Complete the chain.
When we visit our producer partners, one of the most common questions they ask is, “How do they 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 and Brazil, 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.
Current Coffee Send-Back Programs:
El Salvador – Chalatenango Coffee Send-Back
Over the past three years, Cafe Imports’ senior green-coffee buyer, Piero Cristiani, has worked closely at the development level in the small and beautiful region of El Salvador called Chalatenango (or “Chalate” for short). The area is not as well-known as Santa Ana, due in part to the remoteness of the very small farms that exist here, and while we didn’t “discover” Chalatenango, we are drawn to it again again and again. Through Piero’s work with the many smallholder farmers in the area, supported by our Chalate-Based cupping and sourcing associate Alberto “Beto” Reyes, we have been able to buy micro-microlots from the producers here, some of whom produce as few as two or three bags of parchment coffee annually. Some producers are able to separate their varieties and processes for the first time, offering a wider range of special coffees.
We hope to create true partnerships by encouraging our roaster customers to buy entire lots from particular farmers, and by also offering first option for those lots next year, forging sustainable buying relationships that can be repeated—and grown—year by year.
In November of 2017, 19 roasters from around the world participated in the coffee send-back, sharing roasted bags of coffee with the producers who grew the very beans inside. In most cases, this will be the first time these producers will taste their own coffees.
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