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by Donald N. Schoenholt
Gillies Coffee Co.

The Borer And The Never Boring: The 2013 Coffee Review

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

The Great Durante was fond of say­ing, “Everybody wants ta get inta the act!,” The act is K-cups®, and it was the dom­i­nant fea­ture of the US indus­try in 2013. There remains a mad scram­ble to get into the sin­gle serve busi­ness, with just about every roaster aspir­ing to pro­duce them, and most inde­pen­dent multi-store oper­a­tors eager to have their own pri­vate label Keurig® com­pat­i­ble line of cof­fee. Every hot served liq­uid food, from apple cider to soup, is now being brewed in a Keurig®. If the tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to extend its plat­form in American kitchens and work­sta­tions, foods pre­pared from por­tion con­trol cups of dry ingre­di­ents, may brew long term change in American food prepa­ra­tion habits in the home and workplace.

At ori­gin, there are gen­eral con­cerns about cli­mate change, and spe­cific ones that are con­sid­ered, in part, the result of cli­mate change as cof­fee rust in Central America (attrib­uted to lower rain­fall), where “roya” may, accord­ing to the ICO (as reported by Reuters in March) reduce cof­fee out­put in affected areas by 20 per­cent. But, losses will not be even, and some coun­tries such as El Salvador are expect­ing to be hurt dis­pro­por­tion­ately (35 per­cent), while oth­ers as Costa Rica may only suf­fer a “man­age­able” loss (13 percen). Hypothenemus ham­pei, the cof­fee borer, is also a seri­ous con­cern. It is being fought, with vary­ing degrees of suc­cess this year, in Brazil and Hawaii.

The Arabica mar­ket con­tin­ued to drift down­ward dur­ing 2013, with only the very best grades hold­ing a value of 50 per­cent or bet­ter above the New York “C”. The bet­ter Robusta grades, on the other hand, held value against the Arabicas, such that by year end grades, as Vietnam GR1, SC16, Wet Polished, were being offered in New York at prices com­pa­ra­ble to “C” grade Arabica beans. These Robusta cof­fees from Vietnam, and other ori­gins offer­ing neu­tral cup and bold bean style, have found favor in recent years in the espresso brands of American roast­ers, some of whom would not have con­sid­ered the ingre­di­ent only a few years ago. Uganda, the 4th largest Robusta cof­fee pro­ducer, is plant­ing 300 mil­lion addi­tional Robusta cof­fee trees in a large eco­nomic wager, that in the West, the espresso mar­ket will con­tinue to bal­loon, and that in the East and in the Southern hemi­sphere, a grow­ing world mid­dle class will choose to be cof­fee drinkers.

To the grat­i­fi­ca­tion and relief of small inde­pen­dent roast­ers, and prob­a­bly the big roast­ers too, the stran­gling effects of the his­tor­i­cally high cof­fee mar­kets of recent years, fade into mem­ory as money flows back into their pock­ets and out of their inven­tory val­ues. In June, Starbucks raised prices into the teeth of con­sumer aware­ness of a falling mar­ket. They’ve got grit.

Usually, we would expect that reduced exports from Central American, and pos­si­bly some Brazilian regions, would echo through the mar­ket putting upward pres­sure on cof­fee prices; with increased rev­enues per pound help­ing to defray a por­tion of the loss to blights and bugs. That may not be the case this year as there may be an abun­dance in Arabica cof­fee sup­plies, as the ICO expects sup­ply to out­strip demand by 4-million bags, or roughly equal to the cof­fee crop of Mexico. If this comes to pass, there will be added eco­nomic pres­sure on sub­sis­tence coffee-farm fam­i­lies brought about by the double-whammy of hav­ing less cof­fee to sell, while receiv­ing a lower price per pound for that which remains. The answer, of course, is to pro­duce cof­fee at such a high level of excel­lence that its value breaks free of the “C” con­tract. Sadly, becom­ing as La Esmiralda, Clifton Mount Estate, or La Minita is not an attain­able goal, but only an aspi­ra­tion for most farmers.

Espresso has changed cof­fee in America. Espresso machines are found in every man­ner of food ser­vice oper­a­tion today, and Nespresso® and Keurig® are work­ing hard to bring easy-access espresso bev­er­ages into upper-middle class homes and apart­ments. Simultaneously, Italian cof­fee brands as Illy, Lavazza®, Danesi®, and Segafredo® con­tinue to pour into the American cup sat­is­fy­ing the insa­tiable American taste for the exotic, and seem­ingly upscale taste for that which is European.

It has been a long time since Lauren Bacall pitched Instant Maxwell House cof­fee, and once again celebri­ties are being iden­ti­fied with cof­fee. In Australia, Al Puccino hawks Vittoria Coffee. Hugh Jackman and Leonardo DiCaprio sup­port Laughing Man brand, and David Hasselhoff pushed Farmhouse Blend Iced Coffee. Rarely does a celebrity enter the indus­try as a strictly busi­ness ven­ture, but that’s what Patrick Dempsey appeared to do this past year, tak­ing an own­er­ship stake in the Tully’s® chain of 48 retail out­lets dur­ing bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ings in January. Mr. Dempsey was evi­dently burned by the expe­ri­ence, though accord­ing to the Associated Press, he never invested money in the chain, as by August, Dempsey had divested him­self of his hold­ings in the cof­fee retailer. In other celebrity cof­fee news, Marley’s Coffee, who went pub­lic in 2011, (JAMN) is still los­ing money, though sales are gyrat­ing. 12 OZ Marley’s® cof­fee was spot­ted not long ago at a Long Island T.J. Maxx out­let for $4.99.

The year saw the re-launch of a grand old name in the trade, Martinson®. A top brand in New York in the first half of the last cen­tury, it had been brought low (to the price/value level) by a suc­ces­sion of own­ers who did not appre­ci­ate what they had. Joe Martinson’s brand is now owned by Mother Parker®, and the re-positioning in the mar­ket includes sin­gle serve, soft bags, and fiber cans. The blend selec­tion is mid-line with names such as Joe’s Light Latin, Joe’s Donut Shop, and Joe’s Rich African Brew. It’s nice to see Mr. Martinson’s brand out there again.

Another old New York brand, an A&P orig­i­nal, 8’Oclock® cof­fee, now a Tata com­pany, rebranded itself in 2013 with strik­ing new red 11 OZ pack­ag­ing fea­tur­ing infor­ma­tional strips on the right shoulder…and of course, a sin­gle serve line.

No one with access to iTunes needs to go through the day with­out a decent cuppa. The Find Me Coffee app can find you a cof­fee shop around the cor­ner or around the globe, give you direc­tions to get there, and can even place an order. The iPhone’s cof­fee­hunter app has a col­lec­tion of 7,000 inde­pen­dent cof­fee places.

In the age before mechan­i­cally bot­tled beer, the bev­er­age was car­ried in tin pails. They were known as Growlers, which may be related to the sound made by the slosh­ing of beer, and the release of car­bon diox­ide caused by that action in the pails as they were car­ried. Later, the pails were replaced with bot­tles, but the name stuck. The Growler was returned to the tav­ern as desired, where it would be refilled with fresh beer at mod­est cost. Today, a Growler is a refill­able con­tainer (usu­ally 64oz) and an affec­ta­tion used by Cold Brew Coffee entre­pre­neurs as a descrip­tion of the pack­age in which they mar­ket their wares.

Cold Brew Iced Coffee began to take hold in the sum­mer of 2013, with amber glass bot­tles of iced brew found in trendy cof­fee bars and upscale mar­kets, where local iced brew­ers are located. Among Brooklyn, New York’s entries is Grady’s New Orleans-Style. Others around the coun­try, include Slingshot 16oz read to drink Iced Coffee, Raleigh, NC, Installation Coffee Co’ Cold Brew, Los Angeles, CA, Jittery John’s Cold Brew, San Francisco, CA, and Chameleon Cold Brew, Austin, TX. Gorilla Coffee, Brooklyn, NY renowned for their prod­uct mar­ket­ing graph­ics has, per­haps, the most strik­ing pack­age for their Cold Brew cof­fee. You can see it here.

gorillacoffee.com/collections/cold-brew

Some cafés have declared war on WiFi squat­ters this year, and oth­ers con­tinue to make a point of adver­tis­ing free WiFi. The tug of war between pro­vid­ing added value to your cup, ver­sus the loss of seat­ing when some patrons take unfair advan­tage of the ser­vice by sit­ting for hours over a sin­gle cup of cof­fee depriv­ing the shop of open seat­ing for newly enter­ing cus­tomers, is becom­ing some­thing that is heard more fre­quently in con­ver­sa­tion between oper­a­tors. Along with the belief that WiFi squat­ters cre­ate a squalid atmos­phere that chases away a bet­ter qual­ity clientele.

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain, Reiney’s Soda Fountain in Denison, Iowa, and Vincent’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain, John’s Island South Carolina aside, the old fash­ioned soda foun­tain, a fix­ture on Main Street in the first half of the last cen­tury, that as an indus­try, did not sur­vive the post WWII era, may be about to make a come­back with Starbucks in the van­guard. Stephan Wermuth reported in a Reuter’s piece that Starbucks, using Soda stream-like car­bon­a­tion machines is mak­ing old-fashioned soda foun­tain style sodas, by adding car­bon­a­tion to its juice, tea, and cof­fee bev­er­ages in an exper­i­ment in selected stores in Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, and Asia.

During the Summer, while we were all drink­ing from Growlers and dream­ing of soda foun­tains of yore, SCAA Lifetime Achievement Laureate, Dan Cox, was spilling the beans on cof­fee spills with the pub­li­ca­tion of Handling Hot Coffee: Preventing spills, Burns, and Lawsuits. It is filled and over­flow­ing with help­ful infor­ma­tion on keep­ing hot cof­fee bev­er­age safe for the oper­a­tor, wait staff, and consumer.

The need for this thin vol­ume (98 Pages) pub­lished by Red Barn Books, ISBN-10: 1935922246, ISBN-13: 978–1935922247 should be obvi­ous to all in the trade, as law­suits over spilled hot cof­fee have been a reg­u­lar occur­rence since the ill-famed judg­ment in the 1994, California Liebeck v. McDonald’s case. Until Dan’s help­ful, orga­nized, anno­tated, illus­trated, and indexed sin­gle source book, oper­a­tors and attor­neys were forced to find answers from many dif­fer­ent resources. The trade owes the SCAA Past President, Cox, a thanks for help­ing his fel­low man (and mem­bers of WIC, too) with this use­ful tool.

McDonalds®, who upgraded the qual­ity of their cof­fee pro­gram some years ago, has seen the light, and is switch­ing to paper cups from poly­styrene. Big Mac® should be thanked for mak­ing this change, which will cost them money as the two mate­ri­als are not com­pa­ra­ble in price. McCafe® will taste bet­ter, and the envi­ron­ment will not have to con­tinue try­ing to ingest 10-million Styrofoam cups each day. Thank you, McDonalds®.

Joh. A. Benckiser, the new owner of Peet’s® and Caribou® cof­fee chains, has the two now-sister com­pa­nies play­ing dosey-doe your part­ner. Minnesotta based Caribou will become a regional North-Midwestern brand, with addi­tional out­lets in neigh­bor­ing Iowa, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Colorado. They will also retain out­liers in North Carolina. Caribou® stores in the rest of the coun­try will be con­verted to Peet’s®.

At the end of October, Kraft® announced that they would begin test mar­ket­ing McDonald’s® McCafe® brand cof­fee in selected mar­kets. In November, an arbi­tra­tor deter­mined that Starbucks must pay 2.76-billion dol­lars for walk­ing away from their pack­aged cof­fee deal with Kraft® to dis­trib­ute Starbucks®. One went in and the other went out.

Ron Popeil, move over, for as the year ground down, Keurig® infomer­cials were becom­ing omnipresent on cable TV.

In the Coals-to-Newcastle depart­ment, The Wall Street Journal reported that Starbucks®, whose stated goal is 20,000 retail stores by the close of 2014, plans to open its first retail shop in Bogota, Colombia in the com­ing months. This pilot store is hoped to be the first of 50 Starbucks stores in Colombian cities, to be opened over the next 5 years. So you see, with all that tran­spired in 2013, we still have things to which we can look for­ward to in the New Year, such as 50 more Starbucks®.

Distinguished roaster/cupper Donald Schoenholt is cof­fee­man at cel­e­brated Gillies Coffee Co., Brooklyn NY, now begin­ning its 175th year. Don, a found­ing father of both SCAA and Roasters Guild, doesn’t look 175, but he says there are days when he feels as he, and not the firm, is America’s Oldest Coffee Merchant. Mr. Schoenholt can be reached at coffeeman@gilliescoffee.com

IT Supported Quality Management Systems">Game Changer: IT Supported Quality Management Systems

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

Simply put, cof­fee is com­plex. A count­less num­ber of processes involv­ing tem­per­a­tures, humid­ity, air­flows, pres­sures, speeds, dura­tions, color val­ues, and more, need to be taken care of at the right time, any­time. For endur­ing suc­cess in the spe­cialty cof­fee busi­ness, it is a must to under­stand these processes and where qual­ity hap­pens or lacks and how it can be upheld.

That is where up-and-coming cof­fee spe­cific Quality Management (QM) sys­tems come into play. They cap­ture, dis­play, and orga­nize this vast jun­gle of infor­ma­tion that con­tains the secret to out­stand­ing and con­sis­tent cof­fee quality.

Any cof­fee roaster can tell his/her story about how tough it is to fully con­trol cof­fee in its meta­mor­pho­sis from a bag of green to becom­ing a delight­ing cup of cof­fee, rich of fla­vors and aro­mas. Let’s take the exam­ple of “Perfect Roasters,” a spe­cialty cof­fee roast­ery. Perfect Roasters gets their green cof­fee through an importer, stores it at the rather humid har­bors or in the roast­ery; batches of cof­fee are then roasted on demand on a small drum roaster that con­trols gas pres­sure, drum speed, and air­flow. A dig­i­tal temp dis­play reads the bean tem­per­a­ture dur­ing roast­ing and the val­ues are tracked in a spread­sheet. The roast­ery sells every­thing from light sin­gle ori­gin fil­ter roasts to darker blended espres­sos with very vary­ing tastes and fla­vors. Every cof­fee is treated dif­fer­ently, but any cof­fee should even­tu­ally reach the same high qual­ity stan­dards in the cup.

Specialty cof­fee, in par­tic­u­lar, demands for out­stand­ing and con­sis­tent qual­ity. By the very nature of cof­fee, raw mate­ri­als change rapidly and fre­quently, and processes need to adjust quickly to keep up with these qual­ity stan­dards. The many dif­fer­ent par­tic­i­pants in cof­fee sup­ply chains don’t really make this easier.

Only struc­tured, real-time infor­ma­tion that is respon­sive to all these vari­ables can help to under­stand the qual­ity crit­i­cal processes at every stage. But that infor­ma­tion would get lost imme­di­ately if it isn’t cap­tured right where and when it occurs. A key point is to have rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion in the right res­o­lu­tion at the time; timely enough to still influ­ence the result. However, the load of infor­ma­tion cap­tured can even make things more com­plex, rather than eas­ier, if it isn’t orga­nized from the beginning.

The spe­cialty cof­fee com­mu­nity is increas­ingly aware of this dynamic. That is why IT sup­ported cof­fee qual­ity man­age­ment (QM) sys­tems have been com­ing up on the hori­zon over the few years. These rather new tech­nolo­gies are specif­i­cally respon­sive to coffee’s pecu­liar processes and sys­tem­at­i­cally reveal where qual­ity can be improved. Basic solu­tions help to cap­ture and struc­ture this infor­ma­tion and feed it back to the user. Some data is logged auto­mat­i­cally such as roast tem­per­a­ture, while oth­ers are man­u­ally eval­u­ated such as cup­ping results.
More inte­grated solu­tions go a step fur­ther. They bring the user into the next level of activ­ity man­age­ment. Beyond sim­ply pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion, they pin­point to where action has to be taken, and it helps users make bet­ter deci­sions more quickly based on new, real-time insights.

Supported by an inte­grated QM sys­tem, Perfect Roasters roast­ery inte­grates the roast­ing oper­a­tion with green inven­tory, which can be kept either on site in a green room or in larger ware­houses. Roast tem­per­a­ture, dura­tion, roast­ing machine con­trol adjust­ments (like gas or air flow), and bean color val­ues can be mea­sured auto­mat­i­cally and tied back to the roast batch for later com­par­i­son and analy­sis. Added cup­ping scores and com­ments bring another vital dimen­sion into play and com­plete the eval­u­a­tion and learn­ing cycle.

These vari­ables sup­port Perfect Roasters when decid­ing on how to roast which green cof­fee on which pro­file, how quickly to heat up dur­ing the roast­ing, which cof­fee to buy from where and how often, how to store it, how a cer­tain sup­plier has devel­oped over time, etc.
Everything is nar­rowed down to the most cru­cial bits and pieces. Real-time infor­ma­tion allows Perfect Roasters to take imme­di­ate action where it is needed. Other data is for­mat­ted in the back­ground for later analy­sis. Auto-consistency checks high­light out­liers and decrease risk of hav­ing defected pro­duc­tion going out for sales.

In the end, the roast­ery will be rewarded with a more con­sis­tent prod­uct qual­ity and a bet­ter under­stand­ing of where qual­ity hap­pens or lacks. Processes can be linked to qual­i­ties at every stage, work­flows are designed more effi­ciently, and busi­ness deci­sions are put on a solid infor­ma­tion base. However, that is not the end of the story.

As in many other sup­ply chains, many will agree, that also the future of spe­cialty cof­fee lies within fast, real-time inter­ac­tion between sup­ply and pro­cess­ing. That is why some cof­fee QM sys­tems offer to effi­ciently share qual­ity, quan­tity, or trace­abil­ity infor­ma­tion with part­ners to cre­ate improved trade relationships.

With a fully inte­grated QM sys­tem, a pro­ducer or exporter will assess the qual­ity of a cof­fee sam­ple and can share it vir­tu­ally with their poten­tial buy­ers. On the buy­ers’ end, they receive the sam­ple along with the sam­ple qual­ity assess­ment. The buyer runs a qual­ity check in his lab to see if the sup­plier can deliver what is promised. If there is a match, per­fect. With a mis­match, the buyer will feed back his opin­ion to the sup­plier. The full trace­abil­ity pro­vided by well-integrated QM sys­tems through­out the sup­ply chain, allows both par­ties to dig in and see what caused the prob­lem; whether or not the mis­match came from dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions, dif­fer­ent sam­ple roast­ing, green cof­fee trans­port, stor­age, or any other poten­tial error source. This cre­ates com­mon grounds for suc­cess­ful and endur­ing busi­ness rela­tion­ships. The involved par­ties estab­lish a trans­par­ent and com­plete infor­ma­tion base for bet­ter deci­sion mak­ing, will grow as they exchange this infor­ma­tion with part­ners, and gain com­pet­i­tive­ness in the more effi­cient sup­ply chain.

To be fair, IT sup­ported QM sys­tems don’t make cof­fee less com­plex, but they pro­vide solid tools to cap­ture, orga­nize, and ana­lyze infor­ma­tion. They also allowed Perfect Roasters to make the right deci­sions, at the right time, all for the sake of con­sis­tent cof­fee qual­ity. Integrating the entire work­flow, includ­ing roast mon­i­tor­ing, QC, inven­tory man­age­ment, infor­ma­tion shar­ing, etc. into an IT sys­tem may have the poten­tial to over­whelm indi­vid­u­als, espe­cially smaller, up-and-coming roast­ers. However, the ben­e­fits of QM sys­tems greatly out­weigh the tem­po­rary dis­com­fort of change. Many IT sys­tems pro­vide entry-level ser­vices, and offer a mod­u­lar struc­ture for growth that responds to the need of both small and large busi­nesses. Either will ben­e­fit from trace­able and con­sis­tent cof­fee qual­ity that makes the dif­fer­ence between a reg­u­lar cup of cof­fee and an out­stand­ing cof­fee that delights the cus­tomers’ senses over and over again.

Under The Microscope

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

It’s been a year of scrutiny for the cof­fee busi­ness. Legislative and reg­u­la­tory mea­sures have put cof­fee under the micro­scope, both lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively. Coffee is much more than the sum of its parts, as we cof­fee lovers know bet­ter than most. But some of its con­stituent com­pounds are behind 2013’s tough­est challenges.

Spurred by Congressional atten­tion, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a new exam­i­na­tion of caf­feine in the U.S. diet. Congress focused on ill effects of highly caf­feinated prod­ucts and the addi­tion of caf­feine to new foods, but the FDA said it would do a com­pre­hen­sive review of caf­feine con­sump­tion. The FDA’s focus raised imme­di­ate con­cerns that a new FDA guid­ance doc­u­ment could call for low­er­ing its rec­om­mended daily caf­feine intake or requir­ing con­tent label­ing in foods con­tain­ing caffeine.

As part of its inves­ti­ga­tion, the FDA tasked the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine to hold a pub­lic forum on the sub­ject. NCA attended the meet­ing and found the focus to be pri­mar­ily on energy drinks rather than cof­fee. However, NCA remains cau­tious and will keep a watch­ful eye on devel­op­ments. NCA also plans to meet with the agency and present a sci­en­tific paper, devel­oped by NCA’s sci­en­tific com­mit­tee, that dis­tin­guishes cof­fee from other caf­feine sources and sets out sci­en­tific find­ings about coffee’s health­ful prop­er­ties. The goal is to con­firm the safety of cof­fee con­sump­tion and avert reg­u­la­tory rec­om­men­da­tions that could unnec­es­sar­ily impact the industry.

A more direct move toward caf­feine label­ing came in a bill intro­duced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill calls for pack­age label­ing when a food con­tains ten mil­ligrams or more of caf­feine per serv­ing. Other pro­vi­sions call for changes to Nutrition Facts Panel infor­ma­tion, a new def­i­n­i­tion of “nat­ural” that pro­hibits arti­fi­cial fla­vors, col­ors, and ingre­di­ents that have under­gone chem­i­cal changes, such as corn syrup, mal­todex­trin, and alkali, and addi­tional infor­ma­tion on nutri­tional value. Like all pro­posed leg­is­la­tion, with poten­tial impact on the cof­fee indus­try, NCA is con­tin­u­ing to mon­i­tor devel­op­ments closely and will take all appro­pri­ate action going forward.

Another sub­stance formed nat­u­rally in roasted cof­fee is keep­ing legal pres­sures on the indus­try in California. Acrylamide, formed nat­u­rally in the roast­ing of cof­fee, like it is in bread, potato chips, crack­ers, and other foods, is the basis of a major law­suit under the state’s Proposition 65 law. That statute requires a con­sumer warn­ing of the pres­ence of any of 800+ listed chem­i­cals, includ­ing acry­lamide. With the over­whelm­ing weight of sci­ence behind it, the indus­try main­tains that there is nei­ther statu­tory basis for a Proposition 65 warn­ing in California nor rea­son for con­sumer con­cern, nor any rea­son for con­sumer cau­tion as a mat­ter of pub­lic pol­icy to pre­serve and pro­mote health. Coffee is a healthy bev­er­age, con­firmed by a grow­ing body of lit­er­a­ture asso­ci­at­ing cof­fee with mea­sur­able health benefits.

The long-term solu­tion for pre­vent­ing unwar­ranted legal action, like the California law­suit, is amend­ing Proposition 65. As a pub­lic ref­er­en­dum, it is very dif­fi­cult to change, requir­ing two-thirds of both houses of the California leg­is­la­ture or another pub­lic ref­er­en­dum. But, NCA seized an oppor­tu­nity when California Governor, Jerry Brown issued a call for amend­ing the statute to tackle abu­sive law­suits. Working with other affected stake­hold­ers, NCA crafted leg­isla­tive lan­guage to estab­lish key statu­tory mod­i­fi­ca­tions and lever­age the governor’s ini­tia­tive into effec­tive reform for the cof­fee indus­try. Among NCA’s rec­om­men­da­tions were amend­ing the law and reg­u­la­tions to estab­lish an explicit excep­tion when a Proposition 65-listed sub­stance is cre­ated from nat­u­rally occur­ring com­po­nents dur­ing cook­ing. NCA also spelled out its reform plat­form in a for­mal com­ment let­ter to the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). The governor’s office ulti­mately tabled its leg­isla­tive efforts, but NCA con­tin­ues to pur­sue changes on the reg­u­la­tory front.

Also impact­ing the cof­fee indus­try were more pro­posed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). That law fun­da­men­tally changed the fed­eral government’s process for pro­tect­ing food safety, mov­ing from rem­e­dy­ing con­t­a­m­i­na­tion to pre­vent­ing it. This year, pro­posed reg­u­la­tions for one of the most far-reaching pro­vi­sions of FSMA were released by the FDA. Spelling out the law’s approach to haz­ard assess­ment and pre­ven­tive con­trols, the new reg­u­la­tions impact fun­da­men­tal con­cepts that drive safety pro­to­cols in food pro­duc­tion facilities.

NCA filed for­mal com­ments with the FDA, seek­ing to clar­ify cer­tain pro­vi­sions that could cre­ate unnec­es­sary addi­tional bur­dens on cof­fee roast­ers and retail­ers.  In the com­ments, NCA called for clearer align­ment with cur­rent food safety pro­ce­dures, both to make sure the new reg­u­la­tions would not dis­rupt effec­tive sys­tems already in place, as well as to pre­serve the flex­i­bil­ity com­pa­nies need to con­tinue to adapt plans to address real-time con­cerns. NCA also asked for a clearer, appro­pri­ately nar­row def­i­n­i­tion of “pro­duce,” that would exclude cof­fee from the law’s stricter stan­dards for fruits and veg­eta­bles. Moving into 2014, NCA is study­ing the next set of pro­posed FSMA rules, which tar­get safety mea­sures to be deployed prior to importation.

Clearly, it’s been a chal­leng­ing year for cof­fee in the pub­lic pol­icy arena, and year-end won’t neatly wrap up these chal­lenges. But, as always, NCA will con­tinue to pur­sue every avenue to achieve out­comes that pro­tect and pro­pel the cof­fee busi­ness. In line with its mis­sion, NCA will con­tinue advo­cat­ing aggres­sively for the well-being of the U.S. cof­fee industry.

Publisher’s Prologue

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

Welcome to CoffeeTalk’s 2014 State of the Industry.

This new year brings with it a sense of excite­ment and hope. Change is all around us, and if we wish to sur­vive and thrive, we must embrace it. I am per­son­ally thank­ful for the amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties the cof­fee indus­try has bestowed, and I hope to some­how give back in some mean­ing­ful way this year next year, 2014. And to begin, we share with you the wis­dom of some of the most respected pro­fes­sion­als in the industry.

Reading through each arti­cle I found myself hum­bled. Even after 20 years, I am just a “baby” in this indus­try. The com­bined wis­dom in this issue quite lit­er­ally has the power to change the world.

I hope to entice you to read all of the arti­cles by giv­ing you a brief glimpse with my favorite nugget of wis­dom in each arti­cle. However, there was one arti­cle that had just too many gems to limit it to a sin­gle quote. These con­cepts from one of our writ­ers* embody the spirit of this entire issue:

• Our indus­try con­tin­ues to pro­vide a means of expres­sion, hope, and income for a mul­ti­tude of peo­ple around the world.

• Our hard work and suc­cess does not come with­out strug­gle, and many chal­lenges await us as 2014 quickly approaches.

• […] This issue should not be left to the next gen­er­a­tion of roast­ers. It must be addressed.

• It is wrong to think there is noth­ing left to learn.

• As both mature and imma­ture mar­kets see new shops open­ing their doors, famil­iar ter­ri­tory is becom­ing any­thing but that.

• Learning from our past mis­takes and dis­cussing our future will help us sus­tain and survive.

So, cof­fee pro­fes­sion­als, remem­ber that knowl­edge is power… don’t miss out on the oppor­tu­nity to learn from the sea­soned souls who have cre­ated this 2014 State of the Industry.

Clearly, it’s been a chal­leng­ing year for cof­fee in the pub­lic pol­icy arena, and year-end won’t neatly wrap up these chal­lenges.”
Under The Microscope
John Boyle, National Coffee Association of U.S.A. Page #16

Once con­sumers start drink­ing bet­ter qual­ity cof­fee, they tend not to trade down. This puts greater pres­sure on roast­ers to main­tain and pre­serve qual­ity…”
One-Way Coffee Degassing
Alma Likic, Plitek, Llc. Page #18

For endur­ing suc­cess in the spe­cialty cof­fee busi­ness, it is a must to under­stand these processes and where qual­ity hap­pens or lacks…”
Game Changer: IT Supported Quality Management Systems
Andy Benedikter and Norbert Niederhauser, Cropster Inc. Page #20

There remains a mad scram­ble to get into the sin­gle serve busi­ness, with just about every roaster aspir­ing to pro­duce them, and most inde­pen­dent multi-store oper­a­tors eager to have their own pri­vate label Keurig® com­pat­i­ble line of cof­fee.”
The Borer And The Never Boring
Donald N. Schoenholt, Gillies Coffee Co. Page #22

Best of all it is grown by some of the kind­est, most gen­tle peo­ple any­where.”
Myanmar And Specialty Coffee: Critical Crossroads
Rick Peyser, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Page #24

There are too few cof­fee sci­en­tists…”
The Art & Science Of Specialty Coffee
Spencer Turer, Coffee Analysts Page #26

I believe we’re in a Renaissance. Growth + Innovation = Renaissance.”
New & Views From NAMA Chair
Pete Tullio, NAMA Board Page #28

Words, use them wisely. Self, social, finan­cial, and eco­log­i­cal sus­tain­abil­ity…”
Making Sustainability Sustainable
Rocky Rhodes, International Coffee Consulting Page #30

‘Packaging Analytics’ is entirely new ter­mi­nol­ogy and intent to launch more inno­va­tions and appli­ca­tions aimed at pro­vid­ing a more sci­en­tific approach to the design and man­u­fac­ture of food and bev­er­age pack­ag­ing.”
It’s Time To Put Analytics Into Packaging
David Weiss, uVu Technologies LLC Page #32

The dri­ving force behind the health and well­ness move­ment is Opportunity. America is primed and ready. Would you like Repeat Customers? Give them what they’re look­ing for.”
Four Opportunities
David Gross, Add a Scoop Page #34

Coffee con­nois­seurs are nat­u­rally curi­ous infor­ma­tion seek­ing peo­ple who are loyal, inclined to seek con­ve­nience, and eas­ily con­nected to strong brand iden­tity and rep­u­ta­tion.”
Improving Your Product Sales
Torie Burke, Torie & Howard, Llc. Page #36

Is America really the land of the “pod” peo­ple? Can it really be true that the indi­vid­u­al­ism we’re so proud of can actu­ally be sat­is­fied by a ‘pod?’”
The Rise Of Single Cup Coffee
Mike Gronholm, Single Cup Accessories, Inc Page #38

Life is hard for farm­ers. Winston Churchill once said that, ‘If you are going through hell, keep going’… They did not give up on their love and pas­sion for their farm, and they never lost faith in the impor­tance of qual­ity.”
Colombian Coffee, A Story (Still) To Be Told
Juan Esteban Orduz, Colombian Coffee Federation, Inc Page #40

In retail, if it’s not mak­ing you money — it’s cost­ing you money.”
Cup Sleeve Marketing
Don Scherer, BriteVision Page #42

Big busi­ness is most cer­tainly bet­ting on tea.”
The Hottest Thing In Coffee Right Now Is Tea
Stefanie Makagon, TEAJA Office Page #44

Especially when con­sid­er­ing the inde­pen­dent owner, there is a com­mon thread that bonds these retail­ers. With all of the var­i­ous con­cerns vying for their atten­tion, typ­i­cally there is title time left to con­sider what is required to develop a suc­cess­ful retail mer­chan­dise pro­gram.”
Profit Building Merchandise Strategies For Coffee Houses
Erez Toker, Vessel Drinkware Page #46

We all like doing the things that we are com­fort­able doing, but it may be time to step out of our com­fort zone and not let our com­peti­tors beat us to the punch.”
Single Cup Solution, What Are You Waiting For In 2014?
Thomas G. Martin, Pod Pack International, Ltd. Page #48

Does the new gen­er­a­tion of cof­fee afi­ciona­dos embrace Direct Trade because of its hip and fancy appeal, or do they sell direct rela­tion­ships for the right rea­sons– to truly help the farm­ers?”
Changing Our Industry One Caring Soul At A Time
Karen Cebreros, Coffee Cares Page #50

I have this grow­ing con­cern that the spe­cialty cof­fee indus­try is bro­ken.”
The Fourth Wave Arrives In 2013: Collaboration To Fix A Broken Coffee Industry
David Griswold, Sustainable Harvest Specialty Coffee Page #52

From out­moded per­cep­tions of the “mobile con­sumer,” to evolv­ing cus­tomer habits, there’s much to learn about mobile, and the many ways you can profit from that knowl­edge.”
Mobile Usage Is Exploding. Is Your Coffee Business Ready?
Rob Bethge, Perka, Inc Page #54

The sus­tain­abil­ity of cof­fee lies in the hands of its farm­ers.”
Subsidy Programs: A Glimmer Of Hope For Struggling Coffee Farmers
Alexis Rubinstein, FCStone, LLC Page #56

[…] We are on a clear path toward a new way of doing busi­ness in the cof­fee world.”
The Fourth Wave And Functional Sustainability Models
Miles Small, CoffeeTalk Foundation Page #58

Unless mar­ket con­di­tions change, the strug­gles that farms are fac­ing to remain prof­itable will have seri­ous con­se­quences on cof­fee qual­ity […] Every voice should be heard, and every mem­ber should have an unequiv­o­cal oppor­tu­nity to con­tribute to the orga­ni­za­tion (SCAA).”
Think Global Time To Align
Marty Curtis, Combustion Systems Sales Service, Inc Page #60

Our indus­try should be hav­ing these con­ver­sa­tions, not because we are nec­es­sar­ily doing things wrong, but because we might be able to do things bet­ter.”
Discussing Coffee Quality Assessment Strengthens The Industry
Shawn Steiman, Daylight Mind Coffee Company Page #62

Data will become an equal­izer […] but it’s the busi­nesses that know how to use it well that will win.”
Why Data Matters
Jason Richelson, ShopKeep POS Page #64

It is wrong to think there is noth­ing left to learn. As both mature and imma­ture mar­kets see new shops open­ing their doors, famil­iar ter­ri­tory is becom­ing any­thing but that. And, Learning from our past mis­takes and dis­cussing our future will help us sus­tain and sur­vive.”
Roaster’s Resolutions
Andrew Russo, Roasting Expert Page #66

One of the more dif­fi­cult con­cepts for the cof­fee mer­chants to grasp is that sus­tain­abil­ity at ori­gin is not about cof­fee. It is about the farm­ers, their needs, their val­ues, their cul­ture, and their own com­mu­ni­ties, and it all must be long-term or it can­not be con­sid­ered sus­tain­able.”
Sustainability At Origin
Bill Fishbein, The Coffee Trust Page #68

The learn­ing curve of spe­cialty cof­fee has advanced dra­mat­i­cally, and the end con­sumer is now bet­ter edu­cated and curi­ous about the top­ics.”
A New Set Of Critical Questions
Josué Morales, Mayaland Coffee Page #70

We are lucky, for few jobs offer the fun, the com­mit­ment, and the pas­sion that we enjoy…”
A Roaster’s Checklist For Optimal Packaging
Jeff Beer and Chris Burger, Fres-co System USA, Inc. Page #72

*By the way, Andrew Russo has just moved to the area and is seek­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties within the cof­fee com­mu­nity in the Pacific Northwest. You can reach him at andrew.russo83@gmail.com.

Take the Initiative and Start Recycling

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

I’m sure all of you have heard that recy­cling that paper cup after you have con­sumed your dou­ble tall non­fat caramel latte will help save the planet. Recycling, how­ever, even more than that, is one of the best ways that you can make an impact on the planet on which we live. Utilizing and pro­mot­ing the use of sus­tain­able prod­ucts also aids in the life of our planet and the cof­fee industry.

According to ecocycle.org, “Nearly 90 per­cent of what we throw away could poten­tially be recov­ered through reuse, recy­cling, or com­post­ing.” So with that being said, I now ask those within the cof­fee com­mu­nity, what can we do to recy­cle and sus­tain resources that are impor­tant to the suc­cess and func­tion of our industry?

Gabe Post, Director of Innovation and lead for the SUSTAIN project for Pacific Market International, LLC talks about the impor­tance of recy­cling. Post says, “The Earth’s resources are finite. It is impor­tant for con­sumers to rec­og­nize their role in the prod­uct con­sump­tion cycle, and to recy­cle items appro­pri­ately at their end-of-life. It is the manufacturer’s respon­si­bil­ity to design prod­ucts that are eas­ily recyclable.”

Post expresses the idea that it is a team effort to make a dif­fer­ence in the world when recy­cling. He says, “Together, we can build prod­uct cycles that con­serve energy and reduce car­bon foot­print and envi­ron­men­tal impact.”

Excessive pack­ag­ing has made its way to the cof­fee indus­try. When you go to a cof­fee shop you usu­ally get a one-time dis­pos­able cup – which would be okay if the con­sumer prop­erly recy­cled their cup when fin­ished. But the real­ity of it is, along with that cup, you get a cup sleeve to pro­tect your hand, a wooden stick to stir in your sugar, and the paper waste that stems from the sugar packets.

Post says, “Despite the indus­try going through great lengths to source sus­tain­able cof­fee, almost all of it is still being served in single-use dis­pos­able cups. In America last year alone, we land­filled 16 bil­lion paper cof­fee cups.”

All of these items can be replaced with a more effi­cient prod­uct that is envi­ron­men­tally friendly. Instead of sugar pack­ets, you could use a sugar jar. Instead of the wooden sticks, you can use metal spoons that can be washed at the end of the day. Companies today offer decom­pos­able cup sleeves and reusable cups.

John A. Darch, President and CEO of Doi Chaang Coffee says, “Any effort we can make – whether it’s a com­pany, a fam­ily, or an indi­vid­ual – towards improv­ing our envi­ron­ment and the world we live in, is cru­cial. We can’t dis­card every­thing we use into one spot any­more; the world just can’t han­dle those kinds of actions.” He says, “Whether it’s recy­cling, com­post­ing or con­serv­ing water – every lit­tle bit helps. It’s a way of show­ing respect to the world we live in.”

While these may seem like rel­a­tively small changes, you have to start some­where. However, it is impor­tant to look at the big­ger pic­ture here. How can com­pa­nies and busi­nesses within the cof­fee indus­try start to make a dif­fer­ence and increase their sus­tain­abil­ity efforts?

Post says, “Sustainability efforts suc­ceed most com­monly when they are baked into the NDA of the com­pany. It should be a part of who you are, not just what you do. Sustainability should be a part of the busi­ness strat­egy along with other key growth initiatives.”

When you can set goals and are able to track them, you know that you are doing some­thing right. People feel a sense of pride and accom­plish­ment when they see that the goals the com­pany is set­ting are being accom­plished with a lit­tle bit of their effort.

Did you know that 70 per­cent of cof­fee con­sump­tion is rou­tine? It is when this rou­tine becomes a more respon­si­ble rou­tine with the incor­po­ra­tion of recy­cling and the uti­liza­tion of sus­tain­able prod­ucts, where we will start to see last­ing impacts on the environment.

Post says, “Improving sus­tain­abil­ity in the cof­fee indus­try will help reduce the envi­ron­men­tal impact of the indus­try and con­tinue to influ­ence con­sumer aware­ness and ulti­mately behav­ior change in a pos­i­tive way.”

Darch explains his expe­ri­ence with becom­ing sus­tain­able, “It is reward­ing to engage in sus­tain­able prac­tices. To be able to pro­duce a prod­uct that is high qual­ity, but also pro­duced through eth­i­cally respon­si­ble steps will not only make you feel good – it will make your cus­tomers feel good about what they are drinking.”

Pacific Market International, LLC is just one of the many com­pa­nies striv­ing to make a dif­fer­ence. They have devel­oped a sys­tem whereby their reusable cups are recy­cled at the end of their life and then col­lected and reen­tered into their mate­r­ial sup­ply. The idea is to some­day have their cups be made out of old cups.

Beyond their SUSTAIN effort, Pacific Market International, LLC (PMI) has made sus­tain­abil­ity a part of their cor­po­rate strat­egy, includ­ing Environmental Stewardship as one of five busi­ness strat­egy pil­lars. Since 2005, year-on-year improve­ment has been achieved via con­certed efforts to improve the sus­tain­abil­ity of both man­u­fac­tur­ing processes and prod­ucts. In 2012, the PMI Joinease fac­tory that cur­rently man­u­fac­tures SUSTAIN cups reduced their per-unit green­house gas emis­sions by 25 per­cent while increas­ing pro­duc­tion by 37 percent.

Doi Chaang Coffee Company is also push­ing efforts to be more sus­tain­able. With the Keurig being a pop­u­lar and con­ve­nient machine to brew cof­fee, it is inevitable that kcup con­sump­tion, which is in the bil­lions, has a neg­a­tive envi­ron­men­tal impact. Doi Chaang Coffee has “just devel­oped the first ever “Beyond Fair TradeTM” sus­tain­able 90 per­cent biodegrad­able sin­gle serve aroma cup. The cups are Keurig com­pat­i­ble and will break down in any land­fill or dump­ster,” accord­ing to Darch.

StalkMarket is a com­pany that is talk­ing com­postable prod­ucts to a new level. Their core line of prod­ucts is made from a sug­ar­cane fiber-based paper­board called bagasse. The mate­r­ial is made from upcy­cled sug­ar­cane waste recov­ered from sugar refiner­ies. The crushed stalks are taken to a pro­cess­ing plant where they are con­verted into paper­board in much the same way as wood pulp is used for card­board. All of StalkMarket’s prod­ucts are 100 per­cent com­postable. Their prod­ucts are avail­able to con­sumers at major gro­cery chains, office sup­ply stores, organic and nat­ural food retail­ers and online. These prod­ucts would be a great asset to a café that is look­ing to become more green.

As a cof­fee lov­ing indi­vid­ual, who is con­stantly grab­bing and con­sum­ing cof­fee on the go, I will make sure that I will prop­erly recy­cle my latte cup every time I con­sume my favorite cup of cof­fee. Or, bet­ter yet, I will pur­chase a reusable cup and elim­i­nate the waste all together. What are you going to do?

If there are more indi­vid­u­als on the con­sum­ing end and more busi­nesses on the sup­ply­ing end that can come together to increase recy­cling and sus­tain­abil­ity efforts, the cof­fee indus­try would flour­ish in envi­ron­men­tal means.

Revisit your company’s busi­ness strate­gies, think about if you prop­erly deposit your to-go cup in the recy­cling bin, and imag­ine an indus­try work­ing together to make a dif­fer­ence on the envi­ron­ment. Make your next cus­tomer rela­tion­ship with the environment.

Appreciation Makes the World Go ‘Round

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

With last month’s view touch­ing upon the topic of appre­ci­a­tion, we wanted to con­tinue our dis­cus­sion. Customers are what make this indus­try spin. Without the three-cup-a-day cof­fee drinker, with­out the “mom and pop” shops, with­out the sup­pli­ers, and even with­out the local Starbucks, the cof­fee indus­try would not be what it is today.

All of these cof­fee shops and sup­pli­ers need one spe­cial thing to thrive as a busi­ness– cus­tomer loy­alty. However, you can­not cre­ate a great cus­tomer loy­alty base if the cus­tomer does not feel appre­ci­ated. So, my friends, this arti­cle is all about cre­at­ing cus­tomer loy­alty though cus­tomer appreciation.

After pick­ing the brains of many cof­fee pro­fes­sions, three com­mon themes sur­faced to build cus­tomer loy­alty– Respect, ser­vice, and be per­sonal. There are also many rewards pro­grams and com­pa­nies work­ing with orga­ni­za­tions and shops to build cus­tomer loyalty.

RESPECT
Aretha Franklin says it best, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!” And for every­one else as well for that matter!

Kevin Sinnott, cre­ator of Coffeecon, makes respect the core of the event’s val­ues. He says, “We treat event goers with respect, even if it’s just to accept them for drink­ing cof­fee the way they like it– cream and sugar or black.”

Everyone walk­ing the face of this planet is dif­fer­ent. That means that every­one enjoys his or her cof­fee dif­fer­ent than the next per­son in line. Shop own­ers and baris­tas need to under­stand that. If you want that cus­tomer to come back again you must respect the fact that they are dif­fer­ent from you and and you must acco­mo­date their needs and desires. The cus­tomer is always right, remem­ber? Don’t demean them for their taste buds – accept it and wel­come them back for another cup.

Dave Stewart, owner of Vista Clara Coffee, talks about cus­tomer appre­ci­a­tion, “Customer appre­ci­a­tion is show­ing and let­ting the cus­tomer know that you care for them and appre­ci­ate what they do for you!”

If you are a sup­plier, you must also remem­ber that your cus­tomer needs you just as much as you need them. Chances are, you are not the only sup­plier able to pro­vide the prod­uct they are look­ing for. You want to make sure that your cus­tomers are not only pro­vided with the cor­rect prod­ucts and ser­vices, but check up on them post transaction.

Make sure they were sat­is­fied with your ser­vice. If not, ask them what was wrong and what you can do to make it bet­ter. Respect that they were not sat­is­fied; do not argue with them about it. Make the improve­ments and make their next pur­chase supe­rior than the last to cre­ate cus­tomer loyalty.

Joe Behm, President of Behmor Incorporated says, “If your cus­tomers have loy­alty, they become the best form of adver­tis­ing that no money can buy.”

FRIENDLY SERVICE
“Consumers have choices, you have to set your­self apart, to give them a rea­son to go out of their way to see you.  If you are a retail store, serv­ing great cof­fee, that is not enough, they can find excep­tional cof­fee, but what makes you dif­fer­ent,” says Mark McKee, Owner of Passionate Harvest Coffee.

With that being said, cus­tomers are not going to go to a cof­fee shop where the barista is not friendly and wel­com­ing. They will pass your shop and go to the next one right down the street that wel­comes their busi­ness. You need to stress the fact that your cus­tomers mean some­thing to you, and not just a paycheck.

Customers feel appre­ci­ated when they can walk into a cof­fee shop and be wel­comed by the staff. If the staff is unhappy and/or rude, it rubs off onto those who walk through the door. Even a friendly smile and a sim­ple “come back again,” can make the world of difference.

In busi­ness, your cus­tomers are every­thing – with­out them you have no busi­ness, so every­thing you do in the busi­ness has to not only be func­tional, but also build loy­alty,” says Adam Pesce, Director of Coffee and Tea at Reunion Island Coffee. “Some loy­alty comes more nat­u­rally, but pro­vid­ing a great prod­uct, and prov­ing your con­vic­tions through real action and not just talk, are crucial.”

MAKE THEIR TRIP PERSONAL
Kris Heinemann from Loring says, “In this part­ner­ship with our cus­tomers, we believe they are enti­tled to our full atten­tion in address­ing their ques­tions, con­cerns, and any ser­vice needs. We build for them and we will con­tinue to lis­ten and respond in every way we can for as long as they are roast­ing on a Loring.”

Educate your cus­tomers. Educate them on the cof­fee they are drink­ing, edu­cate them on the his­tory of the build­ing, edu­cate them about where the cof­fee came from. A cus­tomer feels spe­cial when you take the time to tell them about what they are drinking.

I recently went out to din­ner with some­one who has celiac dis­ease. That means they must con­sume an entirely gluten-free diet. The owner of the restau­rant took the time and sat down with us to edu­cate us about how he makes all of his dishes gluten-free, from the ingre­di­ents down to the prepa­ra­tion in the kitchen. After din­ner, we both had said that we would go back in a heart­beat – and not just because the food was excel­lent, but also because we felt like we mat­tered to the owner. We weren’t just another check at table five to him.

When the staff can edu­cate their cus­tomers in a way that is not snob­bish, the cus­tomer feels spe­cial. Not to men­tion, they know where their cof­fee came from, they know what thought was put into the prod­uct, and they know the thought process behind the ser­vice. Make their expe­ri­ence memorable.

Take the time to learn their names, not just mem­o­rize their order. Ask them how their day is or how their child’s birth­day party was. Know and under­stand that your cus­tomers are not just a writ­ten name upon a cup. They will con­tinue to drink cof­fee, whether it is at your shop or the one across the street. You need to make them to want to come back. It is a good feel­ing, as a cof­fee drinker, when I can walk into a shop and they not only know my order, but they know my name.

McKee says, “The advice I would give is sim­ple, you are embark­ing an excit­ing jour­ney, to become part of people’s lives, it will be hard, dif­fi­cult, you will need to invest your time and resources but with­out it, you will sim­ply be one of the generic cof­fee com­pa­nies, never a place that stands out.”

Loyalty to a brand can’t be bought. It’s earned. Once you have loyal cus­tomers, it’s absolutely nec­es­sary to express your thanks in ways oth­ers don’t by, for exam­ple, includ­ing a follow-up note when they take time to say thanks for the sup­port,” says Behm.

REWARD YOUR CUSTOMERS
POS sys­tems, like Coffee Shop Manager are a vital ele­ment to get infor­ma­tion about your cus­tomers. Coffee Shop Manager can give key infor­ma­tion on whom and who are not your best cus­tomers are your café. You can reward your best cus­tomers and give the ones trail­ing behind incen­tives to come in and indulge into a great cup of coffee.

Also, Perka soft­ware can be used to cre­ate cus­tomer loy­alty. It is sim­ple to use and a great tool to uti­lize with your café.

Rob Bethge, Chief Marketing Officer at Perka Inc. says, “Perka cre­ates loy­alty by mak­ing it easy and fun for mer­chants to get to know their reg­u­lar cus­tomers bet­ter. Our smart­phone lets the cus­tomer accu­mu­late points for their vis­its and pur­chases that they can redeem from a menu of perks. And the cof­fee shop can send offer to the cus­tomers that encour­age prof­itable behavior.”

Perka ben­e­fits oper­a­tors by giv­ing them a enter­prise class cus­tomer rela­tion­ship man­age­ment sys­tem dis­guised as a sim­ple mobile punchcard.

Bethge says, “Cafes should have a mar­ket­ing plan. And a mean­ing­ful part of a mar­ket­ing plan has got to focus on cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, loy­alty, and engage­ment. Mobile tech­nol­ogy and smart­phones in par­tic­u­lar have become nearly ubiq­ui­tous, so now is really the time to con­sider tak­ing advan­tage of these emerg­ing mobile mar­ket­ing tools.”

All of the indi­vid­u­als quoted above and the com­pa­nies that they are rep­re­sent­ing, we feel as if they are shin­ing exam­ples of com­pa­nies who exude excep­tional cus­tomer appre­ci­a­tion and cus­tomer ser­vice. In return, these com­pa­nies have a great cus­tomer loy­alty base with awe­some cus­tomers who keep com­ing back for more. If you would like more infor­ma­tion, please visit their com­pany websites.

Customers, whether you are a cof­fee shop, a sup­plier, or an orga­ni­za­tion, are the basic foun­da­tion to the fun­da­men­tal func­tions of your com­pany. Creating a good cus­tomer loyal base will keep your com­pany grow­ing and estab­lish secu­rity within the economy.

It is impor­tant to stress that cus­tomer appre­ci­a­tion is crit­i­cal at all lev­els of the indus­try– sup­pli­ers, orga­ni­za­tions, and cof­fee shops. Without ade­quate cus­tomer appre­ci­a­tion at all lev­els the sup­ply chain will become dis­rupted. Remember that your cus­tomers and orga­ni­za­tion mem­bers are vital to the sur­vival to your com­pany – treat them the way that they deserve to be treated.

Selling to Coffee People or Selling Coffee to People?

by Mike McKim, Cuvee Coffee

What is it that keeps a cus­tomer com­ing back? The most com­mon answers are: qual­ity of the prod­uct, the design of the café, and/or our loca­tion. Then, the other things start to come out, like how we steam our milk, or pull our shots, or the microlot on the menu.

I often find myself over com­pli­cat­ing things. I mean let’s face it, the cof­fee indus­try has a lot of lay­ers and so many peo­ple are involved in the jour­ney from seed to cup. I used to think that if I could just teach my cus­tomers every­thing that I have learned over the years, that it would keep them com­ing back. Then I real­ized that the aver­age cof­fee con­sumer doesn’t want or need all that detail. What they are look­ing for is an experience.

It is really that sim­ple. I think in gen­eral peo­ple just want to feel spe­cial and I am not sure if telling them you do not offer sugar or an alter­na­tive to milk makes them feel spe­cial. Now I am not knock­ing that busi­ness model and I under­stand the phi­los­o­phy behind it. And if you are sell­ing to cof­fee peo­ple, it makes sense.

No mat­ter how big we think our indus­try is, I am con­stantly reminded that it really is pretty small. And there are way more peo­ple who are not cof­fee pro­fes­sion­als out there. So what about them? Sometimes I am left won­der­ing if spend­ing less time sell­ing to cof­fee peo­ple and more time sell­ing cof­fee to peo­ple is all it takes to build a loyal following.

Estate Auctions, a Growing Sales Trend?

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

The first Internet cof­fee auc­tion was held in 1999.  It was called the Gourmet Project and offered spe­cialty cof­fees from Brazil.  Ten year later, Price Peterson, Hacienda la Esmeralda in Boquete, Panama engaged Mr. Malcolm Stone, Stoneworks Coffee Auction Platform to con­duct the Esmeralda  Estate Special auc­tion.  A total of 46 lots were sold for a value of $441,010.00 at an aver­age price of $31.21 per lb.

It wasn’t until 2011, that Finca El Injerto and Santa Felisa Estate, decided to join Hacienda la Esmeralda  and sell their cof­fee via auc­tion. They also decided to work with Stoneworks and, like Price Peterson, found an excit­ing new venue for sell­ing coffee.

Table 1

Most notable are the aver­age sale prices of auc­tion cof­fees com­pared the spot “C” aver­age price.

Table 2At first glance, the reader might be think­ing, “this is a no brainer, every estate should have an auc­tion”.  The real­ity of the sit­u­a­tion is there is more to the estate auc­tion busi­ness than select­ing some cof­fees and hir­ing a plat­form and say­ing “start the bidding.”

The fol­low­ing Q&A with Mr. Stone helps us under­stand what is required to build and exe­cute a suc­cess­ful Estate auction.

What makes an Estate a can­di­date for an Estate Auction?
•    Coffee must score +85 per­cent using SCAA cup­ping guide­lines
•    Well known branded farms have a higher chance for suc­cess
•    Farm with an unique fac­tor
—Certified …Organic, Rainforest, Fair Trade, etc.
•    Traceability from tree to export
•    Micro lots
•    Packaging
—Vacuum sealed in a box less than 70# per box
—Good art, logo and label­ing
•    Back office to sup­port billing and logis­tic
•    Ability to ship sam­ples in a timely man­ner
•    Proficient in English and man­age­ment skills
•    A com­mit­ted and engaged staff

What are the keys to suc­cess?
•    Great cof­fees
•    Excellent pack­ag­ing, pro­mo­tional mate­ri­als and web­site
•    Don’t offer too much cof­fee …less is more and qual­ity is king
•    Good cof­fee descriptions…accurate, doc­u­mentable cof­fee infor­ma­tion
•    Keep lots small…same lot of cof­fee can be divided into small lots

What are the pri­mary pro­ducer ben­e­fits?
•    Ability to sell small lots of cof­fee at a pre­mium price
•    The price of the cof­fee is deter­mined by the buyer not a com­mod­ity mar­ket
•    Enhanced recog­ni­tion of the brand and rep­u­ta­tion of the farm

What do you charge to con­duct an Estate auc­tion?
The cost to hire Stoneworks Auction Platform to man­age and con­duct an auc­tion is a flat all-inclusive price for up to 100 lots.

What do the pro­duc­ers get for their invest­ment?
•    Instruction and coach­ing with auc­tion orga­ni­za­tion and pro­mo­tion mate­ri­als
•    Pre-auction pro­mo­tion on Stoneworks web­site
•    Pre and post infor­ma­tion man­age­ment and track­ing
•    Buyer reg­is­tra­tion
•    Sample order tak­ing at time of bid registration…$250.00 per set
•    Active data­base of global buy­ers
•    Data input of auc­tion cof­fee and pro­mo­tional infor­ma­tion
•    Run the auc­tion
•    Post auc­tion report
•    Recommendation for start­ing price and incre­men­tal pricing

What are the pro­ducer respon­si­bil­i­ties
•    Selection of cof­fees and lots
•    Shipment of sam­ples to bid­ders
•    Development of cof­fee descrip­tions and cup pro­files
•    Development of mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als to accom­pany sam­ples
•    Promotion of their auc­tion through their net­work
•    Billing and arrang­ing for ship­ment of pur­chased coffees

How long does the auc­tion last?
Most auc­tions last 5–6 hours

What are the buyer’s respon­si­bil­i­ties?
•    Register to bid and pur­chase sam­ples
•    Cup sam­ples
•    Develop a bid­ding strat­egy
•    Bid and pur­chase
•    Pay and arrange for shipping

Understanding the mechan­ics of the auc­tion is inter­est­ing and help­ful if you are a poten­tial seller or buyer.  But there is more…what moti­vated these Trend Setting Producers to attempt mar­ket­ing via auc­tion. I was able to inter­view Arturo Aguirre S., Finca El Injerto, and Antonio Meneses, Santa Felisa Organic Estate.  Thank you to both for their time and open­ness in answer­ing my many questions.

Why did you decide to auc­tion some of your cof­fee?
Arturo and Antonio knew there were roast­ers inter­ested in unique cof­fees but had no way to reach them.  The auc­tion sys­tem pro­vided a non-traditional way to build their cus­tomer base.  Additionally, Arturo wanted to sell some new vari­etals and small lots that they had found on the farm.  He had no idea how to price them.  The auc­tion is a great tool for deter­min­ing price.

What per­cent­age of your pro­duc­tion do you present for auc­tion?
Arturo …3 per­cent    and Antonio…5 percent

How do you decide which cof­fees will be auc­tioned?
Both pro­duc­ers begin with cup­pings on the farm to select the cof­fees they will send to either an inde­pen­dent pro­fes­sional cup­per and/or to ANACAFE for eval­u­a­tion.  This year Antonio invited Joe Hsu, from Taiwan, to par­tic­i­pate in the final cup­ping panel. Arturo “selects only lot that cup 89+”.

Income aside…what are the addi­tional ben­e­fits you receive from the auc­tion?
Arturo…”First of all, it’s a great sat­is­fac­tion for our fam­ily and our peo­ple that this was a suc­cess­ful project, since past gen­er­a­tions we have worked hard to dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves.  This has moti­vated our team to con­tinue to work hard because they know we are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”
Farm recog­ni­tion and access to new mar­kets has been fan­tas­tic.  Antonia said that in three short years they have dou­bled the num­ber of vis­i­tor they see on the farm.

What are your pri­mary chal­lenges of an Estate auc­tion?
•    The need for trace­abil­ity requires doc­u­ment­ing every aspect of the cof­fee from the seedling to the exporter.
•    Working directly with the buy­ers, begin­ning with sam­pling and ulti­mately ship­ping the cof­fee, is a logis­tic chal­lenge.
•    Must offer some­thing unique and inter­est­ing and meet the wants and needs of the roast­ers.  Making these selec­tions can be risky business.

Do you feel that auc­tions are a viable mar­ket­ing tool for Estate cof­fee?
Both pro­duc­ers answered “Yes!”  But, cau­tion fel­low pro­duc­ers to only par­tic­i­pate if you have proven excep­tional qual­ity.  It is help­ful to be active in the indus­try.  It is impor­tant to be will­ing to spend money and time to uti­lize the auc­tion for mar­ket­ing.  Also, to under­stand that pay­ment for the cof­fee doesn’t come until long after the cof­fee has been harvested.

Do you watch the auc­tion?
Arturo…Of course, all the fam­ily meet and we have break­fast watch­ing it!
Antonio…For sure, we get ner­vous and don’t sleep the night before.

There is a new orga­ni­za­tion in Estate auc­tions… Alliance for Coffee Excellence, ACE, the orga­ni­za­tion behind Cup of Excellence has entered the Estate auc­tion arena.  On April 25, 2013, ACE con­ducted their first Estate auc­tion in con­junc­tion with Fincas Mierisch.  Fifteen cof­fees were fea­tured, sep­a­rated into thirty-nine small lots, in a selec­tion named Los Favorites. The lots sold from $4.90 – 100.90 per pound.

Are Estate auc­tions a trend or here to stay? If you ask Price, Arturo, and Antonio then the answer is yes!  They will con­tinue to seek those unique won­der­ful gems from their farm and take the risk of sell­ing them at auc­tion.  In November, 2013, Daterra Coffee of Cerrado, Brazil will be added to the list of Estate Auction participants.

Reference web­sites… If you want to learn more about Estate cof­fee auc­tion con­tact
Hacienda la Esmeralda    www.haciendalaesmeralda
Finca el Injerto  www.fincaelinjerto.com
Santa Felisa Estate  www.santafelisacoffee.com
Stoneworks Coffee Platform www.auction.stoneworks.com
ACE www.allianceforcoffeeexcellence.org

So You’ve Opened a Coffee Shop. Now What?

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A lot of cof­fee house own­ers begin with the impres­sion that the hard­est work is behind them once they open their doors. Like Ray Kinsella, Kevin Costner’s char­ac­ter in the movie “Field of Dreams,” they believe cus­tomers, like Ray’s ballplay­ers, will appear as if by magic now that they’ve built their cof­fee shop.

The truth is, your most intense activ­ity will come in the months after you open. Coffee busi­nesses are built incre­men­tally. You need to attract cus­tomers and keep them com­ing back, all while becom­ing an expert at other aspects of run­ning your busi­ness. Here are some solid strate­gies to put you on the path to success.

Ease into Operating Hours. It is best not to set for­mal oper­at­ing hours when you open your doors. During the first sev­eral weeks, you will not know the exact traf­fic pat­terns of your loca­tion. Therefore, plan to open the doors around 7 a.m. and stay open until you con­sis­tently see a long break in cus­tomers, which may be in the late after­noon or early evening. If you want to expand your busi­ness hours, do so in stages. If for exam­ple, there is a line of cus­tomers wait­ing when you open, try open­ing an hour ear­lier. Remember that once you post your oper­at­ing hours, you have made a com­mit­ment to your cus­tomers and must not fail to open on time or close early.

Practice to Perfection. Specialty cof­fee cus­tomers will walk past ten com­pet­ing cof­fee shops to get the best espresso. How do you become the best? Source the high­est qual­ity beans, syrups, dairy, and other ingre­di­ents that you can find. And then prac­tice, prac­tice, prac­tice. You will usu­ally have some peri­ods of slow cus­tomer traf­fic dur­ing your first months of oper­a­tion. Use this time to per­fect your drink prepa­ra­tion skills. Remember, cus­tomers hate to wait, so you must craft a per­fectly pre­pared drink in a mat­ter of minutes.

Get the Word Out. You’ve already invested in your suc­cess with a great loca­tion and promi­nent sig­nage, but this is just the ante in the game. You need to tell every­one in your com­mu­nity – fam­ily, friends, area res­i­dents, and busi­nesses, about your cof­fee shop. Leverage the power of social media to con­nect with friends and fans through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and the like. Try out some of the grass­roots mar­ket­ing tech­niques I dis­cussed in my April 2013 col­umn. One of the sim­plest yet most effec­tive is to hand out pro­mo­tional cards offer­ing any espresso drink for $1 (about the cost of the drink). Every time one of these cards is redeemed, you have a chance to acquire a cus­tomer at no cost to you. Savvy mar­keters con­sider this a win-win proposition.

Track Customers and Sales. The more you know about your cus­tomers, the bet­ter you can sat­isfy their needs and keep them com­ing back. So track their habits and col­lect feed­back. When do they come in? How much time elapses between cus­tomers dur­ing busy peri­ods? What are the most pop­u­lar drinks? How many $1 espresso cards have been redeemed? How much is your aver­age sale? What is your ratio of espresso drink to drip cof­fee sales? What are cus­tomers say­ing about your drinks? (If they’re not rav­ing about the qual­ity, find out why!). Collecting this type of infor­ma­tion allows you to tai­lor your hours of oper­a­tion, menu, and staffing pat­terns to enhance profitability.

Set Up Systems. Operational sys­tems estab­lish order and help staff mem­bers under­stand and mas­ter their respon­si­bil­i­ties. You should put sys­tems and check­lists in place for every­thing from drink recipes to open­ing and clos­ing the shop to order­ing and stor­ing sup­plies and main­tain­ing equip­ment. You will want to keep indi­vid­ual recipes and check­lists where they are eas­ily acces­si­ble and assem­ble every­thing in an oper­a­tional man­ual. Refine and update sys­tems as you iden­tify bet­ter ways to do things.

Get Backup. It’s lonely at the top with every­one depend­ing on you. It’s a good idea to cre­ate a sup­port sys­tem of peo­ple who can help you through the rough spots. You can set up a for­mal advi­sory board or make time to con­nect infor­mally with men­tors, busi­ness peers, and bankers. Your busi­ness, and your spouse, will thank you.

If you fol­low these strate­gies, your cof­fee shop should begin to fill up with a reg­u­lar cast of return­ing customers.

Greg Ubert, founder and pres­i­dent of Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea, has been roast­ing cof­fee in small batches since 1991 and has taught hun­dreds of busi­ness own­ers how to run suc­cess­ful inde­pen­dent cof­fee houses. The author of Seven Steps to Success in the Specialty Coffee Industry can be reached at greg@crimsoncup.com.

Operations: Designing the Customer and Staff Experience

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

Header_Tip7

From Tip 1 – We cre­ated your Brand Experience

From Tip 2 – We learned about your Customers

From Tip 3 – We explored your Identity

From Tip 4 – We cre­ated your Space

From Tip 5 – We cre­ated your Physical Space

From Tip 6 – We cre­ated your Business Plan

From Tip 7 – We ana­lyzed your Location and Customers

From Tip 8  – We pre­vented Nasty Permitting Surprises

Cafe SeriesNow that we have cre­ated your brand, your phys­i­cal and vir­tual expe­ri­ence, and your per­mit process is well under­way, let’s design the staff and cus­tomer experience!

In our Tip 7 arti­cle, you learned about your cus­tomers and loca­tional demo­graph­ics. With this infor­ma­tion we have a good cus­tomer under­stand­ing. Sharing this infor­ma­tion with your staff will be help­ful in their train­ing and under­stand­ing of your poten­tial cus­tomers and brand.

Having a for­mal­ized and ongo­ing train­ing and engage­ment pro­gram is impor­tant in retain­ing great employ­ees. This includes a writ­ten man­ual for all oper­a­tional processes, menu com­mu­ni­ca­tion, human resource poli­cies, and any items that your staff or man­age­ment needs to refer to easily.

Pre-opening train­ing should start at least 1 week prior to open­ing – prefer­ably 2 weeks. This is after you have already inter­viewed and selected the key peo­ple.  Having clear and writ­ten com­pany poli­cies for being late, miss­ing work, sick days, hol­i­days and vaca­tions will aid in clear communication.

The major­ity of your staff will be the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion (those born between 1983–2000). This group appre­ci­ates being engaged more than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. Getting to know their hob­bies, fam­ily, friends and inter­ests will gain their respect and loy­alty. Having a happy and engaged staff is your goal so hire for atti­tude and you will have a win­ning recipe for cus­tomer service.

Now that your staff and man­ager are trained, let’s engage the cus­tomer with your new brand. Similar to your staff, get­ting to know your cus­tomers on a per­sonal level is impor­tant in build­ing cus­tomer and brand loy­alty. You are in the cus­tomer ser­vice busi­ness; there­fore always make your cus­tomers feel wel­comed and valued.

Observe your staff’s con­ver­sa­tions with cus­tomers and pro­vide feed­back as nec­es­sary. These cus­tomers will be more likely to sign-up for your pro­grams because they want to be a part of your com­mu­nity. This may seem like com­mon sense, but cus­tomer can dif­fer­en­ti­ate you from the competition.

If you chose to use mar­ket­ing ana­lyt­ics and pro­grams, eval­u­ate their ROI over an annual period.  Geo-fencing is being used in some areas to under­stand cus­tomer pref­er­ences in your geo­graphic area – and then inter­face with your mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. Mobile engage­ment of your brand with your cus­tomer is grow­ing rapidly.  Get to know the options and have a respon­sive web­site. Make it easy – have peo­ple sign-up for your pro­mo­tions by sign­ing into their Facebook. Make sure staff are aware of your mar­ket­ing cam­paign so they can sup­port the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of your cam­paign to cus­tomers. There are many sophis­ti­cated and costly meth­ods of mar­ket­ing and reach­ing your cus­tomers, but the one-on-one rela­tion­ship build­ing is often the best.

Think about rewards and incen­tives for cus­tomers to return on a con­sis­tent basis. Some ideas could include a hol­i­day event where you give a per­cent­age of your sales to a com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tion that your staff or cus­tomers have selected. Listen to what your cus­tomer is say­ing about you. Look at your online reviews and respond quickly and effectively.

Having a strong train­ing pro­gram is worth money in the bank. Having fun and engag­ing staff will keep cus­tomers com­ing back. The cost of turnover can be high, there­fore cre­at­ing a sound pro­gram that includes a firm under­stand­ing of your brand, the menu, the cus­tomer demo­graphic and on the job train­ing will go a long way in retain­ing great staff and customers!

Melanie Corey-Ferrini is the founder of Dynamikspace (www.dynamikspace.com). She has cre­ated the “10 Tips to Jumpstart your Café” work­books and speaks at indus­try con­fer­ences on how to cre­ate a suc­cess­ful café.

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.