How We Buy Coffee

Buying the best coffees means buying coffees better.

We are all in specialty coffee because we are pursuing the best coffee, but what does “best” mean? Is it a small-quantity, highly traceable, and high-scoring microlot? A versatile, workhorse, volume offering that can play multiple roles? Is it those two in concert?

We constantly seek quality through interesting varieties, meticulous farm practices, and innovative processing techniques, culminating in a one-of-a-kind sensory experience. We believe that “best” goes beyond taste, though. The best coffees taste exceptional while strengthening the economic, ecological, and social equity for the people and places from which coffee comes. Our buying practices must fit our worldview and mission as a coffee development company.

At Cafe Imports, buying the best coffee means buying coffee better.

To maintain the integrity of the supply chain while reinforcing our trusting producer relationships, we’ve designed a holistic sourcing strategy that incorporates the needs of producers and our roasting customers. To achieve this, we’ve built all our relationships and purchases on two pillars: the Cafe Imports Impact Standards and our sourcing model, Stratified Buying.

The Cafe Imports Impact Standards is a set of guidelines we co-developed with producer partners that outline the minimum ethical standards to be upheld by both parties for the duration of the relationship. These standards consider and respect the needs of the people, economy, and environment we purchase from, creating a baseline understanding of an excellent long-term partnership guided by the goal of uplifting specialty coffee in all facets.

The second pillar is Stratified Buying. Rather than simply coming in, taking the highest scoring, and leaving, we have created products and market options that cup across a spectrum of quality levels, paying for them accordingly. This creates a tiered pricing structure, allowing us to purchase a wide range of coffee from participating producers and organizations. Buying more coffee expands our impact at origin and our menu at home.

We divide our offerings through stratified buying into Microlot, Select Coffees, and Signature Coffees. Microlots are show-stopping limited-release coffees, achieving 86+ points. Select Coffees are adaptable, reliable, larger-quantity coffees that generally cup between 84-87 points. We mark Select Coffees as Regional Select, Community Select, or Farm Select, depending on how they are purchased. The last category is Signature Coffees – less spectacular in profile but perfect performers in blends. These coffees maintain the integrity of an 80–84 point bulk coffee, are easy on the roaster’s wallet, and help fill a producer’s bank accounts.

Download and read about the Cafe Imports Impact Standards here. Explore our quality-stratified options below, and know that by supporting this sourcing strategy, you directly contribute to a holistic, sustainable, and fair cycle of coffee commerce.

Stratified Coffee Offerings

80–84 points

84-87 points

86+ points