Tag Archive for: bags

by Dean Cycon

Direct Trade

Categories: 2015, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Movements are like honey.  They start out sweet but even­tu­ally draw lots of flies.  We have cer­tainly seen that in fair trade and organ­ics, with poseurs putting the mean­ing­less “More than Organic” on their pack­ag­ing.  So it has already become with Direct Trade.

Personally, I think Direct Trade was started by a few com­pa­nies that either didn’t want to pay farm­ers the Fair Trade price, didn’t want to deal with coop­er­a­tives (although they all do,) or just had a more lib­er­tar­ian bent of not want­ing to be told what to do.  Some of the com­pa­nies were hon­or­able, although most made the hope­fully uncon­scious move of rep­re­sent­ing that all of their cof­fees were Direct Trade when only a few were.  Some were down­right bogus.

There is no such thing as Direct Trade, actu­ally.  It is a self-declared and self-created “cer­ti­fi­ca­tion” made to look like some sort of offi­cial approval.  Again, some of the com­pa­nies are well-intended, but already in the short life of the sup­posed Direct Trade model there are many phonies and poseurs.

Theoretically, Direct Trade means that the com­pany has a real and direct rela­tion­ship with the farmer, whether a small farm, large farm or a coöper­a­tive.  They buy direct, not using bro­kers and inter­me­di­aries (who have such a bad name out there, whether deserved or not.) Almost all of them claim to pay “well in excess of Fair Trade pric­ing” but since the Fair Trade price is either a min­i­mum in the bad times or a float­ing price daily, that’s a hard claim to ver­ify.  In my expe­ri­ence, how­ever, many of these guys don’t buy direct at all. It is nearly impos­si­ble to buy less than a full con­tainer directly, as ship­ping costs on a few bags would add sev­eral dol­lars per pound to the price alone. Rather, they buy through bro­kers in busi­ness as usual, but since they may have vis­ited a farmer or coop for a day or two, they claim to have a direct rela­tion­ship.  I think some of these guys really believe they are doing some­thing spe­cial, and while it makes great mar­ket­ing, it makes no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the farm­ers’ lives.

A few weeks ago I was hav­ing a long back and forth email thread with a farmer we work with in Indonesia, Ghair.  We were talk­ing about our fathers, and how they are aging and slip­ping into early-stage Alzheimer’s.  We shared the heart­break for our fam­i­lies and talked about strate­gies for retain­ing dig­nity but putting safety in place for our beloved dads. As I actu­ally know and have spent time with his father, it was a pro­found cor­re­spon­dence.  Soon there­after I got a call from a reporter who wanted me to com­ment on a com­pany that said it was Direct Trade, and how supe­rior their pro­gram was to Fair Trade.  He told me that the owner was proud to know the farmer, and knew his name and even his wife’s name.  “Big deal,” I thought, “but let’s see where this is going.”  I asked the reporter if he would call back the com­pany and tell the owner he was really inter­ested in his story and needed back­ground.  What was the farmer’s name and what was his wife’s name?  A few hours later he called me back laugh­ing.  When asked the farmer’s name, the owner hes­i­tated and then said “Manuel.”  When asked the wife’s name there was a silence and finally the owner said “I’ll get back to you on that.”  An hour later a woman from the com­pany called the reporter to tell him that the farmer’s wife’s name was “Maria.”  This would have been a joke, except that after my cor­re­spon­dence with Ghair it seemed like a rude mar­ket­ing ploy.

Direct Trade is not new. Lots of com­pa­nies like us, Equal Exchange and Coöperative Coffees have been engaged in this kind of trade for decades.  It is what our busi­ness mod­els are based on.  To us, Direct Trade means really know­ing farm­ers we work with on an inti­mate level.  We under­stand their eco­nomic, social, and eco­log­i­cal strug­gles and aspi­ra­tions. We work with them on a very long-term basis to address those – not just by giv­ing more money for one year and find­ing some other farmer to be “direct” with the next year.  We are not importers. We use the great ser­vices of Royal Coffee for that. We iden­tify and visit the coops, make the con­nec­tions and rela­tion­ships, and Royal does the paper­work and phys­i­cal import­ing.  Our rela­tion­ships with farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties are real, long-term and have mean­ing­ful and mea­sur­able impact in the field.

I applaud any­body who tries to break the old sys­tem of abuse in world trade, whether through for­mal Fair Trade, sin­cere Direct Trade or per­sonal rela­tion­ships with integrity and real impact.  But a self-serving dec­la­ra­tion that a com­pany is “Direct” doesn’t meet that stan­dard.  Don’t take their word for it (espe­cially as there are no reg­u­la­tions or stan­dards what­so­ever beyond self-declared ones.)  Ask the hard ques­tions, like …what’s the farmer’s name?

Roaster Resources

Categories: 2015, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

In Defense of the Middle Man
We hear it all the time in almost every indus­try:
“Remove the mid­dle man; make your busi­ness more effi­cient and increase your profits.”

That’s not an unfair state­ment in most indus­tries. However, the cof­fee indus­try has cre­ated a unique list of issues for the importer, just like it has for the pro­ducer and the retailer on either end. Coming from a barista and third-wave café man­ager back­ground, I always viewed the rela­tion­ship with the farmer to be para­mount. I imag­ined myself going to the farms and exchang­ing hand­shakes and laugh­ter for jute bags full of green cof­fee. This—much to my chagrin—is just not a real­is­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the life of the aver­age roaster. I know; I’m as dis­ap­pointed as you are.

For the small to mid­size roaster, han­dling the logis­tics of inter­na­tional freight is a daunt­ing enough propo­si­tion, but when you add in the exor­bi­tant cost per pound asso­ci­ated with ship­ping any­thing less than a full (~37,500lb) con­tainer, the nav­i­ga­tion of gov­ern­men­tal restric­tions, the idea of tying up tens of thou­sands of dol­lars months before you might receive the cof­fee, and the years and patience it takes to build a rela­tion­ship with a pro­ducer, it quickly becomes unsus­tain­able to pop­u­late your menu with directly-sourced cof­fee. The time and costs you incur grossly out­weigh the cost of work­ing with an importer.

Probably the most time-consuming—yet most rewarding—aspects of devel­op­ing farm con­nec­tions are the rela­tion­ships. These rela­tion­ships are built on trust and mutual under­stand­ing, as well as a pas­sion and love for cof­fee. These farm­ers have, by far, the most work to do to make sure that what ends up in your cup is a beau­ti­ful start to your morn­ing. All things con­sid­ered, importers are going to spend a lot of time devel­op­ing rela­tion­ships, but they can only man­age so many. If a diverse list of unique cof­fees is what you’re look­ing for, a sin­gle source is prob­a­bly going to limit your abil­ity to accom­plish that. That may seem like a strange sug­ges­tion from an importer, but it’s just a real­ity. At Royal Coffee New York, we’re always look­ing for a way to ful­fill new needs as they arrive, and we do our best to have the right cof­fee for each type of person.

Familiarity with the cof­fee is another con­sid­er­a­tion. We spend a good chunk of time every day with cup­ping and qual­ity assur­ance. In any given week, we could cup between 50–100 dif­fer­ent cof­fees. This allows us to have a men­tal library of sim­i­lar­i­ties from which we can draw lines to sim­i­lar cof­fees in a way that some­one who only cups occa­sion­ally, or only a cou­ple cof­fees at a time, wouldn’t be able to. The beauty is we can’t do every­thing; no one can.

With the chain of cof­fee, every link needs to be strong, or it all falls apart. We’re proud to be able to be a part of that.

By Dave Planer, Marketing Director of Royal Coffee New York, Inc.

Orchestrating Change: A Lesson on Sustainability

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact name: Luis F. Samper
Phone: 57.1.313.6631
Project URL:
Organization Name: Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC)

Project: Orchestrating Change: A Lesson on Sustainability
Location: Colombia
Projected Impact: 563,000 cof­fee growers

Project Description
More than 50 mil­lion cof­fee grow­ers in the world have farms with less than five hectares of land. This implies sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges. The per­ils of cli­mate change and the need to improve crop yields and qual­ity require indus­try con­sen­sus on what are the most press­ing pri­or­i­ties. In addi­tion to agree­ing on what is most impor­tant, we also need to agree on how we are going to achieve the desired impact by mod­i­fy­ing the con­di­tions of a large enough num­ber of cof­fee grow­ing fam­i­lies. While many cof­fee stake­hold­ers are ready to pro­vide some sup­port to cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties in var­i­ous ways, it is not com­mon to imple­ment far reach­ing pro­grams that aim to improve the con­di­tions of a large cof­fee grow­ing pop­u­la­tion that one could describe as “mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant difference.”

One sig­nif­i­cant pro­gram that fits those con­di­tions is the strat­egy per­formed by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) in deal­ing with a leaf rust (la Roya) cri­sis that the coun­try faced between 2009 and 2011. La Roya had not pre­vi­ously been of great con­cern to Colombia’s campesinos. A sig­nif­i­cant change in weather pat­terns, cou­pled with an intense La Niña weather phe­nom­e­non that took place in 2009, meant that con­di­tions were now per­fect for the growth and spread of the fun­gus. All of a sud­den, most cof­fee grow­ers real­ized how vul­ner­a­ble they were to the changes in weather patterns.

Hundreds of thou­sands of Colombian cof­fee grow­ers, 96 per­cent of whom have plan­ta­tions smaller than five hectares, were not pre­pared to face the press­ing chal­lenge asso­ci­ated with the la Roya attacks that put their plan­ta­tions in dan­ger. Growers like Consuelo Herrera, who lives on her farm that is just north of Pereira in Santa Rosa, Colombia, expe­ri­enced for their first time the chal­lenge of deal­ing with dis­eases brought by weather vari­a­tions that could even put their own way of life at risk. Consuelo´s farm, about three and a half acres, is by far her most sig­nif­i­cant asset, and she is heav­ily depen­dent upon cof­fee. While she also grows beans and corn on what lit­tle land is left, she was not pre­pared to cope with the dra­matic reduc­tion of her farm´s cof­fee har­vest as a result of cof­fee leaf rust. In fact, the aver­age cof­fee farm in Colombia saw a more than a 30 per­cent reduc­tion in yields over his­tor­i­cal pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els dur­ing almost three years. By the end of the last decade, Consuelo, like many cof­fee grow­ers around the coun­try, needed some­one to step in and help make a BIG difference.

During 2010 and 2011, cof­fee grow­ing lead­ers met at the National Coffee Growers Congress to define their pri­or­i­ties. They agreed to put in place pro­grams to dis­trib­ute fungi­cides and fer­til­iz­ers to those plan­ta­tions that were still young, while empha­siz­ing that the most effec­tive way to deal with rust. The con­clu­sion was to replace older plan­ta­tions with rust resis­tant vari­eties. This ver­dict was based on a col­lec­tive deci­sion made by the cof­fee grow­ers them­selves. Colombia now had a plan that focused on the dam­ag­ing effects of the rust. This is the first con­di­tion to mak­ing a big dif­fer­ence: to make a col­lec­tive deci­sion on what is really impor­tant for you so that all of the resources are used to accom­plish your objec­tive. We had a score.

The FNC took the cof­fee grow­ers man­date and under­stood that it needed to pro­vide viable solu­tions to thou­sands of Consuelo Herreras, and the only way to do that was by orches­trat­ing change. This meant the need to make sure that all of the dif­fer­ent com­po­nents of a large enough cof­fee tree ren­o­va­tion pro­gram needed to be prop­erly aligned, yearly tar­gets devel­oped, and key per­for­mance indi­ca­tors agreed upon. This is by no means an easy process. One can have a diag­no­sis, but imple­ment­ing change is another story. The sec­ond les­son is there­fore clear: in order to make a big dif­fer­ence, you have to have the ele­ments to imple­ment and move from a diag­no­sis of a sit­u­a­tion to mak­ing actions.

Looking back, one can attest that it has been an ardu­ous, and at the same time, a suc­cess­ful process. Most Colombian cof­fee plan­ta­tions are now younger and more pro­duc­tive, and more than 61 per­cent are rust resis­tant. Achieving this dra­matic change required incred­i­bly care­ful exe­cu­tion. The FNC has helped nearly 400,000 cof­fee grow­ers since 2008 renew their plan­ta­tions with younger and rust resis­tant plants. These efforts have resulted in ren­o­vat­ing nearly three bil­lion cof­fee trees (in a time span of approx­i­mately five years), and have sig­nif­i­cantly improved the pro­duc­tive capac­ity of small cof­fee grow­ers in Colombia. Colombian cof­fee pro­duc­tion has now reached 11.5 mil­lion bags in the period from June 2013 to May 2014, a 30 per­cent increase com­pared to the pre­vi­ous 12 months.

Similar to the skill of an orches­tra con­duc­tor, the FNC devel­oped a pro­gram where suc­cess hinges on per­form­ing mul­ti­ple mea­sures simul­ta­ne­ously so that the desired objective(s) can be reached. There were sev­eral com­po­nents –musicians—of this orches­tra model for it to play well. Cenicafé, the FNC’s R&D cen­ter, devel­oped and cer­ti­fied a new set of improved seeds that became avail­able on time, in the vol­umes required, and at rea­son­able costs. The FNC pro­vided the sup­port and tech­ni­cal assis­tance through its 1,500 strong exten­sion ser­vice. It also made it pos­si­ble to pro­vide the required finan­cial ser­vices through a debit card sys­tem, known as the FNC´s Smart Coffee ID card. It arranged the nec­es­sary credit lines with the help of local banks so that the whole effort could be financed, adjust­ing the debt ser­vice to the new cof­fee trees’ expected har­vest cycles. The FNC also worked with the Colombian gov­ern­ment to arrange a set of incen­tives to help cof­fee grow­ers become more pro­duc­tive and less vul­ner­a­ble to rust. It also devel­oped agree­ments with key indus­try mem­bers and cof­fee brands to offer addi­tional incen­tives in cer­tain regions, while at the same time reach­ing out to local gov­ern­ments to finance cer­tain ele­ments of the plan at a local level.

The imple­men­ta­tion of this orches­tra model to achieve a com­mon goal is prob­a­bly the biggest chal­lenge to most sus­tain­abil­ity efforts.

There is clearly a need for strong insti­tu­tions to make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence for thou­sands of small farm­ers dur­ing these com­plex times. There is a valu­able les­son to be learned, all parts of the orches­tra must come together to play the same tune at the same time in order to effec­tively accom­plish change through large enough pro­grams that improve the con­di­tions of hun­dreds of thou­sands of grow­ers. This is no doubt an impor­tant teach­ing tool for adapt­ing to cli­mate change that the agri­cul­tural world requires.

& Sleeves — Coffee Shop Must-Haves!">Cups, Lids, & Sleeves — Coffee Shop Must-Haves!

Categories: 2013, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

It is inevitable that dis­pos­able cups, lids, sleeves, and other prod­ucts are an essen­tial tool for all cof­fee shops. Nowadays, the con­sumer cares about more than just their cof­fee, it is about the entire expe­ri­ence. Yes, cups, lids, sleeves, and other dis­pos­able prod­ucts are apart of that cof­fee shop experience.

According to, “Americans throw away 25 bil­lion Styrofoam cof­fee cups each year.” The dis­pos­able cup has become a part of cof­fee con­sumers’ every­day lives. In fact, dis­pos­able cups have more uses than just being a ves­sel to carry your cof­fee in. With san­i­ta­tion being a high pri­or­ity for all food facil­i­ties, the uti­liza­tion of dis­pos­able cups lessens the chances of being exposed to bac­te­ria. No one else has used that cup before you.

Cups and sleeves can be cus­tomized to spread your shop’s brand. Logos and cus­tom design can all be accom­mo­dated to what you want your shop being por­trayed as. Not to men­tion, dis­pos­able cups are less expen­sive than glass or ceramic cups. It costs far less to order a sin­gle paper cup than it would be to replace a bro­ken glass mug.

Below are a few com­pa­nies that you can uti­lize to bring your con­sumers an excel­lent cof­fee shop experience.

arthritisliduVu Technologies
uVu Technologies uti­lizes its tal­ents and ana­lyt­ics’ team skill set to cre­ate food and bev­er­age pack­ag­ing solu­tions. This results in far supe­rior, safer cup lids and dis­pos­able prod­ucts, while rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing method­olo­gies in which many dis­pos­able prod­ucts are actu­ally formed. Therefore result­ing in incred­i­ble mate­r­ial sav­ing, cost sav­ing, and reduc­tion in the pro­duc­tion of defec­tive final parts.

Stefan Ebert, Marketing and Sales Manager of uVu Technologies says, “If a shop isn’t con­cerned about its employee and cus­tomer safety, then the uVu lid may not be right for it.”

Stalk Market LogoStalkmarket (Asean Corporation)
This com­pany sells a com­plete line of sin­gle and dou­ble wall insu­lated cups, lids, and jack­ets, all of which are 100 per­cent com­postable, BPI cer­ti­fied, and all made from renew­able plant materials.

Shops uti­liz­ing Stalkmarket prod­ucts are able to demon­strate to their cus­tomers that they are mak­ing the effort towards sus­tain­abil­ity and being more pro-active in their sus­tain­abil­ity efforts than some of the large chains.

President of Stalkmarket, Buzz Chandler, gives a piece of advice, “Local neigh­bor­hood shops are the back­bone of the cof­fee roast­ing indus­try.   Be a leader in your own way.   Don’t worry about the Mega Coffee chains.   Big is not a syn­onym for bet­ter.  Follow your own path.”

Versalite Ad_Coffee Talk_FinalBerry Plastics Corporation
Berry Plastics sells a full line of cups, lids, and pack­ag­ing to meet the needs of their food­ser­vice cus­tomers. They man­u­fac­ture both dis­pos­able and sou­venir drink­ing cups. Their cups are sold into con­ve­nience store, QSR, casual din­ing dis­tri­b­u­tion, and sta­dium and arena markets.

Our lat­est inno­va­tion, Versalite™, pro­vides advanced, durable hot and cold pack­ag­ing solu­tions that have the poten­tial to increase cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and oper­a­tional effi­cien­cies,” says Foodservice Product Line Manager, Lauren Piekos.

Java Jacket 2Java Jacket
Java Jacket aims to bring the best sleeves at afford­able prices. The com­pany takes pride in their envi­ron­men­tally con­scious ways. They attempt to elim­i­nate exces­sive paper waste and dou­ble cup­ping. Not to men­tion, they empha­size using recy­clable and com­postable, post-consumer paper.

Their cup sleeves are avail­able in two dif­fer­ent sizes and the waf­fle tex­ture of the sleeve pro­vides “grip abil­ity.” While they do offer stock prints, Java Jacket also offers cus­tom print­ing on both white or nat­ural kraft paper in up to six col­ors. Water-based inks are used in their print­ing techniques.

PBFYFlexiblePackaging0314Plastic Bags For You
PBFY car­ries a wide array of dis­pos­able cof­fee pack­ag­ing from foil bags, flat pouches, stand up pouches, and pouches with side gus­sets. Stand up pouches are offered in an assort­ment of col­ors, sizes, mate­ri­als, and styles. These include foil and poly, met­al­ized, win­dowed, and rice paper pouches.

According to their web­site, “The inno­v­a­tive design of these bags max­i­mizes how your prod­ucts are dis­played, while effi­ciently tak­ing up less space.”

These dis­pos­able cof­fee bags are also infused with a one-way degassing valve. The valve is a neces­sity for all pack­aged cof­fee beans. It keeps the cof­fee fresh, and it keeps the pack­age sealed tight and not allows air back into the package.

High-Definition and full-color prints on Visstun’s dis­pos­able paper cups allows for the addi­tion of ALL of your shop’s mar­ket­ing needs. You can print far beyond just your logo. The cups are printed on heavy-duty paper­board to ensure your cups remain sturdy when filled with cof­fee or tea.

They say, “With a dis­pos­able cup, it is crit­i­cal that the pro­mo­tion makes a great first impres­sion.” Make an impres­sion with these cups at your shop, for events, meet­ings, and other events!

Visstun also offers paper cups for your shops snacks as well. You can brand var­i­ous size cups and fill them with your customer’s favorite snacks!

Reach your tar­get mar­ket with a unique and cre­ative way to adver­tise. BriteVision offers not only café own­ers a way to pro­mote their busi­ness even after con­sumers leave the shop, but allows adver­tis­ers to print their mar­ket­ing buzz upon cof­fee sleeves. Their capa­bil­i­ties enable your cup sleeve mes­sage to stay fresh and keep a last­ing impact through­out the year.

BriteVision is a lead­ing media com­pany that invented cup sleeve adver­tis­ing. With mag­a­zine qual­ity print­ing, low min­i­mum orders, fast pro­duc­tion times, and eco-friendly sleeves, there is some­thing for every shop!

Disposable cups, lids, sleeves, and other prod­ucts are all items that all cof­fee shops uti­lize. They are a great way to brand your shop, and by uti­liz­ing the newest tech­nolo­gies, you can keep your cus­tomers safe and happy. Many com­pa­nies now are offer­ing envi­ron­men­tally friendly prod­ucts to meet the needs of var­i­ous consumers

With these prod­ucts being such a big part of the cof­fee shop atmos­phere, why not make them more valu­able and use­ful by cus­tomiz­ing them to empha­size your shop? Brand your shop and make your dis­pos­able prod­ucts stand out from the rest.

Safety is in the Seal
by Stefan Ebert

As more and more indi­vid­u­als are becom­ing injured by unin­tended spills of hot cof­fee due to the cup’s lid, the indus­try called for a safer lid. uVu Technologies aimed to do just that. The uVu lid with pro­pri­etary seal­ing fea­ture is both intu­itive and secure. By pro­vid­ing con­sumers with safer lids, they know that their bev­er­age will stay inside the cup, instead of on their hands or on their lap. This is a huge con­cern for many cof­fee shops, as it could result in dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomers or even lawsuits.

Tony Cervini, COO of Big Apple Bagels/My Duet/My Favorite Muffin (158 stores world-wide), calls it the “best lid in the whole world” and cites com­plete cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion with the user experience.

As we firmly believe, and Tony con­firms, to the cus­tomer a cup is a cup, but ask any cus­tomer about their expe­ri­ence with today’s state of the art lids and you will get a moun­tain of bad (and some­times angry) retorts con­cern­ing the over­whelm­ingly neg­a­tive expe­ri­ences redound across the industry:

The lid pops off all the time!”

The lid spilled all over my laptop!”

The lid ruined my work clothes.”

I was burned when the lid popped off.”  (This story was related to our team by a barista who had to be hos­pi­tal­ized for a week in upstate Michigan).

The cus­tomer wears their cof­fee all over them.”  (This story was told to our team by a store man­ager who, on a daily basis, watched her cus­tomers walk out of the store car­ry­ing a cup of cof­fee while wear­ing gloves, only to see the lid pop off and cof­fee splat­ter all over the customer’s win­ter coat.”).

Just as seri­ous are the litany of civil actions mounted on the basis of hot cof­fee spills, most recently in the mat­ter of Cary v. McDonalds (BC-53250)(Los Angeles Superior Court, Jan. 7, 2014). The Plaintiff alleged per­sonal injury when she was handed a cup of cof­fee at the drive-thru con­tain­ing a lid that was “neg­li­gently placed on the cup in such a way that the lid did not stay on the cup and came off, allow­ing hot cof­fee to spill on Ms. Cary caus­ing her severe per­sonal injury.”    A sim­ple “Google search” will reveal scores of other sim­i­lar per­sonal injury complaints.

We have deter­mined that the inher­ent defect in most hot bev­er­age lids today lies in the fail­ure to cor­rect the method in which a lid seals to a cup.  We have solved this prob­lem and, as the mar­ket shows, our prod­uct is meet­ing rave reviews.  We are com­pletely con­fi­dent that our prod­uct is safer than any other lid and can be a huge asset for any busi­ness as both a mes­sage that they truly care for their customer’s safety, but also as a brand­ing tool for their own business.


NAMA Emerging Leaders">NAMA Emerging Leaders

Categories: 2014, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Michael Kelley
Territory Account Manager
Quality Brokerage, Inc.

Completed NAMA’S Executive Development Program
Tri-State Vending Association Board of Director
Emerging Leaders Network

1. What are the skills you use most in your career?
The skill I use most would be com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Effective com­mu­ni­ca­tion is one of the most impor­tant and uti­lized skills in busi­ness. As a Brokerage Firm we have mul­ti­ple points of con­tact, from the man­u­fac­turer, to the dis­trib­u­tor, to the cus­tomer. A key role is to estab­lish direct com­mu­ni­ca­tion between all chan­nels. Additional skills I rou­tinely use would be flex­i­bil­ity, adapt­abil­ity, and man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple pri­or­i­ties. Having the abil­ity to man­age mul­ti­ple assign­ments and tasks and set pri­or­i­ties has proven to be a key skill set impor­tant in an indus­try that is always adapt­ing and changing.

2. How did you get into the vend­ing and refresh­ment ser­vices busi­ness?
In my teenage years, Lou Pace, who is the owner of Quality Brokerage, was then the man­ager of my base­ball team. There I was intro­duced to his son, Lou Pace Jr., who is now more of a brother than a friend. As Louie and I grew up we began work­ing in his father’s busi­ness, pack­ing sam­ple bags, order­ing sam­ples, assist­ing with order place­ment and help­ing pre­pare for trade shows. As Louie and I devel­oped a great work­ing rela­tion­ship, an Account Manager posi­tion opened at Quality Brokerage. Lou Jr. sug­gested to his father to give me the oppor­tu­nity to fill it. I have grate­fully been a part of the Quality Brokerage team for seven years.

3. Give us an idea of your role and key respon­si­bil­i­ties
My role at Quality Brokerage is to man­age sales and busi­ness devel­op­ment. As a Territory Account Manager in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, I have the respon­si­bil­ity to meet with the vend­ing and OCS oper­a­tors and con­nect them with the prod­ucts and ser­vices of the man­u­fac­tur­ers we rep­re­sent. As a man­u­fac­tur­ers’ part­ner, we are respon­si­ble for hav­ing con­sis­tent and effi­cient call cov­er­age in our ter­ri­tory while pro­vid­ing the oper­a­tors with cat­e­gory man­age­ment infor­ma­tion, Plan-o-Gram assis­tance, as well as rebate and pro­mo­tional pro­grams to max­i­mize sales. Also new item intro­duc­tions and fol­low up are key responsibilities.

4. What does an aver­age day for you include?
Every day brings new oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges, so again I must be ready to adapt and change to make sure I am pro­vid­ing my cus­tomers with the ser­vices they require. Similar to an oper­a­tor, my day also revolves around my clients. Saturday is my day to pack all of my sam­ple bags, run my cus­tomer reports, and to make sure I have all of my rebates, pro­mo­tions, and pre-book order sheets in order to review with the oper­a­tors dur­ing the week. Once my week begins I travel by car to intro­duce my prod­ucts in face-to-face meet­ings with the key deci­sion makers.

5. What are the biggest chal­lenges you face in your busi­ness?
Legislation and reg­u­la­tions are the biggest chal­lenges we face as an indus­try. It impacts all of our busi­nesses. That is why it is so impor­tant to sup­port your local State Council and NAMA, who both con­tinue to bat­tle these issues on a daily basis.

6. Moving for­ward, what are your personal/professional goals?
Moving for­ward, my per­sonal and pro­fes­sional goals coin­cide. I aim to pro­vide the excel­lent ser­vice and atten­tion my cus­tomers have become accus­tomed to, while exceed­ing our company’s goals and high stan­dards. I would also like to con­tinue to be an asset to my local State Council to ensure the growth and suc­cess of our industry.

7. In your own words, what is the value of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ELN?
The value of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Emerging Leaders Network is that it pro­vides an oppor­tu­nity and launch­ing pad for the industry’s up and com­ing and to make their mark and help shape our indus­try for the future! The ELN is a hub for young lead­ers with sim­i­lar goals seek­ing best prac­tices, pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment, and peer net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, while hav­ing the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence of trusted men­tors. Being part of a tech-savvy gen­er­a­tion dri­ven by pas­sion, com­mit­ment, and inno­va­tion, I am excited for where our indus­try is headed, and I am look­ing for­ward to being part of an orga­ni­za­tion that is mak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to uti­lize the com­mon­al­i­ties between the mul­ti­ple generations.

8. What is your advice for young peo­ple start­ing their careers in the indus­try?
Get involved with NAMA and your local State Organizations. Network, build rela­tion­ships, be con­fi­dent, and show your pas­sion. Continue your edu­ca­tion through NAMA’s var­i­ous sem­i­nars and pro­grams, such as the Executive Development Program.

As pre­vi­ously pub­lished in NAMA’s InTouch Magazine.

One-Way Coffee Degassing

Categories: 2013, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Fresh, aro­matic cof­fee is essen­tial for roast­ers, which is what a cus­tomer desires in qual­ity cof­fee. In order to pro­vide the fresh­est cof­fee pos­si­ble, and pre­serve the qual­ity of cof­fee, it is imper­a­tive for roast­ers to pack and seal their cof­fee imme­di­ately after roast­ing in a sealed package.

As freshly roasted cof­fee cools, it releases car­bon diox­ide gas which is com­monly known as the degassing process.  The degassing process can last a cou­ple of days up to over a week depend­ing on the roast and other fac­tors.  Without the proper mech­a­nism in place to release the car­bon diox­ide, cof­fee degassing inside of a sealed pack­age will cause the pack­age to swell and poten­tially burst.  Freshly roasted cof­fee can be bulk degassed; how­ever, the prob­lem with this approach, in addi­tion to tying up inven­tory, is that envi­ron­men­tal oxy­gen and air­borne con­t­a­m­i­nants cause the cof­fee to rapidly lose its fresh­ness, fla­vor and aroma. This cre­ates a bit­ter taste that any cof­fee con­nois­seur will not tolerate.

In our indus­try, since the consumer’s taste has become more refined and accus­tomed to great qual­ity cof­fee, roast­ers are under more pres­sure to deliver best qual­ity prod­ucts. Once con­sumers start drink­ing bet­ter qual­ity cof­fee, they tend to not trade down. Studies also show con­sumers pre­fer con­sis­tency. The abil­ity to main­tain con­sis­tency and great qual­ity is what will sell more cof­fee. This puts greater pres­sure on roast­ers to main­tain and pre­serve great qual­ity in their cof­fee through choos­ing the right species, roast­ing and blend­ing vari­ables as well as pre­serv­ing fresh­ness of their roast.

The solu­tion is to employ the use of one-way degassing valves to help roast­ers pre­serve fresh­ness and qual­ity of their care­fully roasted and cho­sen blend. The pur­pose of a one-way degassing valve is to allow car­bon diox­ide gas from freshly roasted cof­fee to escape from the pack­ag­ing while keep­ing envi­ron­men­tal oxy­gen and con­t­a­m­i­nants from enter­ing the pack­age. These valves are now stan­dard fea­tures on cof­fee bags as well as lid con­tain­ers. They can­not make the cof­fee taste bet­ter, but are cru­cial in pre­serv­ing roaster’s care­fully selected and roasted blend. There are two types of one-way degassing valves on cof­fee pack­ag­ing: sur­face applied or heat sealed but­ton one-way degassing valves.

The effec­tive­ness of one-way degassing valves is mea­sured by oxy­gen lev­els in the bag with lower oxy­gen lev­els, result­ing in bet­ter cof­fee fresh­ness and con­se­quently qual­ity. The indus­try stan­dard range on the oxy­gen level is between 0.5–3.0% and will depend on num­ber of fac­tors: type of one-way degassing valve used, film/material that it is applied to, loca­tion where it is applied on the pack­age and whether nitro­gen flush­ing is used.

One-way degassing valve tech­nol­ogy has devel­oped immensely. It has evolved to include var­i­ous enhance­ments that improve prod­uct func­tion­al­ity and ease of use. Roasters pre­fer to have smaller, thin­ner trans­par­ent valves that will not inter­fere with prod­uct pack­ag­ing and pro­vide the low­est oxy­gen lev­els pos­si­ble. In other words, one-way degassing valves should per­form the func­tion but be as unob­tru­sive as pos­si­ble. Plitek has been con­tin­u­ously work­ing towards enhanc­ing per­for­mance fea­tures of one-way degassing valves over the last twenty-five years with great success.

Coffee indus­try trend has shown an increase in usage of frac­tional pack­ages. As con­sumers desire fresh qual­ity, they buy more frac­tional pack­aged cof­fee that will be con­sumed within short period of time.

One of the Plitek prod­uct recently intro­duced to the mar­ket is the PLI-VALV Mini Valve; a one-way degassing valve for frac­tional pack­ag­ing. The new valve is trans­par­ent and small, at 0.50”x 0.50” in size, with sig­nif­i­cant cost advan­tages over stan­dard size valves. The appli­ca­tor to the new PLI-VALV Mini Valve can apply up to 150 valves per minute. A cus­tom engi­neered option is avail­able to dou­ble the rate.

Another patented inno­va­tion recently intro­duced to the mar­ket is PV-25-FV; a one-way degassing valve with inte­grated fil­ter­ing base that will addi­tion­ally enhance valve effec­tive­ness and help with prod­uct fresh­ness and qual­ity preser­va­tion. Its care­fully designed struc­ture inhibits cof­fee grounds from enter­ing the valve and inter­fer­ing with its func­tion­al­ity. It is one in a line of many prod­uct gen­er­a­tions that help roast­ers pro­vide the best qual­ity cof­fee to their customers.

Whichever one-way degassing choice roast­ers make, one cru­cial piece of advice is to ensure the degassing options are con­sis­tently work­ing and pro­vid­ing  the best oxy­gen lev­els. Roasters should have their bags ran­domly tested to ver­ify oxy­gen lev­els. Granted, this adds addi­tional respon­si­bil­ity, but it pre­vents hav­ing unhappy cus­tomers who will not tol­er­ate stale cof­fee and influ­ence them to select a dif­fer­ent prod­uct. Furthermore, one-way degassing valve rate of appli­ca­tion has direct impact on through­put and it is one of the impor­tant ele­ments to con­sider when choos­ing your degassing options.


Direct Trade: a Honduran Success Story

Categories: 2013, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Aside from sourc­ing awe­some cof­fee, one of the thrills of direct trade is con­nect­ing with the farm­ers who grow the crop. At Crimson Cup, we’ve been for­tu­nate to build a rela­tion­ship with David Lopez, one of the dri­ving forces behind the trans­for­ma­tion under­way in the remote Honduran vil­lage of El Socorro de la Penita. Working with David and other local farm­ers since 2011, we’re see­ing sig­nif­i­cant impact in the com­mu­nity school and improve­ment in the qual­ity of coffee.

Growing up in the vil­lage, David attended its one-room Jose Cecilio del Valle ele­men­tary school through the sixth grade. Formal edu­ca­tion ends there for 95 per­cent of the community’s chil­dren. David how­ever, was deter­mined to keep learn­ing. He left to attend junior high and then high school in larger communities.

After grad­u­at­ing high school, David took a job at one of the area’s larger cof­fee mills. There, he received a ground­ing in the cof­fee trade. Among other lessons, he learned the impor­tance of qual­ity in deter­min­ing cof­fee price. He wit­nessed the power of coops in nego­ti­at­ing prices. And he expe­ri­enced the enhanced qual­ity of life that came about as a result.

DSC00329A deep com­mit­ment to his her­itage drew David home in 1999. Upon his return, his father gave him 18 acres of land that were being used for cat­tle pas­ture. He began the process of cre­at­ing a cof­fee farm, plant­ing shade trees, and high-quality cof­fee trees. He did not see a yield until 2003, when he har­vested six bags of cof­fee. Ten years later, he owns 40 acres, with 15 ded­i­cated to cof­fee. Through David’s focus on proper cul­ti­va­tion, yields have grown steadily so that, this year he har­vested 11 tons of cof­fee. He projects a 13-ton crop in 2014.

As in many small com­mu­ni­ties, the 21 cof­fee farm­ers in El Socorro had been at the mercy of cof­fee coy­otes when sell­ing their crop. They earned barely enough to cover the costs of cul­ti­va­tion. David decided to change that. He helped orga­nize his neigh­bors into Coop Cultivadores del Reino, allow­ing them to nego­ti­ate higher prices by sell­ing as a group. He also built a wet mill to process their cof­fee locally, improv­ing its qual­ity and consistency.

David’s hard work came to our atten­tion in 2011. Since then, we’ve devel­oped a direct trade rela­tion­ship with David and other coop mem­bers designed around four pil­lars of impact – price, qual­ity, pro­duc­tion, and education.

Cash is the fuel of com­mu­nity growth, and the amount of cash cir­cu­lat­ing in the com­mu­nity depends directly on the price of the cof­fee crop. Crimson Cup has com­mit­ted to pur­chase a large amount of El Socorro cof­fee at a pre­mium over mar­ket price.

We’re in the busi­ness of sup­ply­ing the best cof­fee avail­able and the farm­ers under­stand that price depends on qual­ity. The secu­rity of know­ing that they will be paid for high-quality cof­fee gives them an incen­tive for using bet­ter pro­cess­ing meth­ods and invest­ing in sus­tain­able cul­ti­va­tion techniques.

Having a com­mit­ted buyer also strength­ens the coop and moti­vates the farm­ers to main­tain con­sis­tent pro­duc­tion. They are will­ing to rein­vest prof­its in equip­ment, nurs­eries, and rust-fighting pro­to­cols to keep pro­duc­tion where it needs to be. Moreover, they are look­ing at putting more land into cof­fee pro­duc­tion instead of mov­ing to other crops.

The demand for qual­ity has inspired a renewed focus on edu­ca­tion. With David set­ting the exam­ple, com­mu­nity mem­bers’ eyes have been opened to what edu­ca­tion can achieve. To sup­port edu­ca­tional improve­ments, Crimson Cup has donated new text­books, com­puter desks, and other improve­ments to the school. We’re get­ting ready to launch a crowd-funding ini­tia­tive through Indiegogo to raise funds for an English-speaking teacher for the school.

In 2013, we spon­sored a ser­vice learn­ing trip to the vil­lage by five stu­dents from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Working with David, other com­mu­nity lead­ers and Stephan Erkelens of Axiom Coffee Ventures, we helped the stu­dents craft a thriv­ing cof­fee enter­prise. We will be work­ing with Ohio State stu­dents, David and other local lead­ers to imple­ment the plan.

Of course, the stu­dents learned as much from the farm­ers as the farm­ers did from them. That is the beauty of direct trade – it is a con­tin­u­ing cycle of mutu­ally ben­e­fi­cial relationships.

Direct Trade: Relationships

Categories: 2013, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Why get into the cof­fee busi­ness?  Relationships.  Seeking out like-minded peo­ple all over the cof­fee grow­ing world and return­ing home with their hard work to share is what sep­a­rates cof­fee as a busi­ness from cof­fee as a lifestyle. My col­league Brandon Bir and I were for­tu­nate to find our­selves in Guatemala ear­lier this year amongst the finest of cof­fee and people.

We drop out of the sky and into the land of eter­nal spring. The weather in Guatemala, as adver­tised, is going to make our search that more enjoy­able. Brandon and I are here in search of that moment – hard to define but easy to spot once it hap­pens – when we dis­cover a cof­fee we just have to have. After cup­ping cof­fee together daily, Brandon and I know what we’re look­ing for.

At the air­port gate, we’re met by a friend who has set aside a few days to guide us. He is no stranger to this jour­ney; in fact, he has ded­i­cated his life to it. Once the youngest Q-grader in the world, Jorge Ovalle now spends most of his time look­ing for great cof­fee. We have arrived with the same purpose.

We quickly escape the air­port and embark on our quest. We are headed to Antigua, a grow­ing region of great tra­di­tion and renown. Some of the world’s most elo­quent cups of cof­fee are born in Antigua every year, but this year’s har­vest has come under attack. The region, like much of Central America, has fallen prey to Roya, or cof­fee rust, caused by the fun­gus hemileia vas­ta­trix. Even at drive-by speeds the effect is obvi­ous. The once-lush green foliage usu­ally adorn­ing the hill­sides has been replaced by spindly twigs, mere skele­tons of their for­mer grandeur. Some hold on to their dig­nity despite the plague and bravely man­age clus­ters of bright crim­son berries. The extent of the dam­age varies from one farm to another, as each uti­lizes its own prac­tices. Of course, the most vul­ner­a­ble farmer is the organic farmer, who can­not use chem­i­cal fungi­cides to com­bat the plague.

Jorge takes us to Maria del Pintado, the only Antigua cof­fee farm that is cer­ti­fied organic. Standing in the shad­ows of a majes­tic 400-year-old hacienda, which once housed Mother Teresa for a visit, we are wit­ness to a near-apocalyptic scene of denuded cof­fee trees. While Mad Max may have looked around, dusted him­self off and moved on, the owner and man­agers here have shown more back­bone. Within a few weeks, they must decide whether or not they are going to pull up all the plants and start over. If they do, there will be no yields for years to come. The other option is the use of non-organic fer­til­iz­ers. After meet­ing Belarmino, the man­ager, I don’t believe that this was ever a con­sid­er­a­tion. While tour­ing the grounds we learn of his fierce ded­i­ca­tion to this land and the cof­fee on it. Every aspect of pro­cess­ing El Pintado cof­fee takes place on the farm and under Belamino’s over­sight. “This was to be the year,” Belarmino told us, “But for the rust.”  The yield for this year’s har­vest can’t be ignored. Only 60 bags.

When the meet­ing of minds takes place and the fate of El Pintado is deter­mined, a key fig­ure in the deci­sion will be Jorge’s father, Jorge De Leon, Sr. He started in cof­fee in 1981 at age 17. He got a job clean­ing the cup­ping labs and orga­niz­ing the results. He would blind cup the sam­ples him­self and com­pare his notes with cup­pers’ records while no one was watch­ing. Jorge cleaned for years before he was offered the addi­tional duties of roast­ing the sam­ples. After work, he would go to the library and learn what he could about grow­ing and pro­cess­ing cof­fee. He has since worked as a cup­per for farms and labs through­out Guatemala, advis­ing on all aspects of qual­ity con­trol: farm­ing, milling, and cup­ping. In 2011 he won Guatemala’s national cup­ping com­pe­ti­tion and rep­re­sented Guatemala in Amsterdam at the world cup­ping com­pe­ti­tion where he was a final­ist. His work ethic remains unchanged 30 years later. Next to his house is his roast­ing and cup­ping lab. After vis­it­ing farms all day with Jorge Jr. we join Jorge Sr. at his house each night. We start cup­ping again between 8 and 9 p.m. Sometime after mid­night Brandon and I have to call it a night. Our nerves are on over­drive from a steady diet of caf­feine and we have new farms to see and new cof­fees to try first thing in the morn­ing. You just can’t out-cup the De Leons.

It was in the De Leons’ pri­vate cof­fee lab where we had that moment for the first time in Guatemala. Brandon and I both know this is what we are look­ing for. It was a blend that Jorge Jr. had put together using beans from local small-lot farms. We dubbed this blend “Jorge’s Pick.” Jorge had already taken us to visit many of the farms where the cof­fee was grown. Unfortunately, none of them would be able to help export the unusual blend, and the De Leons don’t have an export license. Still, we had to have this coffee.

The next day we cupped some good cof­fees and a few that stood out when that moment hit us again. It was the quin­tes­sen­tial Antigua, bal­anced and soft, rich with choco­late notes but still no real spikes. It is exactly what I want in an Antigua, and we have to have some of this too. As it turns out, this cof­fee is the prod­uct of El Pintado. But with such a small yield this year and reg­u­lar cus­tomers in Korea, would there be any left for us?  Obtaining the cof­fee would involve call­ing the owner, who was out of the coun­try at the time. She made her­self avail­able for us and agreed to set aside some bags of cof­fee. We also were for­tu­nate to make arrange­ments for export­ing the two types of cof­fee.  We have recently learned that the cof­fee trees of El Pintado will be spared.  I hope we are able to join them next har­vest, see their progress and shake hands again.

Coffee is a busi­ness of rela­tion­ships. The trick, when it comes down to it, is do you trust who you’re doing busi­ness with?  We trav­eled to Guatemala to find great cof­fee but more impor­tantly, strengthen the rela­tion­ships with the peo­ple behind the coffee.

Every Roaster Needs a Secret Weapon

Categories: 2013, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

jessica TThere comes a time in every roaster’s career when they need to pull a few secret weapons out of their sleeves. Competition in the cof­fee indus­try gets tight and they just need that one lit­tle boost to set them apart from their com­peti­tors. Whether it is a snazzy pack­age, a spe­cial kind of cof­fee, or even a piece of equip­ment, roast­ers’ secret weapons are impor­tant tools for every roaster– big or small.

It is impor­tant to keep in mind when read­ing these secret weapons that not every weapon will work for every roaster. There are some weapons that bet­ter suit a smaller rather than a larger roaster. I sug­gest that every roaster find a secret weapon that will work the best for them and go with it. So watch out roast­ers, here they are:

lead-1Scolari’s Technology is Astonishing in Creating Consistency and Controlling Costs in High Volume Operations
Scolari Engineering / Texpak Inc. is a com­plex man­u­fac­tur­ing sys­tem with a stan­dard­ized data­base that can not only be read but also writ­ten from a man­age­ment host. Their goal for their cus­tomers is to pro­duce per­fect cof­fee at lower costs.

Their secret weapon is using “inte­grated man­u­fac­tur­ing sys­tems with tomorrow’s tech­nol­ogy.” Utilizing one of their machines opens you up to a world of knowl­edge. They are able to detect and alert over 1,000 machine faults. Even bet­ter, they are able to do it usu­ally before any­one even knows that the prob­lem exists. This can result in fewer main­te­nance costs for roasters.

lead-2The LBP Manufacturing UpShot™ Solution
LPB Manufacturing, Inc. has cre­ated a line of eco-friendly, single-serve fil­ters paired with a flex­i­ble pro­duc­tion model that allows roast­ers, office cof­fee ser­vice, food­ser­vice, retail­ers, and brands to take advan­tage of the boom­ing single-serve market.

Bill Rickert talks about the fil­ter, “Our fil­ter was designed to brew a bet­ter cup of cof­fee while being 100% recy­clable and paired with a roy­alty free, scal­able busi­ness plan, the UpShot™ Solution truly is a secret weapon.”

This solu­tion is not only con­ve­nient for roast­ers, but this single-serve fil­ter is also entirely recy­clable, which tar­gets the eco-friendly audi­ence. It allows you to not only help the envi­ron­ment but also opens up a broader con­sumer market.

The UpShot™ fil­ter was built for bet­ter all-around per­for­mance ensur­ing greater con­trol over bev­er­age qual­ity and opti­mal coffee-to-water ratio– every time. Your cus­tomers will always know that they are get­ting a good cup of cof­fee when using this filter.

lead-3Fres-co System’s Vacuum Packaging
The Freshest Ideas in Flexible Packaging™- Fres-co System USA, Inc. offers mul­ti­ple machines for roast­ers to uti­lize in pack­ag­ing their cof­fee with fresh­ness preservation.

According to their web­site, “the Automatic VFFS vac­uum pack­ag­ing machine, with par­tial or total back gas flush, ensures oxy­gen residue to be less than 1.5 percent.”

These machines: G300, G500, G9, G11, and G22 give roast­ers five options to choose from depend­ing on the amount of cof­fee being pack­aged. While all of these machines have their dif­fer­ences, one thing is sim­i­lar– they all ensure that the preser­va­tion of the fresh­ness of the cof­fee is above par to keep sat­is­fied cus­tomers com­ing back.
Therefore, this roaster secret weapon is an invest­ment each roaster should make. You will not have happy cus­tomers with stale cof­fee. Not to men­tion, this secret weapon will pro­long the shelf life of products.

lead-4Cablevey Coffee Conveyor
If you are a small roaster think­ing about mak­ing the move to become a more large-scale roaster, Cablevey is the secret weapon for you to grow as a roaster. They offer cable and disc con­vey­ors that gen­tly move the cof­fee from the inlet to the dis­charge point. No air is used, keep­ing the cof­fee fresh and whole.

The cof­fee pro­tec­tion is much greater with a cable and disc con­veyor com­pared to a pres­sure dilute phase con­veyor. Not only is the cof­fee pro­tected with these gen­tle con­vey­ors, but the beans are also pro­tected from for­eign mate­ri­als, and cross con­t­a­m­i­na­tion as well. With the pro­tec­tion of the cof­fee increas­ing the out­put due to less con­t­a­m­i­na­tion, roast­ers will save money in the long run.

Flexible lay­outs, con­trol main­te­nance costs, mul­ti­ple inlets and dis­charges, enclosed sys­tems, easy clean­ing, and min­i­mal mate­r­ial degra­da­tion are just a few ben­e­fits a roaster receives from choos­ing a Cablevey conveyor.

lead-11PLI-VALV® Package Degassing System
Plitek pro­vides com­plete degassing solu­tions includ­ing one way degassing valves, valve appli­ca­tor design and man­u­fac­tur­ing, instal­la­tion, train­ing and ser­vic­ing as well as qual­ity test­ing sys­tems which make for an essen­tial “secret weapon” to any roaster.

PLI-VALV® patented one way degassing valves vent coffee’s nat­ural car­bon diox­ide gas from sealed pack­ag­ing while pro­vid­ing an effec­tive bar­rier to  fresh­ness degrad­ing oxy­gen enter­ing the pack­age. PLI-VALV® prod­ucts afford the cof­fee roaster a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage by pre­serv­ing fresh­ness and ensur­ing the high­est level of cof­fee qual­ity while also increas­ing pro­duc­tion through­put and elim­i­nat­ing degassing hold time for sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings.  They also enhance the aes­thetic of the cof­fee pack­age by vir­tu­ally dis­ap­pear­ing into the graph­ics, elim­i­nat­ing the heat-seal scar­ring and exposed vent hole required by tra­di­tional molded valves and offer­ing flex­i­bil­ity in valve place­ment location.

In addi­tion to cost sav­ings, Plitek’s cus­tomers, who pre­vi­ously used tra­di­tional plas­tic valves, have reported a 20 – 30% through­put increase.

One large cus­tomer reported they had cho­sen PLI-VALV valves because of the valve’s ben­e­fits but were even more impressed with the appli­ca­tor instal­la­tion and Plitek’s will­ing­ness to go the extra mile to ensure cus­tomer satisfaction.

lead-6Diedrich IR-1 Profile Lab Roaster
Awarded the Best New Product of 2010 by the SCAA, this roaster by Diedrich Manufacturing is a must-have for small or startup roast­ers. This secret weapon allows you to roast batches as small as 300g and as large as 2.2lbs. By roast­ing small batches before large ones, you can test the out­come, which allows you to cor­rect errors if needed before roast­ing larger batches. This machine, in return, alle­vi­ates waste and cuts cost of production.

If you want to try new cof­fee it is best to roast in this Lab Roaster first to see if you like the new prod­uct before wast­ing the time and money to roast a full batch of some­thing of which you are not a fan.  It is cost effec­tive, built from com­mer­cial grade mate­ri­als, easy to main­tain and con­trol heat tem­per­a­ture, and 40–60 per­cent more fuel-efficient, sav­ing the roaster money in pro­duc­tion costs.

lead-7“Boast Your Roast” with Roastar Customization
Searching for that spe­cial pack­age? Boast your roast with Roastar cus­tom cof­fee bags. With low min­i­mum order quan­ti­ties and fast turn­around times for cus­tom printed cof­fee and teabags, Roastar truly is a secret weapon in the indus­try. There are no plate charg­ers or setup fees. They also offer free bag proofs.

Roastar allows you to cus­tomize the bags to your lik­ing. A bag that catches the customer’s eye is more than likely to get pulled off the shelf than a bag that is dull and bor­ing. As roast­ers, you ben­e­fit from the free proofs and cost effec­tive oper­a­tions. Nothing is worse than get­ting 1,000 bags that you do not like and can­not return. You also ben­e­fit from the cus­tomiz­able aspect. You make the bags how you want to rep­re­sent your cof­fee. Remember– boost your roast with Roastar!

lead-8Agtron Coffee Roast Analyzer
Agtron E20CP II & M-Basic II chem­istry based cof­fee roast ana­lyz­ers have been a “Secret Weapon” for roast­ers around the world for over 25 years. Time tested by the most respected com­mer­cial and spe­cialty roast­ers to quan­tify roast devel­op­ment with extremely high res­o­lu­tion, accu­racy, and repeata­bil­ity, they help roast­ers improve the qual­ity and con­sis­tency of their cof­fee and help higher vol­ume roast­ers improve process yield. Our cus­tomers use the ana­lyz­ers to test every batch of cof­fee they roast which gives them the con­fi­dence that their prod­uct is con­sis­tent, which in return makes the cus­tomer happy know­ing what they are going to get in every bean.

Kim Staub from Agtron Inc. says, “There are approx­i­mately 2,000 Agtron roast ana­lyz­ers in ser­vice around the world, many in use at the most respected com­pa­nies in the indus­try. If we told you who they were, then it wouldn’t be a secret would it?”

Agtron rocks!” says Mike McKim from Cuvee Coffee in Austin, Texas. “The Agtron roast ana­lyzer and Agtron, the com­pany, has helped us develop both the high qual­ity and con­sis­tency of our prod­uct. It is an invalu­able part of our day-to-day pro­duc­tion and qual­ity control.”

lead-9North Atlantic Bag – Going Green!
There has been much talk about biodegrad­able, renew­able, com­postable, etc. in the cof­fee and tea indus­tries. North Atlantic Specialty Bag remains com­mit­ted to roast­ers’ needs and con­tin­u­ously look for new tech­nolo­gies to ful­fill them. Currently North Atlantic offers a line of biodegrad­able and com­postable paper bags that fit those needs in shorter shelf life appli­ca­tion. The biggest hur­dle roast­ers face to obtain these objec­tives is shelf life verses envi­ron­men­tally friendly prod­ucts. Coffee requires high lev­els of pro­tec­tion against oxy­gen and mois­ture to extend shelf life and qual­ity. Our secret weapon, “The Economy Line,” offers excel­lent bar­rier for cof­fee roast­ers that have prod­uct turnover of less than 8 weeks while reduc­ing the mate­r­ial waste stream by 30 percent.

lead-10The Daterra Penta System®
This secret weapon, the Penta System®, is a set of tech­no­log­i­cal pro­ce­dures that ensures qual­ity and con­sis­tency. Special care applied to the five stages of the sys­tem – Planting, Harvesting, Drying, Sorting, and Packaging – elim­i­nate all defects and guar­an­tee out­stand­ing qual­ity con­trol. As a result of the Penta System®, qual­ity is supe­rior and more reliable.

Sweet Maria’s Tom Owen says, “Daterra Farms is a remark­able force in the Brazilian cof­fee world and the entire cof­fee world in gen­eral. Here we find one of the most inno­v­a­tive cof­fee cul­ti­va­tors, where each step is scru­ti­nized, rethought, and rein­vented. It is more of a cof­fee research insti­tute than a farm!”

The Penta System® ben­e­fits the roast­ers directly by elim­i­nat­ing most defects and guar­an­tee­ing qual­ity con­trol, reduc­ing stor­age costs, grant­ing longer green bean shelf life which ensures fresh cof­fee for roast­ers, and pro­duc­ing qual­ity prod­ucts mak­ing con­sumers con­tin­u­ally happy.

lead-5Pod Pack® Espresso Pods
With their mis­sion state­ment stat­ing that they “strive to be the most inno­v­a­tive North American man­u­fac­turer of espresso pods, 1-Cup pods, and other sim­i­lar single-cup deliv­ery sys­tems such as car­tridges,” you know that their secret weapon allows roast­ers to cus­tomize their own blends and roasts to mar­ket espresso to con­sumers and offices based on their preferences.

While the prepa­ra­tion for espresso is com­pli­cated– the bean grind­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tions and load­ing tech­niques leave lit­tle room for error– espresso pods by Pod Pack® elim­i­nate all of the strug­gles of cor­rectly brew­ing espresso shots. They take the guess­work out of prepar­ing the per­fect shot.

This secret weapon is avail­able in two dif­fer­ent sizes, a sin­gle and a dou­ble shot, and guar­an­tees fresh­ness in every pod. Not only do these pods accu­rately brew espresso every time, mak­ing your cus­tomers happy, but they also help you main­tain inven­tory and por­tion control.

lead-12BeanSafe®  – Put All of Your Beans in this Canister
BeanSafe® The Coffee Storage Solution, has cre­ated can­is­ters to pro­tect your beans from the four coffee-destroyers. These destroy­ers are air, mois­ture, heat, and light. Their secret weapon is their lid for 5-gallon buck­ets for stor­ing roasted beans of a large quan­tity. They are air­tight with four clasps and a sil­i­cone gas­ket as well as a patented one-way Pressure Release Valve that keeps out air and mois­ture while allow­ing car­bon diox­ide to escape. Utilizing this lid as opposed to a reg­u­lar 5-gallon bucket lid is this will keep the cof­fee in the bucket fresh longer. And be sure to check out their home stor­age sys­tems that retail­ers may want to carry!

lead-14TekPak Omnidegradable® Films
Made by TekPak Solutions, this secret weapon “allows Roasters to show their cus­tomers they are doing what is right for the Environment. Our films are rel­a­tively new to the Coffee mar­ket and this allows Roasters to get ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion and become an envi­ron­men­tal leader,” says Robert Pocius.

These Omnidegradable® films are shelf-stable indef­i­nitely and will biode­grade or com­post any­where there are active microbes. Other films have a very short shelf life and many set con­di­tions to achieve compost-ability or biodegradability.

Pocius says, “Transcend Coffee Roasters has switched to our new Omnidegradable® Standup pouches with great suc­cess. They pro­moted this fact on Packaging Digest’s On-Line Daily News last January 27, 2013 and gained world­wide attention.”

lead-15Loring Flavor-Lock Roast Process™ Technology
This tech­nol­ogy uti­lized by Loring roast­ers is a secret weapon that is user friendly and a favorite of many roast­ers. “The ease of use of the Loring, allows us to focus on the roast­ing and devel­op­ing of the actual cof­fee and less in pre­dict­ing and han­dling the design of the machine,” says Alvaro Sanchez [roaster] of Toby’s Estate.

Since this machine is so easy to use, roast­ers are not wor­ry­ing about tech­ni­cal­i­ties of the oper­a­tion of the machine, leav­ing them time to focus on their cus­tomers. One of the biggest ben­e­fits of Loring roast­ers is the energy sav­ing capa­bil­i­ties. Loring’s patented tech­nol­ogy elim­i­nates the need for an after­burner, which reduces energy con­sump­tion and green house gas emis­sions by 80 per­cent.
Not only is this secret weapon easy to use, but also it saves time, money, and energy.

lead-18Walker Coffee Trading Company – The Three C’s
Walker Coffee Trading Company takes pride in their secret weapon: the three C’s. They are com­pet­i­tive­ness with pric­ing, con­sis­tency of qual­ity, and car­ing for their cus­tomers. Utilizing this com­pany allows each con­sumer the abil­ity to be com­pet­i­tive, con­sis­tent, and know that this com­pany will care for them. They go to great lengths to make their cus­tomers happy with their secret weapon.

lead-17PBFY – Stamp Up Your Packaging!
Need some­thing more than plain stock pouches, but don’t have the bud­get for cus­tom printed bags? Then PBFY’s foil stamp appli­ca­tion ser­vice is the secret weapon for you. PBFY is able to print on their stand up pouches, side gus­seted foil bags, flat pouches, and paper bags for low min­i­mum quan­tity orders. With afford­able print­ing plate charges, foil stamp­ing makes a great alter­na­tive to cus­tom print­ing and cus­tom labels. Apply your logo, com­pany name, and other infor­ma­tion onto the bags with foil stamp printing.

lead-16Shore Measuring Systems – The Moisture Tester
Shore Measuring Systems has 40 years of expe­ri­ence in both man­u­fac­tur­ing and repair­ing com­mer­cial grade mois­ture testers. The Shore Model 920™ is a secret weapon that has an accu­racy of ± 1/2% to air oven and a sam­ple test time of roughly 5 to 35 sec­onds depend­ing on sam­ple tem­per­a­ture. Samples that are above 100° or below 40° will take a max­i­mum of 35 sec­onds to allow for accu­rate tem­per­a­ture sens­ing. Samples close in tem­per­a­ture to the tester will take only a few sec­onds. Results are dis­played directly with­out the need for mois­ture or tem­per­a­ture con­ver­sion tables.

The pack­age ver­sion of this secret weapon includes a pre­ci­sion scale to help pro­vide an exact test sam­ple every time. This mois­ture tester accom­mo­dates the green cof­fee bean with and with­out parch­ment, nat­ural dried cof­fee berries, and roasted cof­fee beans. Knowing the mois­ture level of your cof­fee beans is a great tool to have as a roaster to help choose the cor­rect roast­ing pro­file, avoid shrink or qual­ity issues, and aid in sav­ing roast­ing energy.

lead-19Pack Plus 1oz Stand-Up Pouches
Finally, a true single-serve pack­age to answer your sam­pling needs! This 1oz bag is their small­est size yet. Ideal for pro­mo­tional sam­pling for cof­fee, tea, and other con­fec­tionery prod­ucts. Give your leads a taste of what you have to offer and quickly turn your prospects into cus­tomers! These inno­v­a­tive pouches come stan­dard with a tear-notch top and optional zip closure.

lead-20Teasano Loose-Leaf Tea
Compared to the bagged tea you may be using, loose-leaf tea by Teasano is already ben­e­fit­ting a many OCS Operators who are sell­ing cof­fee. This secret weapon is extremely cost effec­tive. There is no equip­ment cost, very low startup costs, and there is no cost to entry. The cost per cup, com­pared to the bagged tea, is rel­a­tively the same.

This is a great way to increase mar­gins and prof­its for exist­ing cus­tomers and a great way to gain new cus­tomers due to hav­ing this com­pet­i­tive advan­tage. Being the first to mar­ket this prod­uct in your area allows you to be the indus­try leader, putting you ahead of oth­ers. Not to men­tion, this loose-leaf tea is a trendy way to sup­ply your customer’s favorite fla­vored tea to them.

Jeff Stebbings, from Teasano, talks about a Vancouver based OCS Company cur­rently using Teasano, “The cus­tomer pre-Teasano spends $200/month on tea mak­ing $50 gross profit. However, using Teasano prod­ucts, the cus­tomer spends $634/month on tea mak­ing $424 gross profit.”

lead-21PBi patented one-way Degassing Valve
Made by Pacific Bag, this valve is their secret to keep­ing your cof­fee fresh. Once the cof­fee is roasted, it off-gasses the PBi patented one-way degassing valve. This lets the CO2 com­ing off of the beans out of the bag while simul­ta­ne­ously not allow­ing any of the oxy­gen back in the bag.

Kelle Vandenberg, Director of Marketing and Sales at Pacific Bag says, “Oxygen is a cof­fee killer, dry­ing out the oils and fla­vor of the bean. Packaging should pro­tect cof­fee and the PBi patented one-way degassing valve, made and man­u­fac­tured in the USA, is the high­est level of pro­tec­tion on the mar­ket.” Protecting your cof­fee and keep­ing it fresh guar­an­tees that your cus­tomers will remain happy and con­tinue pur­chas­ing your coffee.

May the Roasting Force be with you!
In a world where com­pe­ti­tion is always present, it is impor­tant to try and get the upper hand when it comes to your com­peti­tors. Roasters, you must try and stand out from the rest and make your­self mar­ketable to mul­ti­ple con­sumers. These secret weapons should be the tools you need to pull ahead. Stay on top of your game and remem­ber to use secret weapons wisely!

Game Changers

Categories: 2013, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

The cof­fee indus­try, in many ways, is the same now as when it first became an indus­try. Coffee is grown, exported, imported, roasted, retailed, and con­sumed. But you have to admit that the SPECIALTY cof­fee indus­try today is not what it was even 30 years ago. 60 years ago it didn’t even exist. Segmenting the indus­try into ‘the good stuff’ and ‘the other stuff’ was a game changer in that an entire new mar­ket based mostly on the qual­ity of the cup was born.

The def­i­n­i­tion used for a ‘Game Changer’ for this arti­cle is pretty straight for­ward: A thought, idea, or action that fun­da­men­tally changes how we think, cre­ate, and act in the spe­cialty cof­fee industry.

Compiled in the next sec­tion are SOME of the Game Changers we have seen so far in the indus­try. It is not an exhaus­tive list. If you have a game changer that was missed, please send it to the author. The last sec­tion looks at the sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems to be solved in the next 30 years and what game chang­ers might be com­ing for that purpose.

Game Changers in the Last 60 Years

The Industrial Revolution – This brought cof­fee to the masses and cre­ated the real­ity for Americans that the day does not start with­out cof­fee. It is a sub­set of these drinkers that demanded more fla­vor and spurred the Specialty Coffee Market.

Washed Coffees – When cof­fee started being washed for a more con­sis­tent, effi­cient, and reli­able way to remove the mucilage, a side ben­e­fit was the increase in acetic acid that is gen­er­ated in the process. Acetic acid pro­vided fruity fla­vors to some cof­fees and much more exper­i­men­ta­tion was done. Now there is a ‘mas­ter’ in charge of the tanks to not only know when the mucilage is com­ing off, but to deter­mine how much/little acetic acid is most desirable.

Micro Lots – When fer­men­ta­tion became a craft, indi­vid­ual lots could be manip­u­lated. It is often eas­ier to manip­u­late a sin­gle lot than the bulk of a coöperative’s cof­fee. Farmers are now tak­ing great care with their crops because they real­ize there could be a pre­mium for a high qual­ity sin­gle lot coffee.

Varietal Creation – In an effort to increase qual­ity, yield, and strength of the cof­fee plant, labs such as the Kenya Coffee Research Foundation ini­ti­ated long-term sci­ence pro­grams to splice and cross var­i­ous vari­etals. The results have gen­er­ated hybrids that can be cho­sen for very spe­cific grow­ing goals. Some vari­etals like Geisha have truly put the cof­fee world on notice when it began win­ning all of the top qual­ity awards.

The Q-Grading System – With all of the increase in qual­ity being attempted around the world, there became a need for a com­mon lan­guage through­out the sup­ply chain. The Coffee Quality Institute took up the chal­lenge. Just a few years later there are almost 3,000 Q-Graders rang­ing from Australia to Zambia. Now pro­duc­ers can talk with exporters, importers, and even roast­ers about their cof­fee. This is help­ing improve the qual­ity of life at the farm level, as they become able to real­ize higher prices for their coffee.

Roast Profile Systems – Now that there are micro lots, a roaster has an oblig­a­tion to treat that cof­fee like gold. They learn the Q-Language and then get to work roast­ing the cof­fee in dif­fer­ent ways to get the best out of that par­tic­u­lar bean. Once they have it… they have to be able to repeat it. That is where a roast pro­file sys­tem comes in handy. It records what you did and assists in hit­ting that same spot over and over.

The One-Way Valve – This small device, when applied to a cof­fee bag, allowed for the tran­si­tion from a can to a bag and ush­ered in a whole new level of fresh­ness. Now small bags of ‘right out of the roaster’ cof­fee can be found in gro­cery stores as well as retail shops.

The Espresso Machine – The dis­cov­ery of this shot of liq­uid gold that must be man­u­fac­tured under such high pres­sure drove a whole new way to enjoy cof­fee. Many years later, ‘Barista’ is a new work­force category.

All of the game chang­ers above were orig­i­nally devel­oped to solve a prob­lem. Most were dri­ving qual­ity into the cof­fee at some level. With the advent of the infor­ma­tion age we live in cur­rently, inno­va­tion will become much more dra­matic and sudden.

Game Changers in the Next 30 Years

Quality will con­tinue to be a focus, but much larger, global issues must be dealt with. Some of these Game Changers are already in final stages of development.

Coffee Rust – This dis­ease of the plant is cur­rently dec­i­mat­ing farms through­out Latin America. The cur­rent best answer is to chop down your farm and start over. Companies are work­ing on ways to use new pes­ti­cides, fungi­cides, and to improve farm­ing prac­tices to com­bat the dis­ease. A Game Changer here comes with some sort of treat­ment that will elim­i­nate the dis­ease and improve the health of the tree.

Poverty / Supply Chain Enrichment – It is get­ting harder to turn a blind eye to the dis­par­ity of wealth from grower to retailer. Groups are devel­op­ing ways to get the rela­tion­ship between the con­sumer and the grower to be more obvi­ous and more per­sonal. First there was Fair Trade, then Direct Trade. Both hold to the premise that the farmer is being left out of the profit model. With the cur­rent tech­nol­ogy, a con­sumer can ‘meet his farmer’. With aware­ness there will emerge a solu­tion. A Game Changer here would be turn­ing the sup­ply chain on its head and allow­ing the farmer to fully par­tic­i­pate in profits.

Food Transparency – Technology is pro­vid­ing us with the abil­ity to trace our food to where it comes from and who touches it on its way to us. With poten­tial out­breaks of dis­eases and cer­tain threats against one group of peo­ple from another it is impor­tant that we are able to do this food trace. Think of the e-coli out­breaks where they can trace the head of let­tuce back to the farm. The Game Changer for cof­fee is when we can do this because we can then engage the entire sup­ply chain. There is ZERO chance right now of trac­ing cof­fee in cer­tain parts of the world. If we can find the farmer, we can reward the farmer.

Climate Change – There is no ques­tion that how the grow­ing sea­sons and rain pat­terns change mat­ters to the cof­fee farmer. Someone will come up with a way to see into the future and pre­dict the new pat­terns and will allow farm­ing to be proac­tive to the change rather than reac­tive. A Game Changer here does not alter the weather, but rather, learns how to accept and work with those things we can­not change.

What are the next Game Changers that we will see over the next 30 years? You should expect to be amazed at the sim­plic­ity of some of them like the one-way valve and awed by the inge­nu­ity of oth­ers like cre­at­ing new vari­etals. The real ques­tion is, “What is the Game Changer YOU are going to come up with?”

Rocky can be reached at

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