Tag Archive for: United States

by Sam Reilly

Changing Coffee Perceptions through Technology

Categories: 2015, OctoberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

What is the most expen­sive bot­tle of wine or beer you have ever seen or pur­chased? Now com­pare that to the most expen­sive cof­fee you have ever seen or pur­chased. The most expen­sive cof­fee, in the vast major­ity of cases, pales in com­par­i­son to their craft counterparts.

Beer enthu­si­asts go to tap­rooms expect­ing to spend upwards of seven dol­lars on a pint, whereas cof­fee afi­ciona­dos go to a café expect­ing to spend no more than four to five dol­lars. While not a per­fect com­par­i­son by any means, the exam­ple serves to show the greater will­ing­ness of craft beer imbibers to pay top dol­lar for great beers.

However, even though the gap in profit mar­gins still looms large, com­pa­nies are will­ing to push the enve­lope, high­light the nuance of cof­fee and sell it for a higher price. Organizations like The Cup of Excellence, who hold online auc­tions for the best cof­fees , and roast­ers like Heart Coffee in Portland, Oregon and Tim Wendelboe in Oslo, Norway, are work­ing to change the per­cep­tion of cof­fee from com­mod­ity to luxury.

In the tech world, craft beer and wine drinkers have apps that allow their users to explore their respec­tive craft indus­tries, cat­a­logue their drinks, record their tast­ing notes and rat­ings, and share them with their fel­low enthu­si­asts. Coffee, on the other hand, despite its com­plex­i­ties and new­found “third wave” com­mu­nity, has been left behind in the tech world, until now. In the past year or so, cof­fee drinkers have been intro­duced to a group of use­ful new apps that can serve to grow their knowledge.

The most apt com­par­i­son to beer’s Untappd or wine’s Vivino is Fika. Fika is a social cof­fee jour­nal. It is a com­mu­nity of third wave cof­fee drinkers that want to dis­cover new cafes and roast­ers, cat­a­logue, rate, and give tast­ing notes for the cof­fees they drink, and share them with their friends.

Another new tech addi­tion is the half-coffee sub­scrip­tion, half-app – Angel’s Cup. Angel’s Cup is a cof­fee sub­scrip­tion that allows a user to record their cof­fees from Angel’s Cup’s sub­scrip­tion, and then you can com­pare your notes to Angel’s Cup’s roastmaster.

If a cof­fee drinker wants an app to help them find great cof­fee, he or she has a num­ber of options. Dripper is an app of third wave cof­fee shops around you, and their users are the ones who sub­mit the shops and the shop details.

The hope is that these apps will uplift cof­fee to the same sta­tus as wine or craft beer. In 1974, spe­cialty cof­fee became an offi­cial term, but it was not until this “third wave” of cof­fee appeared that cof­fee began to turn from a bit­ter, morn­ing neces­sity into a lux­ury good that was wor­thy of connoisseurship.

With the help of Fika, Angel’s Cup, Dripper and oth­ers, users will begin to see that where their cof­fee comes from and the envi­ron­ment in which it is grown (or prove­nance and ter­roir,) dra­mat­i­cally changes what they taste in your cup.

While cof­fee is still years behind the craft beer scene (just like Fika, Angel’s Cup, and Dripper are a few years behind both Vivino and Untappd), third wave shops are crop­ping up every­where. Thus, the con­sumers’ options of what to drink are becom­ing end­less. Not only can one drink Madcap’s Reko two years in a row and taste how it has changed since it was last in sea­son, but one can also go to Cape Town, South Africa to taste Rosetta Roastery’s Reko, and then return to the United States to try George Howell’s, as well.

Perhaps most impor­tantly, these apps can assist in the quest started by the Cup of Excellence and the roast­ers on the industry’s fron­tier in chang­ing the per­cep­tion of coffee.

With the help of these apps, con­sumers will begin to rec­og­nize regions, vari­etals, and even farmer names. As a result, they will begin to under­stand what to expect with each spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tic of their cof­fee. For cafes and roast­ers, they can show­case their cof­fees on Fika or Angel’s Cup, and receive feed­back about how their con­sumers are enjoy­ing their product.

Finally, in the pur­suit to change the per­cep­tion of cof­fee, we will hope­fully see the per­cep­tion evo­lu­tion reach the pro­duc­ers. If cof­fee drinkers change their expec­ta­tions sur­round­ing how much money they should spend on cof­fee, then some of that profit can make its way down to those at the begin­ning of the cof­fee chain.

George Howell put it beau­ti­fully in A Film About Coffee when he said, “It is no longer a cup of joe, it is an adven­ture in search of the ulti­mate cup.”

Now, with the advent of these new apps, roast­ers and cafes have the tech indus­try by their side to con­tribute, in some way, to that search. The more that the aver­age con­sumer real­izes how exotic and rare great cof­fee is, then the more they will be will­ing to pay to find the ulti­mate cup.

by Sam Reilly

Santa Elena Kids and Families in Coffee

Categories: 2015, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description
We con­tinue to build rela­tion­ships with many won­der­ful peo­ple in Costa Rica at the Santa Elena Coffee Farm: Jim and Luz Marina Stuart, all of the fine per­son­nel of their farm and ben­efi­cio, and the many return­ing migrant and local cof­fee pick­ers. It was nice to see many of the same faces return to say “Hi” and “thank you for help­ing.” Cindy Elliott, the med­ical provider and founder of the trip, along with hus­band Todd Elliott, orga­nizer and cof­fee ser­vice owner, plan to con­tinue this trip annu­ally. We had second-year vet­eran vol­un­teers: Patricia and Kelvin Dasher; Jason and Andrew Marsden of Tucson, AZ; as well as Sara, and Britta Diefenbach from Hershey, PA. First-year vol­un­teers included: Cailyn Bunce from Denver, CO; and Veanna Oldaker from Tucson, AZ; and fund-raiser and pho­tog­ra­pher Kerri Goodman. During the trip, the vol­un­teer group was able to treat approx­i­mately two hun­dred men, women, and chil­dren in the fields of the Santa Elena cof­fee farm. Jason acted as the on site dis­pen­sary assist­ing Cindy as she used med­ica­tions for pro­ce­dures and pre­scrip­tions. Sara was our 2015 pho­tog­ra­pher. Andrew and Veana helped set up and tear down camp at each site. Kelvin and Todd coör­di­nated, trans­ported, and nav­i­gated. Patricia served as our inter­preter and cul­tural attaché. Financial sup­port came from: Pat Hagerty and Vistar dis­trib­ut­ing, Todd and Cindy Elliott, Tom and Sandra Elliott, Tomdra Vending and Coffee, Abundant Health Family Practice, Stu Kaner, Thom Depaola, Coding con­tin­uüm Inc., and Carolyn Moore.

This trip has allowed us as Coffee entre­pre­neurs, major cof­fee drinkers, and human beings to give back to those who work so hard every day in the fields of Santa Elena Coffee farm hand-picking every bean. We have been able to take care of the peo­ple by meet­ing some of their very basic med­ical needs. We were also able to do some more advanced care such as joint injec­tions, minor sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures for skin infec­tions, pro­vide edu­ca­tion about health and fam­ily plan­ning, all while car­ing for each per­son with love and respect.

Readers can help by
Helping us to care for Santa Elena cof­fee pick­ers by sup­port­ing this annual trip finan­cially and through prayer.

How to Donate:
1.     Go to
2.     Choose the drop down menu “Giving” and Choose “Give Now No Registration”
3.     Give to: choose Missions and then use the sub-category Costa Rica.
4.     Finish the rest of the form for pay­ment type, then review and com­plete.
All funds are tax deductible, and a year-end giv­ing state­ment can be pro­vided.
If you pre­fer to mail a check mark com­ments “for Costa Rica Missions” and send check to:
Alive church 9662 N La Cholla Blvd Tucson, AZ 85742
If you have any ques­tions please call Cindy Elliott at 520−869−1232 (cell) or 520−326−1457 (work).

Project Contact:
Cynthia Elliott



United States, Santa Elena Coffee Farm

Project Impact:
Benefiting migrant cof­fee pick­ers and the fam­i­lies of Santa Elena Coffee Farm in Costa Rica.

Generations: Building Perspectives for Rural Youth in Trifinio

Categories: 2015, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description
Pervasive poverty and a lack of per­spec­tives are only a few of the chal­lenges young peo­ple liv­ing in el Trifinio, the tri-border area between Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, face. While their par­ents have been cof­fee pro­duc­ers for all their lives – a pro­fes­sion handed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion – youth now tend to break with this tra­di­tion in search for more attrac­tive income-generating activ­i­ties by migrat­ing to larger cities or the United States.

Funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, Tim Hortons, the Trade Facilitation Office Canada, and the International Coffee Partners, Fundación SES and the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung are team­ing up for the young­sters’ per­spec­tives. Together, we are imple­ment­ing an ini­tia­tive to enhance young people’s abil­i­ties and strengthen their oppor­tu­ni­ties for employ­ment and entre­pre­neur­ship. In el Trifinio, where over 70% of the rural econ­omy depends on cof­fee in one way or another, youths lack pos­si­bil­i­ties to engage them­selves in the local employ­ment market.

Using a peer-to-peer edu­ca­tion method, youth are engaged in acquir­ing skills for employ­a­bil­ity and entre­pre­neur­ship and are guided towards exist­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties within and out­side of the cof­fee value chain.  They develop their indi­vid­ual ‘life plans’ and are con­nected to a net­work of employ­ers, voca­tional insti­tutes and farmer orga­ni­za­tions to con­duct intern­ships and train­ing courses.

The project will empower 3,130 youth in cof­fee grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties to help them dis­cover their goals in life and help them to seek fur­ther train­ing. By offer­ing a vari­ety of oppor­tu­ni­ties, youth are offered the chance to exper­i­ment with their tal­ents and develop new skills.  With greater access to employ­ment, edu­ca­tional, or entre­pre­neur­ial oppor­tu­ni­ties young peo­ple will have more rea­son to remain in their com­mu­ni­ties and become dri­vers of the rural economy.

Creating oppor­tu­ni­ties for youth is vital to erad­i­cat­ing poverty in the long run. Encouraging them to try out their ideas and visions and to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment in which they thrive to learn and engage might turn a new leaf for cof­fee pro­duc­tion – one where youth can still hand down cof­fee pro­duc­tion to the next gen­er­a­tion of cof­fee growers.

Readers can help by
Spread the word!

Farmers are aging; cof­fee pro­duc­tion is a risky busi­ness with cli­mate and price fluc­tu­a­tions. This leaves lit­tle incen­tive for youth to con­tinue in cof­fee. How can cof­fee pro­duc­tion be made eco­nom­i­cally more attrac­tive for youth to stay?  Who will be the future lead­ers in the rural com­mu­ni­ties to shape the future of cof­fee?
1–    Modern pro­duc­tion prac­tices and a stronger busi­ness focus need to be intro­duced to add value and change the per­cep­tion towards cof­fee as a busi­ness.
2–    Rural com­mu­ni­ties need holis­tic and strate­gic devel­op­ment plans – cof­fee must be part of an eco­nomic devel­op­ment strat­egy in com­bi­na­tion with other opportunities.

Do you want to sup­port us in giv­ing the young­sters of Central America a viable per­spec­tive? Then please share our mis­sion and pass this mes­sage on!
HRNS on Facebook:
HRNS on Twitter:
Our Generations-blog:

Project Contact:
Gyde Feddersen


+49 (0)40808112422

Project URL:

Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador

Project Impact:
3,130 youth will be empow­ered through this project.

Three Tree Coffee Shop

Categories: 2015, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description
Coffee has immense poten­tial to make a last­ing global impact.  Whether it is a farmer’s liveli­hood or a sim­ple cup of moti­va­tion, cof­fee is vital to peo­ple from all places and walks of life.  This is why we want to use cof­fee as a medium for change.  Many of us in the cof­fee indus­try know about the strug­gles of cof­fee farm­ers.  At Three Tree Coffee Roasters, we strive to take care of our farm­ers by part­ner­ing with orga­ni­za­tions, such as: Fair Trade USA, Café Femenino, and Thrive Farmers.  As we grow, we hope to form direct trade rela­tion­ships through which we can estab­lish ini­tia­tives catered to a spe­cific community’s needs.  But why stop at the cof­fee farmer, who in many instances can be con­sid­ered a labor traf­fick­ing vic­tim?  We want to see ALL vic­tims of ALL types of slav­ery set free.  This is why we are open­ing a cof­fee shop to go along with our roast­ing oper­a­tion.  Coffee shops attract peo­ple from all walks of life around a drink.  We hope to take advan­tage of this oppor­tu­nity to spread aware­ness about human traf­fick­ing through fundraiser events and by part­ner­ing with local and inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions.  We don’t want to re-create the wheel.  Instead, we want to pull the good wheels together to start a movement.

A tree is a source of life in many ways.  By sell­ing artisan-roasted spe­cialty cof­fee, we want to give life in 3 ways: empower our farm­ers, end human traf­fick­ing, and engage our com­mu­nity.  We are already mak­ing an impact in the cof­fee indus­try and the traf­fick­ing indus­try through our roast­ing oper­a­tions.  This cof­fee shop will expand the reach of our mis­sion and the level of our impact by giv­ing us more inter­ac­tion with our com­mu­nity.  This will pro­vide an avenue to spread aware­ness about human traf­fick­ing, which is vital to see­ing an end to this injus­tice.  On a lighter note, this cof­fee shop will also intro­duce a blos­som­ing com­mu­nity to spe­cialty cof­fee.  Statesboro, GA is home to Georgia Southern University, one of the fastest grow­ing uni­ver­si­ties in the south­east United States.  This com­mu­nity is primed to make a global impact and eager for a unique cof­fee experience.

Readers can help by
The premise of our project is com­mu­nity.  Our world (macro-community) becomes a bet­ter place when our micro-communities part­ner together.  More so, our micro-communities thrive when they live self­lessly.  That is why this project, in a strange way, is not just about those we are try­ing to help, but it is about you.  The cof­fee farm­ers need you. The traf­fick­ing vic­tims need you.  And we are unashamed to say that we need YOU!  Please con­sider help­ing us in 3 ways:
1)     donate towards our project
2)     share our project with your friends (face­book, twit­ter, insta­gram)
3)     share our project and mis­sion with orga­ni­za­tions that have sim­i­lar missions.

Project Contact:
Philip Klayman


Project URL:

United States, Statesboro, GA

Project Impact:
Countless farm­ers, traf­fick­ing vic­tims, and you.

Healthy Women Play a Pivotal Role in the Future of Coffee

Categories: 2015, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description
Women have always played a crit­i­cal role in the cof­fee­lands. Shouldering nearly 70% of the labor bur­den at ori­gin, they are also instru­men­tal in shap­ing the social and eco­nomic fab­ric of coffee-farming com­mu­ni­ties. And as pro­grams to sup­port gen­der equity take hold, women are primed to play an even more influ­en­tial role in the future of the world’s sup­ply of cof­fee and the sus­tain­abil­ity of the sup­ply chain.

In order for these women to reach their full poten­tial as farm­ers, accoun­tants, man­agers and com­mu­nity and busi­ness lead­ers, they must be healthy.

Grounds for Health is com­mit­ted to help­ing women in the cof­fee­lands max­i­mize their poten­tial by pro­vid­ing life-saving health ser­vices at ori­gin. Specifically, we deliver much-needed screen­ing and treat­ment for cer­vi­cal can­cer, an eas­ily pre­vented dis­ease that kills more women in most devel­op­ing coun­tries than mater­nal causes.

In November 2014, we expanded our geo­graphic reach to Ethiopia. In early 2015, we launched the Roasters Challenge cam­paign, our first fundrais­ing cam­paign backed by the U.S. Government.

With gen­er­ous seed funds from Dean Cycon of Dean’s Beans and Bob Fulmer of Royal Coffee, Inc. and fur­ther sup­port by cof­fee com­pa­nies from across the United States, we were able to raise more than $200K by our dead­line, Mother’s Day 2015. A match­ing con­tri­bu­tion from the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR pro­gram, a public-private part­ner­ship focused on reduc­ing deaths from cer­vi­cal and breast can­cer in Latin America and Africa, trans­lated to a total of $400K to help us expand our impact on Ethiopia’s coffee-growing communities.

Grounds for Health addresses a crit­i­cal gap in women’s health ser­vices in Ethiopia, where there are approx­i­mately 20 mil­lion women at risk for devel­op­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer and 5,000 pre­ventable deaths expected in 2015. The pro­gram is the first of its kind in the country’s coffee-growing regions and aims to reach women between the ages of 30–49 with screen­ing and treat­ment services.

In part­ner­ship with the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon ini­tia­tive, Grounds for Health is expand­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer screen­ing and pre­ven­tive ther­apy ser­vices to 19 dis­tricts in Sidama zone as well as other zones in Western Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). The orga­ni­za­tion works closely with the Sidama Coffee Farmers Coöperative Union (SCFCU) as well as the Sidama Zone Health Department and Regional Health Bureau of the SNNPR. The col­lab­o­ra­tive nature of the work is crit­i­cal to ensur­ing ade­quate train­ing of health providers and com­mu­nity health pro­mot­ers and cre­at­ing aware­ness for the pro­gram in order to max­i­mize the num­ber of women screened and treated.

Through this ini­tia­tive, nearly 1,400 women have ben­e­fited from Grounds for Health’s ser­vices in Ethiopia. The pro­gram is well on its way to screen thou­sands more this year and expand to mul­ti­ple dis­trict health cen­ters in the near future.

Readers can help by
There are sev­eral ways to con­tribute to Grounds for Health’s pro­grams in Latin America and Africa.
1. Individuals.
Individuals can donate to Grounds for Health: For those inter­ested in sup­port­ing a spe­cific project, check the box next to “I would like to des­ig­nate this dona­tion to a spe­cific fund” and select the project of choice.

2. Corporate Supporters and/or employ­ees.
We offer many ways to sup­port our pro­grams through work­place giv­ing, cause-marketing and other ini­tia­tives that help com­pa­nies rein­force busi­ness and CSR objec­tives. Please con­tact Pam Kahl, for more information.

Follow Grounds for Health:

Project Contact:
Pam Kahl


(802) 876‑7835

Project URL:

Ethiopia, Sidama Zone, Southern Nation and Nationalities Region (SNNPR)

Project Impact:
Delivering life-saving health ser­vices to women liv­ing in rural coffee-growing regions of Ethiopia.

Producer Profile

Categories: 2015, JuneTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

What is Cup of Excellence®?

Cup of Excellence is a pre­mier cof­fee com­pe­ti­tion and world­wide auc­tion offer­ing the high­est award given to a top scor­ing cof­fee. The level of scrutiny that Cup of Excellence cof­fees undergo is unmatched as all of the COE award win­ners are cupped at least five times (the top ten are cupped again) dur­ing the three-week com­pe­ti­tion. Literally hun­dreds of cups are smelled, tasted and scored based on their exem­plary char­ac­ter­is­tics. The prices that these win­ning cof­fees receive at the auc­tion have bro­ken records time and again to prove that there is a huge demand for these rare, farmer iden­ti­fied cof­fees. The farmer receives the major­ity of the auc­tion pro­ceeds based on the price paid at auc­tion, and the farmer can expect to receive more than 80% of the final price. The remain­ing auc­tion pro­ceeds are paid to the in-country orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee to help pay for the program.

Changing Producer Lives

Being selected as one of the win­ners at Cup of Excellence means recog­ni­tion and reward for the grower and has been a spring­board for many grow­ers to secure long-term rela­tion­ships with inter­na­tional buy­ers, which, in turn, allows for fur­ther invest­ment in the farm and brings secu­rity for fam­i­lies and communities.

The expe­ri­ence for the grower is life-changing. He or she is a star and for that one ner­vous, exhil­a­rat­ing moment, applauded. Proudly walk­ing up on the stage and accept­ing the applause, the grower real­izes their hard work, atten­tion to detail, maybe their very liveli­hood, is being rec­og­nized as impor­tant to their entire coun­try. Some are very shy, never hav­ing been in any kind of pub­lic spot­light. Many are hum­ble coun­try folk – and this is evi­dent as they shake hands with an ambas­sador, the vice pres­i­dent or even the pres­i­dent of a coun­try, their expres­sion clearly show­ing the huge ela­tion of win­ning. Cup of Excellence has cre­ated a much more trans­par­ent infra­struc­ture for high qual­ity cof­fee. Roasters can now iden­tify, find and build rela­tion­ships with grow­ers of supe­rior cof­fees. It brings together the high qual­ity roaster and the high qual­ity farmer and helps both under­stand and appre­ci­ate the nuances and fla­vor pro­files of rare exem­plary cof­fees. It has changed the pric­ing struc­ture for farm­ers and has dis­cov­ered many of the incred­i­ble cof­fees that have built con­sumer excite­ment and loy­alty. With that, we are excited to present our new series: Producer Profiles.

Table1Colombia: Buenavista
In the 2015 Colombia Cup of Excellence com­pe­ti­tion, Astrid Medina’s cof­fee won first place with a pres­i­den­tial score of 90.2 points, offer­ing exotic sweet and fruity notes, bright acid­ity and creamy medium body.

The farm, whose crops are almost com­pletely renewed, is a shared legacy and her sis­ter owns a frac­tion. “She [my sis­ter] is also a part of the farm. She is a sin­gle mother, has a boy and they also depend on us,” Astrid explains.

The farm has an area of 15 hectares, of which ten are grown with cof­fee. For five years, they have had the sup­port of a farm man­ager, who is the hus­band of Astrid’s niece. All the man­age­ment remains within the family.

Each stage of pro­duc­tion is very care­fully looked after, and Astrid attrib­utes the qual­ity of her cof­fee to the efforts of many peo­ple. “If one of them was wrong, that would affect us all, but we speak the same lan­guage, we look for and achieve the same objec­tive. It’s under­stand­ing between employ­ees, pick­ers, the farm’s man­ager and own­ers,” she says, with­out dis­re­gard­ing that nature has been very gen­er­ous to her farm.

The cli­mate and soils are very healthy, the region is very new, we never do burns, we let organic mate­r­ial do its work and fer­til­ize the soil when it decom­poses. The water for the post-harvest pro­cess­ing is also very pure,” she explains.

She also attrib­utes the qual­ity of her cof­fee to the par­tic­u­lar blend of beans that the farm allows for in the mid-year har­vest (November, December and part of January, with lim­ited pro­duc­tion). Because of its exten­sion, lands vary between 1800 and almost 2000 meters in alti­tude. “We selected the best lots to make the blend with beans from dif­fer­ent alti­tudes. We think that most of the coffee’s suc­cess is in the blend itself,” she explains. “Cup of Excellence allows us to keep dream­ing and to exper­i­ment, because cof­fee, beyond doing the right thing, is like a mys­tery, since you may like it and oth­ers may not,” she says.

Table2Astrid knows that the qual­ity pre­mium of $14.50 a pound that was paid by roast­ers from Asia, the United States, and Australia 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.

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.”

Roasters Rock

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

Where Traditional and Functional Collide

Seo Duk-Sik and Rocky Rhodes - paintAfter enough time in the indus­try, one gets fewer and fewer moments of sur­prise. This was one of those moments. What would you say if you were offered the chance to roast on a char­coal fueled roaster? Of course you say “yes.” Then you quickly fol­low that with, “Huh? How does it work? Is it a drum roaster? How old is it?” The oppor­tu­nity to try some­thing new in roast­ing, even if it is some­thing old, is fun, and you should never pass on the opportunity.

If you find your­self trav­el­ling out­side the US on cof­fee busi­ness you are likely to be offered a tour of cof­fee houses in the area. It is your host’s way of say­ing we are proud of what we do and want to share it with you and the United States. It is a great com­fort to know that every­where in the world there is 3rd wave cof­fee being delivered.

In South Korea, Seoul in par­tic­u­lar, great cof­fee is every­where you turn. The study of cof­fee and imple­men­ta­tion of best prac­tices is on every cor­ner. It is such a vibrant cof­fee scene that ‘really good’ is expected and ‘excel­lent’ is easy to find. So good is the cof­fee that dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is harder to achieve. A new phe­nom­e­non in cof­fee is at hand which has been dri­ven pri­mar­ily though the Barista pro­fes­sion. Doing some­thing ‘dif­fer­ent’ to get to that excel­lent cup.

These ‘dif­fer­ent’ things include menu pair­ings, new drip­per sys­tems, 1 kilo roast­ers in the shop, roast­ing one cup’s worth of beans over the stove to order, and other really unique things. Some things, how­ever, reach to the past for that differentiation.

In Japan, dif­fer­ent fuels were used in roast­ing cof­fee. One read­ily avail­able source of fuel was char­coal. Fuji Royal built a roaster to use this fuel in a small batch drum roaster. The fla­vor that came from this charcoal-fueled roaster became uniquely asso­ci­ated with Japan.

A Korean cof­fee enthu­si­ast stud­ied roast­ing in Japan and brought that style to Seoul. Seo Duk-Sik has expanded his tal­ent and cof­fee enter­prise and sells a great deal of his cof­fee back to Japan. He started Kaldi cof­fee in Seoul and moved his roast­ing facil­ity out of the city where there was more room for pro­duc­tion and less restric­tions on emis­sions. The fla­vor holds true to this ‘Japanese Style’ of roasting.

Charcoal roasting - paintAfter a tour of the plant and an oppor­tu­nity to run the machine for a cou­ple of roasts, some inter­est­ing dis­cov­er­ies were made. The most impor­tant of which is that there are dif­fer­ent tastes for dif­fer­ent folks. Who is to say what is right or wrong? With this char­coal roaster, tra­di­tion and brisk sales indi­cate that Kaldi is ‘right’ with this style because sales are increas­ing by hold­ing on to the ‘old ways.’ Remember that cof­fee is hun­dreds of years old and ‘Specialty cof­fee’ is only about three decades into its infancy.

The Fuji Royal char­coal roaster is a pretty unique beast. It oper­ates with two air­flow motors; one for roast­ing and one for cool­ing. The chaff col­lec­tor is unique in that it has a water cur­tain that the smoke must flow through before enter­ing the cyclone cham­ber. This is nec­es­sary for a char­coal roaster because embers fly all over the place and are eas­ily sucked into the exhaust. Embers are extin­guished and then the water leav­ing the cyclone is screened and the wet chaff is col­lected. Smoke that remains exits nor­mally through the exhaust pipe.

Traditional and func­tional aspects of the roast­ing are often at odds with each other on this machine. The fire box is stoked with char­coal, ignited by gas, and then the gas is cut off. There is an art and a dis­ci­pline to plac­ing the pieces of char­coal to pro­duce an even heat directly below the drum. During the roast cer­tain pieces are removed or added to increase or decrease the heat. Different ways of intro­duc­ing oxy­gen to the sys­tem also allows flex­i­bil­ity in tem­per­a­ture control.

Airflow through the drum is very low so as not to suck up too many embers. To increase the amount of air flow­ing through the beans it uses a com­pletely per­fo­rated drum that sits directly above the fuel source and all of the heat is pulled through the cof­fee. This pro­duces a lot of radi­ant heat mixed with some con­vec­tive. This would be the oppo­site of more recent drum roaster designs where higher air­flow pro­duces more con­vec­tive heat and the hot steel of the solid drum pro­duces con­tact heat. If you think the fla­vor pro­file would be dif­fer­ent, you would be right!

The low con­vec­tive heat causes a roast to take 20 min­utes or more. Just before the roast comes out Seo Duk-Sik damp­ens the air­flow allow­ing the char­coal smoke to enter the cham­ber and add what is almost a mesquite fla­vor to the beans. The result is a smoky, heavy-bodied, low-acid cof­fee. And it is this pro­file that is the sig­na­ture taste for this kind of roaster.

While watch­ing this process, it would be easy for ‘spe­cialty roast­ers’ of the West to think of about a dozen ways to ‘improve’ the func­tion­al­ity of the machine. But as a good roaster must always do; fig­ure out the out­come you want and then roast to that out­come. If the machine were changed, this tra­di­tional fla­vor would be lost. In this case the machine is per­fectly func­tional for the out­come. And the result­ing cof­fee res­onates with Kaldi’s customers.

Being tra­di­tional is being unique, and unique has found a mar­ket amongst all of the other cof­fee shops.

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

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.

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


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 (

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 (

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:

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 (

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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