For those of you joining us primarily from the interwebs, our June releases may seem to be the last portion of a recent (inadvertent) series of talks, interviews, and discussions which deep dive into “green buying”. In reality, the panel discussions we’ll be sharing this week and a fortnight from today were the first that we organised and presented to a live audience as the second day of afternoon lectures at the first-ever Roaster Guild of Europe Camp last October.

Featuring a panel of Raphael Studer (Algrano), Sara Morrocchi (Vuna Origin Consulting), and Joanna Alm (Drop Coffee Roasters), Steve lead an open discussion that sought to pick through the ethical considerations at play when purchasing green coffee for a specialty coffee business, from a high level (origin country politics, human rights, climate change) to the farm level (wages/treatment of staff, the use of the “premium”, relationships and trust) and everything in between. Together, they share stories of unethical or questionably ethical purchasing and follow up with some actionable suggestions for those who wish to aim for a more ethical purchase.

As we prepared for this panel, the importance of a story – and its subsequent verification – appeared again and again in the context of coffee purchase, both green and brewed forms. To put this idea to the test, we asked the audience assess coffees once split into two groups: those assessing blind and those provided with information and backstory. Things didn’t quite go to plan logistically on a number of levels, so we 100% would not advocate these results to be indicative of correlation – let alone causation! In fact, we’re pretty sure that these are nothing but some numbers on a page, but we promised to release the data – you can find more information below.

Either way, we hope it provides you with some food for thought as you make your own buying decisions.

Photograph by Jordan Sanchez for Roaster Guild of Europe

Joanna Alm | Drop Coffee
Joanna Alm is from Dalarna in the north of Sweden. She ran a coffee bar in Oslo for a few years, moved home to Sweden, and started working at Drop in 2010. A few years ago, Joanna became partner in the company and is now the CEO, head roaster, and green coffee buyer at Drop Coffee. She’s a three-time winner of the Swedish Roasting Championship (2014-2016) who has placed consistently in the final four at the World Roasting Championships during her time as Swedish Champion.

Joanna is also known for her passion for coffee education and community, participating as a speaker, panellist, lecturer, and attendee at coffee events worldwide both as Drop Coffee’s Head Roaster and as a working group member of the Roaster Guild of Europe.


Sara Morrocchi | Vuna Origin Consulting
Born in Italy and educated in the UK, Sara found her path in the specialty coffee sector in various roles since 2007. A social scientist by training, she began working as a development worker in Kenya in early 2000s, and started to grow an interest in ways to grow and strengthen rural supply chains in East Africa. She began working as East Africa supply chain manager for Sustainable Harvest in 2007. This role would keep her working in Tanzania for the next four years. Later, she moved to headquarters in Portland, OR heading up the Global Procurement and Supply Chain management team for 4 years.

Sara has recently moved to Amsterdam to start her Vuna Origin Consulting, specialized in supply chain strategies and product development in green coffee and cacao. The perfect mix of origin travel, suppliers’ relationships and tropical products makes her work extremely exciting. She is passionate about creating long-term sustainable solutions to empower and incentivize supply chain actors in collaborative ways.


Raphael Studer | Algrano
Raphael Studer is a Swiss economist and entrepreneur. During his PhD Raphael researched the statistical measurement and modelling of human well-being. He has working experience in the fields of international business development, sustainability consulting and energy trading. Two years ago, Raphael co-founded, the B2B online marketplace for green speciality coffee. algrano allows access to roasters and producers only and brokers logistic, financial and quality services on a cost plus margin basis transparently. algrano was awarded by the Startup Brasil and Startup Chile programs, as well as by the SCAE.  Raphael lived in the Brazilian coffee fields and met producers and roasters all over the world. He understands the chances, wishes, but also problems of the new generation of coffee producers. Motivated by the vision that efficient and scalable tools of communication will transform agricultural supply chains, Raphael focuses today on the spread of algrano.


RGE GBE Results

SAMPLE A: Q-45 Arrozá | Sitio Arrozá, Sao Goncalo do Sapucaí, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Varietal: Catuai Vermelho | Process: Natural/Sundried | Provided by: Algrano
Owner: Luciano Augusto Ferreira |Operator de Máquina: Claudinei Hernique Soares
Farm size: 12 Ha | Employees: 0-5 | Foundation Year: 1991 | Highest Grade: 86
Awards: 7th place Mantiqueira de Minas, 2014 | 1st place Mantiqueira de Minas, 2015
Additional Information: Luciano Agusto is “30 years young”, freshly married, and has never left Brazil. Two years ago, he took over the farm—which is ridiculously small for Brazil at 12 Ha—from his father. Since then, Luciano has been experimenting with production: new processes, shade growing, and selective picking.


SAMPLE B: Busoronghi Kivu 3 | Busoronghi Mill, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Varietal: Bourbon | Process: Washed | Provided by: Schluters | Price: £4.80/kg – 17 bags
Owner: various small holders in DRC | Farm sizes: 0.5 Ha, on average
Additional Information: Typically made up of small-holder producers that intercrop coffee with other agriproducts such as cassava, pea, and banana. Pulping, fermentation, washing, and drying takes places in Busoronghi washing station, although the coffee has been sourced by a supply chain established by Schluters in Virunga. The mill employs 20-25 women to turn and sort the coffee as it dries on African beds.


SAMPLE C: Kavisa & Hutwe | Kavisa & Hutwe Mills, Virunga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Varietal: ? | Process: Sundried | Provided by: Schluters | Price: £5.65/kg – 7 bags
Additional Information: This is the first coffee of its kind to be produced from the origin, and comes from Schluters own supply chain in Virunga.


SAMPLE D: Finca Don Carlos Washed Caturra | Finca Don Carlos | Caranavi, South Yungas, Bolivia
Varietal: Caturra | Process: Washed | Provided by: HasBean
Owner: AgriCafe, Buena Vista Project & Don Carlos | Planted: 2014 | Altitude: 1450-1650 m.a.s.l.
Additional Information: Due to the complications within the Bolivian coffee industry, many of the smaller Bolivian farms we have worked with in the past are no longer producing coffee. Whilst this has created some challenges for us, it has had a much more significant impact on our exporting partners AgriCafe, who have been working with these growers for many years. As a result AgriCafe have decided to begin farming for themselves, in an effort to demonstrate what can be achieved with the application of more modern techniques and a scientific farming approach.

AgriCafe now manage seven farms, and these are collectively known as the Buena Vista Project. Finca Don Carlos is the second farm of the project, and it was planted in Caranavi in 2014.

The farm is named in honour of Don Carlos, the oldest and most unconditionally awesome employee of AgriCafe. He was there at the start of the specialty coffee trend and, together with Pedro, helped to build the wet mill in Caranavi. To show their gratitude for all his good work, the company decided to give him partnership of the farm.


SAMPLE E: Vincent Paye Washed Caturra | Vincent Paye, Copacabana, Caranavi, South Yungas
Varietal: Caturra | Process: Washed | Provided by: HasBean
Owner: Vincent Paye | Farm Size: 10 Ha | Altitude: 1500 m.a.s.l.
Additional Information: We have had this coffee before. Last time the lot was produced by various smallholder farmers from the small town of Copacabana, which lies about 180 KM from La Paz in the heart of the Caranavi coffee-producing region. This time it comes from one individual, called Vincent Paye. He has been working hard to produce great coffee, and he is, in fact, a beacon of hope in this tough growing region.

This is a lush and fertile region. Its steep slopes and valleys provide excellent conditions for growing specialty coffee, as well as supporting a diverse range of native flora and fauna. It has rich volcanic soils and regular rainfall.

The colony of Copacabana has a collection of small farms that are each around five hectares in size (although Vincent has ten hectares). The farms range over an altitude of 1,300 to 1,600 metres above sea level (m.a.s.l.), and they benefit from an average annual temperature between 15 and 26°C. This lot comes from a farm matching these criteria, and it’s at around 1,550 m.a.s.l. These traditional farms use no chemicals or pesticides and are certified organic, although we do not hold an organic certification.

The main harvest runs from May to September, peaking in June and July. The cherries are handpicked only when fully ripe, and they’re then delivered to the central mill, called Buena Vista, where they are fully washed. The cherries are then dried, mechanically so in this case because of the wet weather, over a nine day period.


SAMPLES F through K: CQI Project in Myanmar

About Myanmar: Coffee came to Myanmar during its time as a British colony (1824-WW II). Ruled by the military Junta from 1962-2011, the human rights record of Myanmar is fraught with difficulty, but change is coming quickly, particularly facilitated by aid to Myanmar’s coffee sector.

Myanmar produces about 7500 tons of coffee annually, 80% of which is Arabica, and only 60% of which is exported (China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Japan). Their primary growing regions are Mandalay—mostly large estates producing washed coffees—and Shan State, which is almost exclusively small holders (less than 1 Ha of land) producing natural coffees. Currently, cultivars available from Myanmar include S-795, Catimor, Costa Rica (a sarchimor), SL 34, Caturra, Catuai, and Blue Mountain, although some producers are now planting Gesha seedlings.

By funding coffee projects in Myanmar, USAID is not only creating and developing economic opportunity for ethnic minorities (and therefore strengthening the democratic and economic reform that started in 2011), but also promoting an alternative crop to heroin poppies commonly grown in the same regions.

Although Myanmar has been producing coffee for many years, economic sanctions imposed due to the human rights record meant that a majority of the coffee was stripped green and sold only to China. CQI’s work within Myanmar began in 2014, with work involving competitions, gender, agronomy, harvesting, processing, and milling, lead to dramatically improved and professionalised production from pruning and fertilising to milling and exporting.

As 2014 was the first time that Myanmar had both exposure to “specialty” coffee as well as the opportunity to trade with the west, the fact that it was possible to export two containers of specialty coffee in 2015 to the US is remarkable.


SAMPLE F: Greenland Washed (8127E)
Varietal: Costa Rica (sarchimor) | Process: Washed | Provided by: Atlas USA
Leadership: Sai Wan Maing | Farm Size: 160 Ha | Production: 170 tons | Cup Scores: 80-83.5


SAMPLE G: Blue Mountain Washed (8126E)
Varietal: Blue Mountain & Costa Rica (sarchimor) | Process: Washed | Provided by: Atlas USA
Location: Pyin Oo Lyin | Elevation: 1100 m.a.s.l.


SAMPLE H: Pway Na Phar Natural (8127I)
Varietal: (arabica) | Process: Sun-dried Natural | Provided by: Atlas USA
Leadership: Ma Mi Nyo | Location: Pway Na Phar| Elevation: 1275 m.a.s.l.


SAMPLE J: In Taw Natural (8126D)
Varietal: (arabica) | Process: Sun-dried Natural | Provided by: Atlas USA
Leadership: In Taw Community | Location: Ywangan Township| Elevation: 1244 m.a.s.l.
Varietal: ? | Process: Sun-dried Natural | Provided by: Atlas USA
Leadership: Ma Mi Nyo | Location: Pway Na Phar| Elevation: 1275 m.a.s.l.
Additional Information: The In Taw Community did not receive any formal training to produce specialty coffee (there was no CQI supervision over the coffee production, as with other coffees in the project), but instead saw what producers in a nearby village working with the project were doing and decided to try it for themselves.


SAMPLE K: Lay Ywar Natural (8127A)
Varietal: 50% Catuai, 50% S795 | Process: Natural | Provided by: Atlas USA
Leadership: Zeyar Oo | Farm Size: 61 Ha | Production: 1 ton specialty (64 tons total)
Households: 20 in the project (180 total)