company - education - coffee

Friday, August 14, 2015

Coffee Sourcing Transparency

UPDATE: We wrote more on the why & how of transparency in Fresh Cup Magazine -- read the full story here!

A few weeks ago we were discussing our current projects with a customer who has been with us since the very early days of barismo. Looking back on where we have come since 2008, they noted one of our defining qualities has been that we've never settled with where we are, and always are working on the next project. That pursuit and advocacy of quality has taken many forms over the years and has helped push our local & national coffee market.

Still, in some ways the coffee market today is harder than ever for a consumer to navigate; alongside genuinely great coffees on the market there are cheap coffees dressed up in the same way, packaged and marketed to mimic progressive quality coffee. No matter how many pictures of farms and slick branding accompanies the coffee, at the end of the day they're still the same "black box" blends that don't tell you what's in them, roast dates hidden or unlabeled, and the coffee itself simply being cheap & poor quality.

The best way we can respond to this is by becoming even more transparent; this year, we are making a move to full pricing transparency for our coffees. We're proud of the prices we are able to pay farmers & how they have increased each year. We fully own that we don't sell the cheapest coffee in the market by a long shot; our business is in quality coffee, and in order to get quality you have to pay farmers more money for their coffee. We have made a concerted effort over the years to build our business in a way so that we can reward producers for their work & the risks they take in pursuit of quality. We've often shared this information casually across the counter when talking coffee sourcing with customers, and we have taken the step this year to fully publish what we pay for coffee.

The coffee prices we paid for this year's arrivals are listed below. The prices are per pound green coffee. Every country we work in and source coffee from has a different dynamic between farmers, millers, exporters and contracts; based on that, we have listed one or two different prices: Free On Board (FOB), which is the price for the coffee delivered in a container to the ship dock, and Exit Warehouse Price, the cost to us once the coffee leaves the warehouse in the United States on its way to us.

After the coffee arrives, we have to pay for the cost of origin travel, truck freight, handling, rent, gas, electricity, equipment, bags, labels, QC, and labor (in addition to extra costs of running a business — accounts receivable/collections, accounting, insurance, taxes, etc). During the roasting process itself, green coffee loses 17% of its mass during the roasting process as water weight. In this light we believe that quality coffee is an incredible value in light of all the hands and expenses that are involved from the coffee nursery to the coffeebar.

Our average Landed Price in 2015 is $3.90 per pound. In comparison the commodity coffee price (C-market price) today ranges from $1.20 - $1.60 per pound, the same price that was being paid in the 1980’s; everything has gotten more expensive over the past 30 years, but the majority of coffee farmers are still making the same amount of money.

CoffeeRelationshipOriginFOBExit WarehousePounds Green Coffee
Buena Esperanza (Hacienda Santa Rosa)DirectGuatemala $4.25$4.543,800
Pena Blanca (Hacienda Santa Rosa)DirectGuatemala $2.75$3.0421,432
Cerro Verde (Hacienda Santa Rosa)DirectGuatemala$3.00$3.296,080
Finca Santa AnaDirectGuatemala $4.25$4.853,040
El XalumDirectGuatemala $4.00$4.585,420
El BosqueDirectGuatemala $3.95$4.5110,100
Jardin De AromasDirectCosta Rica$3.25$3.603,040
La Bandera El QuetzalDirectCosta Rica$4.00$4.352,280
La Lia Santa Rosa 1900DirectCosta Rica$4.25$4.60760
Genesis OscarDirectCosta Rica$4.75$5.10760
Meridiano AADirectColombia$4.003,040
MataharaImporter ContractEthiopia$4.183,800
Abysinian MoccaImporter ContractEthiopia$4.403,040
Gitare ABImporter ContractKenya$4.101,980
Finca Santa Leticia PamonImporter ContractEl Salvador$4.251,520
Mario Doroteo Perez AAImporter ContractHonduras$3.903,040
Manuel Adan AAAImporter ContractHonduras$4.351,520
Tupac AmaruImporter ContractPeru$4.401,824
Average Exit Warehouse Price: $3.90