The last few months have been a flurry of activity. (So what else is new!) Besides wearing the green coffee importer hat, we’ve been steadily growing our retail, online, and wholesale roasted (and green) coffee business. I do have a couple of unfinished posts that I hope to publish soon.
The green coffee business has slowed over the summer, but we’re diligent in contacting new roasters to see if we can build a friendship, and some interest in the work (and coffee) that we’ve been doing. The direct trade coffee business is challenging in the real world, because although most would love to help the farmers, sometimes the bottom line seems to outweigh those “out of sight, out of mind” families that labor intensively to harvest, ferment, dry, and bag our daily cup.
The competition is ferocious. The large companies own farms, and contract for the cheapest possible price whenever they buy from local growers. In the ever changing commodity coffee market, this often places the value of the farmer on the bottom end.
Our direct trade model requires the farmer to put in a little more quality control, and attention, but allows earnings that are double or more for their efforts.
Paying more though, puts the smaller direct trade coffee importers at an immediate price disadvantage vs. the “big boys.”
Luckily, we do find many roasters that are interested in more than just price. While the idea of a truly sustainable coffee supply chain may never be completely realizable, we’ll never know what the possibilities are unless we make the attempt. We truly appreciate those who see the bigger picture, and support the small family farmers. The Curibamba Coffee Project is changing lives, and every cup makes a difference.
Meanwhile, the roasting part of the coffee business allows for a better profit potential. Here, the most important thing is quality. We recently purchased a Sonofresco Coffee Roaster for use at Farmer’s Markets & Shows. It’s a fun roaster, and produces excellent flavor in the cup. It works via hot air, and results in an amazingly consistent roast every time. Because we can roast live, it’s an attention getter. Most people are surprised to know that we actually went to the farm to buy our coffee. It’s a wonderful story, and we love to share what we learned along the way. Being warmly received makes it all worth while.
We recently had to contact Sonofresco regarding changes to accommodate roasting at high elevation. The response was very fast, and it’s always nice to know that there is someone behind the scenes. It was relatively easy, so we’re ready to roast fresh coffee sea level to Colorado Rockies!
We’ll be attending some markets over the next few weeks not only in Arizona, but in Northwest New Mexico. We’d love to make it to Colorado this summer, but so far, time has not allowed.
One thing that we’re looking at is a small footprint solar system that would allow us to sell at markets that don’t have power. Although our roaster uses propane as its’ fuel, there is a motor for moving the air necessary to roast. We also heat water for coffee prep, and there’s always the grinder…
Interspersed between markets and coffee shop visits will be the “rounds” between Las Vegas, Phoenix/Tucson, and LA/Orange County in Southern California.
We’re looking forward to the cooler weather that will arrive in the next month or so. Fall is just a month away. (!)
We hope to see you on our travels…