Those Coffee People

A Guide to Importing Coffee Beans to Australia

Australian flag

Australia’s coffee culture dates back way before the millennial-filled, hipster cafes that line the streets of Sydney, Melbourne, and other cities today. In fact, its origins are associated with a wave of Italian migration that took place after the Second World War. Italian migrants brought with them the newly-invented steam-powered espresso machine, and with it, elements of the European café culture, which would then translate into the relaxed way of life down under. 

With coffee already deeply ingrained into the country’s culture, Australian baristas got to work trialing new styles of coffee. In the 1980s they invented the flat white, a beverage now widely enjoyed across Europe and in the U.S. 

Despite cultivating a small volume of specialty coffee, Australia is among the world’s top 15 coffee importers, importing almost $450 million of coffee beans in 2019. So if you’re looking to join those importing green coffee beans into Australia, keep reading, because we’ve got you covered. 

Finding a Supplier

Just as you would when importing into any foreign country, make sure you track down a supplier that knows the Australian importation rules and regulations well. Don’t forget to ask the necessary questions to assess the extent of their knowledge. 

Even if you do find a supplier that knows the market well, it’s a good idea for them to hire a licensed customs broker. A list of Australia’s licensed customs brokers can be found here.  

Looking for coffee bean importers to Australia? We’re experts at sourcing and shipping green coffee to Australian buyers. Explore our range of green coffee here.  

Arranging Shipping

When thinking about importing coffee beans into Australia, there are a few important preparation steps you’ll need to bear in mind in order to comply with Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions.

  • Ensure your supplier sends your shipment free of contaminant seed, soil, animal and plant debris, and other biosecurity risk material. For more information on biosecurity risks, check out this guidance from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment.  
  • When it comes to green coffee beans, they must be free of fruit pulp before arriving in Australia. 
  • Ensure each consignment of goods is wrapped in clean and new packaging. Straw packaging is prohibited as it could carry insects or toxic diseases. Second-hand packaging from fruit, vegetables, meat, or egg cartons is also banned for the same reasons. 

Shipping Costs 

If you don’t know how to import coffee beans to Australia, don’t panic, your coffee supplier will include shipping costs in the final quote for the service. This will vary depending on the country you’re shipping from and the terms you negotiate. The good news is that in Australia, coffee beans are not subject to any import taxes. 

One thing to bear in mind, though, is that often costs will add up because of logistical costs in the country you’re shipping from. Make sure they don’t catch you by surprise.

Australian Coffee Imports Product Labeling Requirements

According to Australia’s 1905 Commerce Act, any incoming shipments must follow specific labeling requirements in order to be allowed into the country. The two most important points to remember to include on your label are: 

  • Trade description —  a description, statement, indication, or suggestion as to how or by whom the coffee was produced, selected, and packed. This statement must be in clear, legible English.
  • Country of origin certificate

If your coffee is pre-packed for sale, then providing a trade description is optional. However, you must still provide notice of the country of origin. 

If you fail to comply with these requirements, your shipment may be seized by the Australian Border Force. Re-labelling could be permitted upon further examination.

Customs Clearance Declarations in Australia

All coffee bean shipments to Australia must be inspected by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) in order to keep the country free of exotic pests and diseases.

Import permits are required for some shipments of coffee beans to Australia, such as Kopi luwak coffee. This form of coffee consists of partially digested coffee cherries that have passed through the alimentary tract of the Asian palm civet, a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. 

We recommend consulting an experienced customs clearance agent to find out whether your shipment requires an import permit or not.

Regardless of whether you need a specific import permit, the following documents must accompany your shipment in order for it to be imported: 

  • Certificate of origin
  • Phytosanitary certificate
  • Invoice 
  • Packing list
  • Airway Bill/ Bill of Lading
  • Packing Material Declaration form (if your shipment is packed in pallets)

Here at Those Coffee People, we export three different types of coffee shipments to Australia. For full information on the Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) for each type of shipment, check out the links below.

Coffee Import Customs Duties in Australia

Although there is no tariff to import green or roasted coffee into Australia, other import fees and charges may apply. Consult an experienced import and customs clearance agent who is well-versed in Australian legislation on coffee bean importation to find out exactly which ones might apply to you.

Sales Tax on Coffee Sales in Australia

Coffee bought in the form of beans or ground beans is also exempt from Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Australia, which is a value-added tax of 10%. However, hot coffee sold as a ready-to-drink beverage in Australia is taxable.

Discover Our Range of Direct Trade Coffee Beans  

Here at Those Coffee People we’re experts at sourcing and supplying the finest direct trade Colombian green coffee beans. We venture off into remote areas of Colombia’s beautiful coffee-growing countryside to search for new and exclusive varieties, with the aim of identifying the most unique origins for you and your customers.

Explore our unique Colombian origins and discover the story of every estate we work with. We can fulfill and deliver orders of any size for buyers in Australia, contact us for more information.

Why Medellin is the Perfect Specialty Coffee Scene

Why Medellin is the Perfect Specialty Coffee Scene

Reading time: 6 minutes.

Is Medellin everything a coffee loving adventurer could ask for?

Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia behind Bogota, located in the state of Antioquia. It has an economy based on agriculture, textiles, energy, and a wave of rapidly growing tourism activities. As you have probably seen on Netflix, thirty years ago Medellin was famously plagued by drug cartels- a cancer that changed the peaceful and beautiful city into one of the most dangerous cities around the world. Today, Medellin is evolving from place troubled by social problems such as FARC, narcos and poverty into an innovation cluster of opportunities that appeal to local and international business alike.

1. Medellin was the founding place of the modern coffee industry in Colombia

Medellin was the founding place of the modern coffee industry of Colombia and is the home of specialty coffee bean suppliers, Those Coffee People. In the early 1900’s, a team of elite businessmen came together in Medellin to establish the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FNC or Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia). From the FNC, an icon was born that would soon be known across all four corners of the globe- Juan Valdez. This “campesino” character of Juan Valdez aimed to personify the culture and traditions of Colombian coffee growers was probably one of the planet’s most successful marketing strategies in the 60´s. Juan Valdez was responsible for teaching the world about the coffee of Colombia!

Unfortunately, during Colombia’s time of social and political unrest the coffee industry took a large hit. Farmers’ profits were shrinking to a point where they couldn’t even pay their expenses so many farmers decided to exit the coffee industry. For a moment, Colombia saw the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of its people dwindle as the coffee industry experienced a slow down.

2. Medellin is not only a great turistic city, is a perfect place to develop ideas and culture.

When the city started waking up from the nightmare of the drug cartel occupation, the world started to once again show interest in Medellin. People who took the initial risk to visit the newly safe Medellin, and created strong word of mouth advertising about the experience that they had with this hard working culture that was trying to clean up their name and reputation. Shortly after, the floodgates opened and the whole world started to recognize Medellin as a great touristic city. Travelers started discovering countless reasons to love Medellin including the warm and hospitable local culture, and the city’s strong position is developing music, sports, food, unique lifestyle and rapid urban innovation. These factors showed Medellin not only as a travel destination, but also a place to develop ideas and culture.

3. Medellin uses modern tactics of innovation into their coffee production

With all these events and developments, the city began to see a change it it’s coffee culture where for the first time, traditional practices were starting to change and leave more room for innovation. Keeping in mind the previously slowed down coffee industry, and the recent surge for innovation and improvements, farmers began to implement these modern tactics of innovation into their production! There was a growing international market for high quality coffee from Colombia promoting the production of a new wave of high quality coffee in small amounts. The mentality was changing from quantity to quality.

Those Coffee People discovered the great potential of this city as their home for their specialty coffee supply company. Amazing people, perfect geography for developing various qualities of coffee, a modern and organized city moving on a spirit of innovating, a charming place to live in an establish the headquarters, a city that already works with coffee in depth, and a wave of possibilities coming from the people who comes here to enjoy this beautiful city. The cluster of the innovation, the place of the possibilities, the city of the eternal spring- this is Medellin.


Based on your interest in this article, we recommend:

  1. A guide to Sourcing and Exporting coffee from Colombia
  2. Coffee certifications in Colombia
  3. What defines Specialty Coffee?


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on May 2018 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


Creation of Those Coffee People

Reading time: 7 minutes.

In the summer of 2017 Those Coffee People Founders Jennifer and Andres met during a “bucket list” trip to Peru. In the south of the country sits a small desert oasis called Huacachina, a famous little village outside the town of Ica. One chilly morning, Jennifer went out to take breakfast in the boutique hotel she was staying in and found Andres on the  hotel patio enjoying a coffee. The patio was crowded so Jennifer went and took a seat at the open chair next to Andres and conversation quickly started. Standard traveler’s questions like “where are you from?” and “where are you going?” lead them to realize their paths were going to be crossing for the following week as they had the same travel plans from Huacachina to Cusco.

When traveling on your own, you quickly find that it is easy to bond with other travelers, and for Jennifer and Andres that was no exception. They quickly found that even though they came from different cultures and spoke different native languages, they both had a similar love for adventure, discovery, travel, and coffee. They traveled together from Huacachina to Cusco and continued to build an unlikely friendship through a shared experience of discovering Peru.

One evening in Cusco they were speaking about their travel plans after Peru. Andres was headed back to Medellin, Colombia, and Jennifer had tentative plans to head south into Bolivia. Not restricted by any actual travel bookings or reservations, Andres saw this as a prime moment to share some of the enticing points of going to visit his city. As a proud Paisa (a person from Antioquia state in Colombia), he quickly started pitching to Jennifer on how wonderful Medellin and the surrounding areas was, how unique and interesting the local coffee culture is. Jennifer had only heard about Medellin from Narco’s and didn’t have any motivation to make the trip there on her own, but after hearing out a persuasive pitch by Andres she decided to swap her plans of going to Bolivia to head north and discover the city of Medellin.

Arriving into the airport in Rionegro, a town on the outskirts of the city, her perception of Medellin was instantly turned onto its head. Dramatic mountainous landscapes with lush green vegetation spanned as far as the eye could see. As they drove from the airport into the city, the green didn’t stop in the normal way it does when entering a main city, but on the contrary buildings seemed to naturally embed themselves into the landscape in a beautiful combination of modern day metropolis and pristine beauty. It was no contest- Medellin was everything a coffee loving young adventurer could ask for.

It was no contest- Medellin was everything a coffee loving adventurer could ask for.

The next week followed with many visits to Medellin’s huge variety of cafes. Andres shared stories on the production side of the coffee supply chain through his family’s experiences and Jennifer shared unique stories of how she discovered people are changing the way they drink coffee across the globe. They agreed there was a huge paradigm shift happening in coffee consumption, but less developments happening on the production and supply chain side. Customers are now undoubtedly interested in learning about the story behind their coffee, direct trade is being seen as highly valuable, and average customers are starting to be conscious about specialty coffee. In this exact moment, the idea for Those Coffee People was born- a company that focused on establishing direct trade Colombian coffee around the world to align with the third wave of specialty coffee consumption!

Long story short, what happened in the summer of 2017 was the perfect storm where serendipity and opportunity collided and the idea for Those Coffee People was born.


Based on your interest in this article, we recommend:

  1. Sourcing green coffee beans – A buyer’s guide
  2. A guide to importing coffee beans into Japan
  3. A guide to importing coffee beans in the US
  4. How to import green arabica coffee beans into Oman
  5. A guide to importing coffee beans into Saudi Arabia
  6. A guide to importing coffee beans into Kuwait


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on May 2018 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

How to Establish Direct Trade Partnerships?

How to Establish Direct Trade Partnerships?

Reading time: 3 minutes.

1. Consider stability, trust and exclusivity

Stability, trust, and exclusivity are some of the main reasons to consider going into a direct trade partnership, but with a myriad of different options available, how does a small or medium roaster choose the right direct trade partnership for them?

2. Analize not only the coffee quality but also their whole processes

When considering buying directly from origin make sure to analyze various key points in addition to simply their quality of coffee. If a company is lacking in logistics expertise, flexible minimum order quantity and shipping options, or overall professionalism in the company itself, it can turn the beautiful experience of buying coffee directly from origin into more of a nightmare.

Before you decide to engage with any direct trade partner make sure you complete the following checklist:

3. Is the coffee they are offering a one time item or will there be availability year after year?

4. Is the coffee being sold by a formally registered company with all necessary documentation and legal status?

5. Do the sales consultants speak your language?

6. Can they manage to comply with all necessary importation requirements in your country?

7. Are you offered a legal purchase order with official bank information and reasonable terms and conditions?

Here at Those Coffee People we take our partnerships with roasters and importers very seriously. We are a fully registered legal Colombian company, are native and fluent bilingual English speakers, and put a heavy focus on correct paperwork or labeling for easy of importation to the country of destination. We know that taking the leap of sourcing your coffee directly from origin compared with a local distributor is a big milestone in many roasters’ business development, and we are here to ensure that you have a partner you can trust and rely on.


Considering your interest in this article, we recommend:

  1. Creation of Those Coffee People
  2. A guide to importing coffee beans into Japan
  3. A guide to importing coffee beans in the US
  4. How to import green arabica coffee beans into Oman
  5. A guide to importing coffee beans into Saudi Arabia
  6. Sourcing green coffee beans – A buyer’s guide
  7. A guide to importing coffee beans into Kuwait


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on March 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

What Defines Specialty Coffee?

What Defines Specialty Coffee?

Reading time: 7 minutes.

What actually is specialty coffee?

After a global wave of  sudden awareness to specialty coffee circa 2017, we would like to address a very important topic, what actually is specialty coffee? It seems in some of the cafe’s we have visited, specialty coffee seems to be perceived as just a specialty preparation rather than a description of the beans themselves. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s website, “…the term ‘specialty coffee’ was first coined by Erna Knutsen, of Knutsen Coffee Ltd., in a speech to the delegates of an international coffee conference in Montreuil, France. The concept was quite simple: special geographic microclimates produce beans with unique flavor profiles.”

The basic definition of specialty coffee was also supported by the understanding that specialty coffee beans would always be freshly roasted, and properly brewed.” The Specialty Coffee Association of America has created rating system in order to evaluate the quality of flavors in each type of coffee. The way the coffee is tasted is by “cupping” and the evaluation gives each coffee a quality rating on a 100 point scale. By standardizing the cupping, the SCAA intend to prevent the loss of meaning of the term specialty.

Specialty coffee retailers should strive to recognize the uniqueness and specialty of each origin, and the concept of terroir. Terroir, a term made popular by the wine industry, is described in Tanzer, Stephen’s What is Terroir as “the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop’s phenotype, including unique environment contexts, farming practices and a crop’s specific growth habitat.” Specialty coffee has its own terroir from the earth that gives each microlot its unique characteristics. Together, these factors all impact the coffee and give it an original profile.

1. Microlots

2. Special geographic regions and terroir

3. Special bean varieties

4. Its not just about preparation, its about the beans themselves.

Here at Those Coffee People we strive to offer our customers an extraordinary coffee buying experience through our grouping systems that differentiate the types of specialty Colombian coffee.

Group 1 (link) offers consumers unique Terroir of the lands of these farms. Each of our group 1 coffees is a single estate or grouping of a few farms from the same town. In this coffee you can experience the unique profiles and attributes that comes from the microclimates, soil composition, and unique harvesting methods of the farms. 

Group 2 (link) coffee offers the same terroir experience of our single estate producers but also a specialty profile beginning to emerge from the distinct processes and procedures implemented at the farms. In Colombia 100% of the coffee is hand picked because the land is so rugged a machine couldn’t possibly function. In group 2 you get an even more elevated experience because the farms all have strict protocols to ONLY pick the ripest beans leading to unique profiles and attributes in the cup. 

Group 3 (link) represents high scoring coffees with unique processes such as extended fermentation, natural, and honey. In Colombia, washed coffee makes up an overwhelming majority of coffee production because the government guarantees they will buy all of the production of every single coffee farmer as long as it is traditional washed process. Therefore having other processes in Colombia is a much higher risk for producers since the government won’t buy the coffee if they can’t find a private buyer. Those Coffee People has discovered and supplies some of the country’s best produced unique process coffee beans. Mango, pineapple, grape, tamarind, cognac and more unique flavors really emerge in this group. 

Group 4 (link) is our highest scoring group on average with coffees from traditional or exotic varieties. The Colombian government, in an attempt to protect the harvests against drought and diseases, created and heavily promoted new varieties of coffee that were very strong and resistant. Unfortunately these beans were more dull in flavor from the traditional varieties like Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, and Tabi. In group 4, we only include these traditional full flavored varieties as well as exotics like sudan rume, geisha, and wush wush. 

Reach out to us for your complimentary consultation of which group is suitable for your needs or take our online quiz to find out the same with the chance to directly order.


Based on your interest in this article, we recommend:

  1. Creation of Those Coffee People
  2. Coffee certifications in Colombia
  3. A guide to sourcing and exporting coffee from Colombia


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on May 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.



Coffee Certifications in Colombia

Coffee Certifications in Colombia

Reading time: 8 minutes.

What are the meanings of Coffee Certifications in Colombia?

Over the last 20 years, there has been an increased appreciation for consumer products that come with certifications. It builds trust in consumers, creates a validation for producers and seems to be a great asset towards helping companies accomplishes their missions. Well-known certifications like “Fair Trade” and “Organic” are quite popular, but in the coffee environment there are other important certifications as well, including Bird Friendly, Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ. Here at Those Coffee People we take the time to carefully consider all certifications of our coffee origins and appreciate the different benefits each make to both the farmers and the environment.

1. Organic: the most well known worldwide.

In order to receive an organic certification, the farm must not have used prohibited substances on the land for a minimum time of three years. Prohibited substances included most synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Another requirement specifically for coffee includes a buffer between the coffee and any other crop not grown organically.

There are different fees that must be paid by producers in order to receive the organic certification. Due to this cost, it sometimes disallows poorer farmers to be recognized as organic even if they abide by the standards. However, producers who are able to pay the fees will often benefit from being able to sell their product at a higher rate.

2. Fair Trade: The second most recognized certification

Essentially, a fair trade certification is an assurance that the producers are involved in profit sharing and can be paid fair wages for their work. This allows communities to grow and innovate in order to create sustainability and a better chance at the future. Certification is only available to democratically-organized cooperatives or associations of small producers, not individually-owned farms or estates, or those that rely heavily on hired labor. Cooperatives who are fair trade certified receive a minimum price per pound, with an additional premium if the coffee is also certified organic. In addition, producers receive the Fair Trade Premium above the purchase price that farmers democratically invest according to their priorities. These increased costs are of coursed passed on to the consumer, which give rationale if you’re paying more for a fair trade latte vs. a standard latte.

3. Bird Friendly

A Bird Friendly certification allows consumers to know that the producer is protecting the environment in a way that does not disrupt, beyond a certain extent, the local habitat of native species. Requirements include a having a canopy at least 12 meters high with the dominant tree species being native, a minimum of 40% shade cover even after pruning, at least two strata or layers of vegetation, made up of at least 10 woody species dispersed throughout the production area. In addition to these requirements, the coffee must also be certified organic. There is no certification fee but the producer must pay for periodical audits. These fees support bird conservation research. Producers with this certification are able to charge 5-10 cents higher per pound.

4. Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ

Rainforest Alliance and UTZ merged together in the beginning of 2018.

The Rainforest Alliance promotes standards for sustainability. It covers a number of ecological issues as well as community relations and fair treatment of workers. Certification is awarded based on a score for meeting a minimum number of an array of criteria. Producers with this certification can use the certification to negotiate a better price for their coffee, generally an additional 5 to 10 cents per pound.

UTZ   emphasizes on transparency and traceability in the supply chain and efficient farm management. The latter includes good agricultural practices such as soil erosion prevention, minimizing water use and pollution, responsible use of chemicals, and habitat protection.

In Conclusion

Certification was originally perceived as a strategy for strengthening the position of small coffee producers in the value chain. Consumers must keep in mind that these certifications cost the producers money — both in fees paid to the different certification bodies and in costs associated to changes in their methods to achieve the necessary standards. This often causes issues as some consumers are only willing to pay small amounts for these environmental or social impacts, which threatens the good work that the certifications are aiming to accomplish. In order to keep coffee trade sustainable, the final consumer will need to be willing to shoulder the costs.


Based on your interest in this article, we recommend:

  1. Harvest report April 2020
  2. A Guide to Sourcing and Exporting Coffee from Colombia
  3. Health benefits of coffee


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on August 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Health Benefits of Coffee

Reading time: 6 minutes.

What are the benefits of drinking coffee?

1. Coffee consumption is linked with a lower risk of several types of cancer

Coffee health properties have been contested for years, but overwhelming research suggests the health benefits significantly outweigh the potential negatives. In fact, in a June 2016 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially lifted coffee from the list of potentially carcinogenic foods. It went on further to label coffee as potentially protective against certain cancers. The WHO is also not the only relevant organization to change their perception of the beverage as others are also recognizing the overwhelming studies that suggest major health benefits. World Cancer Research Fund International determined that coffee consumption was linked with a lower risk of several types of cancer. Additionally The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (commissioned by the secretaries of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture) declared, “moderate coffee consumption (three to five cups per day) can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern.”

2. Contains Vitamin B2, B5, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin

Breaking down the contents of coffee also surprisingly yielded amazing results. and Coffee is way more than just beautiful brown liquid and a single cup of coffee contains:

  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
  • Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% of the RDA
  • Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA
  • Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDA

Furthermore, coffee can provide a massive amount of antioxidants. In fact, multiple studies including in The Journal of Nutrition show that most people get more antioxidants from coffee than both fruits and vegetables together.

3. Improves energy levels and brain function

Additionally, since coffee is high in caffeine we experience health benefits from the stimulating properties. It improves energy levels and various aspects of brain function, as well as improved mood. All of these can all lead to a more advantageous position for completing important tasks or work.

4. Boosts metabolic rate and increases fat burning

Several studies also link caffeine to boosting metabolic rate and an increase in fat burning. Various experts concluded that caffeine could boost metabolic rate on average between 3-11% while others attest it can specifically boost fat burning up to 10% in obese individuals and all the way to 29% in lean people.

5. Is linked to a lower risk pf getting Alzheimer, Parkinson and type2 diabetes

Coffee has also been proven to link to a reduction in certain types of diseases and cancers. Several studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease (which is the leading cause of dementia).  Additionally, in studies, coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, with a reduction in risk ranging from 32-60%. Coffee drinkers also have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to a massive review that cross examined data from 18 studies with a total of 457,922 individuals, each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Research also suggests that coffee may protect against cirrhosis of the liver; people who drink 4 or more cups per day have up to an 80% lower risk of developing the disease.

On a final note, it is with great pleasure that we can proudly say coffee can actually help you live a longer and healthier life. Considering the tremendous research that proves coffee can lower your risk of many diseases and cancers, and that there are mood-boosting principles associated with caffeine, it is clear that this is a beverage to be enjoyed with peace of mind. For an amazing source of freshly roasted coffee, you can check out One Coffee Snob for the best offers of Western Australia!


Based on your interest in this article, we recommend:

  1. A Guide to Sourcing and Exporting Coffee from Colombia
  2. Coffee certifications in Colombia
  3. What defines Specialty Coffee?


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on August 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Harvest Report April 2020

Harvest Report April 2020

Reading time: 23 minutes.

Consumers should brace for challenges as the global economic crisis and impacted global logistic system threatens the global coffee supply chain. 

How is the first harvest of 2020 going?

A delay in rain that was expected to start in March, a sign of climate change in this Andrean nation, has pushed back the start of the harvest across Colombia. While large farms and producers have quickly enacted contingencies for this delay, a majority of the country’s small hold farmers are left wondering why their ancestral knowledge passed down from generations has failed them in predicting the start of their harvests. 

Aside from a sure sign that climate change is upon us, this means challenges may follow for the quality of the harvest. Delayed rains can quite literally burn the beans that are ready for maturation and leaves the start of Colombia’s harvest vulnerable to disease such as the broca beetle. Small and medium producers stand to lose up to 10% of their crop if there is an early harvest infestation of this unwelcomed pest. “Some farms don’t waste time in picking these lotes since they will have more defects, but we found that not picking the damaged cherries creates a risk to increase broca that will attack the rest of the crop.” reports Manul Londono, a third generation coffee producer from Finca Las Brisas. 

The damaged coffee will not be able to be sold to the international market where coffee producers can receive a majority of their harvest. Rather, in the local market low quality coffee can be sold under the name pastilla, indirectly translated to the leftovers. This loss of profit can essentially make or break a coffee producer’s bottom line and ability to reinvest into quality and innovation for the next harvest, or even worse, not even let them break even. 

Enter: Coronavirus 

In the end of March Colombia enacted a national quarantine as an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Access to towns has been sealed and there is now essentially no movement of people in the country. Large farm owners interviewed reported that only 50-60% of their manual labor comes from the local town where the farms are, and since towns have sealed themselves off from outsiders this is causing a major lack of access to labor for the harvest. 

Large farms have begun using strategies to make up for this shortage. Multiple farm owners interviewed mentioned recruiting workers who otherwise would be shopkeepers, restaurant workers, or school staff but are unable to continue their work due to the quarantine. Take for example Ciudad Bolivar which has many large farms, it was reported that even if they were to involve every available person of the town to pick the coffee, it wouldn’t be enough to cover the need. Considering this, if the quarantine remains they are preparing to lose an additional portion of their harvest just for a lack of available labor.

Salaries are also increasing between 10-20 % to entice the pickers to take the risk and go out of their houses and complete their work in the farms. Medium sized producers are especially vulnerable to lose their staff to higher paying large farms and effectively are seeing competition on who can offer the highest price to recruit pickers.Various farms interviewed are confident that their workers will honor the arrangements they have had over last years, since farms they have invested a lot in the community by sharing their profits, developing and improving their lives, and building loyalty, trust, and support between both parties. 

A majority of the producers interviewed have had health teams visit their farms over the last weeks to establish protocols for the harvest considering the manual labor. They are mandated to provide masks, soap, water, and antibacterial before, during and after the picks. Also they will respect distancing by only delegating coffee rows to 1 person where normally there can be 5-10 in a large farm. The actions are considered easy for the producers to implement. However, it will eventually make the picking slower and cause an excess of overripe beans which will go bad, representing further losses in their production for the largest farms. 

Since small coffee producers have small crops, they can pick their entire harvest with only their family members. Historic Colombian countryside culture consisted of huge families in order to have enough hands to work their land. Due to this, it is not common that they look for extra pickers and small farms will be generally not impacted by the shortage. 

For many private co-ops, their operations haven’t been limited since their producers are almost all small. They have reported receiving the same amount of producers every Sunday, selling their coffee to the co-op. The activity of going to the co-op to sell coffee enevidably causes gatehrings and if farms, workers, and co-ops don’t act smartly, this could turn into the epicenter of infection for the countryside of Colombia.

In the beginning of April, Colombia’s government was offering prices for coffee at record high prices, up 70% from lowest prices offered just a year ago. 

All producers interviewed had commented that price can be associated directly to the supply and demand within the country. Now should be the beginning of the “harvest season” but there is very little supply available due to coronavirus limiting manual labor needed to pick the cherries, and climate change altering the rains delaying the initiation of the coffee cherries ripening. After the first quarter, it was reported that overall production was already down 14% before April started. 

Producers are expecting a price correction in the near future, however they are waiting to see how the oil situation and the strengthening dollar could impact the coffee price to remain high even once the production increases throughout April and May. (the COP to USD exchange rate has lost almost 20% of its value from mid march to beginning of April).

If the coffee price stays strong, many small and medium sized producers are planning on moving away from producing specialty coffee and to focus on commercial coffee.

 Being able to sell directly to the government comes with less work, many less risks so it will be a favorable alternative to those who don’t already have long term contracts set with international buyers. Farm owner Samuel Roldan of Cafe Roldan in Ciudad Bolivar noted the thing most on his mind is “What is the proportion of people who will continue to drink good coffee or will reserve that money for more essential things and switch to cheaper coffee or stop drinking it all together? This is what is on the minds of specialty coffee producers and what we want to know in order to make decisions around our upcoming harvest” A switch away from specialty production and towards commercial coffee could seriously impact the supply to smaller artisan coffee importers.

Large producers are used to playing a game of small margins over large productions. They have ways of increasing efficiency in their crops with plant distancing, high yielding varieties, and renewals of their crops, which have given them formulas to become profitable even with low prices and low margins. If the coffee price stays high, these producers stand to gain up to 50% increase in their profits which would be a monumental moment for many farms.  

What are producers doing with their increase in net profits? It isn’t going to their bottom line, with an increase in prices comes an increase in cost for pickers with farms competing for a limited labor source, prices of various essential supplies are increasing along with reduced logistics between towns creating bottlenecks in an already fickle domestic supply chain. The current high prices are almost the equivalent as 30 years ago when coffee producers earned good livelihoods which powered the expansion of the industry. If these profits could go to their bottom line this would have been the best thing to happen to modern day coffee producers. 

What impacts will be felt in adjacent industries?

Farm owner Samuel Roldan of Cafe Roldan in Ciudad Bolivar rightfully noted that “If health workers are on the front line then agriculture workers are on the second. Agriculture industries can not stop or society will fall into chaos. Effects have not been realized yet, but if agriculture processes are impacted because of this virus societies will face much more than a health issue.” This statement couldn’t be more true and the more you think about it the more I’m sure it will resonate with you. What happens if agricultural or logistics stop? 

Well, logistics in Colombia are a bit of a mess to put it bluntly. Fernando Castro, Dry Cargo Export Head at Champion Logistics reports on what they are seeing across the different industries they are servicing. There have not been coffee shipments by air since the Corona crisis started here in Colombia, our local office is closed now, waiting to finish the quarantine. Sea Shipments are working but we are only at 30% of our normal volume. We are seeing equal reductions in the exports of flowers. Herbs and Milk products continue exporting at 50%, but it is difficult because many companies stopped their productions, because their employees must stay at home.” 

Coffee mills and supporting industries like those who make and print coffee sacks are also being impacted. At Those Coffee People we had all our sacks stored at a warehouse of our sack printer. During the quarantine they shut down and refused to give us our sacks back, or let us go to their warehouse to get them ourselves essentially holding the sacks hostage while we an order we needed to urgently fill. This was not an isolated instance but many exporters as well had their coffee sacks held hostage turning to alternatives of either more expensive or less quality, essentially whatever they can get their hands on. Mills are also running with limited hours so finding a time or appointment to mill your coffee can be more tricky. 

What are we hearing from individual end consumers?

Those Coffee People have interviewed hundreds of millennial consumers across the USA, Europe, and Asia. We asked questions such as, how have your consumption habits changed? Will you consume more at home, still go out to a cafe, or quit coffee because it’s too much effort? Here are the top answers: 

  1. More likely to make the effort to consume at home 
    • “I just drink this stuff all day now at home no more sbux for me”
    • “We live in a total quarantine lockdown zone so we have no other choice but to make coffee at home 
    • “More are using k cups or brewing at home”
    • “I tried to order nespresso pods and they were really backed up on orders!”
    • “I order from our local roaster and they drop it at my door and call it ding dong ditch”
  2. I am drinking less than when I am at work 
  3. Giving up coffee as it is unnecessary spending 
  4. I don’t drink coffee at cafes unless i’m meeting someone so nothing has changed 
  5. I’m consuming some beans I got from a friend as a gift from christmas this past year 
  6. Trying to still support local businesses when possible 
  • In certain cities like San Francisco the sentiment is very strong towards helping your fav local business, the loyalty is strong 

Here at Those Coffee People we remain positive even amidst these challenges. 

Now more than ever we are relying on our strong relationships with our producers, logistics providers, and customers to ensure we can maintain a high level of service through these challenging times. It is clear that the supply chain that we have build through our network is going to weather this pandemic, and we are really looking forward to the delayed harvest beginning and the amazing coffees our world class producers will be able to produce. It’s too soon to make conclusive statements but producers interviewed are extremely positive about the flowering that is going on now, which will be the coffee production that is realized in the next harvest in December as well. 


Key takeaways

1. International logistic impact and quarantine measures drastically impact the importation and sales of coffee globally.

2. Manual labor shortage due to coronavirus risks productivity of harvest 

3. High coffee prices drive production away from specialty and into commercial production

4. Increasing costs of production and operation cancel out opportunities of growth from highest Colombian government coffee prices in history 

5. Consumers switch from takeaway to make-at-home coffee, among other trends 


Producer Research 

This information contains primary research into the:

  1. Sentiment of key stakeholders on the current traviesa (mid year harvest) considering a variety of factors specifically coffee price and productivity.
  2. Climate change and its affect immediate and long term harvest schedules/norms 
  3. Risks from the current coronavirus outbreak during the coffee cherry picking period of the harvest and subsequent impacts of the supply chain 
  4. End customer impact and expectations for near future. 

Surveyed population 

  1. Colombian coffee producers -80% from department of Antioquia and 20% from other departments. -50% large producers (more than 80 hectares of productive crops), 25% medium producers (less than 80 but more than 8 hectares of productive crops), 25% small producers (below 8 hectares of productive crops)
  2. Colombian exporting/ logistics/ supporting companies 
    • 100% of surveyed organizations have a specialization in coffee operations, 30% with additional specializations such as dairy and flowers. 
    • 100% based between Bogota and Medellin 
    • National Federation of Coffee Producers (FNC)
  3. Coffee buyers/importers/ cafe owners
  4. End customers throughout the USA, Europe, and GCC- primarily millennial age group.


Based on your interest in this article, we recommend:

  1. Why Medellin is the perfect Specialty Coffee Scene?
  2. Health Benefits of coffee
  3. A day in the life of a coffee grower during the harvest season


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on April 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Coffee Tasting At Home

Coffee Tasting At Home

Reading time: 8 minutes.

How to do a Coffee Tasting at Home

It’s no secret that due to COVID and quarantine, we are now having more of the experiences we love from our own home, and of course this includes coffee. With more time to enjoy these little rituals, knowing more about how to differentiate the coffee cupping aspects comes handy when preparing your favorite beans at home!

We spoke to Julian, an expert coffee cupper from Medellin – Colombia who works on the TCP QC team, and he shared some ideas and tips with us so you can start identifying different aspects of the coffee without being a professional.

1. Understand the clasification and origin of your coffee

First off lets start by classifying coffee. We can classify the coffee based only on the origin, for example coffee from Támesis, coffee from barrio La Sierra… – but each origin can be further divided in different processes: honey, washed or natural. Further, there are different roasting degrees that are actually what highlight different qualities in the exact same coffee beans. So you can make a cupping from a natural coffee from barrio La Sierra, for example, but with 3 different roasting processes which will give you three different coffees to try.

2. Enjoy the fragance and aroma

The first experience you’ll have with the coffee at home will be the fragrance, this is the smell of coffee just grounded and without being poured in water. When coffee is grounded, the fragrance is very volatile but you can differentiate floral, some spices – like cinnamon or clove – or fruity notes. Then, after you put water on it and start the drink making process, you’ll experience the aroma. Aroma is very important since 75% of us subconsciously choose what to drink or eat based on its aroma alone. In this stage you can normally get chocolate, fresh fruits and aromatic notes. (To differentiate aroma vs fragrance, think about how it’s very different to smell flowers and fruits (dry) versus smelling a floral or fruit teas (wet)).

3. Drink and taste

After coffee is served and you start drinking, you start to experience the flavour profile and well as its acidity and body. A trick to being able to pull out the “notes” of the coffee is that any flavour you experience is based on a memory of something that is or isn’t an actual flavour. For example, if you drink coffee and you can remember a specific moment when you were drinking hot chocolate (even if you don’t remember the actual flavour of it), you go to that memory because the coffee has chocolate notes. Specialty coffee normally has caramel, citric, red fruits and cane sugar notes.

The basics of the coffee body you can differentiate it in the texture of it, if it’s watery it’s a low body, if it’s a bit creamy or like milk it’s a medium body and if it’s as creamy as a yogurth is a high body.

Finally, the acidity has nothing to do to what we normally associate it that is heartburn, we have citric acidity (tangerines, orange and grapefruit), malic acidity (fruits in green stage like green apple, green cherries, green mango, passion fruit…), tartaric acidity that can be also found in wines, lactic acidity that can also be found in greek yogurt or similar beverages and phosphoric acidity that is kind of spicy or bubbly. The common ones are citric, malic, tartaric and acetic.

4. Analize and learn

Going a bit more into processes: Honey processes normally have caramel, honey and molasses notes with citric, malic or tartaric acidities.Natural processes happen when the coffee bean is dried inside the cherry, and when this happens, red fruit notes start appearing, it also normally has acetic, tartaric or citric acidity. Washed processes tend to be more citric and have a soft and juicy sensation with citric or malic acidities. 

As a conclusion, coffee tasting is completely related to everything a person has tried and smelled before, if you have never experience those things before, you won’t be able to identify them in the coffee, so you can start by trying different things and taking the time to “save” the tasting information in your mind and then it will be easy to identify it in the coffee.

Last tips are to try the coffee when it’s hot, warm and cold and if you want to go to the next level you can start using some tools coffee tasters use to learn like the coffee flavour wheel.

We hope all this information shared by Julian is very useful for your coffee tastings at home and that you start being more conscious of the whole world you can explore through coffee.


Based on your interest in this article, we recommend:

  1. What defines specialty coffee? 
  2. Coffee certifications in Colombia
  3. How to stablish direct trade partnerships?


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on September 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

A Day in the Life of a Coffee Grower During The Harvest Season

A Day in the Life of a Coffee Grower During The Harvest Season

Reading time: 4 minutes.

Coffee Grower Daily Routine

Coffee growers have many responsibilities in a coffee farm but they vary a little bit according to the season. Harvest season, as it is the one where coffee is ready to be picked, it’s one of the hardest but most meaningful because it’s the moment where they literally picked what they have been working on for months. 

Harvest season happens twice a year in Colombia. We asked our partners how’s their day during this season, and while each farm has its own traditions and routines, here is a compiled of their answers:

1. Wake up early, cover from the sun and start with ‘aguapanela’ and/or coffee.

The day starts really early, as soon as the sun comes up – between 4:30 – 5:30 am – coffee growers wake up, put on some clothes that cover their skin from the sun and a hat and plastic boots to walk around the crops. Before they go out, they drink some coffee that depending on the taste can be combined with ‘aguapanela’ that is sweet cane water.

2. Get assigned a section and start hand picking.

Following that, they will meet up with all the coffee growers and the person in charge to get assigned the section they’ll be picking berries from. Picking coffee berries by hand is a very long task because while they pick them, most of the time they are also checking them one by one to divide them between ripe, not ripe and rotten, only taking the ripe cherries in the basket they carry  on their hip or waist.

3. Have breakfast around 10am.

Around 10am breakfast (big brunch) is ready.  Depending on the farm size they can eat all together or by groups. Breakfast is a feast and everyone’s super hungry since they have been working for almost 5 hours. A normal meal can be expected to consist of beans, rice, eggs, meat and hot chocolate, coffee or ‘aguapanela’ (the three options can be drunk with or without milk). 

4. Continue working, have lunch and rest.

From 11 to 3pm work continues with small hydration breaks. At 3pm they meet again to weigh the work of the day and depending on the farm get paid per day or just keep track of their numbers so at the end of the week they receive the full payment. After this short activity lunch is ready and depending on the region it can be tamales, bandeja paisa or sancocho.

After this, coffee growers have the afternoon free to rest, take a shower and then go to bed early since next day they’ll wake up super early again.


Based on your interest on this article, we recommend you:

  1. Coffee certifications in Colombia 
  2. What defines specialty coffee?
  3. Creation of Those Coffee People


Editor’s note: This post was originally posted on November 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.