Partnership Over Profit: Supporting Your Relationship with Los Naranjos Association

Posted on May 21st, 2020

This is a time to put partnerships over profits, and we’re joining our Colombian export partner Fairfield Trading with a matching discount on all currently incoming lots from Los Naranjos Association, including those from Arnulfo Leguizamo’s farms, El Faldón and La Primavera. Fairfield Trading and Cafe Imports have both agreed to a 12.5¢ price reduction, for a total discount of 25¢ per pound.

Our motivation is to support our customers in continuing to uphold the long relationships they’ve built with these producers and their wonderful coffees, and we hope will also scaffold our ability to continue to grow with the organization in the future.

Fairfield Trading is a small, family run exporting operation founded by Alejandro Renjifo, who has been a friend and collaborator to Cafe Imports for many years and through whom we work with Asociacion Los Naranjos, a group of 52 quality-driven smallholder farmers located in San Agustín, Huila. Since that first connection over 10 years ago, Los Naranjos has become like extended family to us: Pictures from our annual visits there look more like joyful reunions than business meetings, and we always look forward to the next time we can be together.

This past February—right before we started to see travel restrictions and lockdowns—Cafe Imports and Fairfield Trading hosted a cupping contest with the members of Los Naranjos and a group of roasters, celebrating the end of the main crop. “At a time when coffee was selling for around $1.00 per pound at the commercial mills, the winning producer would earn over $7.00 per pound, which is an incredible bonus,” says Cafe Imports founder Andrew Miller, who has been personally visiting the association for more than a decade. “It was a huge success.”

“Fast forward to a few weeks ago,” he continues, “when I was speaking with my old friend Alejandro. We were talking about the [impending] shipment [of the contest coffees] and, more importantly, about the crisis at hand and how many of our roaster clients were closing, struggling, or adapting to this tragedy. Alejandro suggested that he would like to do something to support specialty coffee roasters as they have supported the farmers of Los Naranjos. He wanted to donate his profits as a sort of rebate to roasting companies, to support them in this time of need.”

During that conversation, Andrew decided to match the donation: We think it’s all of our collective responsibilities to pitch in where we can, however we can, and for us that means cutting our profits in order to simply ensure these lots find their rightful, reliable homes with you, the real partners of Los Naranjos Association.

Because he’s so closely attuned to what producers need—and, over the past few years, has watched many smallholder farmers struggle under the ongoing coffee-price crisis—Alejandro says his attention has been focused “more on the pain of the farmers and the growers, but I see the pain here, as well: Baristas and roasters in this country and around the world are unemployed, very few are able to work.” The idea for the discount appealed to him because, he says, “I want to show support and have an impact on people who are having a hard time, too. I am having a hard time, and you are having a hard time, we’re all having a hard time—together. If we can keep up our quality and try to help the industry to pass this moment, I think that we can do it.”

“For so many years we have been working together as a team, and because we are very much in this for everyone, I think we’re going to see as a group that we can help shore ourselves up and support each other in this thing,” Alejandro says. “The relationship that we built for so many years, this is the moment we will see if this works.”

Both Cafe Imports and FFT believe strongly in the truth of the word “partnership,” and we know that many of our customers wait eagerly for Los Naranjos lots every year: Part of our joint mission in sourcing and selling these coffees together year after year is to create a true network for producers and roasters, supporting real relationships and encouraging buyers to grow with the farmers by being reliable buyers providing steady, meaningful sales.

We hope that if you’ve been a previous supporter of Los Naranjos Association, that this price reduction will help you continue to do so through good times and bad. If you’ve never purchased a coffee from this tight-knit group of farmers, now is a great time to start a relationship with a new favorite coffee in solidarity.

And even if you’re not in a position to buy these coffees or participate in this program, we hope you feel connected anyway, and that your belief in the power of partnership is strengthened through this difficult time.