I was talking to the owner of a large roaster the other day. (large as in, he does a whole lot of restaurants and very few cafes... don't try to guess who it is, it's not important)
Where was I, oh yeah, I asked the guy if he ever gets involved with COE coffees (it was obvious that his operation wasn't interested, but I was feeling ornery). He said something to the effect of that the COE is done after most of the lot has already sold, and that he is actually able to buy the same great tasting coffees without paying high prices because he doesn't wait for the auction.
He went on to say that COE is really just a bunch of marketing, so that roasters can brag about what their doing. I know this sounds bad and incriminating, but is he right? Can green bean buyers buy these same coffees before the auction, and save a bunch of cash?
To me it sounds like B.S., but maybe I just want to believe in the COE.