Customer Service Rep
Café Imports, an importer, developer and seller of the highest quality green coffees worldwide, is seeking a highly motivated individual to be its Customer Service Rep. This position will require attention to detail, an ability to accept and complete work as a team member and exceptional customer service potential and or experience. Coffee experience is a plus. A high level of interest in quality food, coffee is a must.
The Customer Service Rep will be responsibilities will include; triaging phone calls, assisting clients with information on previous orders and shipments, processing orders for Sales Reps, learning the basics of coffee and quality control. They will be the first point of contact for our valued clients on a day to day basis.
Experience & Skills
This is an entry level position at Café Imports. Relevant work experience in customer service and managing information and details will be important. Ability to work well with others will be important.
Candidates must have a college degree and minimum 3.0 GPA. Successful candidates will possess strong written and verbal communication skills as well as strong overall presentation skills. This position will require the ability to learn quickly and take direction and correction professionally and constructively.
Café Imports is a small and exciting entrepreneurial organization. Our culture is perfectly suited for the individual who takes pride in providing excellent and accurate service to clients and colleagues. Our compensation, benefits and incentive plan are complete and competitive.
Please email resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org. No calls please.
Visit our website to learn more at www.cafeimports.com
Cesar Urena is the owner/operator at the Don Pepe Micromill, located in San Isidro de Leon Cortez, Costa Rica.
We visited Cesar's Micromill during Cafe Imports trip to Costa Rica for the 2014 harvest, what we discovered was a crown jewel in the treasure trove of Costa Rican coffees this year.
Keep an eye out for Don Pepe's coffees coming in April 2014!
Shot and Edited by Andy Reiland
song: "El Diablo" by Compay Quinto
As I write this recap of my recent trip to Costa Rica, the red dust from the West Valley still lines my shoes. This trip with Piero and Dan of Cafe Imports was a moving and eye opening trip for me, especially since I had the expectations from my trip last year of what I was going to see and experience. I can honestly say that much has changed in just one year in Costa Rica, most for the better, some for the worse.
Starting off with the worse. "Roya" or rust disease is a daunting problem here. Hearing firsthand from the producers what the real effect of a 20+% loss on their crop means for them and their family is heartbreaking. There are serious measures being taken to help manage the rust like sprays and other chemicals, but hearing that the rust can live on a tree for nearly 3 weeks before showing any physical signs was disheartening. These producers must keep an constant eye on their crops, and not only eliminate the rust as they see it, but take preventative steps to try and stop it before it shows its ugly head. They are all preparing for that 20% figure to climb in 2015, so securing good prices for their coffee that is available this year was of extreme importance to keep their operations afloat. I sincerely hope we as an industry can help to solve this problem.
On to the good...
This is our second harvest with a physical operation on the ground in Costa Rica. Piero is living in San Jose, and new this year was his fully operational lab with sample roasting and cupping capabilities. This has given Piero an incredible turnaround time on securing lots, giving feedback to producers, and calibrating with us in Minnesota. Since we are in the middle of harvest and shipping season is beginning, those roaster barrels and gibraltar glasses are seeing a ton of amazing coffees come through them at Piero's hands.
I am always blown away and inspired by the systems in which Costa Rican producers operate in. We continue to see more producers and producing groups build micromills in Costa Rica. Their ability to be able to have the capital and technical knowledge to establish and operate micromills is very much unique to Costa Rica. In most other countries, small producers are responsible for not only caring for their crop and picking only the ripest cherries, but they also have to control fermentation and drying times on a small scale before delivering parchment to its destination. In Costa Rica, many small producers are delivering ripe cherries to a micromill, then the mill is responsible for the very sensitive second part of the processing.
From an operational standpoint, having one micromill with one fearless leader behind it allows for much more consistent quality. Working closely with a micromill on stellar processing is a much less daunting feat than trying to get every small producer on board with the importance of fermentation times and drying profiles. We are fortunate to be working with some amazing micromills this year who are leading the charge on a scientifically backed approach to processing unlike I have ever seen before.
We saw that most mills are drying their coffee to 10.5% moisture before storing in grainpro or plastic lined bags still in parchment or cherry (for naturals). They are then resting their coffee for 30+ days in "reposo" before dry milling and preparing for export. This lower moisture standard is what we hypothesize contributes to the longevity of this coffee. Every micromill we visited had moisture meters this year; a big improvement from the old "mouth test" in which parchment is crunched between the teeth by the producer to gauge the moisture. We saw some impressively built and engineered raised beds, and equally impressive parabolic patio dryers with proper ventilation and placement in direct lines of the common wind flow. Processing here is done with intention, and producers are sharing knowledge with one another at a rate unlike I have ever seen before. We even were able to taste some really exciting experiments with new varieties like SL28 and Geishas that lead me to believe the best is yet to come in Costa.
We held a soccer tournament gathering together some of the major growing regions and top producers within those regions at the Aguilera Bro's regulation sized field they literally carved out of the side of the hills on their property. Teams included Rio Jorco Micromill, Aguila Bros Micromill, Tarrazu, and West/Central Valley. While the game was exhilarating and great fun, I couldn't help but be drawn to the small conversations and tours between the Aguilera Bros and the other visiting producers. I was swept away by a flood of questions about technique, machinery, varieties, processes, theory from one producer to another in this setting. We were told that a "meeting of the minds" on this scale is extremely rare. Imagine if all the top chefs in the world all met for a BBQ and pickup game of baseball; the things that would be talked about, and the knowledge that would be passed around. That is how I felt this soccer tournament was. What a special thing to be a part of. In the end, the Aguilera Bros won the title, and are reigning champs until next year...
After cupping 8 full tables over two days with Piero, I am confident we are going to have some of the most immaculate coffees coming out of Costa Rica this year. Places like Rio Jorco, Las Lajas, La Perla Del Negra, Aguilera Bros, Don Pepe, Don Sabino, Coopetarrazu, and more are partnering with Piero in a way like never before with our lab in San Jose and our investments like prefinancing and education. Our commitments and partnerships with all of these producers has increased significantly, and in return I believe we are able to secure their best lots.
This was an amazing trip. After thinking about everything we saw on this trip it reaffirmed my belief in our company culture and the way in which we do honest business. The operations we have abroad and what Piero has built in Costa Rica just beams with integrity, and I am so proud to be a part of this team and see the continued transformation in Costa Rica.
(Photo and Video cred: Andy Reiland)
Polar Vortex got you down? Alternations of heavy snow and freezing cold have you thinking of lighter clothes and warmer suns? We've got just the thing. Come and join us for the pre-auction tasting of Brazil's Cup of Excellence Early Harvest coffees. The Early Harvest auction features some of the best of Brazil's sundried coffees. See what I mean? Charging cherries on the tree from green to red is one thing, but laying them out in the sun for a few days more? That's just what we need about now, in Minnesota anyway.
Friday, February 28th.
Cuppings at 9:30 and 11:00 am.
In case you need some help venturing out:
An insight into the coffee world of Costa Rica, this video highlights the testimony of farmers, country-specific processes, and a sense of quality control present at origin. This video was shot using our Fujifilm x100 and GoPro Hero 3. Video shot by Sam Miller.
Contact Cafe Imports about available upcoming 2014 Rio Jorco Microlots!
We are extremely excited to announce that our program with our partner Banexport in Colombia offering 1 million pesos per carga(125 Kilos) for any coffees scoring above 90 points was a huge success in its 2nd year.
Coffee farmers participating in this program are ecstatic when they succeed as the price on the street for traditional sales is about half that. Last November we had a meeting celebrating the top producers and handing out big checks for their hard work. There was a lot of discussion about farming methods and practices that contribute to coffees scoring above 90 points, but mainly general excitement about the possibility of having this type of success from quality. These people are proud farmers anyway and cash for their quality just helps to dignify that.
The thing is we are not turning away coffees that don't get 90. We buy those as well, the 86 to 89 at slightly different rates and then do slightly different things with them. Trying to build good relatioinships with good farmers for the long run. And drink 90 point coffee too of course.
In total, we found 183 70kg bags of coffee that qualified for this 90 point program from Cauca, Narino, Tolima, and Huila from 15 different producers.
The 1 million pesos per carga offer proved to be an incredible incentive, as we had new producers from all over the regions looking to partner with Banexport and Cafe Imports.
These coffees just landed in our warehouse and are available for sale now!
From the FNC:
Through the 90 points quality program (Programa de calidad 90 puntos), the Colombian specialty coffee export company Banexport and the North American import company Café Imports paid up to US$ 515 per load of coffee to 15 coffee growers from the department of Cauca.
This achievement was the result of an alliance between the Departmental Coffee Growers Committee of Cauca and Banexport which promotes coffee growers who produce high quality coffee. According to Carlos J. Ruíz, Banexport´s Manager, "we independently promote exceptional coffees that are around, or above, 90 points. Selling these quality coffees guarantees that coffee producers get paid higher prices for their coffee."
Andrew Miller, President of Café Imports, highlighted the importance of providing high quality coffee to roaster companies while ensuring that coffee growers have favorable incomes. "If coffee growers are doing things right under current coffee prices, earning US$ 515 per load will stimulate them to keep producing high quality coffee."
Out of the 1,250 micro-lot samples that the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation´s (FNC) Extension Service delivered to Banexport, the 15 coffee growers who obtained the highest scores were able to sell their coffee at US$ 515 per load. The Departmental Coffee Growers Committee will continue to encourage initiatives that increase the income of coffee growers.
In July I went to Colombia to attend an agricultural Fair in Huila. I was there for the cupping competition primarily but it was an event much larger than that, celebrating Huila, the best region in Colombia for quality coffee over the last ten years. This was a weekend event filled with seeds, machetes, fertilizer, tools, manufacturers of everything coffee, parties, speeches, presentations and of course, Salsa, and not the kind we put on nachos. They have a drink called Aguardiente, a minty rum kind of thing that is great for dancing but headache central in the morning.
For many of us though the pinnacle event was the cupping competition, "The Best of Huila". Southern Colombia is a region of small landholders with an average of about 3 hectares. With 5,000 trees per hectare and rough estimate of each tree producing one pound of exportable quality coffee, each producer was delivering approximately what equates to10 bags of coffee to the competition. Ninety Two producers entered lots that were cupped over the week and narrowed down to about 40 lots which were cupped again on the last two days, and finally, a cupping of the top 25. This is a format very similar to cup of excellence and guarantees that you get to see great coffees again and again and also reconsider something that other cuppers liked and perhaps you missed. Most of the cuppers were Colombian Nationals from all over the country with the addition of one Spaniard an Australian fellow and myself. The advent of CQI and Q cupper certification at origin makes events like this a lot simpler with easy calibration and similar verbiage when it comes to describing top quality coffee characteristics.
The auction process was not formal or structured so I simply made a good offer on the fifteen coffees that I liked offering a major premium for the coffees above 90 points and slightly less for those between 88 and 90. There were other offers, a counter offer from the Cooperative and then again on our side and I might have made some frenemies but we strive to pay a fair price to producers who do good work. In the end there was a ceremony at the event. Awards for top producers and now we have 15 some of the best coffees from the Huila June/July harvest on the water.