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Those Coffee People

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

 

Reading time: 4 minutes.

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. 

In fact, right now harvest season is happening in Colombia – from October to December – so 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:

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.

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.

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). 

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.

Coffee Tasting At Home

Reading time: 8 minutes.

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.

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.

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)).

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.

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.

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Sourcing Green Coffee Beans – A Buyer’s Guide

Reading time: 19 minutes.

We know first hand that customers looking at sourcing green coffee beans can have plenty of questions about the process. After all, if you’re new to buying green coffee the choices on offer can seem baffling, while the steps involved can be confusing and unclear.

That’s why we’ve written this buyer’s guide on how to source green coffee beans. This explains exactly what your choices are, and what happens at each step from placing an order to receiving your shipment.  

What Are Your Options?

Arabica versus Robusta

We’ll start right at the beginning. The vast majority of global coffee consumption comes mainly from just two species of beans:

  • Arabica
  • Robusta

Arabica is the dominant bean, making up around 75% of the global supply, with robusta accounting for the remaining 25%. 

In terms of flavor and uses, arabica is generally considered to be the superior bean when it comes to taste, being smoother and sweater. Robusta is considered less refined, with a stronger and more bitter taste, but contains more caffeine than arabica. However, it’s the preferred bean for espressos as it produces a better crema. Read this excellent article by Perk Coffee on the difference between arabica and robusta for more information on this.

Commercial versus Specialty

Another distinction when it comes to sourcing green coffee beans is commercial crops versus specialty. Commercial crops refer to the cheaper mass-produced beans, such as those used by instant coffee producers, or brands made famous in the first wave of coffee like Foldgers or Maxwell House. Specialty coffee, on the other hand, refers to higher value artisanal beans. 

When it comes to grading what is and isn’t specialty coffee, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) provides coffee standards as a grading system. 

However, there are a huge amount of variables when it comes to specialty coffee, including the process, the growing technique, the origin, and the roasting or brewing method. The SCA grading system does not fully take into account all variables, particularly for natural, honey, or fermentation processed coffees. Therefore, this should be used as a guide, rather than a definitive yes/no on what is specialty coffee. Read our blog post on what is specialty coffee for more information on this. 

Direct Trade versus Fairtrade

A further choice you may have is direct trade versus fair trade. Sometimes believed to be the same thing, they are in fact quite different, but can have similar benefits:

  • Fairtrade is when a product is produced under a trading partnership that aims to achieve greater equity in international trade. When it comes to coffee, fairtrade helps to contribute to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions and terms to coffee bean farmers. Keep in mind that since a third party needs to certify the farms, and they charge a fee for this certification, it is yet another middleman adding to the chain as well as a barrier of entry to the certification for small farms who can’t afford the fee. 
  • Direct trade is when a roaster buys directly from a farmer. By cutting out all the middlemen, farmers can receive a larger part of the profit in the production process, and buyers can have better traceability to the source (which can be important for specialty roasters). This can also aid sustainable development, as roasters can help producers grow as they’re passing more of the profit to them.

It’s important to note that fairtrade must be certified by an independent body, whereas direct trade doesn’t have a certification system in place. It instead relies on the individual policies of each supplier. Here’s a useful article that provides more information on this topic.

Choosing the Right Beans for You

Next in our guide to sourcing green coffee is how to choose the right beans for your business. The most important thing is to understand your customers, by considering the following:

  • What are your customers’ taste preferences? Do they like sweeter or fruitier notes for example? 
  • What preparation methods are most popular? Do they drink their coffee black or do they prepare coffee with milk and sugar? 
  • Are you looking for a staple bean that you can build your brand around and therefore need to ensure there will be a supply for years to come?
  • Are you instead looking for a one-off supply for a special promotion or event, where on-going supply is not an issue?
  • Do you know the retail cost your end customers are prepared to pay and can, therefore, calculate your price range for green coffee?  

A good supplier will be able to guide you through the choices on offer, based on how you answer the above questions. 

Here at Those Coffee People, we provide an online matching tool to help you narrow down the best green coffee choices for your business, and you can also order samples direct to your door.

Download our FREE Ebook: A Guide to Sourcing Coffee From Colombia

DOWNLOAD HERE

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Understanding Seasonality

There is a huge variation in the harvest months among coffee-producing countries. Most countries have one harvest per year. Here in Colombia, we’re happy to be the only exception among major producing countries, by having two per year, plus small amounts of off-season production. 

Here’s a useful harvest calendar for all the main coffee-producing countries. Being aware of when the harvest falls is important when it comes to planning your orders and the quantity you order, as stock may run out of your chosen bean in the months approaching the next harvest.

However, this is much less of an issue with Colombian sourced green coffee, due to the twice-yearly harvests. 

Ordering Samples

No one expects you to commit to a shipping container full of green coffee without sampling it first. Therefore, all good coffee suppliers will be able to coordinate sample or trial packages before you place your order.

Something to look out for when ordering samples is which milling rule or defect allowance the coffees are being sold at. A standard milling rule in commercial coffee is 12/60, or 12 allowed faults of the first group of defects and 60 faults of the second group of defects in a single sample. Other common milling rules are 3/20 or 0/5. 

Here at Those Coffee People, we make ordering samples as simple as possible with our online matching and sample ordering tool. Just select your beans, pay online, then receive your order in the mail

Arranging a Cupping

Coffee cupping is an industry term that basically means a coffee tasting. Once you have your samples, you can arrange a cupping with your team, friends and family, or customers. They follow a fairly set process:

  • Blind setup 
  • Evaluation of the dry coffee aromas 
  • Evaluation of the wet coffee aromas 
  • Evaluation of the flavors, mouthfeel, acidity, sweetness, and aftertaste

Read this detailed article from Java Presse for more information on how to host a coffee cupping

How Much Should You Order?

There is no set rule within the industry in terms of how much to order in one go. This will depend on your storage capacity and how quickly you’ll get through it. If you’re a small to medium-sized buyer, then two orders per year could suffice, as long as each order is no more than 1 shipping container worth of quantity.

If your average orders exceed 1 container, then an option could be to order with as much frequency as you can fill a container. 

How Are Prices Calculated?

The price per kilo can vary widely, such as whether you’re purchasing specialty or commercial crops, or if you’re choosing fair trade or direct trade. 

As we’re a Colombia based exporter, we’ll use Colombian coffee as the example here.

Most commercial coffee crops are sold via the National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC), who are the growers union. The FNC sets the price per “carga” (which is 125kg of parchment, pre-dry mill), which is advertised on their website and fluctuates in line with market forces.

To take an example on April 8th, 2020, the price is 1,200,000 COP per “carga” which is $309 USD per 125kg parchment, or $2.47 per kilo. Once you account for average parchment weight you can calculate an absolute minimum price of $3.37 per kilo in green. 

This is the minimum price that an exporter will pay at the farm by the supplier. However, other fees then need to be added by the supplier, before they can calculate the quote. These include:

  • Domestic transportation
  • Milling
  • Packing
  • Banking fees
  • Taxes 
  • International shipping

One of the largest cost variables is milling and this will depend on the milling rule your exporter uses. The stricter your milling requirements means the more beans that are thrown aside, raising the price per kilo. 

It’s worth stressing again that the above prices are for commercial green coffee. For anything higher quality, such as specialty coffee with unique profiles or processes, prices can increase from anywhere between 5% to 1,000% per carga. 

Negotiating Prices

When green coffee sourcing, price breaks are usually applied at certain volume thresholds and if a buyer can commit to future orders. Here at Those Coffee People we offer our best prices to buyers that are able to schedule 1 to 2 years’ worth of orders at once. Contact us to find out more about the discounts we can offer.

Shipping

Shipping and logistics are the most complex parts of the process when it comes to sourcing green coffee beans. As such, it’s best to let the exporter manage all of this on your behalf. 

The International Chamber of Commerce has established International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) that describe the different types of shipping arrangements. Two of these to be aware of are:

  • When the buyer is receiving a price for goods that do not include shipping costs this can be known as Ex Works (EXW) or when it includes costs to get the goods only onto the ship, but not the freight costs, it is referred to Free on Board (FOB). 
  • Or on the opposite end, when the seller both includes the costs of transport and is responsible to bring the merchandise to a designated place of the buyer’s choosing this is known as Delivered at Place (DAP).

Quality Control and Spotting Defects

It’s important to understand there will always be some defects with green coffee, and the number of defects will depend on the milling rule you’ve agreed to. 

When you receive your shipment, you should inspect a sample for defects, to ensure it’s to the agreed standard. There are a number of visual defects that you should look for; the excellent coffee industry news source, Perfect Daily Grind has produced this guide on how to spot defects.

Storing Coffee

There are a few important factors to consider when planning where to store your coffee:

  • Store in a cool dry place, where there is some airflow
  • Never store the bags directly on the floor, raise them up on pallets to allow airflow underneath

Discover Our Range of Green Coffee Beans  

Here at Those Coffee People, we’re experts in sourcing green coffee beans. We venture off into remote areas of Colombia’s beautiful coffee regions to search for new and exclusive offers, exploring the country town by town to identify the most unique and desirable origins for you and your customers.

Explore our unique Colombian coffee origins here and discover the story of every estate we work with. We can fulfill orders of every size.

How to Import Green Arabica Coffee Beans into Oman

Reading time: 9 minutes.

Oman and coffee have an intimate relationship. Qahwa (otherwise known as Omani coffee) is of course a vital part of Omani hospitality and has been for centuries. But beyond the traditional Qahwa ceremonies, Oman is also embracing specialty coffee.

In Muscat and other cities, there’s a growing number of third-wave coffee shops serving specialty coffee sourced from the finest estates around the world. 

Here at Those Coffee People, we’re extremely proud to currently be the only Colombian green coffee supplier to ship directly to Oman. Therefore, we’ve written this guide explaining how to import green arabica coffee beans into Oman. 

Finding a supplier

We like to say that buying a container of coffee is becoming almost as easy as shopping on Amazon. However, the supplier you choose to work with will determine how easy the process is. Therefore, here’s what to look for when choosing a coffee beans supplier in Oman:

  • Ask them for case studies of previous orders they’ve fulfilled for customers in Oman. And don’t just rely on their own words, ask for references you can contact.
  • Oman has specific regulations when it comes to the importation of food products, such as the eCustoms Services Portal, so ask the supplier to explain the process.
  • Knowledge of customer tastes in Oman when it comes to coffee can be a huge benefit as well, such as knowledge of the type of arabica beans traditionally used for Qahwa, so this is worth enquiring about.
  • Many coffee exporting countries (such as Colombia) do not permit growers to sell directly to overseas customers without export licenses. Therefore, ensure you’re dealing with an exporter who has the required permissions to fulfill the order.

Looking for a supplier of arabica coffee to Oman? Discover our range of Colombian green coffee beans for export.

Arranging shipping

Unless you have knowledge of road haulage and shipping logistics within the country of origin of your coffee order, it’s best to let your Oman green coffee bean supplier manage this. 

Your chosen supplier should not only provide the best coffee, but they should also be experts at managing the supply chain.

When it comes to your options with shipping, the International Chamber of Commerce has established International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) that define the different options available. The two most common options are the following:

  • Ex Works (EXW) or Free on Board (FOB): This is when the buyer receives a price for goods that do not include any shipping costs.
  • Delivered at Place (DAP): This is when the seller includes both the costs of transport and is responsible for bringing the goods to a designated place of the buyer’s choosing.

Shipping costs

Your chosen supplier will usually add the shipping costs onto your invoice when calculating the total order cost. 

This will include the following:

  • Documentation (e.g. certificate of origin and phytosanitary certificate)
  • Loading and unloading fees
  • Domestic transportation in producing country 
  • Port and export taxes 
  • Export customs fees
  • Freight costs
  • Insurance 

And as the buyer you would be responsible for settling for the following costs: 

  • Import customs fees
  • Accreditation with the relevant Omani authorities

Oman coffee importation product labeling requirements

All coffee bean sacks need to be clearly labeled in English and Arabic with the following information in order to pass customs checks in Oman:

  • Country of Origin – بلد المنشأ
  • Name – اسم
  • Product Number – رقم المنتج
  • Net Weight (kg) – الوزن الصافي (كيلو)
  • Imported By – مستورد عن طريق
  • Manufacturer Name – اسم المصنع
  • Production Date – تاريخ الإنتاج
  • Expiration Date – تاريخ الانتهاء
  • HS Code – رمز النظام المنسق
  • Ingredients – مكونات  

Customs clearance declarations in Oman

In order for your green coffee to qualify for pre-clearance through Omani customs, your supplier needs to upload all the relevant information and documentation into the eCustoms Services Portal. This needs to be completed in the following section in the portal:

  • Permit Management > Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries – Department Plant Quarantine > Permit 0803 Import Permit for Plant Products

The following documents are then required to support the permit application:

  • Invoice 
  • Packing List 
  • Bill of Lading/ Airway Bill 
  • Health Certificate 
  • Phytosanitary Certificate 
  • Certificate of Origin 

Coffee import customs duties in Oman

As of July 2020, there are no customs duties due on coffee imports into Oman.

VAT/sales tax on coffee sales in Oman

As of July 2020, there is no VAT/sales tax due on coffee sales in Oman.

Discover our range of direct trade green coffee in Oman  

Here at Those Coffee People, we’re experts in sourcing the finest direct trade Colombian green coffee beans. We venture off into remote areas of Colombia’s beautiful coffee regions to search for new and exclusive offers, exploring the country town by town to identify the most unique and desirable origins for you and your customers.

Explore our unique Colombian coffee origins here and discover the story of every estate we work with. We can fulfill orders of every size for Oman coffee buyers and are currently the only Colombian coffee supplier to ship directly to the country. Contact us for more information.

Harvest Report April 2020

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

Reading time: 23 minutes.

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. 

Download our FREE Ebook: A Guide to Sourcing Coffee From Colombia

DOWNLOAD HERE

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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

  • International logistic impact and quarantine measures drastically impact the importation and sales of coffee globally 
  • Manual labor shortage due to coronavirus risks productivity of harvest 
  • High coffee prices drive production away from specialty and into commercial production
  • Increasing costs of production and operation cancel out opportunities of growth from highest Colombian government coffee prices in history 
  • 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.

 

A Guide to Sourcing & Exporting Coffee From Colombia

Colombian coffee farm (2)

Reading time: 17 minutes.

Coffee has been integral to Colombian life for centuries. The fertile lands and year-round consistent climate that the country is blessed with means it produces some of the world’s best coffee. In this guide to exporting coffee from Colombia we’ll explain the incredible variety the country has to offer and what international buyers need to know when sourcing coffee from Colombia.  

A brief history of the Colombian coffee industry

Colombia produces more washed arabica coffee than any other country in the world. In 2019 it produced 14.8 million 60-kg bags of the stuff. The vast majority of this coffee is destined for the international markets, with 92% of it being exported. 

The backbone of the Colombian coffee industry is the thousands of small-scale coffee-growing families, 96% of whom farm less than 5 hectares of planted coffee each. In total, some 2.2 million Colombians (accounting for 33% of the rural population), make their living through coffee production. This makes coffee the key driver of economic and social change for millions of Colombians and a crucial part of the economy as a whole. 

The industry has been around since the 1800s, but was somewhat disorganized and small scale, until the establishment of the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC) in 1927. The organization has done an incredible job driving much of the country’s growth towards becoming one of the world’s premium coffee producers. It achieved this partly by harmonizing crops to create a single “Colombian coffee” product, famed for its mild, well-balanced flavor.  

Colombia specialty coffee 

Following the huge growth in specialty coffee, more and more growers are moving away from FNC guidelines and are now developing their own farm-specific profiles. The country’s volcanic soils and temperate climates enable farmers to grow rich coffee profiles: medium to full-bodied, with vivid acidity, sweet notes, and citric fruits. 

Common Colombian specialty coffee varieties grown by smallholders include Bourbons, Castillo, Caturra, and Tabi.  

These growers are now supported by a large network of small and medium-sized Colombian coffee export partners, including Those Coffee People, who are helping them showcase their incredible variety to buyers across the world.    

Colombia’s coffee growing regions

Colombia is a country rich in diversity. Stretching from north to south are the three Andean mountain ranges “las tres cordilleras” with peaks above 5,000m (16,400ft). These create incredible variations in soils, winds, altitudes, and microclimates, which are all reflected in the different types of coffee beans grown throughout the country.

Some of the most notable Colombian coffee regions include:

Antioquia 

One of Colombia’s largest departments, Antioquia is the birthplace of the FNC and the industrialization of the Colombian coffee industry. A number of Antioqueña towns are now firmly on the global coffee map, including Santa Barbara, Ciudad Bolivar, El Peñol and La Sierra

Situated across the Western Colombian Andes, farms from this region sit at particularly high altitudes of up to 2,200m (7,217 ft). The lower temperatures of the high altitudes create a slower ripening process, producing full-bodied flavors with specific microclimates giving the coffees each a particular profile. 

Huila

The name Huila is recently recognized throughout the coffee-drinking world. Sometimes mistaken as the name of a farm or a variety of coffee, Huila is actually another department in Colombia that is about the size of Kuwait. 

Huila had been an epicenter for FARC activity in Colombia’s recent past.  Pairing this political and social instability with the extremely rustic infrastructure of the department, the industrialization practices of Antoioquia didn’t easily appear in the region. Considering the lack of industrialization, Hulia still produces some of the highest concentration of traditional colombian varieties like bourbon, tabi and caturra, among others. 

Sierra Nevada    

The Sierra Nevada is the world’s highest coastal mountain range, so altitudes, winds, and humidity have a big impact on the coffee beans grown here. The area is also notable for its organic farming practices and indigenous farming communities. 

Eje Cafetero (Coffee Triangle) 

Consisting of three Departments – Quindio, Risaralda, and Caldas, this was also the cradle of the Colombian coffee industry alongside Antioquia to the north. The farms in this region are generally at lower altitudes with less dramatic mountain terrain, allowing a higher level of production on the land. 

Finding a Colombian coffee exporter

We like to say that buying a container of coffee is becoming almost as easy as ordering Nespresso pods from Amazon. But this all depends on the Colombian coffee exporter you choose to work with. So here are some things to bear in mind when finding and choosing a coffee supplier in Colombia:

  • Make sure they’re an exporter with the required licenses to facilitate trade in Colombia. If you go directly to a grower it’s possible they won’t have the correct licenses to support international trade.  
  • You should ask for plenty of information about the farms where they’re sourcing coffee beans from. All good exporters should also be happy to arrange coffee origin trips for customers. Be wary if they withhold information or don’t allow origin trips.   
  • When exporting coffee from Colombia, good storage is very important in ensuring the quality of your beans. Ask exporters what their transport and storage conditions are like and what conditions the beans will be stored at and for how long.
  • Some exporters will have large minimum order values that won’t be appropriate for smaller buyers. However, here at Those Coffee People, we can fulfill orders of any size.    

Looking for a green coffee supplier? Discover our range of Colombian direct trade green coffee beans for export.

Average prices for Colombian coffee

The price per kilo can vary widely and depends on many factors. But here’s a breakdown of how absolute minimum costs are calculated:

The National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) provides daily list prices for coffee in cargas, or 125kgs of parchment (pre dry mill), on their website. To take an example on April 8th, 2020, the price is 1,200,000 COP per “carga” which is $309 USD per 125kg parchment, or $2.47 per kilo. Once you account for average parchment weight you can calculate an absolute minimum price of $3.37 per kilo in green. 

This is the minimum price that an exporter will pay at the farm. There are still a number of other process expenses, fees, and taxes that need to be added to this before you’re given a quote, including:

  • Domestic transportation
  • Milling
  • Packing
  • Banking fees
  • Taxes 
  • International shipping

A very large variable in cost can come from milling, and the milling rule your exporter will use. A standard milling rule in commercial Colombian coffee is 12/60, or 12 allowed faults of the first group of defects and 60 faults of the second group of defects in a single sample. Other common milling rules are 3/20 or 0/5. The more strict you will request your coffee to be milled equates to more beans that are thrown aside, raising the price of the per kilo cost. 

For anything higher quality than commercial beans, or specialty coffee with unique profiles or processes, prices can increase from anywhere between 5% to 1,000% per carga.

Procedures and possible problems to be aware of

There are routine procedures as well as occasional problems when exporting coffee from Colombia to be aware of. Your exporter will manage these on your behalf, but it’s good to be aware of some of the things that can cause problems:

  • All sales must be logged with the FNC and they must grant permission before transporting coffee inside the country, and exporters are also required to settle contribucion-cafetera tax with them which is $9.24 USD per 70 Kilos. Again, this is why it’s vital you deal with a fully licensed exporter, otherwise, significant problems can arise.  
  • Many farms are located in extremely rural parts of Colombia, meaning road conditions such as landslides can sometimes cause delays. 
  • While security and political stability has improved dramatically over the last decade, protests and strikes can sometimes occur which again can cause delays.
  • The coffee industry at the level of the smallholder remains very traditional in many parts of the country. This lack of modern technology and communications can therefore also sometimes cause delays.  

Export taxes

Your Colombian coffee exporter should be able to clearly explain how much you have to pay in export taxes. As mentioned above as of April 2020 the contribucion-cafetera tax is $9.24 USD per 70 kilos sack, so a multiple of this amount will be included for each sack you purchase. 

How to get the best price for Colombian coffee

Price breaks are usually applied at certain volume thresholds and if a buyer can commit to future orders. Here at Those Coffee People we offer our best prices to buyers that are able to make 1 to 2 years’ worth of orders at once. Contact us to find out more about the discounts we can offer.

Payment and invoicing norms

The default currency for paying Colombian coffee exporters is the US dollar, usually via wire transfer. 

Bear in mind that the value of the Colombian peso can fluctuate against the dollar, so once a quote expires, the same order might then change in price. Therefore if it’s currently a favorable exchange rate, it can pay to complete the purchase quickly while a quote is valid, rather than spending time shopping around.

Average time from placing an order to shipment leaving Colombia

Once an order is placed with a direct trade exporter like Those Coffee People, they will usually collect the coffee from the farm, mill, perform quality control, then package, which can take 10 to 14 days.

It can then take up to 2 weeks for the shipment to complete the exportation controls and issuing of documentation before leaving the country via sea, or 5 days to leave via air.

Final Considerations

Before committing to exporting coffee from Colombia and placing an order it’s best to arrange a cupping event to sample the beans. This can be tricky for many buyers depending on your location. Here at Those Coffee People we make this a little easier with our online matching tool, which pairs our specialty coffee to your tastes and allows you to order samples directly to your door. 

A Guide to Importing Coffee Beans into Saudi Arabia

Mosque in Saudi Arabia

Reading time: 9 minutes.

Coffee has been big business in Saudi Arabia for centuries. While Arabic coffee culture has been central to everyday life for generations, the country is increasingly embracing specialty coffee sourced from some of the best farms and estates that the coffee-growing world has to offer. 

This embrace of specialty coffee is leading many of the country’s roasters, retailers and coffee shop owners to form connections with new suppliers in their never-ending pursuit of the finest beans. 

Here at Those Coffee People, we specialize in sourcing the best coffee beans for buyers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other GCC countries. Therefore, we’ve put together this guide to importing coffee into Saudi Arabia, to help importers through the process.

Finding a supplier

We like to say that buying a container of coffee is becoming almost as easy as ordering Nespresso pods from Amazon. But this all depends on the supplier you choose to work with. So here are some things to bear in mind when finding and choosing a coffee supplier:

  • Make sure they’re familiar with the laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ask for case studies of other clients they’ve worked with in the country, along with references and testimonials.
  • They should also have knowledge of the tastes and preferences of Saudi consumers, to ensure they’re offering the most appropriate coffee beans for this market.
  • Beware of dealing directly with growers, who may not possess the required export licenses to facilitate the trade. This is why you usually need to work with a licensed exporter.   

Looking for a green coffee supplier? Discover our range of Colombian green coffee beans for export.

Arranging shipping

Shipping and logistics are the most complex parts of the process when importing direct trade coffee. Therefore, it’s advisable to let the exporter manage all of this on your behalf. As well as the actual shipping, they can also coordinate all the arrangements between farms, mills, packaging facilities, trucking, government agencies, ports, and customs.

The International Chamber of Commerce has established International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) that describe both types of shipping arrangements. These are the following:

  • When the buyer is receiving a price for goods that do not include any shipping costs this can be known as Ex Works (EXW) or Free on Board (FOB). 
  • Or on the opposite end, when the seller both includes the costs of transport and is responsible to bring the merchandise to a designated place of the buyer’s choosing this is known as Delivered at Place (DAP).

A further consideration is for buyers who are having their coffee shipped to Riyadh Dry Port. In this instance, you need to ensure your supplier can arrange the transport from the seaport of perhaps Dammam or Jeddah to the dry port by road or rail.  

Shipping costs

If you’re importing coffee into Saudi Arabia CIF, then the seller will calculate transportation costs and include this in the final price. If you’re importing Ex Works, then you’ll need to pay the following additional fees on top of the Ex Works coffee price:

  • Domestic transportation in the country of origin 
  • Documentation (e.g. certificate of origin and phytosanitary certificate)
  • Loading and unloading fees
  • Port and export taxes 
  • Export custom agent fees
  • Freight costs
  • Insurance 
  • Export custom agent fees
  • Accreditation with the relevant Saudi Arabian authorities

Coffee imports product labeling requirements

Sacks need to be clearly labeled with the following information in both English and Arabic when importing coffee beans into Saudi Arabia: 

  • Country of Origin – بلد المنشأ
  • Name – اسم
  • Product Number – رقم المنتج
  • Net Weight (kg) – الوزن الصافي (كيلو)
  • Imported By – مستورد عن طريق
  • Manufacturer Name – اسم المصنع
  • Production Date – تاريخ الإنتاج
  • Expiration Date – تاريخ الانتهاء
  • HS Code – رمز النظام المنسق
  • Ingredients – مكونات  

Customs clearance declarations in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority provides a pre-clearance customs process. You will need to work with your supplier to complete the clearance form which consists of the following questions:

  • Item Description
  • Bar Code
  • Brand Name
  • Trade Mark
  • Hs Code
  • Net Weight
  • Country of Origin
  • Region
  • Farm
  • Coffee Variety
  • Farm Altitude
  • Processing Method
  • Country of Production
  • Country of Packing
  • Age Group
  • Usage Method
  • Packing Type
  • Shelf Life
  • Storage Temperature
  • Ingredients
  • Producer Name
  • Producer Approval Number (if applicable)
  • Warnings  (if applicable)
  • Food Label Image
  • Food Image

Coffee import customs duties in Saudi Arabia

Most of the basic consumer products are duty free, included unroasted coffee beans

VAT on coffee sales in Saudi Arabia

This is charged at 15% of the invoice total, a raise from 5% in July 2020.

Discover our range of direct trade coffee beans  

Here at Those Coffee People, we’re experts in sourcing the finest direct trade Colombian green coffee beans. We venture off into remote areas of Colombia’s beautiful coffee regions to search for new and exclusive offers, exploring the country town by town to identify the most unique and desirable origins for you and your customers.


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

Featured image photo by Yasmine Arfaoui on Unsplash

A Guide to Importing Coffee Beans into Kuwait

Kuwait skyline at dusk

Reading time: 9 minutes.

Coffee has always been integral to the culture of Kuwait. While people have drunk traditional Arabic coffee for centuries, the new wave of speciality coffee has well and truly established itself in the country. There are now estimated to be more than 250 speciality coffee shops in the country, and that’s not including the multinational chains that have flooded in over the last few decades.

With this enormous supply providing an endless array of consumer choices, coffee importers are constantly looking for amazing coffee beans that come with own unique origin stories. Here at Those Coffee People, we specialize in sourcing the best coffee beans for buyers in Kuwait and other GCC countries. We’ve therefore put together this guide to importing coffee into Kuwait, to help importers through the process.

Finding a supplier

When done correctly, buying a container of coffee is becoming almost as easy as ordering Nespresso pods from Amazon. However, the ease of the transaction depends on you finding the right supplier. Buyers often find their suppliers using Facebook or Google, or through directory listings in trade publications such as Coffee Talk  

However, buyers need to tread carefully on platforms such as Facebook. You’ll find lots of coffee farmers advertising their products, but they often lack the required export licenses to facilitate the trade. Here at Those Coffee People, we’ve been approached for help lots of times when buyers have paid money directly to growers, only to discover they lack the capacity to fulfil and export the order. 

While some countries now have initiatives in place that allow farmers to directly export small amounts of coffee without a license (often up to 50kg), for any sizable amount you will need to go through a properly established and licensed export company. Therefore, check the company you’re dealing with has all the required documentation.

Looking for a supplier? Discover our range of Colombian direct trade green coffee beans for export.

Arranging shipping

Shipping and logistics are the most complex parts of the process when importing direct trade coffee. As well as the obvious language barriers, most buyers lack the required local knowledge of the export country’s logistics network to do it themselves. 

Therefore, it’s advisable to let the exporter manage all of this on your behalf. As well as the actual shipping, they can also coordinate all the arrangements between farms, mills, packaging facilities, trucking, government agencies, ports and customs.

The International Chamber of Commerce has established International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) that describe both types of shipping arrangements. For example, when the buyer is responsible for arranging shipping this is can be known as Ex Works (EXW) or Free on Board (FOB) and when the seller is responsible to bring the merchandise to a designated place of the buyer’s choosing this is known as Delivered at Place (DAP).  

Shipping costs

If you’re importing coffee into Kuwait DAP, then the seller will calculate transportation costs and include this in the final price. If you’re importing Ex Works, then you’ll need to pay the following additional fees on top of the Ex Works coffee price:

  • Domestic transportation in country of origin 
  • Documentation (e.g. certificate of origin and phytosanitary certificate)
  • Loading and unloading fees
  • Port and export taxes 
  • Export custom agent fees
  • Freight costs
  • Insurance 
  • Export custom agent fees
  • Accreditation with the Kuwaiti Food and Nutrition Authority

Coffee imports product labeling requirements

When importing coffee beans into Kuwait, the sacks need to be clearly labelled with the following information:

  • Country of origin (e.g. “Colombia”)
  • Contents (e.g. “100% Green Coffee Beans”)
  • Net weight (i.e. total weight minus packaging)
  • Gross weight (i.e. total weight including packaging)
  • Production date (i.e. date the coffee was packaged)
  • Expiration date (while coffee beans aren’t perishable, you still need to provide an expiration date, which is usually 3 years after the production date)

This information must be clearly written in Arabic and either printed or sewn onto the sacks, before the shipment arrives and passes through customs in Kuwait. If this is written in English only then the shipment will not be allowed to pass through customs.     

Customs clearance declarations in Kuwait

You’ll need to provide the following documents for the coffee to pass through Kuwaiti customs:

Provided by the exporter:

  • Invoice
  • Packing list
  • Certificate of origin 
  • Phytosanitary certificate 

Responsibility of the importer: 

  • Accreditation with the food and nutrition authority which only takes place with the arrival of the shipment 

Coffee import customs duties in Kuwait 

None – coffee is exempt from customs duties in Kuwait.

VAT on coffee sales in Kuwait

There is currently no VAT in Kuwait, although there are plans to introduce this in 2021.

Discover our range of direct trade coffee beans  

Here at Those Coffee People we’re experts in sourcing the finest direct trade Colombian green coffee beans. We venture off into remote areas of Colombia’s beautiful coffee regions to search for new and exclusive offers, exploring the country town by town to identify the most unique and desirable origins for you and your customers.

Explore our unique Colombian coffee origins here and discover the story of every estate we work with. We can fulfil orders of every size for buyers in Kuwait, contact us for more information.

Featured images photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Health Benefits of Coffee

Reading time: 6 minutes.

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.”

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.

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 thee can all lead to a more advantageous position for completing important tasks or work. 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.

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!

Coffee Certifications in Colombia

Coffee Certifications and Their Meanings

Reading time: 8 minutes.

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.

Perhaps the most well known worldwide is Organic.

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.

The second most recognized certification is Fair Trade.

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.

Some of the lesser-known certifications include Bird Friendly, Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ.

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.

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.