After graduating from Cal Lutheran with a major in Marketing and Advertising and a minor in International Business, Michael turned his attention to starting his own sustainable U.S. coffee company, Rift Valley Trading, LLC. A third-generation member of his family in the Ethiopian coffee industry, his expertise includes growing, importing, sales, business development and customer relationship management. In addition, he has over 22 years of experience in sales, strategic marketing and project management, all from several Fortune 500 companies.
Living in the United States since 1988, Michael developed business opportunities for his family's specialty coffee operations in North America, Asia and Europe. He works closely with industry associations like Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) in his home country and the U.S. to make sure that best practices are implemented in all levels of his family’s business. This extends to discarding less plant matter than other coffee operations, applying principles of resource conservation and ensuring ethically and socially responsible practices when working with farmers and communities. He also continues to research innovative farming techniques with the assistance of the University of California, and recently started a project in Myanmar to aid in implementing sustainable growing practices, quality control and fair employment practices in coffee farming.