    He has served on the Sustainability Council for the SCA and the Executive Council for the Roasters Guild of America. He currently serves on the advisory board for Roast Magazine. Brandon Loper’s 2014 Documentary A Film About Coffee features Daniel’s travels to Rwanda as Head Coffee Buyer for Stumptown Coffee Roasters. He has presented at numerous trade events; including SCA Expo in Seattle, Washington, Re:verb in Guangzhou, China and Sustainable Harvest’s annual Let’s Talk Coffee in Panama. His writings have appeared in Roast Magazine, SCA’s Magazine 25, Barista Magazine and Standart Magazine. Daniel’s previously served as a  judge on 5 Cup of Excellence Juries, beginning with his first in Honduras in 2005. In 2015 he was awarded Imbibe Magazine’s Coffee Person of the Year.

    Outside of coffee, Daniel’s is a student of poetry and loves Mountain Biking and cooking. He can’t tell a good joke and is a horrible dancer.

  • 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

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