CSA-Type Coffee Purchasing Models?

growing, harvesting, processing, cupping, purchasing

CSA-Type Coffee Purchasing Models?

Postby afnylander on Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:06 am

Hello,

I have a question that is decidedly not in my area of coffee knowledge, so forgive me if it is a quaint or silly question.

I'm curious if there are currently any roasters, importers, or buyers otherwise along the chain who are purchasing coffee in innovative ways, perhaps like CSA programs in the US? Are there buyers who have "win-lose-or-draw" type contracts with farmers, indicating they'll purchase the coffee regardless of crop output or quality? If so, what happens to that coffee once it gets to the states?

I guess I'm asking if people are working outside of the annual contract model, and maybe specifically how that works, if you are willing to share.
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Re: CSA-Type Coffee Purchasing Models?

Postby K.C. O'Keefe on Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:54 pm

win loose or draw . . . is not on the table, but there are some roasters like Counter Culture Coffee who formulate multi-year contracts with their producer partners, where the price is fixed regardless of bears or bulls in the NY"C". These contracts still have quality and quantity parameters but the coffee is "pre-sold" and farmers can use these contract for pre-harvest and infrastructure financing.
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Re: CSA-Type Coffee Purchasing Models?

Postby Greg H on Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:59 pm

Check out Co-operative Coffees: http://www.coopcoffees.com/
Pretty sure these folks are employing the "win-lost-draw" you spoke about.

You might also want to check out this book by one of its members.
http://www.amazon.com/Javatrekker-Dispa ... 1933392703

All the best,

Greg
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Re: CSA-Type Coffee Purchasing Models?

Postby Peter G on Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:30 am

Anne-

In my view, the important part of a CSA is that the community of consumers buys the produce beforehand, for some length of time. I think the best, most sustainable model is when roasters do the same, committing to the produce of a farm for future crops. My company has many contracts that extend for years into the future, providing stability to the farmers, and ensuring supply of coffee to us.

A certain base level of quality is important, however. Even in a CSA, you have a pretty good idea of the kinds of vegetables you will get and are guaranteed a certain basic quality. You would never accept unripe or spoiled produce from a CSA. That said, some weeks the tomatoes may be better than others, or you might get nothing but zucchini. That's similar to the way these long term contracts work: a buyer and farmer can agree on a certain base level of quality, along with a certain base price, and take it from there. 80 points on the SCAA cupping form translates into coffee that was picked ripe and processed clean, so that provides the base level for most specialty coffee contracts, long or short term. Each roaster may have their own quality demands, and express them differently, and directly to the farmers. For our Direct Trade contracts, for example, the base quality is 85.

In my view, a good buyer takes into consideration the need for stability the farmer has, and makes plans for the coffee. Remember this: that by picking ripe and processing clean, using reasonable varieties on a farm of reasonable altitude, any farmer should be able to achieve an 80 point coffee. In my view, really, they can usually achieve an 85. So, if a good buyer commits to buying the coffee for years in advance, that produces the most possible stability for the producer, and allows them to experiment and invest in quality improvements. If a buyer/roaster can get his community to support that sort of work (CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture", remember), then you have the perfect CSA for coffee.

Peter
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Re: CSA-Type Coffee Purchasing Models?

Postby Shaughan Dunne on Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:04 pm

Hi Peter,
Thanks for being so open with your hard won information, much appreciated. When you refer to reasonable altitude, can you be a bit more specific? I know other environmental factors will play a part but some indicative numbers would be great.

Thanks-Shaughan
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Re: CSA-Type Coffee Purchasing Models?

Postby Peter G on Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:58 am

Hey Shaughan-

Generally, I feel that roughy 1000 meters above sea level is about the place where good quality coffee starts to happen.

Peter
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