Sourcing

Our sourcing trips are for coffee buyers and roasters who are interested in making or maintaining buying relationships in certain coffee-growing areas or with particular producing partners, through connections and introductions facilitated by Cafe Imports.

These trips are led by our green-coffee-buying team and a “CME” (Country Matter Expert) from our sales team, with additional support from our customer-service and/or marketing department. They occur as a part of our regular development and purchasing cycle throughout the year: Roasters and green-coffee buyers are invited to accompany us as we make our own purchasing plans, and to use the opportunity to work closely with Cafe Imports and with our producer partners.  

Attendees on our sourcing trips not only have the opportunity to secure some of the world’s finest coffees before they leave the country of production, but also to experience first-hand the implementation of our stratified coffee-buying model, and to explore coffee quality and development through cupping and calibration. These trips facilitate the creation and maintenance of relationships between coffee buyers and producers directly, and can lead to long-term commitments that open worlds of possibility.

Space for on our coffee buying trips is limited, especially depending on location and trip itinerary; contact our team to reserve your spot on our upcoming sourcing-focused Resource trips.

While some basic knowledge of coffee production and buying is helpful for these trips, it is not necessary to have vast experience traveling to coffee-growing areas or negotiating forward contracts in order to join us.

Open Door

The Open Door program was developed in 2017 to allow our customers to visit our Central American office and lab in San José, Costa Rica, and for the 2019 season we are pleased to offer Open Door dates at both our Costa Rican and Ethiopian offices.

Cuppings are available most Fridays during the post-harvest season, and guests will have the opportunity to cup alongside Cafe Imports office staff, and frequently with producers and export partners as well. Samples for specific coffees or lots can be arranged with advance notice, and with our Costa Rican partners, occasional farm and mill visits can be scheduled upon request. 

Visitors to our international sourcing offices will return home with a better understanding of coffee farming and processing in those respective countries, and they will also have had the opportunity to cup through, select, and forward book coffees from the fresh crop before the lots even go AFLOAT.

Note that we are typically unable to make schedule modifications to the Open Door dates, so please plan your travel accordingly.

Coffee Send-Back

When we visit our producer partners, one of the most common questions they ask is, “How do your customers like my coffee?” While we are sometimes able to cup alongside farmers and mill managers, the majority of growers and producers around the world still have limited access to the equipment and expertise that cupping—and even quality coffee brewing—requires. For this reason, we have made it a common practice to bring coffee with us wherever we go, to share what we like and what we drink at home. Not only is it a small way to repay our partners’ hospitality, but it also helps them know what we are looking for in the coffees that we buy, and why.

Since 2015, we have been able to arrange larger-scale Coffee Send-Backs to our partners in Costa Rica, Brazil, and El Salvador, as well as occasional individual send-backs through our green-coffee buyers. As we continue to build relationships and buy coffees from the same partners year to year—especially microlots, and coffees from within a specific or close-knit community—we are expanding this program, and invite roasters to use this opportunity to connect with the growers and millers in a unique and meaningful way.

At Cafe Imports, we see ourselves as dot connectors, and we want to facilitate these point-to-point and beginning-to-end relationships. When you book a coffee, when you visit a farm with us, and when you buy either a portion or an entire lot from a producer with whom we have a send-back arranged, simply let us know that you would like to return a bag of that producer’s coffee, roasted, to him or her on one of our upcoming trips.

Coffee Auctions

Cafe Imports first developed the Best Cup competition alongside our Colombian export partner Banexport, with competitions focused in the regions of Huila and Cauca. Best Cup is a multi-day cupping competition and live auction of a selection of top-quality coffees, which are narrowed down from an extensive field of local producers’s top lots. Through the Best Cup auctions, our roaster partners have uncovered incredible coffees and made lasting connections with producers, while highlighting and rewarding hard work and dedication to quality.

Andrew Miller, founder and partner of Cafe Imports, was inspired by the success of the national Cup of Excellence competitions, and strongly felt that a similar auction-style buying event could also work on a more intimate, regional basis.

To date, Best Cup has provided farmers in Colombia more than $800,000 in direct quality premiums. In addition to offering tastes and discovery of some amazing lots of coffee, the competition also serves as a development tool, as we are able to identify and differentiate lots from producers who are interested in increasing their quality and showcasing their coffees’ performance and potential.

Inspired by Colombia’s great success, we’ve been able to branch out and bring Best Cup competitions to Carmo de Minas, Brazil, as well as Chalatenango, El Salvador—with more on the horizon.

By participating in the large-format cuppings and group calibrations, and by taking part in some of the most dynamic and exciting live auctions the specialty-coffee industry has ever seen, participants will not only gain a wealth of knowledge and experience, but will also have the potential to secure some of the best coffees in the world —all in a setting that literally unites and connects coffee producers and buyers in a lively, fast, authentic, and communal way.

In addition to the microlots available for bidding during the auction, attendees will also cup through tables of larger lots of “workhorse” coffees, to create opportunities for attendees to purchase multiple lots across a spectrum of quality, to completely fill the needs of their roasting companies while offering producers the ability to sell more of their crop within a relationship-based model. This exemplifies our goal of developing stratified coffee-buying opportunities, which benefit both producers and roasting companies by offering a wider range of lots with clearly defined price premiums and increased and improved traceability.

The nature and pace of these Best Cup competitions and auctions demands some cupping experience and a degree of comfort with assigning quality scores to coffees in a manner similar to the SCA grading standards and protocol. Feel free to ask us how to prepare for your time at the Best Cup competition; we will be happy to get you ready for this thrilling and unique buying opportunity!

Coffee 101

Our coffee-education trips are designed to offer professionals of all experience levels the chance to expand their knowledge and context of the supply chain: They are geared toward highlighting various aspects of coffee agriculture and cultivation, processing, technology, commercialization, and culture within specific producing communities. We specifically arrange these trips as opportunities for coffee professionals looking to gain a better understanding of coffee farming, milling, and export/import, and gain or build upon their understanding of coffee production.

Specialized curriculum has been developed to connect the dots in each coffee-producing country we visit. In addition to seeing production on farm visits, cupping coffees, and getting calibrated with one another, roasters joining us on any Coffee 101 trip can expect to come home with the necessary knowledge to translate to their customers the challenges and opportunities coffee farmers see on a daily basis in the field and at the mill.

While the focus of these trips is not on sourcing, attendees will have the opportunity to cup and potentially forward-contract lots based on tastings and conversations conducted during the time in-country.

Fiesta De Fin De Cosecha

The Fiesta De Fin De Cosecha is a post-harvest celebration meant to highlight and honor the hard work that our coffee-producing partners have done throughout the year. At the end of the production cycle—after most of the coffee has been milled and exported, and life slows down a bit for producers—we invite our customers to join us to toast the farms and mills with whom we have partnered, and to break bread together at a catered party in-country. This event provides a wonderful platform for producers to connect and share knowledge with one another in an intimate setting off the farm but still close to home.

We also organize a Coffee Send-Back for these celebrations, inviting our roaster clients to offer bags of their finished product back to the producers who grew those delicious coffees. Giving bags of these special roasted coffees and brewing batches for producers to drink has been an extremely impactful way to close the circle of the supply chain, and a meaningful way for producers to know how their coffee is roasted, prepared, and presented to consumers.

Attendees can expect to network directly with coffee producers and hear first-hand accounts of the challenges and successes they had during this harvest, and to enjoy the amazing opportunity to brew and serve their coffee to the people who grew it. Come celebrate with us!

Note that during our Fiesta De Fin De Cosecha, the harvest is complete, and there is typically no production at this time. However, farm and mill visits can still be arranged during the course of these events.

Resource Mission:
To partner with our roaster clients to share experience and knowledge at the ground level, and to build and nurture relationships in coffee-growing regions worldwide in an effort to advance the craft of specialty coffee, from the farm all the way to the café.