There’s ongoing discourse in the coffee industry on ways of supporting coffee communities to climb the value chain. In this piece, we deconstruct the mythical arguments that have pushed away from the potential of origin roasted coffee as a sustainable solution.
But first, definition — origin roasted coffee is when coffee has been processed and roasted in the origin of production, ideally by local community members.
If you’re a connoisseur of specialty coffee, you’re probably accustomed to the idea of buying your coffee from a local roaster. You’re supporting the local economy, the coffee is fresher and you know exactly where your coffee is coming from. Well, let’s deconstruct that:
3. It’s more transparent: the idea that coffee that is locally roasted is more transparent is also difficult to understand. Recently, in my effort to better understand this phenomenon, I visited several local roasters in Berlin. I asked each of their roasters for the source of their coffee and more detailed information. With the exception of a couple, most of the roasters were buying their coffees from a single importing company in Germany. They all knew their coffee was coming from ‘Finca X’ or ‘Finca Y’ (finca=farm) but upon further inquiry, they had no idea how much the farmers were earning for this coffee or details of working conditions in these farms. Just because local roasters have a Fair Trade label does not guarantee proper conditions or transparency.
When we started Bean Voyage, many consumers, including some early adopters challenged our idea of selling origin roasted coffee through our website. Many of them were worried about the consistency of our product and its quality. To be honest, we did face some of these challenges at first. However, with dedicated training and a positive feedback loop between the consumers and the farmer roasters, we have been able to consistently satisfy customers with coffee that ranges from 83–86 (out of 100) on the specialty coffee grade. Are we at the level of champion roasters based in major cities? No. However, with continued training and practice, we are sure that most of the coffee will be of the highest quality (beans and roasts). If you haven’t already, try one of our offerings of origin roasted coffee from Costa Rica.
This month, we launched our training program for 40+ smallholder women from two regions in Costa Rica. The curriculum? A mix of technical and business skills. The first few sessions are focused on business skills to get everyone on the same page before learning about the technical skills related to coffee.