The Curious Case of Mrs. Lamadrid

A Tale of Thanksgiving in the Big City

Before Karen Cebreros and Kimberly Easson, and the International Women’s Coffee Alliance; before Erna Knutsen, and even Alice Foote MacDougall, there were women in coffee. Among them in 19th Century New York was a woman of many parts, and not a little mystery. Her name was Clementine S. Lamadrid. She operated a chain of, at their height, seven St. Andrews One-Cent Coffee Stands in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. St. Andrews sold a 7-ounce cup of coffee, with milk and sugar, and a slice of day-old bread for, yes, a penny. Lamadrid catered primarily to the threadbare street newsboys of the city, and the adult indigent of that generation, advertising that the enterprise was a subsidized charity called the Andrew’s One-Cent Coffee Stands Society. However, the business, which began in 1887, and shared its name with the Saint Andrews Society of the State of New York, an old Scots charity originally begun in 1744 (and in which the Gillies family was active) was not affiliated with any church or charitable organization.


From a Laudatory Article in Frank Leslie’s Sunday Magazine, June 1887, p 553

Mrs. Lamadrid started the idea on her own, soliciting money from others as a donation to help keep the stands going and to add additional outlets. She controlled costs by visited coffee roasters and worked on their better nature to give her the best price. She visited the city’s commercial bakeries, who delivered fresh bread daily to the city’s restaurants and hotels, asking them to donate day-old bread which they picked up when they made their rounds each day. She leaned on impresarios, and musicians to give free concerts in support of the coffee stands, and at least one such concert was held at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday April 6, 1897.  She organized and advertised massive hot Thanksgiving dinner, and Thanksgiving dinner-basket giveaways in the city to which the indigent were invited each year. The meals were paid for by subscribers buying dinner tickets, which they then distributed to less fortunate members of the community who were served by Mrs Lamadrid’s charity.

Some took exception to the coffee stands and dinners claiming that the enterprise was not a charity at all but a money-making fraud on the public perpetrated by Mrs. Lamadrid for the sole benefit of herself and that a swindle was being committed in the name of aiding the poor. In 1893 The New York World interviewed Mrs. Lamadrid and (quoting the claims of others) challenged her claim that her coffee business was a  charity. She responded, “They accuse me of being a swindler and an adventuress.” Dear me, all lies. I’m no swindler.” Asked by The World to open up the books of the charity to scrutiny she said, “…”I will never make the figures public…” The New York Sun, an influential conservative newspaper of the day, printed a story on November 28, 1907, with the headlines:


The Sun pointed out that the St. Andrews coffee stands were modeled after an earlier coffee stand charitable hoax that had been run by Home Relief Association, and the Juvenile Guardian Society with which Mrs Lamadrid had been connected before starting her own, far more successful uncharitable coffee scheme. The newspaper reported The Charity Organization Society (an alliance of charitable organizations) had sent out warnings against her to merchants and others in the city. Lamadrid sued for libel.

The outcome of the case is murky, but after her death in 1908, her husband was continuing the coffee stand operations which indicates that she either won the case, it was settled out of court in her favor, or it was settled out of court with the stipulation that Lamadrid clean up her act. The stands appear to have disappeared during the Great Depression years.


A St Andrews One-Cent Coffee Stand

There is no way of knowing the truth of that slander today. Clementine Lamadrid was possibly a fake, and a fraud. What we know for sure is that Mrs Lamadrid was quite a character. For over a half century 30 years beyond her own passing) when there was no governmental safety-net to provide for the poor, Mrs Lamadrid’s St. Andrews One-Cent Coffee Stands provided a hot cup of coffee, and a crust of bread to perhaps many tens of thousands of New Yorkers who might have otherwise gone hungry during that 50 year span. Her customers paid a penny, the lowest price possible, only because even in that insensitive age Mrs Lamadrid understood that folks were embarrassed by accepting charity, and by paying something they kept their dignity.

Decades after Clementine Lamadrid’s passing, in 1908,  lauded by The Sun, The Tribune and others, her husband was still continuing the work of the organization, operating coffee stands, holding charity concerts in their support, and was still giving away Thanksgiving dinners to the indigent of the city for a penny.



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10 Reasons 10 SCAA Presidents VOTE NO On Consolidation

vote-no-mugJune 30, 2016

This is Donald Schoenholt, co-founder of SCAA, and founder of Roasters Guild. By now you know that there is an SCAA and Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) consolidation vote scheduled for this coming week. I am writing to you for a group of 10 SCAA Past Presidents. We’d like to talk to you about our coffee association and its future as we believe you don’t understand that you are being asked to destroy SCAA. We think you should vote “NO” to that.


The trade stands on the shoulders of folks that pioneered specialty coffee, and the birth of SCAA. Right now is the most critical time for the members since the founding of the association. If you choose poorly you will lose your trade association.

The subject is complex. We can’t cover all the aspects of it in this conversation. We offer you 10 of the most important points to think about.


You and your trade association have ignited  specialty coffee associations throughout the world. We think the focus of the association should always be on you, the SCAA members.

The Board wants to be of world importance. That’s nice, but what’s in it for you? Nothing much; except probably dues and fee increases after the 1st year. The top Staff will rejoice. They may all get raises.


Those favoring merger talk a lot about unifying standards and teaching practices but, universal norms only flatten the specialty coffee world destroying the wonderful diversity of exceptional farming, processing, roasting, brewing practices and cultures throughout the world. To put it in another way, we are diminished when Sumatras are judged by Costa Rica cupping criteria. The benefit of globalization should be in sharing knowledge, and discoveries, not in imposing international norms.

In a world where all are equal, only the mighty thrive. It’s the diverse nature of specialty coffee on all levels, and only that that guarantees the success of the little fellow. Diversity is our friend. Big businesses labor when they are faced with a diversity of products to develop,  manufacture, distribute and market. A cataloged, categorized, quantified specialty coffee world plays into the hands of big institutions alone.


SCAA is not an institution as others we know. It is an extension of us, our hopes and dreams for our families, our businesses, and the future of coffee. If that seems overly sentimental to some, it isn’t to you and to us. It’s very personal. What we want for you is an association whose 1st priority is the support and service of you, the members.

Around the world specialty coffee people look to SCAA as the world leader in specialty coffee education, networking, and promotion. As good neighbors you and I share our knowledge with them through our trade group. At the same time we celebrate the unique cultural perspective that makes us American in character as well as in name. You will lose out when the focus leaves North America, unless there are safeguards to protect you built into the deal. They aren’t there now.


The UK decision to exit the European Economic Community (BREXIT) changes the viability of consolidation with SCAE. The Board has ordered updated financials, as if getting an update will give them powers to see the extremely uncertain world financial future. They might as well use tea leaves.

The Board believes BREXIT is no big deal. We believe this opinion is unique in the world. Turn on the TV. The European model of a new world economic order is failing. Now is not the time to throw in with that sinking ship.

You should keep your SCAA, and offer the Europeans a good deal to join your trade association, The Specialty Coffee Association of America, led by America, and benefiting your members at home and abroad, as you have for years past.


Vote for Consolidation as presented and SCAA will cease to exist. There will be no more SCAA. It will be replaced by something else; something foreign. There will essentially be a new trade group. It will not be American in character, temperament, or name.


The SCAA Board is not sinister. The Board is just wrong. We don’t know if unification is a good idea or a bad idea. We know the Board did this badly. They started by talking about the idea secretly, and then doubled-down by going about it foolishly. There was a nod toward transparency, but no actual openness. The provided information has left out just what the deal is and how it will work, and what happens if it doesn’t work. Here’s a case in point; there is no written Exit Plan for SCAA, if a year or three in, the merger is a failure. If we want out what will the dollar cost have been all-in from inception to withdrawal?

It’s all just one big marketing plan; a grand house blend of jargon, graphics, money, and little substance. They have done it all with mirrors. They may not have intended it but The Board has come off as all-knowing, inflexible, intolerant and conceited all at once. The result is that we must all question what we are being told.

This business of voting on July 5th is dumb. Your leaders are taking you down this path too fast without giving you the chance to digest information that was presented too late to be properly vetted. Being in the dark makes me nervous. How does it make you feel?

You don’t even know how much of your money has been spent on consultants, financial advisors, travel and other expenses in the last years to bring this merger about. We can only guess, and wince.


We think that if unification is a good deal now it will be just as good in a year from now. We believe the opportunity to lose the deal to another is limited, and the need to give this idea more study, and get it right is compelling.

We want your businesses to thrive, and your trade group to move confidently into the future. You can’t get there using unwarranted and dangerous haste. Things are moving very fast now, and we believe that you need to take a breath. Recall the fundamental goals of the association that we built together, and move, after a season of knowledge gathering and reasoned open discussion, with steadiness and caution into a new place, if that is what you decide, and not just hold your nose, and jump into an unknown ocean.


The Board points to past voter turnout and says you don’t care about your future. They think that gives them the right to do whatever they want. We believe that most of the time you are just too busy making a living to give thought to their decisions. Well, this time is different. The consequences are too big for you to leave the decision to them.

The Board is counting on your apathy. They will win a low turnout vote. A big vote will swamp the Board organized few who will vote for unification.


You don’t often get the chance to save the world. Here’s your chance. Each of you holds the destiny of your trade group in your personal hands. So vote. Vote your conscience, and we will be satisfied. We believe in you, as we always have, and we will celebrate your decision, whatever it is.

We wish each of you the best of good luck, and good coffee.


Donald Schoenholt
Founding Father SCAA & Roasters Guild
SCAA Lifetime Achievement Laureate

And in Alphabetic Order:

Dan Cox
SCAA President 1984, 1985, 1986
SCAA Lifetime Achievement Laureate

David Dallis
SCAA President 1994-1995

Leonor Gavina-Valls
SCAA President 1985
SCAA Lifetime Achievement Laureate

Paul Katzeff
SCAA President 1984, 2000-2001
SCAA Lifetime Achievement Laureate

Becky McKinnon
SCAA President 1998-1999

Danny O’Neill
SCAA President 2001-2002

Grady Saunders
SCAA President 1993-1994

Linda Smithers
SCAA President 1997-1998

Gary Talboy
SCAA President 1987-1988

Further Reading:

Cui Bono?, Coffeeman’s Diary

Globalization Blues Part 2. T& CTJ 04.16, P38

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I don’t know if Leonard Nimoy was a coffee lover. Possibly not, but as I have been writing about globalization in recent months Mr. Nimoy, and his alter ego Mr. Spock keep coming to mind. I find myself remembering my youth in a coffee galaxy where the American small roaster community was within a hair’s breadth of disappearing. Today the independent small roasters are conquering , and they are owed recognition for having saved both themselves, and the good name of American coffee, and brought it to world prominence. It is something that the leadership of SCAA should be cognizant of as they consider merger with the European trade group SCAE.

The farm families are our friends. The local communities that are models for the new century’s agrarian community are all around us. Innovation, as the development of the Panama Geisha, and exemplary farm communities as La Vos on Lake Atitlan, and La Minita in Tarrazu are architypes of best origin practices. Still, innovation and invention that ignites trends in coffee consumption come most often from activities in destination countries. It may have been a sometime American beer brewer who threw the King’s tea in the harbor of Boston instantly making coffee The American beverage, but it was an American roaster who adapted Chinese rice paper to make a filter for drip coffee. It was an American roaster who innovated flavored coffee, and an American roaster who took a beverage for the infirmed and turned it into the Latte we know today. Along the way small independent American roasters created a market for the $4.00 cup of coffee where less than 20 years before it was two-bits.

That $4.00 cup changed the economy of coffee. It permitted roasters to talk high quality to ever economically squeezed retailers convincing them to buy better grades, brew with less water, and reap the financial rewards of a better tasting brew. The retailers responded with a new menu of coffee beverages, and the reintroduction of both new and age-old brewing rituals. It all succeeded, and roasters sought ever better beans and encouraged farm families to grow ever better beans. A small roasting retailer from Rhode Island taught us to care about our farm brethren. A small roaster in Vermont brought the K-cup to market and changed the world by creating a new brewing category, while raising the consumer price of coffee to over $30 a pound. SCAA 2nd Vice President, Tracy Ging, wrote yesterday, about, “the local communities that so often ignite trends and drive interest in what we do.” When I read her words I immediately thought of the community of small independent American roaster and retailer entrepreneurs who brought  goods to market and created consumer interest where there was none before.  It’s those folks who stepped up and created the new American coffee industry with their own hands and no help. They created SCAA in their own image 35 years ago. 80% of SCAA members are from within the USA, and the largest body within SCAA are the roasters, and their retail friends.

Globalization sounds delicious. I yearn to stand on a hill and breathe the crisp clean youthful air of SCAA glory. Almost 20 years ago SCAA was also in ascendancy, and in doing so had moved away from having the roasters at the center of their activities. There was a roaster Rising during a Town Hall breakfast attended by many hundred at that year’s SCAA Conference. An unspoken risk of the roasters breaking away from SCAA and creating their own splinter group was palpable as one-by-one members of the small roaster community made their displeasure known. It was over 10 yearss since I had been on the SCAA Board.  I stood, and asked the leadership for a room where I would organize and run a series of roaster specific open forums, round tables, and panel discussions, beginning in the next hour and running throughout the event. The frustration and anger was quelled, and the foundation for Roasters Guild was laid that day. I stand now as I did that morning to plead the case for the singular importance of the small independent roaster and retailers who are the backbone of the trade they birthed. Lest we forget, these honest, hardworking, small roaster folks and their allies the retailers are the pulsing engine that drives the trade, and the beating heart of the association they birthed. They understand today, as they did a generation ago, that they go the distance for SCAA, and they require our attention, as precious individual members. They are each entitled to the trade group’s respect and support. Without these drivers SCAA would never have reached this pinnacle.

Allied members may see consolidation opening new markets for their wares. Farm communities may see consolidation opening new markets for their produce. Consolidation does not offer these advantages to small independent retailers and roasters. For this reason among others the leadership must provide a zone of comfort and support to the individual members of these member categories if the organization is to retain them as members in the years to come. That is why a vital part of any consolidation plan must be to redouble the association’s efforts in support of Roasters Guild even as we continue to encourage Barista Guild and the new Guilds that are currently in the early stages of gestation. The Guilds, you see, are from whose ranks will come the next generation of American specialty coffee leaders.

The habit of lathering layers of jargon throughout the pro-merger materials, and statements presented by advocates for consolidation is unfortunate, as are slick presentations that are long on graphics and short on substance. What the membership, and particularly the roaster and retailer members need are facts about the proposed merger, and buckets of them, along with the answers to Ray Consella’s question, after he went the distance in Field of Dreams. “What’s in it for me?”

Part of the consolidation plan must be to keep the American roasting community comfortably within the fold for they are more than the standard bearers carrying the specialty coffee banner on high. In a very practical way they serve the trade by being the customers who drive SCAA revenues, for it is their presence at events that drive booth sales, sponsorships, and advertising dollar spends. As knights arrant, they are the most visible element of the trade to consumers and media.  Any consolidation plan must gratify, and satisfy the wants of the roasting community through indulgence, recognition, and appreciation of their continued support, and participation in the specialty coffee village at home in the USA. There should be a formal appreciation program aimed at the long term retention of individual North American small roaster members in whatever group emerges from this talk of consolidation. The goal of the program should be to encourage the growth in number of small roasters, and retailers and the retention of SCAA as their sole affiliation, all with the aim to help them live long, and prosper.

-Donald Schoenholt

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In recent weeks there has been an ongoing discussion, which I had something to do with igniting, among Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA)  Past Presidents on the subject of the proposed consolidation of SCAA with the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). I have developed various ideas on the subject as I have monitored the discussion whirling around me.  Today’s post explores touches on a couple of those ideas, and incorporates ideas from several of the other PPs who have been sharing with me and the brethren, their thoughts on the subject.

There must be an application of the doctrine of fairness for the membership of SCAA to go along with the will of their Executive Director,  the President, and Board of Directors to consolidate their hard established organization with that of our European friends in coffee. I discovered that the current SCAA Charter leaves no powers in the hands of the membership. All power, even the power to amend the document, is solely in the hands of the Board of Directors. The election system is structured to perpetuate the status quo with its clever avoidance of contested presidential elections. The current document is a sham of democratic process. The fellows who initiated the drafting of the current By-laws, and saw to their adoption, carefully kept all the power in the hands of a powerful administrative elite. Shame on them. It needs to be replaced with a new document that sheds light, and lets fresh air into the governing process.

In denying the membership a direct role in decision making regarding such a vital step as merger, the By-laws deny due process to the members. Interestingly, by permitting a membership vote, as thy have, the Board makes it appear that they are giving the members a gift of participation, when in fact it is the Board who should be serving at the pleasure of the membership, in whose hands ultimately all power should rest. The configuration of the By-laws, it may be said, is not the fault of this Board. But they have had the sole right to amend, change or rewrite the By-laws since the day after this awful Constitution was adopted, and they have not taken that opportunity.

A vote to ratify a proposed merger should require a two-thirds vote of the eligible voting members casting a ballot on the issue. The By-laws do not say that, but that’s the way it should be, in all fairness.

Lucius Cassius was a consul of Rome 2100 years ago, whom the people held in high esteem for his honesty and wisdom as a judge. He was in the habit of asking, Cui Bono (who  benefits)? We should apply the maxim of Cassius to the issue before us now. Who benefits? Who has the most to gain if consolidation is adopted? Who should gain the most should consolidation be adopted?

There are many open questions. We are presented with what looks very much like a fait accompli, a deal that is already made in the minds of those who present it to us; a thing so nearly done that its plan will not now be altered. But, where did the idea for merger come from originally? Did an SCAA executive or director approach someone at SCAE, or were we approached? How did the discussion evolve, and who was in on the discussions? At some point it moved from being a back channel discussion to being brought before the SCAA Board. Who brought it before the Board, and what was the discussion like?

We are told there is or will shortly be a signed Memorandum of Understanding between the parties. What legal standing does a Memorandum of Understanding have, and what exactly does the Memorandum say?

Dan Cox has asked what the advantages and disadvantages of merger are. This, I believe, should be a report that looks at the issue from two perspectives; from the perspective of the organization as a whole, and from the point of view of our average humble member. 40% of SCAA members are North American roasters and roaster-retailers. How will taking a step up in class effect that individual independent roaster member’s services, and how will it effect his spirit and excitement about being a vital part of the whole.

The vanguard of the trade are the Guilds. The roasting retailers, and baristas are on the firing line. They are the youthful spirit of America’s specialty coffee future. Where do they fit into the mix. How will they and their membership be affected by merger?

Dan Cox has been asking serious questions, and so have other past presidents. There is a paucity of good sound answers. Here are some of the issues being raised:

  1. What is the legal definition of this idea? Is it Merger, Acquisition, Partnership?
    1. how is it defined?
    2. As a practical matter how will it function
  2. We have been told that the new entity will remain a US corporation. Will it dissolve and reapply for corporate status anew, or continue as our existing legal entity?
  3. Would consolidation effect SCAA’s not-for-profit status in the USA?
  4. Will the consolidated entity have a new name or continue as Specialty Coffee Association of America?
  5. Will we have tax filing requirements, and tax liabilities in other nations in which we maintain a presence, and/or have employees?
  6. What are the financial assets and liabilities related to the transaction?
    1. Is there a side-by side analysis of the balance sheets of the two organizations available for study?
    2. Has a projected combined operating statement, including projected cash-flow analysis been created to illustrate operations for the combined organization?
      1. How many years forward does the financial analysis look?
      2. Is a 3-year stand-alone forward financial operating statement and financial analysis, including cash-flow analysis available for SCAA
  7. What are the direct and indirect monetary costs of consolidation?
  8. What are the short and long term financial liabilities in merger, i.e. salaries, contracts,
  9. Have we the resources to sustain a series of down years financially?
  10. Aside from formal financials, has a plain language document been prepared to explain the hard and soft Assets that SCAA is getting in this transaction, and the hard and soft liabilities that we are assuming in this transaction.
  11. What special liabilities are inherent in this transaction of which we should be aware, including but not limited to those related to employees who are residents or citizens in foreign lands and are employed by the consolidated entity such as mandated employee benefits packages, along with local customs and law. For example, in certain European countries it’s very difficult to fire someone over the age of 50.
  12. We have discovered severe democratic process deficiencies in the current SCAA By-laws. Is there a plan in place to draft a new set of By-laws for the operation of the consolidated entity on a more democratic basis?
  13. Who will be the officers of the consolidated entity?
    1. What will be the length of their terms of office.
  14. What will the new consolidated Board look like?
    1. How many members ?
    2. What will be the length of their terms of office.
  15. How often will the new Board meet.
    1. Where will it meet?
    2. How do you anticipate that that will change over the next five years?
    3. If Board meetings were held in other lands who would pay for transportation, room and board for Board members attending, and what would the estimated cost of that be to the association per fiscal year.
  16. What will the staff structure be?
  17. How will dues be collected and in what currency; Euros, Pound Sterling, USD?
    1. Will there be a currency conversion cost if we accept other currencies than the USD?
      1. What are those costs estimated to be?
  18. Has Due Diligence research been conducted by an independent third part agency on our behalf?
    1. Is their report available for study?
  19. Some believe that there are those who would like to see a consolidation because it promises to improve their livelihood by opening opportunities for personal advancement. Have SCAA paid executive staff agreed to accept salary and benefit freezes, with the exception of medical benefit premium increases where medical benefits are provided, from now until an agreed date thirty-six months from the date of commencement of consolidated operations?
  20. I can envision several important ways in which individual SCAA membership may consider themselves diminished in value in a consolidation. What additional long term no-added-cost individual member benefits will an SCAA member get for remaining a member for 3 years, or 5 years after consolidation?

And through it all Dan Cox keeps asking, “What’s in it for the SCAE?  It appears that they are GIVING all their assets to the SCAA without any of their liabilities.  Why would they do this?” The largest unanswered question hanging over the SCAA merger question, as we board planes in the next day, and head to Atlanta,  is that of old Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla, Cui Bono, who benefits?

-Donald Schoenholt

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