Selecting VS Sourcing: The importance of origin
There’s a significant difference between choosing coffee and actually sourcing coffee direct from a farmer, and this is something that is close to my heart.
When you go to origin, you are able to directly talk to and work with the people who supply your coffee. This is an opportunity to understand farmers firsthand and hear their stories and learn about what issues are directly affecting the coffee growing process. I’m a firm believer in the need for companies to be accountable for where their products are sourced, and this is something that is becoming increasingly important for customers too.
For a coffee roaster, there are direct benefits to building long-term personal relationships with the farmers who supply our green beans. By having an open dialogue with our farmers, we are able to understand what they need in order to ensure the sustainability of their crop, and we work alongside them in order to achieve shared goals. Having these direct lines of communication ensures that we are able to work with them and support them to achieve the best quality coffee they are able to produce.
We tell our farmers, “We want the best results in the cup, so that means we want the best coffee you can grow and we are willing to pay you what it takes for you to produce this”. It is then the farmer who will dictate the price they want/need for their coffee. Our farmers are paid prices that are higher than fair trade prices, because they have the support to invest in farming practices that will improve the quality of their product. The concept is simple; we’re able to pay farmers higher prices because they are supplying us with a product that is of higher quality.
Choosing coffee, on the other hand, is about selecting from a pre-chosen range of green beans, which have not been sourced with your interests in mind. By choosing rather than sourcing coffee, you aren’t able to have an input into the quality of your green beans. These beans are sourced by brokers, who don’t always base their payment processes on driving quality development.
In response to a direct appeal from our farmers to develop a collaborative approach to coffee trade, we established the Crop to Cup programme. By acting locally and dealing directly with the source, we can empower them to realise their full potential. In short, the Crop to Cup program is not about talking; it’s about listening. Our industry is about more than the coffee; it’s about supporting the people who support us, and great coffee starts with the farmer.
No matter what industry you are in, it is important to understand where your product originates from, so you can have a positive influence on what the consumer receives at the end. I encourage you to think about where the products you sell are sourced from and identify opportunities where you can connect with these origins to produce a better result for the farmer, your business and your customers.