The way we source matters
When we invest in the people who grow our coffees, over time that trust and commitment is reflected on the cupping table. Forward booking is essential to creating better relationships because they can rely on us to buy their crop. This added security allows them to focus more of their resources on crop quality rather than just the survival of their business. We commit to buying coffee as far ahead of time as we can, contracts are signed and the producer has assurance that a solid buyer is prepared to take an agreed amount of coffee. Our sourcing partners make sure the producers are paid ahead of time, this is crucial at origin.
The benefits of forward booking
In this article Edith, the owner of Finca La Isla in Colombia talks about how long term forward booking contracts with Caravela and Stumptown have made a positive impact on her family's life. She talks about the reduced financial and physical risk associated with having a solid buyer and being paid sooner via electronic transfers. Before these contracts she would have to wait days for her coffee to be cupped, evaluated and receive confirmation if the lot was sold or not. Dealing more directly with the buyer allows for better negation where she can ask for a fair price that covers their costs and allows for re-investment, crop maintenance, new equipment and more freedom to experiment with extra resources.
The benefits of these contracts at farm level are profound. Edith and her family have even been able to purchase another farm, invest in wet mill infrastructure and improve waste water management. Even more important though, they have been able to send their children to study Civil Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. This is the type of impact we strive to have in the near future.
The end goal is direct trade
As a relatively new roaster, our volume pales in comparison to that of our well established peers. This has its own set of challenges when it comes to forward booking and securing lots ahead of time. We have also only had a few years to develop relationships and build trust with our producers which we can of course understand. Typically young roasters of our size will stick to buying on the spot coffee because they can be more dynamic, fast and reliable with their coffee menu. Forward booked coffees always have the potential of not living up to expectations or not being on schedule due to port strikes, ships breaking down and late harvests.
When our volume permits it, the goal will always be direct trade because we can have more influence in how we pay our producers and how we support them directly. We can also work more closely with producers to better understand their needs and create more direct initiatives. We can't wait to visit Nicaragua and Colombia with Caravela next year so we can strategise more ways to help where we can.
We plan to make the biggest impression possible. By working closer with great producers to source better coffee, publishing transparency reports and continuing to grow the Brew good, do good project we are making a relatively huge impact! This impact will only get more powerful as we continue to grow.