James McLaughlin is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Intelligentsia Coffee, a company that pioneered the ideals of exceptional quailty, transparency, and innovation in the coffee industry. Before becoming CEO in 2014, McLaughlin served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Green Coffee, Quality Control and Roasting.
McLaughlin’s focus is to grow the Intelligentsia brand while remaining true to the company’s core values of directly sourcing quality coffees, building partnerships with farmers, and delivering exceptional quality coffee and an unparalleled experience at the company’s coffeebars. Alongside his team of passionate and knowledgeble professionals, McLaughlin develops and executes Intelligentsia’s growth stategy: expanding into new markets and establishing the brand through the coffeebars, building robust wholesale, grocery, and eCommerce businesses, and encouraging the creativity and innovation that make Intelligentsia an industry leader.
Prior to joining Intelligentsia, McLaughlin spent three-and-a-half years in Brazil with his wife, turning a family farm into a thriving business. Together, they created a high-quality organic roasted coffee brand that continues to thrive in the Brazilian market and is carried in upscale resorts, restaurants, and boutiques. McLaughlin also increased the farm’s exports of green coffee to Japan by 160%. He managed day-to-day operations of the farm, created an informal cooperative with local farmers in the region, forged relationships with key stakeholders and clients, developed all company platforms and executed marketing initiatives.
Before entering the coffee industry, McLaughlin worked as an attorney at the firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago, where he represented numerous Fortune 500 companies in state and federal courts across the United States, and as a law clerk to the Honorable Benson E. Legg, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of Maryland. McLaughlin earned his JD from Northwestern University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from University of Florida. He currently sits on the boards of World Coffee Research and the Chicago-based non-profit, Ladder-Up. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter.
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