A Year-End Reflection on Our Harvest Reports: What Do You Want to Read in 2020?

Posted on December 12th, 2019

Why Harvest Reports?

We’re not only coffee nerds, but we’re also a company comprised of passionate world travelers and people who love people: Your friends at Cafe Imports tend to be curious, eager to learn, and dedicated to sharing what we know and what we do with other coffee lovers around the world—from famers to roasters to everyday folks who just happen to enjoy a great shot of espresso.

A lot of those other coffee people are just like us, but don’t have the chance to get around quite like we do: It’s our job to travel in search of great coffee, to make connections, collect information, and tell the story of what farmers are experiencing wherever they are—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

While we aren’t the BBC or CNN, we do know that news from the coffeelands has an impact on our customers’ lives: If weather is unpredictable and the harvest was early, you’ll need to change your plans. If a producer is working toward a particular goal or has made a renovation to their farm, the Harvest Report gives you an opportunity to invest with them, or to try their new offerings. Ideally, they also give you an idea of when we can expect coffees from particular places to arrive.

While our World Specialty-Coffee Harvest Chart is also a great resource for your purchase planning, there’s something special about these updates direct from the terra firma where the coffee itself is grown, picked, and processed.

You may have noticed that roughly once a month we publish a Harvest Report for a different country or region where Cafe Imports is actively sourcing, usually during the height of the harvest when our green-coffee buyers have just finished visiting. They return to their home bases full of news about the weather, the success of the season, the early signs of quality, and any updates from our partners on the ground—both excitement about brand-new relationships and friendly updates about the folks with whom we’ve been working for a while.

Longtime followers of Cafe Imports have watched the evolution of our Harvest Reports (formerly known as Origin Reports), which have been part of the regular information and education output on our website since 2006 but formalized into their current state in 2017. As the 2019 harvest cycle comes to a close, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on these dispatches, and to offer you, our customers, a platform to share suggestions on how we can make them better, more useful, and more interesting.

Who Writes These Things?

Like everything else in coffee and at Cafe Imports, the Harvest Reports are a team effort. At the start of every year, the marketing department and green-buying team make big plans: Where in the world will the buyers be every month, who will they be visiting, what new partnerships or projects are on the horizon, and what information and connections will our customers need in order to manage their expectations for the coming season? From there, we draw up an editorial calendar of Harvest Reports.

Ultimately, each piece is reported and written by Cafe Imports’ editorial manager Ever Meister (who is also writing this one you’re reading right now—how meta!). Meister typically interviews the green-coffee buyers when they return from a long mid-harvest visit, and uses the conversation not only as background information but also to gather quotes and firsthand accounts from somewhere like Perú, Tanzania, or Costa Rica. Then she’ll read everything she can get her hands on about that place—political news, coffee-sector info, accounts of major weather and other natural events, etc. Drawing on her experience writing for newspapers and magazines, Meister sets down and writes a long-form piece, around 1,500–2,000 words, with the aim of touching on a little bit of everything from history to current affairs, from meteorology to cup quality, and most of all, of course, the human element of coffee.

Each report is then handed over to Victor Pagán, whose keen eye and long experience as a professional photographer allow him to create a visual story to accompany the words. Every dispatch is laid out with the best photos we have from the source, taken either by the green buyers and sourcing liaisons on their travels, or by Victor himself (and wow, he’s a great shot—if we may say so ourselves).

When they’re ready to publish, we make announcements on social media and through our e-mail newsletter. Badda-bing, badda-boom as they say.

In 2019, we published 10 Harvest Reports: Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia again, Ecuador, Jamaica, Burundi, Tanzania, and Perú.

Reporting Better in 2020

In the coming year, we hope to evolve the Harvest Reports even further by adding more rich media, reporting live from the field, offering more in-depth introductions to the people and places we visit, and inviting producers to tell more of their own stories, in their own words.

We want to give you the content that is useful, interesting, inspiring, and relevant, so we’d love to hear your thoughts about the future of the Harvest Report. These are for you, our customers: Let’s work together to make them as valuable as possible.

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