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by Kellinha Stein

Coffee Beyond the Beverage

Categories: 2015, MayTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Crédito Cintia Duarte - Vanessa F Vilela -  Kapeh DirectorAre you against cel­lulite, wrin­kles and neg­a­tive effects of UV rays? Have some cof­fee!  A cup of Joe goes way beyond brew­ing sta­tions, restau­rants and mugs ter­ri­tory. In fact, cof­fee invaded your beauty prod­ucts with­out you notic­ing. Green beans, roasted beans and ground beans were taken to lab­o­ra­to­ries to be stud­ied and an entirely new world of ben­e­fits was dis­cov­ered. Coffee is rich in antiox­i­dants, flavonoids and chloro­genic acids which are indi­cated to elim­i­nate free rad­i­cals. Kudos go to Brazil’s cos­metic indus­try for rec­og­niz­ing the pow­er­ful ben­e­fits of cof­fee in beauty prod­ucts. In fact, 2014 sales topped 3.285 bil­lion dol­lars and has enjoyed an 11% growth in spite of polit­i­cal and eco­nomic crises in Brazil.

Sun blocks, sham­poos, cream mois­tur­iz­ers, per­fumes, gels, deodor­ants, soaps, exfo­li­at­ing gels, anti-aging creams with cof­fee as ingre­di­ent are already a real­ity. According to the huge Brazilian cos­metic com­pany NATURA, green cof­fee extract is “a com­po­nent of some prod­ucts in NATURA Chronos edi­tion (anti-aging) and it is also used as an emol­lient in SR N shav­ing cream.” Known as a huge exporter of cos­metic prod­ucts with Brazilian ingre­di­ents, NATURA car­ries sev­eral items with cof­fee in their com­po­si­tion, and has been doing so for years. Curiously, they list the grains just as an ingre­di­ent and not as a big star of their portfolio.

Even with NATURA’s minus­cule dis­clo­sure with cof­fee, the cof­fee mar­ket began an awak­en­ing process and started focus­ing on this busi­ness oppor­tu­nity. The Coöperative Cooxupé, located in the south of Minas Gerais state, devel­oped an oil that serves as the basis for the cos­met­ics indus­try in the region. This mois­tur­izer, emol­lient, antiox­i­dant, anti-inflammatory and regen­er­a­tive oil also pro­tects the skin against UVB rays, pre­vents pho­toag­ing and has heal­ing prop­er­ties and ben­e­fi­cial vit­a­mins. The same oil is sold to Attrato, a local com­pany that car­ries a line of four­teen dif­fer­ent cos­metic products.

Credito Cintia Institucional 01The fact that it can improve the appear­ance of cel­lulite, give shine and soft­ness to hair and help in the treat­ment against hair loss is well known. Its use, how­ever, is lim­ited so far to the green cof­fee oil extract. The Kapeh Company went against the odds and inno­vated the entire cos­metic chain based on cof­fee. Owned by Vanessa Vilela, the enter­prise aims to use every­thing that cof­fee can pro­vide: cof­fee flow­ers to develop per­fumes, cof­fee peel as exfo­liant and caf­feine to com­bat cel­lulite and reduce mea­sure­ment. “Innovation is the suc­cess secret. Kapeh com­bined tech­nol­ogy to dis­cover what cof­fee can offer us, always in a sus­tain­able way. The total use of cof­fee – flower, plant, grains – help us to make more prod­ucts with fewer raw mate­ri­als,” explains Vanessa.

Considering that there was lit­tle research about cof­fee uses in the cos­metic indus­try, the com­pany took three years to pio­neer stud­ies and tests. Allied to the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), located in Minas Gerais state, the first Kapeh prod­ucts were devel­oped seven years ago. In an exclu­sive inter­view for Coffee Talk, the busi­ness­woman with a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal back­ground revealed that the main goal since the begin­ning was total use of cof­fee in her prod­ucts. Thus, all bio­mass from the pro­duc­tion is used.

Vanessa turned two pas­sions – cof­fee and cos­met­ics – into a mil­lion dol­lar busi­ness. The chain grew from just a few prod­ucts to a port­fo­lio of more than 100 items with 200 sales points in 18 Brazilian states, all made with UTZ cer­ti­fied cof­fee pro­duced from her farms. “I was born and I still live in the biggest cof­fee region in the world, in the city of Três Pontas, Minas Gerais. And, I am proud to say that we grew 300% in the last five years and are prepar­ing to con­quer new mar­kets abroad.” Exports to Portugal and Holland have started and Europe and the United States are slated for 2015. Vanessa says that the biggest chal­lenge so far is to show­case her dis­cov­er­ies in a mar­ket that is dom­i­nated by huge com­pa­nies. “After try­ing the prod­uct, the con­sumer falls in love with it. For this rea­son I am look­ing for busi­ness part­ners and dis­trib­u­tors in America and Europe now.”

With that, the biggest cof­fee pro­ducer in the world is ready to export tech­nol­ogy and prod­ucts made by green and roasted grains around the globe. Very soon, the solu­tion to the consumer’s prob­lem for dry skin, dam­aged hair and wrin­kles will be COFFEE. So… if you are feel­ing ugly, why not try some coffee?

by Kellinha Stein

Did you know that…

• Coffee flow­ers are used to develop perfumes.

• The high con­cen­tra­tion of caf­feine (sub­stance that stim­u­lates fat burn) is used to reduce body mea­sures and elim­i­nates cellulite.

• Coffee peels have exfo­li­at­ing effects.

• Coffee extract is used as UV rays pro­tec­tion, and is already in sev­eral sun blocks composition.

The View

Categories: 2015, AprilTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

This month Seattle will host poten­tially the largest gath­er­ing of cof­fee pro­fes­sion­als in North America ever. The Specialty Coffee Association of America “Event” boasts 10,000+ par­tic­i­pants from 72 coun­tries, 50+ hours of lec­tures given by close to 100 pre­sen­ters, 124 Skill Building Workshop hours includ­ing 41 offer­ing Certificate Credits, and a mul­ti­tude of spe­cial events, com­pe­ti­tions, and net­work­ing opportunities.

To be blunt, you will miss some­thing impor­tant dur­ing this event. It is 100% guar­an­teed. Though you may pos­sess great pri­or­i­ti­za­tion skills, make a list of all poten­tial activ­i­ties and meet­ings, iden­tify which are urgent vs. impor­tant, be flex­i­ble and adapt­able, and even know when to cut, there are sim­ply too many oppor­tu­ni­ties to take advan­tage of all of them.  I know I find this incred­i­bly frus­trat­ing and thus am really par­tic­u­lar about mak­ing sure every activ­ity has max­i­mum poten­tial for mul­ti­ple objec­tives. That is way I love the Charity Scavenger Hunt! It is designed to cre­ate last­ing rela­tion­ships and mem­o­ries great for busi­ness, AND give back to our amaz­ing indus­try at the same time. Please check out our web page on the event and see if you can be a part of this! coffeetalk.com/scaahunt

AND another thing not to be missed!

If you are inter­ested in pur­chas­ing extra­or­di­nary green cof­fee with a great story, that guar­an­tees to change lives then you need to mark April 23rd on your cal­en­dar for the Cup of Excellence online auc­tion. Astrid Medina, 38, is a woman who finds time for every­thing, includ­ing tak­ing care of her fam­ily and pro­duc­ing excep­tional cof­fee. In the last 2015 Cup of Excellence com­pe­ti­tion, her cof­fee, which the cup­pers described as hav­ing exotic attrib­utes, came in first place with a score of 90.2 points.

Ms. Medina was enthu­si­as­tic, “This is an amaz­ing accom­plish­ment. Thank God we won. Coffee is won­der­ful and we mustn’t let it go to waste. This achieve­ment trans­lates into a bet­ter future for Gaitana and for Planadas (her hometown).

We women are bound­less and beau­ti­ful. Although being a cof­fee grower is chal­leng­ing, it’s a won­der­ful dream. I only grow my cof­fee based on good prac­tices.” Astrid specif­i­cally thanked the FNC’s Extension Service for the per­ma­nent sup­port it pro­vides to cof­fee growers.

In regard to the auc­tion on April 23, Astrid knows that the qual­ity pre­mium that the high­est bid­der will pay for her cof­fee will trans­late into wel­fare for her entire fam­ily, her employ­ees, and pro­duc­tive improve­ments on the farm. “I will invest it in improv­ing our house, pro­vid­ing bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions for our farm man­ager, our employ­ees, expand­ing the “ben­e­fi­ci­adero” (post-harvest pro­cess­ing facil­i­ties), because we think about grow­ing more cof­fee in the future, hav­ing bet­ter tech­nol­ogy, improv­ing every­thing,” she says.

Astrid Medina: a mother, a wife, and a producer of an exceptional coffee in Planadas, Tolima

Astrid Medina: a mother, a wife, and a pro­ducer of an excep­tional cof­fee in Planadas, Tolima

Thanks to the farm, her eldest daugh­ter has already started study­ing envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing in Bogota and she will be able to con­tinue to pur­sue her career. Coffee has allowed Astrid to keep her fam­ily together and help each other. “There is strength in num­bers. There have been ups and downs. We have already been work­ing nine years on this farm. There have been times of low prices in which one wants to give many things to the employ­ees and one can­not, but we keep going on hope,” she ends.

This com­pe­ti­tion is part of the FNC’s dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, value added and posi­tion­ing strat­egy and orga­nized in con­junc­tion with the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, which designs and imple­ments its rules and stan­dards. The 31 lots that received more than 85 points on the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) scale will par­tic­i­pate in a real-time online auc­tion and buy­ers from all around the globe will have the chance to bid for the best Colombian cof­fees. The auc­tion can be fol­lowed at

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2015, AprilTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

There is a dra­matic dif­fer­ence in what roast­ers in Asia are doing and what is done in the United States. It all has to do with the per­cep­tion of the term Production Roasting. A dis­cus­sion with roast­ers on either side of the Pacific yields very dif­fer­ent results.

In the United States, cof­fee roast­ing evolved into mas­sive com­mer­cial roast­ers spew­ing forth brown water called cof­fee. For gen­er­a­tions we accepted this as the way cof­fee was sup­posed to be. It was con­sis­tent, cheap, and we had it every day. After all, it was so cheap that our bosses gave it to us for free in the office.

What is inter­est­ing about this ‘evo­lu­tion’ is that it was not always that way. Coffee was roasted at home in the 1800’s, and in small shops in the early 1900’s. It was the mid 1900’s that saw the demise of the lit­tle shops roast­ing their own. So in the late 1900’s the cof­fee indus­try ‘devolved’, in a man­ner of speak­ing, into an addi­tional mar­ket seg­ment called Specialty Coffee. This move­ment cre­ated the micro-roaster and small batch craftsmen.

The move­ment came alive when the Roasters Guild formed and started the prop­a­ga­tion of roast­ing edu­ca­tion and best prac­tices. People that enjoyed the craft also enjoyed each other’s pas­sion and will­ing­ness to share trade secrets. Sadly, there was some­thing miss­ing: the barista. In the early part of this cen­tury, the barista really took what the roaster was doing and pre­sented the pub­lic with true dif­fer­en­ti­ated tastes. The art of shot pulling and hand craft­ing cof­fees took off and the roaster’s craft con­tin­ued to improve with sin­gle ori­gin offer­ings and espresso blending.

One of the busi­ness real­i­ties of roast­ing cof­fee in the US is that if you are roast­ing for just one shop then you are prob­a­bly hav­ing a hard time mak­ing a go of it and feed­ing your fam­ily. This is where the roaster starts look­ing for other cof­fee shops, restau­rants, and offices that want to improve their cof­fee offer­ing. There is a whole­sale com­po­nent to most US roaster busi­nesses that facil­i­tate the cash flow needed for survival.

Blending for con­sis­tency through­out the year has become just as impor­tant a skill as find­ing the sweet spot in a lot of Geisha. Although we WANT to only roast the beau­ti­ful stuff, we pay the bills with the bulk roast­ing and blends.

This is NOT what is hap­pen­ing in Asian countries.

This author has vis­ited shops in Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Everywhere they served cof­fee, it was kick-ass unbe­liev­able crafts­man­ship and stun­ning pre­sen­ta­tion. Not only is the cof­fee spec­tac­u­lar, but the pre­sen­ta­tion and the knowl­edge of the barista is like a cof­fee person’s dream come true.

Overstatement? Not really. You see, the cof­fee indus­try evolved dif­fer­ently in Asia. Where we went from com­mer­cial to craft, they went from tea to craft. As a mat­ter of fact, you couldn’t get (until just recently) a ‘take away’ cof­fee, much less find a cof­fee shop open before noon.

Coffee in Asia, as with tea, is meant to be a shared expe­ri­ence among friends or busi­ness asso­ciates. It is not the secret elixir of pro­duc­tiv­ity. The thought of a ‘Venti’ almost causes heart pal­pi­ta­tions to most baris­tas in Asia. The sav­ing grace as a trav­eler is the Americano where at least you can get a full cup of some­thing hot.

At a recent teach­ing of the SCAA roast­ing Level 1 classes in Taiwan, the dif­fer­ence in roast­ing styles became shock­ingly clear. When asked what machine they used to roast, the LARGEST one was a 1 kilo roaster. (or 2.2 pounds!) The other real­ity is that almost EVERY cof­fee house roasts their own. This means that every day they roast the Kilo or two of Grade 1, 90+ cof­fee they have in stock to pro­vide their clients with the best cof­fee fla­vor pos­si­ble. They hap­pen to often serve in what amounts to a shot glass and the cus­tomers LOVE it. They sip, savor, and dis­cuss the coffee.

The ‘third wave’ expe­ri­ence in Asia is EVERYWHERE. Of course that is a gross over­state­ment, but it is eas­ier to find great cof­fee in Asia than in the US. The chal­lenge they face is the short­age of true 90+ cof­fees. They are par­tic­i­pat­ing fairly fully in the direct rela­tion­ship model by fly­ing from coun­try to coun­try look­ing for good sources of beans. They pay top dol­lar and they get rewarded for it at the cof­fee counter.

What this envi­ron­ment has pro­duced, how­ever, is a gen­er­a­tion of Asian roast­ers who have yet to find the sec­ond crack! You are more likely than not to be drink­ing sam­ple roast cof­fee so as not to dimin­ish any of the enzy­matic byprod­ucts while push­ing up the sugar brown­ing. They are exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent burn­ers in their 1 kilos and get­ting fan­tas­tic con­trol over their roasts.

Translation is often a dif­fi­cult thing. When try­ing to explain the need and desire for cof­fee roasted into the sec­ond crack, it was as if you were explain­ing quan­tum physics to kinder­gart­ners. They knew some­thing was being explained, but it made no sense what­so­ever. They just don’t whole­sale there. They have no need for shelf life, con­sis­tency of blend fla­vor and find that any hint of car­bon is just an admit­tance that you could not find the good stuff in the beans.

They have truly taken the best prac­tices of the third wave and improved upon them. They are artists both at the roaster, the pour over sta­tion, and the espresso machine. But when you try to explain how the rest of the world roasts, you are met with, “Wait! WHAT? There is a SECOND CRACK?!?”

Rocky Rhodes is an 18 year cof­fee vet­eran, roaster, and Q-Grader Instructor, and his mis­sion now is to trans­form the cof­fee sup­ply chain and make sweep­ing dif­fer­ences in the lives of those that pro­duce the green cof­fee. Rocky can be reached at rocky@INTLcoffeeConsulting.com

Nitro Coffee

Categories: 2015, AprilTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

nitro coffee_coffeetalkCold brew cof­fee is hot, no doubt about it. And while it’s been trend­ing on gro­cery shelves, it’s also gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in cof­fee shops from Portland to Brooklyn. There is even a semi-friendly con­tro­versy over meth­ods. There is the pop­u­lar and easy immer­sion method; this method doesn’t bring out a lot of the nuances of indi­vid­ual cof­fees, but is sweet, choco­laty and low in acid con­tent. Then there is the Kyoto or Dutch cof­fee “drip” method. It might not be the best choice for pro­duc­ing cold brew in quan­tity, but it’s a beau­ti­ful thing to watch (and taste.) Finally there is the flash brew or Japanese style cold brew that drips hot brewed cof­fee directly over ice, reduc­ing oxi­da­tion but retain­ing more dis­cernible fla­vors. Makers of cold brew cof­fee con­cen­trates use a vari­ety of meth­ods and most claim that their fla­vor is best. You may want to cast your vote for your favorite com­mer­cial cold brew at the 1st Annual Cold Brew Coffee Competition at SCAA Seattle 2015.

No mat­ter which method you pre­fer, there is a com­mon fac­tor that can be a down­side for in-store sales when com­pared to other iced drink items – a lack of tex­ture. Iced drinks that sell well gen­er­ally add tex­ture (or mouth­feel) via dairy, car­bon­a­tion or ice. Flat or still drinks tend to not sell as well as their more tex­tured coun­ter­parts. Adding tex­ture to the bev­er­age by adding ingre­di­ents, blend­ing, etc., will increase prep time, ingre­di­ent costs, or both.

On the other hand, Nitro Coffee adds only gas and has vir­tu­ally no prep time. If you haven’t had nitro cof­fee, it is some­thing you won’t for­get and will most likely tell your friends about. It appears with the same kind of the­atre and whimsy one expe­ri­ences while watch­ing a Guinness stout being poured. The dark brown liq­uid begins fill­ing from the bot­tom, appear­ing more caramel than dark brown at first. As the glass is filled, the froth quickly expands upward. As the cas­cad­ing slows, the creamy white head becomes more defined, con­trast­ing with the dark brown cof­fee. It is hard to not be trans­fixed by the phe­nom­e­non of cas­cad­ing micro bub­bles. But it’s not the visual pre­sen­ta­tion that brings nitro cof­fee devo­tees com­ing back. It is the taste expe­ri­ence of the frothy and sweet cold brew cof­fee with a dis­tinct mouth­feel unique to nitrogenation.

For cus­tomers, nitro cof­fee deliv­ers mem­o­rable mouth­feel and amaz­ing “the­atre.” This is great for busi­ness. Yet for cof­fee shop own­ers, the real profit comes at the end of the day when fac­tor­ing SPMH (sales per man hour). Nitro cof­fee is deliv­ered on tap and takes approx­i­mately 3–5 sec­onds to pour. Compare that to the minute plus drink prep time for most iced drinks. A busy traf­fic line can move pretty quickly when pour­ing nitro cof­fee on tap. Independent shops and smaller chains seek out every means pos­si­ble to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves from the big­ger brands. Delivering cof­fee on tap cre­ates remark­a­bil­ity as well as profitability.

In years past, cold brew cof­fee (or iced cof­fee) was kept in cov­ered pitch­ers or gal­lon jugs in the refrig­er­a­tor. Dispensing it was a mat­ter of pour­ing from a pitcher or jug. Not too dif­fi­cult, but kind of clunky. It’s far eas­ier and bet­ter look­ing to dis­pense cold brew cof­fee from a tap, espe­cially when it is nitro coffee.

The most com­mon method is to pre-nitrogenate a keg full of cold brew cof­fee. The process has mul­ti­ple steps, but is straightforward:

Step 1. Fill the keg with cold brew cof­fee (diluted to the desired strength).

Step 2. Pressurize the keg with 100% N2 at 30+psi (or a blend of Nitrogen and CO2).

Step 3. Keep the keg in cold stor­age (32−38 degrees) as liq­uid accepts gas into solu­tion the colder it becomes.

Step 4. Agitate.

Step 5. In 12–24 hours the keg is con­sid­ered “nitrogenated”.

Another method uses a patented infu­sion sys­tem that nitro­genates the cof­fee inline as the keg is filled through a hose. The third method is the JoeTap sys­tem from AC Beverage, which is newer but more acces­si­ble. A bev­er­age tank or keg is filled on-site with cold brew cof­fee and placed in the com­part­ment of the JoeTap. Beverage and gas lines are attached to the keg of cold brew cof­fee (N2 can be a tank or a Nitrogenator). The lid with tower (about five pounds total) is placed on top of the refrig­er­ated com­part­ment and nitro cof­fee is ready to be poured. The JoeTap’s dual faucet allows cold brew to be served still or nitrogenated.

The main advan­tage we see besides cost sav­ings for cof­fee shop own­ers is hav­ing the process of nitro­gena­tion in their con­trol.” says Terry Olson – Sales Director for AC Beverage. “Generally speak­ing, those who own a JoeTap only need access to cold brew cof­fee or even brew their own. We’ve cal­cu­lated that a JoeTap can pay for itself in as lit­tle two months or less.”

The warmer months of late spring and sum­mer have his­tor­i­cally meant slower cof­fee sales and Nitro cof­fee on tap has great poten­tial dur­ing these months. In those places where it is already being served it is extremely pop­u­lar. Who knows, it’s pos­si­ble that nitro cof­fee will some­day be as ubiq­ui­tous and acces­si­ble as espresso.

Randy Anderson, AC Beverage, Inc

The Crowd Funding Phenomena

Categories: 2015, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Continuing where the first part left off (a gen­eral overview), we’re now going to tackle two exam­ples of crowd fund­ing cof­fee projects that have turned bit­ter. Those two projects are the all-in-one cof­fee roaster, grinder, and brewer from Bonaverde, and the PID-Controlled (ensures con­sis­tent tem­per­a­ture dur­ing shot pulling) Espresso machine from ZPM Espresso. Both of these projects share four sim­i­lar­i­ties: they pre­sented an idea that hasn’t been com­mer­cial­ized pre­vi­ously; they both exceeded their fund rais­ing tar­gets by sub­stan­tial mar­gins; the cam­paign cre­ators have no expe­ri­ence in the cof­fee busi­ness or man­u­fac­tur­ing; and both have failed to deliver as promised on their fund-raising pages.

During the writ­ing of this arti­cle, the cam­paign by ZPM Espresso had a dra­matic devel­op­ment: it offi­cially ground to a halt. After rais­ing over $350k USD (with a $20k fund­ing tar­get), and almost exactly two years after promis­ing to ship six months after fund­ing, ZPM Espresso noti­fied all back­ers that they’ve offi­cially shut down. With claims that all parts had been ordered late in 2014, and the major­ity of issues resolved from Beta testers early in 2014, every­one expected to receive their units. What they got in January was notice that all the money had been spent on the devel­op­ment of the machine and parts, and that the major­ity of the team had quit the com­pany. In one sin­gle email, $369k raised from back­ers went poof! In response, some of the beta testers who received beta machines posted their results of the machines’ per­for­mance (spec­u­lated that less than 25 units were sent to beta testers), and stated that it failed to per­form as adver­tised across the board. Granted, it was a beta unit. However, it appears they received their units nearly one year after back­ing the project. We’ll keep every­one posted as the story devel­ops further.

On the other end of the spec­trum, you have Bonaverde, who promised back­ers “let’s change cof­fee together” with its all-in-one cof­fee maker. As of today, Bonaverde has a grow­ing back­lash from peo­ple who feel they’ve been mis­led, lied to, or even down­right conned out of money for a non-existent prod­uct. Bonaverde has done noth­ing to stem the tide of grow­ing back­lash, and in many cases, pro­vided more fuel for the grow­ing fire. How? Why? Quite sim­ply, through a num­ber of mis­cal­cu­lated posts and two addi­tional crowd-funding cam­paigns after com­ple­tion of the ini­tial Kickstarter campaign.

BonaverdeImmediately after the suc­cess of the Kickstarter cam­paign, Bonaverde started up a new cam­paign on Indiegogo (which was suc­cess­ful in rais­ing $124k USD with a goal of only $50k). With over $800k in fund­ing raised, over four times more than their tar­get, Bonaverde had more than asked to go into pro­duc­tion and ful­fill their quest of chang­ing the way peo­ple drink cof­fee. After all, they were using a com­plete unit, Korean man­u­fac­turer Happy Time & Java Coffee’s Java Pro machine, in all of their press demon­stra­tions. The Java Pro machine has been avail­able in Korea for quite some time, retail­ing for approx­i­mately $630 USD. The price dis­crep­ancy between the retail price of the Java Pro and the ini­tial offer­ing of $250 for a machine from Bonaverde defies logic. Was Bonaverde truly going to take a loss, or did they hon­estly nego­ti­ate a dis­count to account for the $250 offer­ing? Many appli­ances have between a 25–40% markup over whole­sale cost from the man­u­fac­turer, which would have put the whole­sale cost at over $300 USD. This doesn’t account for ship­ping the machines from Korea to Germany (or mul­ti­ple drop-ship loca­tions around the world), so how in the world would they ever cover this discrepancy?

Over the com­ing months sup­port­ers would real­ize they were in for a rude awak­en­ing. Every update that Bonaverde pub­lished would be filled with more claims that con­tin­ued to push the deliv­ery of the machine back, and that fur­ther improve­ments were required. Backers became frus­trated, because this was sup­posed to be a machine nearly ready for pro­duc­tion sans some final engi­neer­ing work.

Ultimately, it was dis­closed that an all-new machine built from the ground up would be required. But the updates for the next 6 months were sim­i­lar: we’ve hired some­one new, we have tool­ing and start­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing, we’ve hired some­one new, we have tool­ing and are start­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing. How had a machine that appar­ently had tool­ing mul­ti­ple times not com­pleted manufacturing?

To add insult to injury, another cam­paign – this time on the European crowd fund­ing site Seedmatch – raised over $1.6million USD. The same promises of an all in one machine, and chang­ing the way we drink cof­fee were stated. But after the $800k USD raised nearly a year ago, it begs the ques­tion: were the Europeans more fool­ish to invest twice as much as the U.S. sup­port­ers based on all the false updates pro­vided by Bonaverde thus far? There’s a phrase that rings true: Google is your friend. Type in Bonaverde into Google and the Kickstarter cam­paign page comes in as the sec­ond link, fol­lowed by a story of back­ers rebelling over the bro­ken promises of Bonaverde. Why would the Europeans not be sus­pect, espe­cially when the amount being raised was almost 10x the orig­i­nal amount sought with the first two campaigns?

Just as abra­sive to sup­port­ers was the (Google Translated) response on the Seedmatch web­site where Patrick Bales, COO of Bonaverde dis­tances the com­pany from the Kickstarter cam­paign by stat­ing “As our soci­ety (Bonaverde Coffee AG) legally not asso­ci­ated with the Kickstarter cam­paign is our view that actions against the Company and can not be enforced.”

It’s hard to read some­thing that claims that they aren’t asso­ci­ated with the Kickstarter cam­paign, yet on both pages the back­ers are the same, the goal is the same, but Bonaverde acknowl­edges and implies Kickstarter back­ers won’t be get­ting a sin­gle cof­fee maker by sug­gest­ing the two com­pa­nies aren’t con­nected, when all facts point to they are one and the same. Will Bonaverde deliver to its sup­port­ers in the end?


Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Turn on the tele­vi­sion or open a news­pa­per, and you would be hard-pressed not to find infor­ma­tion on ‘liv­ing green.’ The green move­ment has embraced the global cof­fee mar­ket­place and cap­tured the atten­tion of con­sumers like never before. From sus­tain­able cof­fee pro­duc­tion prac­tices to eco-friendly cof­fee prod­ucts and water con­ser­va­tion, ‘going green’ is caus­ing spe­cialty cof­fee busi­nesses to take notice and change the way they’re doing business.

A Growing Trend

Consider this sta­tis­tic: According to the National Coffee Association, nearly eight out of ten Americans drink cof­fee. It’s clear that cof­fee is one of America’s favorite bev­er­ages. And as cof­fee con­tin­ues to heat up sales at cof­fee­houses across the nation, con­sumers are tak­ing notice of organic, cer­ti­fied organic, and sus­tain­able cof­fee programs.

Although there is still the con­sumer that just wants “a cup of joe,” most con­sumers expect more from their cof­fee and are will­ing to pay more for it. Today’s con­sumer knows the dif­fer­ence between “com­mod­ity” cof­fee (i.e., from a can at the gro­cery store) and spe­cialty cof­fee, and vote with their dol­lars for what they drink.

But what exactly do the terms sus­tain­able, organic, cer­ti­fied organic, direct trade, and direct rela­tion­ship, mean to pro­duc­ers, retail­ers, and con­sumers alike? And what effect are these ide­olo­gies hav­ing on the indus­try as a whole?

Reykia Fick, media rela­tions man­ager at Fairtrade International says that any effec­tive approach to sus­tain­abil­ity must start with peo­ple. “For Fairtrade, we start with the posi­tion of the farmer. For farm­ers to con­tinue to feed the world into the future, they need to earn enough to have a decent liveli­hood and rein­vest into their farms,” Fick says. “They need to farm in a way that respects their local ecol­ogy so their fields will stay fer­tile. They need to build strong busi­nesses and rein­vest in their com­mu­ni­ties to strengthen their posi­tion and attract the next gen­er­a­tion to farming.”

So how do organic and Fairtrade labels coin­cide within the cof­fee indus­try? “Organic” and “Fairtrade” are two dif­fer­ent but com­pli­men­tary cer­ti­fi­ca­tions that can be run par­al­lel or sep­a­rately. As Fick explains, organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion means that agri­cul­tural meth­ods to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment have been under­taken in the farm­ing of a crop. While Fairtrade  International has require­ments for sus­tain­able farm­ing tech­niques, empow­er­ment and improv­ing the liveli­hoods of farm­ers and work­ers is the core aim of Fairtrade.

For pro­duc­ers who lack resources, improv­ing their eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion through Fairtrade International can be a pre­req­ui­site for gain­ing organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. “Fairtrade deliv­ers ben­e­fits to small-scale farm­ers such as sta­ble prices and funds for devel­op­ment,” Fick says. “This brings the sta­bil­ity and invest­ment thou­sands of pro­duc­ers have needed to con­vert to organic. Once organic cer­ti­fied, Fairtrade farm­ers and work­ers ben­e­fit from higher prices for many products.”

According to Bill Fishbein, founder and pres­i­dent of The Coffee Trust, the var­i­ous com­mer­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and non-commercial efforts are all part of the effort toward sus­tain­abil­ity. “That said, com­mer­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are lim­ited, as con­di­tions of the trade are steeply tilted in favor of mer­chants over pro­duc­ers and com­mer­cial inter­ests are not nec­es­sar­ily always con­sis­tent with com­mu­nity inter­ests. Commercial inter­ests are always look­ing to ensure a fluid line of sup­ply. This is not a bad thing, and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions help to estab­lish a price that war­rants a con­sis­tent sup­ply chain. However, hav­ing a fluid line of sup­ply as a pri­or­ity for com­merce is not nec­es­sar­ily con­sis­tent with a community’s pri­or­ity for its own development.”

Direct Ties

Marilyn Dryke with the Café Femenino Foundation, says that direct trade was a mar­ket­ing term that was cre­ated to help roast­ers sell cof­fee. “Though a few roast­ers may have the knowl­edge or abil­ity to buy and import their own con­tain­ers of cof­fee, most roast­ing com­pa­nies rely on importers and exporters to get their cof­fee here and to hold the cof­fee until they are ready to buy it and roast it,” Dryke says. “With the term ‘direct trade’ peo­ple may be lead to believe that the seller is buy­ing and import­ing the cof­fee directly from a cof­fee farmer or a coöper­a­tive.  So from our per­spec­tive it is a con­fus­ing term that is loosely used.  There is no ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem for this concept.”

George Kim, cof­fee qual­ity man­ager at Caffebene defines direct trade as the process where the buyer and the farmer agree upon cer­tain stan­dards and processes—from pro­duc­tion to cul­ti­vat­ing, har­vest­ing, dry­ing, and such. The buyer is directly involved in the process.

The trend is shift­ing away from buy­ing cof­fee beans in bulk through dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pa­nies. Rather, roast­ers are going directly to the farm­ers after sur­vey­ing the soil and the envi­ron­ment of the farm,” Kim says. “People believe this truly insures the qual­ity of the beans. Also, roast­ers use this unique story as a way of mar­ket­ing, inform­ing the con­sumers how and under what con­di­tions the beans that they are drink­ing were harvested.”

In Korea, Caffebene has a direct rela­tion­ship with the Ipanema farm. All cof­fee beans pro­duced from this farm are only exported into Caffebene in Korea. “The rea­son for doing this is to have a story with a spe­cific farm that pro­duces the cof­fee just the way we want,” Kim says. “There are no third par­ties involved. We cer­tify the qual­ity our­selves. As it is only imported to Caffebene Korea, we can guar­an­tee the quality.”

So how is the term “direct rela­tion­ships” dif­fer­ent from “direct trade”?

Dryke says that “direct rela­tion­ships” also is a mar­ket­ing term that was devel­oped to help move cof­fee. “Roasters can work with their importers to actu­ally go and meet the farm­ers they work with, and a few have the abil­ity to actu­ally buy a full con­tain in order to import them­selves,” Dryke says. “Some importers may also mar­ket their cof­fees as direct rela­tion­ship, and prob­a­bly many of them actu­ally do have direct rela­tion­ships, but there is no spe­cific cri­te­ria attached to this term, so it is a loosely used term with some com­pa­nies or indi­vid­u­als using it as they wish.”

While indus­try experts may have dif­fer­ing opin­ions about the ter­mi­nol­ogy sur­round­ing sus­tain­able prac­tices within the cof­fee indus­try, cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are key tokens that ensure stan­dards and cri­te­ria are annu­ally sub­stan­ti­ated so that con­sumers know the claims that are being made are true and verified.

With these cer­ti­fi­ca­tions the expec­ta­tion is that the cof­fee or other prod­ucts will actu­ally gen­er­ate higher incomes for the pro­duc­ers who are hav­ing their cof­fees cer­ti­fied,” Dryke says. There are loans and funds avail­able for farm­ers who which to go through a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process, or the coöper­a­tive or export com­pa­nies can also help the farm­ers with the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process.”

Most cer­ti­fi­ca­tion orga­ni­za­tions are also will­ing to assist in this process even though they may not be pro­vid­ing fund­ing.  Consumers have a choice whether to buy a cer­ti­fied prod­uct, which are gen­er­ally more expen­sive because of the cost of the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and even the pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing can be more expen­sive.  “Today we see more organ­ics on main­stream store shelves, which would indi­cate that con­sumers are grow­ing more and more will­ing to pay the extra cost to assure that they are get­ting a prod­uct with the ver­i­fi­ca­tion that assures them the prod­uct is organic or fair trade or what­ever the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is for,” Dryke says.

Economic & Social Impact of Sustainability

Brent Toevs, CEO of Marley Coffee says that sus­tain­abil­ity in the cof­fee mar­ket encap­su­lates a com­bi­na­tion of eco­nomic and social impact. According to Toevs, eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity involves the use of var­i­ous strate­gies for employ­ing exist­ing resources opti­mally so that a respon­si­ble and ben­e­fi­cial bal­ance can be achieved over the longer term. Environmental sus­tain­abil­ity involves the main­te­nance of the fac­tors and prac­tices that con­tribute to the qual­ity of envi­ron­ment on a long-term basis. And social sus­tain­abil­ity involves the abil­ity of a com­mu­nity to develop processes and struc­tures that not only meet the needs of its cur­rent mem­bers but also sup­port the abil­ity of future gen­er­a­tions to main­tain a healthy community.

And it’s the role of many non­prof­its within the indus­try to over­see the sus­tain­abil­ity of the cof­fee indus­try, its prac­tices, and its pro­duc­ers. Experts agree that non-profits within the cof­fee indus­try have a vital role to play in build­ing a more sus­tain­able cof­fee sec­tor, while tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the eco­nomic and social impact that sus­tain­abil­ity has on the peo­ple and their prod­ucts. “We can act as a plat­form for farm­ers to tell indus­try what they need to have sus­tain­able liveli­hoods and deliver the sup­ply busi­nesses need,” Fick says.

Nonprofits also have an invalu­able role to play in sup­port­ing com­pa­nies to do busi­ness in a bet­ter way. For exam­ple at Fairtrade International, they have built an alter­na­tive way to do busi­ness, based on prin­ci­ples of fair­ness in trade. “We have devel­oped this over the years with the input of count­less part­ners, from farm­ers and work­ers on down the line to importers, brands, retail­ers and con­sumers,” Fick says. “By work­ing with Fairtrade, busi­nesses can live their val­ues, invest in the peo­ple and the sus­tain­abil­ity of their sup­ply chain, and be rec­og­nized for their good work via the Fairtrade mark, the world’s most rec­og­nized and highly trusted eth­i­cal label.”

Fishbein stresses that respon­si­ble non-profits are not lim­ited to com­mer­cial inter­ests. “They focus on com­mu­nity pri­or­i­ties, such as but not lim­ited to, edu­ca­tion, health care, food pro­grams, alter­na­tive incomes and help­ing local com­mu­ni­ties take con­trol over their own future. However, while non­prof­its may be able to help a com­mu­nity chart its own course, which may include strength­en­ing its capac­ity for com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion, non-profits are out­side of the com­mer­cial process and should steer clear of inter­fer­ing in estab­lished com­mer­cial rela­tion­ships,” Fishbein says. “While both have essen­tial roles to play in the effort toward sus­tain­abil­ity at ori­gin, nei­ther by itself is any­where close to achiev­ing sus­tain­abil­ity. That can only be achieved over the long run—and it will be a very long run—as long as each respects the value of the other and nei­ther think they have dis­cov­ered all of the answers.”

Brent Toevs, CEO of Marley Coffee, says that there are many non­profit NGOs con­tribut­ing to sus­tain­abil­ity mea­sures in cof­fee grow­ing regions through­out the world. For exam­ple, the WaterWise Coffee Initiative backed by the NGO TechnoServe cre­ates a low-cost, sus­tain­able solu­tion for treat­ing waste­water pro­duced as a result of wet milling cof­fee in the Sidama region of Ethiopia. “By installing nat­ural grass­lands near the site of cof­fee mills, WaterWise is able to pro­tect the water qual­ity of the Kolla River for both the pro­duc­ers and the nearby res­i­dents,” Toevs says.

Also, the non­profit Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), a con­sor­tium of global orga­ni­za­tions led by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), is devel­op­ing and apply­ing sci­en­tific met­rics to under­stand sus­tain­abil­ity impacts at the field level. COSA’s stated pur­pose is to mea­sure sus­tain­abil­ity and its man­date is to achieve “a cred­i­ble set of com­mon global mea­sures for agri­cul­tural sus­tain­abil­ity along the three bal­anced prin­ci­ples (envi­ron­men­tal, social, and eco­nomic).” The unan­i­mous International Coffee Organization endorse­ment of the COSA pro­gram notes that COSA builds man­age­ment capac­ity with local part­ner­ships in pro­duc­ing coun­tries to facil­i­tate an under­stand­ing of the effects (costs and ben­e­fits) of the many sus­tain­abil­ity initiatives.

Other key non­prof­its and industry-specific orga­ni­za­tions that play a key role in the sus­tain­abil­ity efforts fac­ing the indus­try includ­ing Grounds for Health, Café Femenino, Coffee Kids, Sustainable Harvest, Coffee Cares, Food for Farmers, Puebla a Puebla, and the Coffee Trust, to name a few.

In the case of the Café Femenino Foundation, they are focused on help­ing women to achieve human rights through grant pro­grams that focus on health, edu­ca­tion and income diversification.

It is up to the pro­duc­ers to tell us what they need in order to improve their lives and their family’s lives for the future,” says Gay Smith, founder of Café Femenino Foundation. “Ensuring that there is food to eat after the har­vest to pre­vent mal­nu­tri­tion in the chil­dren, or clean water to drink. Educating the chil­dren through new schools, libraries or books. All are part of a sys­tem that will sus­tain the cof­fee farmer into the future.”

Without this type of sup­port, chil­dren will leave the cof­fee farm to look for other type of work because they see how dif­fi­cult life is on a cof­fee farm. Additionally, the abuse and aban­don­ment of chil­dren and women will con­tinue with­out some type of inter­ven­tion, as will the poverty cycle. Seventy-five per­cent of the world’s cof­fee is pro­duced by small cof­fee farm­ers work­ing on ½ acre to five-acre farms.

The work of the foun­da­tion is cru­cial to the sus­tain­abil­ity of the small cof­fee pro­duc­ers, and more and more com­pa­nies are start­ing to see the impor­tance of this work or work like the foun­da­tions’,” Smith says. “Our indus­try needs to look at ways that we can all con­tribute to a more equi­table cof­fee value chain.”

Definitions & Certifications

Certified Organic: In order for cof­fee to be cer­ti­fied and sold as organic in the United States, it must be pro­duced in accor­dance with U.S. stan­dards for organic pro­duc­tion and cer­ti­fied by an agency accred­ited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. require­ments for organic cof­fee pro­duc­tion include farm­ing with­out syn­thetic pes­ti­cides or other pro­hib­ited sub­stances for three years and a sus­tain­able crop rota­tion plan to pre­vent ero­sion, the deple­tion of soil nutri­ents, and con­trol for pests. Source: Organic Trade Association (www.ota.com)

Organic: Organic cof­fee is grown using meth­ods and mate­ri­als that have a low impact on the envi­ron­ment. Organic pro­duc­tion sys­tems replen­ish and main­tain soil fer­til­ity, reduce the use of toxic and per­sis­tent pes­ti­cides and fer­til­iz­ers, and build bio­log­i­cally diverse agri­cul­ture. Third-party cer­ti­fi­ca­tion orga­ni­za­tions ver­ify that organic farm­ers abide by the law. Source: Organic Trade Association (www.ota.com)

Sustainable: Sustainable farm­ing within the cof­fee indus­try imple­ments prac­tices to min­i­mize water con­sump­tion and to clean the water used. Water from the fer­men­ta­tion tanks should never be returned to rivers or lakes, but rather fil­tered nat­u­rally through the earth and then used for cof­fee irri­ga­tion. A sus­tain­able farm gives back as much to the land and peo­ple as it receives.  It seeks inde­pen­dence from non-renewable resources, using renew­able resources when pos­si­ble. Sustainable farm­ing also min­i­mizes pol­lu­tion, takes steps to care for the envi­ron­ment, and cares for its employ­ees. Source: Coffeeresearch.org

Fair Trade: Fair Trade cer­ti­fi­ca­tion focuses on labor and trade stan­dards to pro­vide small-farmer co-operatives a guar­an­teed price above the con­ven­tional mar­ket. Not all Fair Trade CertifiedTM cof­fee is nec­es­sar­ily organic. However, Fair Trade CertifiedTM does require strict envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship such as pro­hibit­ing the use of genet­i­cally mod­i­fied organ­isms (GMOs) and the most haz­ardous pes­ti­cides. Fifty nine per­cent of all Fair Trade CertifiedTM cof­fee imported into the United States in 2008 was cer­ti­fied organic. In the United States, trans­ac­tions must be audited by TransFair USA to use a Fair Trade CertifiedTM label. Certified organic pro­duc­ers of Fair Trade cof­fee receive at least $1.55/lb.Source: Organic Trade Association (www.ota.com)

Direct Trade: Direct trade is a term used by cof­fee roast­ers who buy straight from the grow­ers, cut­ting out both the tra­di­tional mid­dle­man buy­ers and sell­ers and also the orga­ni­za­tions that con­trol cer­ti­fi­ca­tions such as Fair Trade and Bird Friendly. Direct trade pro­po­nents say their model is the best because they build mutu­ally ben­e­fi­cial and respect­ful rela­tion­ships with indi­vid­ual pro­duc­ers or coop­er­a­tives in the coffee-producing coun­tries. Source: ethicalcoffee.net

Direct Relationship: Relationship cof­fees rep­re­sent a unique, grass­roots oppor­tu­nity for cof­fee drinkers to con­tribute toward the suc­cess and devel­op­ment of coffee-producing com­mu­ni­ties in third-world coun­tries. For exam­ple, the Coffee Roasters’ Alliance sup­ports and “adopts” spe­cific farms and coop­er­a­tives through Relationship Coffee pro­grams. These pro­grams uniquely develop a “close-touch” plat­form designed to estab­lish a direct rela­tion­ship between cof­fee drinkers and the com­mu­ni­ties that grow their cof­fee. Relationship Coffees offer the poten­tial for gen­er­a­tional pros­per­ity within coffee-growing com­mu­ni­ties. Source: roastedlocally.com

Rainforest Alliance: The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal is an inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized sym­bol of envi­ron­men­tal, social and eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity that helps both busi­nesses and con­sumers do their part to ensure a brighter future for us all. In order for a farm or forestry enter­prise to achieve Rainforest Alliance cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, or for a tourism busi­ness to be ver­i­fied, it must meet rig­or­ous stan­dards designed to pro­tect ecosys­tems, safe­guard the well-being of local com­mu­ni­ties, and improve pro­duc­tiv­ity. The Rainforest Alliance then links these farm­ers, foresters and tourism busi­nesses to the grow­ing global com­mu­nity of con­sci­en­tious con­sumers through the green frog seal. Source: rainforest-alliance.org

UTZ: UTZ Certified stands for sus­tain­able farm­ing and bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ties for farm­ers, their fam­i­lies and our planet. The UTZ pro­gram enables farm­ers to learn bet­ter farm­ing meth­ods, improve work­ing con­di­tions and take bet­ter care of their chil­dren and the envi­ron­ment. Source: utzcertified.org

4C: The mem­bers of the 4C Association have devel­oped the 4C Code of Conduct, which sets social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic prin­ci­ples for the sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing and trad­ing of green cof­fee. The 4C Code has a mod­er­ate entry level, includ­ing the exclu­sion of ten Unacceptable Practices, and com­mits par­tic­i­pants to con­tin­u­ous improve­ment. Source: 4c-coffeeassociation.org

Equal Exchange: Equal Exchange’s mis­sion is to build long-term trade part­ner­ships that are eco­nom­i­cally just and envi­ron­men­tally sound, to fos­ter mutu­ally ben­e­fi­cial rela­tion­ships between farm­ers and con­sumers and to demon­strate, through our suc­cess, the con­tri­bu­tion of worker coop­er­a­tives and Fair Trade to a more equi­table, demo­c­ra­tic and sus­tain­able world. Source: equalexchange.coop

Cup of Excellence: Cup of Excellence is the most pres­ti­gious award given to a fine qual­ity cof­fee. The level of scrutiny that Cup of Excellence cof­fees undergo is unmatched any­where in the cof­fee indus­try. All of the Cup of Excellence award win­ners are cupped at least 5 times (the ‘Top 10′ are cupped again) dur­ing the 3-week com­pe­ti­tion. During this selec­tion process, thou­sands of cups are eval­u­ated, tasted and scored based on their exem­plary char­ac­ter­is­tics. The prices that these win­ning cof­fees receive at auc­tion have bro­ken records and proven that there is a huge demand for these rare farmer iden­ti­fied cof­fees. Source: allianceforcoffeeexcellence.org

Coffee Service Corner

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

While in St. Louis at Coffee Fest, Kerri Goodman had the oppor­tu­nity to visit with DS Services’ (and COFFEETALK colum­nist) Ken Shea and chat about the state of the Coffee Service Industry and other related top­ics of inter­est. Here is that interview:

KG – With Coffee Service being so com­pet­i­tive, what are the mar­ket share oper­a­tor lead­ers doing that sets them apart from their com­peti­tors?
KS – Keep in mind that this is a very frag­mented indus­try. On a national basis, no sin­gle oper­a­tor has even a double-digit per­cent­age of mar­ket share. So when I con­sider mar­ket lead­ers, I look at regional and local oper­a­tors as intently as I look at things on a national scale.

The most com­mon denom­i­na­tor in a cof­fee ser­vice operator’s suc­cess boils down to solid ser­vice. In this indus­try, solid ser­vice is sim­ply the ante and only gets one into the game. The best oper­a­tors pro­vide pas­sion­ate cus­tomer ser­vice backed up by great prod­ucts sup­ported by appro­pri­ate brew­ing sys­tems. It’s not that com­plex. The great ser­vice also includes mul­ti­ple touch points and a per­sonal rela­tion­ship with the deci­sion mak­ers. It’s dif­fi­cult to fire a friend but much eas­ier to ter­mi­nate a ser­vice con­tract with an unknown.

As our cus­tomers con­tinue to be aware of and demand the very best bev­er­ages, the mar­ket share gap will widen between those that offer spe­cialty cof­fee options and those that do not.

The tough­est com­peti­tors that I have encoun­tered dur­ing my oper­a­tor career are those that are locally owned and where the owner is active in the busi­ness, cul­ti­vat­ing long term rela­tion­ships and mak­ing cer­tain that his or her com­pany is über-responsive to cus­tomer needs. Today, sec­ond and even third gen­er­a­tion fam­ily mem­bers are run­ning many of those tough local and regional com­pa­nies. It’s excit­ing to see both the oper­a­tor and cus­tomer base evolve through mil­len­nial man­age­ment and leadership.

KG – You men­tion mil­len­nial lead­ers. In the cof­fee shop and spe­cialty world, we see this too. I pre­sume you also see this at the cus­tomer level. How does this lead­er­ship change impact you as an oper­a­tor?
KS – One obser­va­tion that I have regard­ing mil­len­nial deci­sion mak­ers is that as a whole, there is more sub­ject mat­ter exper­tise on cof­fee and other bev­er­ages. There is also a keen sense of aware­ness in the areas of sus­tain­abil­ity and social respon­si­bil­ity. As a result, we oper­a­tors will serve our­selves well by expand­ing our knowl­edge base to be fully equipped to han­dle more com­plex interaction.

Just this month, while call­ing on a national account, I saw this first hand as our team pre­sented to a buy­ing group that included two mil­len­nial team mem­bers. Their knowl­edge of cof­fee, of taste nuances, and sus­tain­abil­ity cer­ti­fi­ca­tion options par­al­leled ours. It was quite a dynamic exchange.

KG – Being close to ori­gin myself, I rec­og­nize the value of hav­ing the knowl­edge you refer to. So where do you sug­gest that an oper­a­tor go for help with con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion and other busi­ness needs for that mat­ter?
KS – It begins with your roaster. If you are not fully inte­grated into roast­ing, your pri­vate label roaster part­ner should be able to cre­ate train­ing mate­r­ial to meet your needs. The national and cof­fee shop brand roast­ers involved with cof­fee ser­vice can do the same. I find most very eager to pro­vide infor­ma­tion not only on their prod­ucts, but gen­eral infor­ma­tion as well.

I also sug­gest that any­one in our indus­try take part in NAMA’s Quality Coffee Certification Program. Mike Tompkins has devel­oped a fun and excit­ing event that cov­ers a lot of mate­r­ial in a man­ner that is easy to absorb. These are pre­sented in con­junc­tion with NAMA’s two annual trade shows.

Trade show par­tic­i­pa­tion is impor­tant. In addi­tion to the infor­ma­tion at the booths, both NAMA and SCAA pro­vide a wide vari­ety of mean­ing­ful edu­ca­tional ses­sions. Everything is cov­ered from bean to brewer to bev­er­age to busi­ness practices.

KG – I appre­ci­ate your tak­ing the time for this inter­view. Like you, I see the inter­min­gling of the spe­cialty world and Coffee Service world as a good thing.  So, as you look into your crys­tal ball and antic­i­pate the future, what do you fore­see?
KS – In the world of Coffee Service, I believe that we will see con­tin­ued indus­try roll-up. Given the declared growth posi­tions of sev­eral larger oper­a­tors, I antic­i­pate three or four oper­a­tors hav­ing dou­ble digit mar­ket share of some pro­por­tion within the next five to ten years. But at the same time, there will always be a place for top qual­ity local and regional activity.

E-commerce will con­tinue to be a viable sourc­ing option both for the small busi­nesses not served by most oper­a­tors as well as the larger busi­nesses that do not desire nor need direct ser­vice. More oper­a­tors will adapt sophis­ti­cated e-commerce efforts in order to give their clients the options of method of deliv­ery. The good news is that this also opens the door to go after share of stom­ach in the home mar­ket. Again, our indus­try lines of def­i­n­i­tion will blur and expand.

All of us in the indus­try are eager to see how the sin­gle cup land­scape will change near term and long term. As I men­tioned ear­lier, vari­ety and con­ve­nience have been addressed…we’re now in the quest for even bet­ter qual­ity. Exciting times are ahead for sure!

All in all, I believe that our indus­try is in a good place. The prod­uct offer­ings have never been more plen­ti­ful. Competition is spir­ited and gen­er­ally at a high level. We are in a demand-pull mar­ket chock full of cus­tomers that are more knowl­edge­able of, and desirous to con­sume, top qual­ity prod­ucts which for us as oper­a­tors should trans­late into larger invoices and even health­ier businesses.

Marketing Miracles

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , Author:

By this time in the cal­en­dar year, some orga­ni­za­tions have already started to develop strate­gic and/or annual oper­at­ing plans. Some call these sales plans and in large orga­ni­za­tions there may be both long-range strate­gic plans as well as yearly plans that oper­a­tional­ize the long-term strate­gic plan. Some even have plans down at the team or depart­men­tal level.
For small busi­nesses, the plan for 2015 may just be ideas, scrib­bles on paper, or notes slapped on a com­puter screen. The “plan on a nap­kin” may even be present!
Still for oth­ers, there is no busi­ness plan. In fact, there may not be any type of plan! Without solid plan­ning a busi­ness car­ries more risk, misses oppor­tu­ni­ties, allows a com­peti­tor to seize advan­tages, slows down progress, and cre­ates con­fu­sion.
As General Eisenhower famously said, “In prepar­ing for bat­tle, I have always found that plans are use­less, but plan­ning is indispensable.”

So, what is strate­gic plan­ning and what are the impor­tant com­po­nents of a plan? First, let’s pull apart the term strate­gic planning.

I define strat­egy as the art and sci­ence of cre­at­ing a plan to bring about a desired out­come. Before you plan, you want to be strate­gic in order to reach an out­come. In your busi­ness or life; if you want to do some­thing, how are you going to do it? Strategy helps you to think about how to get there.

Planning can be defined as help­ing to iden­tify those strate­gies and accom­pa­ny­ing actions to guide you toward a desired out­come. Planning are the tac­tics and the ways to get there.

Taken together, these def­i­n­i­tions bring to life what suc­cess­ful orga­ni­za­tions do so well: strate­gic planning.

Over the years, we have observed and worked with many orga­ni­za­tions on their strate­gic plans.

We believe that strate­gic plans and the strate­gic plan­ning process should reflect and respect the fol­low­ing: the cul­ture of the orga­ni­za­tion, the peo­ple involved, the mission/vision/values of the orga­ni­za­tion, the need for real­is­tic and attain­able hori­zon goals, the resources that can be deployed for imple­men­ta­tion, and the desire for focused action.
At this point you may be ask­ing your­self where to start and what process to use. The best mar­keters use a “diver­gence and con­ver­gence” approach that cre­ates many ideas and then fil­ters those down against a set of cri­te­ria for suc­cess to arrive at a set of actions for their plan. I call this a “dou­ble dia­mond” and a typ­i­cal process is shown in this graphic that pro­duces hori­zons of initiatives:

dabadie copy

As such, the fol­low­ing are ele­ments of plans that have worked, and if you desire to do some plan­ning I would sug­gest that you imbed these in your work.
Successful strate­gic plans have sev­eral com­mon traits:

•    A plan based on the real­ity of today but is aspi­ra­tional: Stretch your­self to reach for a bold goal.
•    An exec­u­tive spon­sor and owner of the process: Someone has to lead these efforts and the CEO or owner can­not just dep­u­tize.
•    An exec­u­tive spon­sor and owner of imple­men­ta­tion: Plans are just that unless you do some­thing with them, and then the power of progress is unleashed.
•    Navigates the polit­i­cal real­i­ties of the orga­ni­za­tion: Agendas and cul­ture can get in the way, so accom­mo­date real­i­ties.
•    Goals, imper­a­tives, and tac­tics tied to spe­cific out­comes: Setting goals is nice, but be clear on the pur­pose.
•    Innovative tech­niques to reveal new oppor­tu­ni­ties and cre­ate an expe­ri­ence: Strategic plan­ning can be bor­ing, but the rev­e­la­tion and inspi­ra­tion of new ideas can be sparked by cre­at­ing inno­v­a­tive expe­ri­ences to open new ideas.
•    Clear and uni­fy­ing agree­ment of the brand promise: Your prod­uct makes a promise to a cus­tomer and in turn that cus­tomer has an expec­ta­tion on what they will get if they use your prod­uct. Define and deliver on that promise – it’s that sim­ple.
•    Collaborative input across the orga­ni­za­tion: The best ideas come from those vested in the results and through part­ner­ing.
•    Socialized through­out the orga­ni­za­tion for full under­stand­ing: Being famil­iar with the plan is not enough – insure that employ­ees and lead­ers under­stand it and that there is there align­ment around the plan.
•    Focused on 3–5 strate­gic objec­tives and a very clear plan of imple­men­ta­tion: Most orga­ni­za­tions try to cram too many ideas into a strate­gic plan. Focus. The best plans have 3–5 main ini­tia­tives.
•    Supports real-time strate­gic decision-making: Use the plan to take action and not win­dow dress.
•    Aligns resources to insure imple­men­ta­tion: It takes time and invest­ment to reach your goals.
•    Is a con­tin­u­ously improved plan against annual and long-term goals: While many strate­gic plans take a 3–5 year hori­zon view, they should roll annu­ally and there should be a yearly adjust­ment based on busi­ness and mar­ket changes.
•    Measures progress and imple­men­ta­tion over time: Hold your­self and oth­ers accountable.

You do not have to take all of these steps nor use a very rig­or­ous process, and per­haps the best place to begin is to just write it on a nap­kin. But I encour­age you to embrace this approach and through it you will find your own diamond.

Mike Dabadie is the founder of Heart+Mind Strategies, LLC, a research con­sul­tancy that con­tin­ues to pio­neer the use of personal-values insights and mar­ket­ing. He can be reached at mdabadie@heartandmindstrategies.com.

Roaster/Retailer Profiles

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

It all started in 1992 when Paul Odom took a dif­fer­ent direc­tion from his family’s bev­er­age busi­ness and founded Fonté Coffee Roaster just as the cof­fee boom was about to explode in Seattle, Washington. While spe­cialty cof­fee was just becom­ing more pop­u­lar with con­sumers, Odom saw a void in the hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket for a high-end prod­uct, notic­ing a lag in excep­tional qual­ity and ser­vice to chefs, restau­ra­teurs and hoteliers.

At age 22, just out of col­lege, Odom made it his mis­sion to cre­ate the finest cof­fee and espresso blends in the world by set­ting the strictest stan­dards in prod­uct devel­op­ment and deliv­ery. He pro­cured the best roast­ing and pro­cess­ing equip­ment, part­nered with arguably the most tal­ented mas­ter roaster in the indus­try, built a sales team with expe­ri­ence in pre­mium cof­fee and estab­lished a busi­ness to ser­vice this untapped market.

Today, Odom over­sees a rig­or­ous daily roast­ing sched­ule, a sales force on both coasts and a qual­ity con­trol pro­gram that main­tains the high­est stan­dards of ser­vice to its top-tier clien­tele. Odom also launched Fonté’s online busi­ness and down­town café to ser­vice a ris­ing demand for its cof­fee prod­ucts in the con­sumer market.

Odom’s right hand man, Steve Smith, has a dis­tin­guished career in roast­ing cof­fee span­ning over three decades. He is an indus­try vet­eran and con­sid­ered an expert by many in the cof­fee trade. Beginning in 1979, Smith worked for Starbucks and was one of the first roast­ers ever trained under the three orig­i­nal own­ers of the com­pany. He was the first roaster to earn the title of Master Roaster and was respon­si­ble for all aspects of the roast­ing process. In 1992 Smith dis­cov­ered a like-minded enthu­si­ast for small batch, arti­san cof­fee in Fonté Coffee Roaster founder Paul Odom and joined forces as the company’s mas­ter roaster.

Smith’s pro­duc­tion phi­los­o­phy is that of a cof­fee purist – his tech­niques adhere to the strictest stan­dards and work to main­tain the integrity of the cof­fee fla­vor dur­ing the roast­ing process. Smith is respon­si­ble for every aspect of cof­fee production.

He hand-selects each season’s best green cof­fee from all over the globe, and reviews farms’ har­vest­ing prac­tices, from Papua New Guinea to Ethiopia to Guatemala (he notes, his col­lege Spanish degree did come in handy). He feels single-origin cof­fees are lay­ing the foun­da­tion for a more mature appre­ci­a­tion of refined cof­fee fla­vor profiles.

At Fonté, he holds reg­u­lar cup­pings with owner Paul Odom to study fla­vor pro­files from var­i­ous regions and to cre­ate a plan for the devel­op­ment of Fonté’s pro­pri­etary blends. He also over­sees a rig­or­ous pro­duc­tion sched­ule based on a daily roast-to-order sys­tem, ship­ping out cof­fee to clients within 24 hours of roast­ing, always mak­ing sure that Fonté deliv­ers the fresh­est prod­uct pos­si­ble. He also man­ages the tea pro­gram, which includes import­ing a vari­ety of exotic teas, super­vis­ing blend­ing and devel­op­ing new exclu­sive blends.

I had a brief inter­view with mas­ter roaster Steve, who was kind enough to answer some questions:

V. How did you get involved with Fonté?
S. My involve­ment with Fonté began when I met Paul, the founder, at a small short-lived cof­fee com­pany where I ran the cof­fee pro­gram. Paul was inter­ested in buy­ing some of that company’s pro­duc­tion equip­ment to sup­port a set of retail stores he had begun open­ing and he hap­pened into our office at a time when I was cup­ping sev­eral sam­ples. I invited him to join me in the cup­ping, and as we talked I began to appre­ci­ate the scope and depth of Paul’s plans such that I was very pleased when he offered me an oppor­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in what became Fonté Coffee Roaster.

V. Please describe Fonté’s phi­los­o­phy and unique­ness in just a few words, and elab­o­rate on each?
S. Ours is a phi­los­o­phy of excel­lence within con­text. Fonté is look­ing to share a very per­sonal expe­ri­ence of appre­ci­a­tion for vivid and fleet­ing cof­fee fla­vors in vir­tu­ally any con­text in which cof­fee is taken. And this under­scores the unique­ness of Fonté: we are capa­ble of pro­vid­ing an excel­lent cof­fee in any con­text, whether it be an exotic sin­gle ori­gin espresso, a 6 gal­lon urn at a ban­quet or a cold brew martini.

V. You have been in busi­ness for a really long time now (how long exactly?) what has changed over the past sev­eral years (in the indus­try over­all and the men­tal­ity of the con­sumer)?
S. We started in 1992. During the years we’ve been in busi­ness, growth has been the over-arching big deal, and the result has been that there is more of every­thing: more top qual­ity cof­fee, more peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in the busi­ness, more inter­est and venues for spe­cialty cof­fee. There is also more silli­ness, more mis­un­der­stand­ing and dog­ma­tism, and more pre­tenses. It’s a pretty col­or­ful business.

V. Being both a suc­cess­ful roaster and a retailer, how do you man­age not to com­pete with your cus­tomers? I guess mainly the ques­tion con­cerns Seattle, or other cities as well?
S. Our retail pres­ence is so small as to not threaten our whole­sale cus­tomers. I think they appre­ci­ate the fact that we share an inti­mate under­stand­ing of what being a suc­cess­ful retailer entails.

V. What makes you one of the lead­ers in the indus­try as of today?
S. Our deter­mi­na­tion to con­tinue to put cof­fee fla­vor above trendy lifestyle expressions.

Fonté Coffee Company

Seattle, Washington

Maxim Vershinin has been a colum­nist for CoffeeTalk for the last few years high­light­ing var­i­ous roast­ers and retail­ers in the indus­try. He has lived in Peru for the last few years and is now fur­ther­ing his edu­ca­tion at Columbia University seek­ing a B.A. in economics.

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

As a roaster, barista, or any other cof­fee pro­fes­sional you have access to some of the best cof­fee in the world. This is a bless­ing to be sure! But don’t take it for granted.

As a Q Grader and R Grader trainer I now get to travel world help­ing to improve com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the sup­ply chain so we can all talk about qual­ity cof­fee a lit­tle more eas­ily. I too have access to great cof­fee even if I have to seek it out a lit­tle more now that I don’t have a roast­ing facility.

Even though I have access to ‘the good stuff’ I still drink the hotel cof­fee when I travel. Not every cup. I do carry a drip­per with me so I can have a lit­tle san­ity when grad­ing papers in my room. But I drink enough of the in room crap to remind me of one impor­tant thing:  My job is NOT done yet! I encour­age you to do the same!

As cof­fee peo­ple we strive to make a great prod­uct that we like, and hope our cus­tomers like it too. We are also keenly aware of the con­nec­tion we have to face­less, name­less cof­fee grow­ers around the world that scratch the earth to grow the beans we use and to eke out a bit of a liv­ing for their families.

I still believe in the premise that increased qual­ity of cof­fee will gen­er­ate increased value in the prod­uct at what­ever point the qual­ity is added. If the farmer uses selec­tive pick­ing he should be rewarded. If a barista hand drips a beau­ti­ful Sidamo, he should be rewarded as well.

When I started in the indus­try I was intro­duced to a con­cept at a roast­ers guild retreat:

In the cof­fee indus­try we rep­re­sent maybe the top 5% of the mar­ket. Thank good­ness for Starbucks because they are our mar­ket­ing depart­ment con­vert­ing peo­ple to the ‘spe­cialty’ mar­ket and for every 100 they turn, we get 5. If we all work together on qual­ity we can grow the 5 to 10 or 15 and there would be more busi­ness than we could want for every­body. The key is that we keep rais­ing the qual­ity level of everyone.”

I used to think about the above con­cept only in terms of the prod­ucts which MY COMPANY pro­duced but have come to see how short-sided that is. This is in part because the farm­ers are no longer name­less and face­less to me. I see them doing the same thing on their end of the sup­ply chain. They work hard to gain infor­ma­tion and to share that info with their neigh­bors and indus­try groups.

I think it is inter­est­ing that ‘first world’ cap­i­tal­ists get this con­cept eas­ily for them­selves but find it hard to extrap­o­late to the whole indus­try. They add value and expect to be rewarded, but often miss the larger forces at play. You need to strive to not only make your­self bet­ter, but also your sup­pli­ers, cus­tomers and even competitors.

To extrap­o­late that fur­ther:
•    Teach your cus­tomers what qual­ity cof­fee is and they will not only demand qual­ity for them­selves but they will tell their friends.
•    Ask for qual­ity prod­ucts from your sup­pli­ers and be will­ing to pay more for them and they will work harder to get you what you want. This can flow all the way to the farm if the sup­ply chain is edu­cated enough.
•    Also, be will­ing to tell your com­peti­tors where they can improve their prod­ucts. This will have them work­ing as a mar­ket­ing depart­ment WITH you as qual­ity ambas­sadors. The chances of them impact­ing your busi­ness neg­a­tively is very small, but the odds of mov­ing a larger part of the mar­ket from low or medium qual­ity cof­fee to your level is huge.

Let’s get back to why you should drink the hotel cof­fee. If you don’t care for the cof­fee, maybe you will talk to a man­ager about it. Maybe you won’t be the first one to do it. Maybe you can work a deal to sup­ply cof­fee that is 10 times bet­ter than what they have with only a slight increase in cost. And what if a major hotel chain were to say, “I think we can use this to get more busi­ness trav­el­ers to stay here.” Now they are think­ing about how qual­ity cof­fee can improve their business.

If one major hotel chain were to make this change, think of the impact on the indus­try and on your busi­ness. All of those trav­el­ers that have now started to appre­ci­ate bet­ter cof­fee. Even if it is not yours in the hotel room, there will be some per­cent­age that find your brand as they seek bet­ter cof­fee for them­selves. The per­cent­age of cus­tomers for high qual­ity cof­fee has gone up.

Bridging the Disconnect from Farmer to Roaster
If you are suc­cess­ful at increas­ing the ‘spe­cialty’ piece of the cof­fee pie, those great ingre­di­ents will be in tighter sup­ply. This is why you must also strive to work back­wards through your sup­ply chain and be able to tell folks what you want in order to main­tain the qual­ity of cof­fee you have promised to these new cus­tomers. This is not easy, but I want to give you some hope.

In my last few Q-Grader and R-Grader classes in pro­duc­ing coun­tries I have been for­tu­nate to have the entire sup­ply chain rep­re­sented in the same class. Grower, col­lec­tor, mill, exporter, importer, roaster and barista. This is amaz­ing to me that we all want to learn the same thing! We all want to do the same thing! Now we just need to increase the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. To accom­plish this I have some chal­lenges for you:

1)    If you have not taken a Q-Grader or R-Grader class yet, DO IT! This is the lan­guage that the indus­try uses to com­mu­ni­cate with one another.
2)    If you are a roaster, reach one level back from your importer. Don’t go around them; go with them. Ask to go to ori­gin with them. Ask them for a name of the mills they work with in a par­tic­u­lar coun­try. Learn a lit­tle more and start a dia­logue.
3)    If you are an importer, demand trans­parency fur­ther down the sup­ply chain and see if you can get to the farmer. Don’t go around your exporter or mill; go with them. Then intro­duce your roaster cus­tomers to them. This will build a stronger, longer last­ing bond and will not be a risk of being ‘cut out’ of the trans­ac­tion.
4)    If you are any­one read­ing this, drink the hotel cof­fee! This should get you ticked off enough to actu­ally fol­low through with one of the above chal­lenges. That’s why I drink it!

Rocky Rhodes is an 18 year cof­fee vet­eran, roaster, and Q-Grader Instructor, and his mis­sion now is to trans­form the cof­fee sup­ply chain and make sweep­ing dif­fer­ences in the lives of those that pro­duce the green cof­fee. Rocky can be reached at rocky@INTLcoffeeConsulting.com

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