Buying coffee in a sustainable way is complicated. Especially if you're a small company like us. As with a lot of other industries, your ability to make a real difference comes with volume. The more you buy, the more you can impact.
Starting up as we do there is a lot of important decisions to be made. Most small roasteries buy from a lot of different green bean companies. Usually, you get samples sent to you that get tested and after that, you make your purchase. In the beginning, you will only buy a few bags of each coffee, which would perhaps be around 1 - 5% of the total volume from that same farm depending on lot size. The tricky part here is that it’s difficult to secure the availability of the same coffee next year. You can always ask your green bean company but if someone else want to buy all of it, they will be able to do so.
If you're on the other hand in a situation where you can buy everything from a bigger lot of the same coffee, 40 - 50 bags and more (naturally depending on lot size, some of them are not bigger than 1 - 2 bags) then you are able to negotiate something more long term. But even then it is tricky. Becuase there isn’t a process for buying green coffee that works on a global scale, every origin is different.
From my experience, when processes gets complicated you need to work with people you know and trust. Therfore I have decided to buy green coffee from one green coffee company, not two or three but one. Doing this will allow us to be more sustainable in our work with the farmers right from the start. And we can have a bigger impact on tracibility and longterm processing.
Perhaps short term we would benefit from working with several partners, we could get the prices down and have all the “cool coffees” but in the end of the day it is not about that. It’s about the farmers quality of life, possiblity to inovate and growing together with them. The best cup of coffee in the world will not save the industry, giving a farmer the opportunity to switch production to oragnic, plant new varieties, pay their workers more and process more efficient might.
That is where we operate.