Everything you need to know about direct trade relationships

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Are you planning to buy coffee and cacao online? You must have come across the term direct trade relationships. It has a significant impact on the specialty coffee and cacao industry. Are you confused about what the term exactly means? Read on to know more:

  • What is a direct trade relationship? 

Direct trade relationship is the term used by many roasters to describe their relationship with the producer. To be specific, it is the direct relationship between the producer/ farm and roasters/consumers by removing the trade negotiation. It is based on mutual trust, interpersonal connections, price transparency and commitment to quality.  

Unlike fair trade, direct trade relationship is not regulated by a set of standards. Instead, it is based on the agreement made between the roaster and the farmer. The consumer arranges the pre-payment of a particular crop or lot before harvest based on the commitments made or the previous year's quality. 

When you buy the richest coffee’s online, the roaster claims a direct relationship, indicating that they work with the farmers to bring you the finest cup of coffee. Everything is carried out at the farm level, from coffee sourcing to all the required logistics to have the beans delivered to the destination. 

  • What is the aim of the direct trade relationships? 

One of the central goals of direct trade relationships is to create a more level playing field. Typically, farmers earn a tiny percentage of profit when their coffee reaches the consumer through multiple hands. It makes it challenging to improve their operation and elevate from their position. The direct trade relationship removes the middleman and ensures that farmers earn their deserved share of profit. It is a core element of the business going forward. The roasters identify the farmer's needs and adjust the premiums accordingly. 

The direct trade relationship also aims to improve quality by giving a competitive edge to the farmers. It incentivizes them to enhance the quality of their green beans. Direct trade also encourage farmers to innovate their coffee production operations with new fermentation techniques and processes.

  • How the direct trade relationship impacts the coffee quality? 

Direct trade relationships are crucial to improving and achieving excellent quality. It delivers a flavor and coffee experience that consumer’s desire. Moreover, it also opens opportunities that might not have existed otherwise. It is also essential for sustainability on both sides. The producers/farmers know that they need to grow and harvest the finest quality to keep selling coffees and satisfying consumer needs. On a similar note, consumers enjoy the benefits quality grown coffee.

Direct trade relationships affect the quality of coffee and how we approach it. Leading roasters work with the farmers and offer them the opportunity to learn and experiment. They use tools and methods to push the boundaries of what they can do with coffee.

Mr. COLOMBINO direct trade sourcing model

  1. We are seeking the greatest farmers of all time:
    • Through obtaining results in competitions such as Cup of Excellence COE or World Barista Championships, we spot the farmers who are implementing the most innovative practices to bring real value to the table.
    • We have built relationships through our experiences at the farm level Back in the day, living in Colombia, we used to help farmers raise funds to develop their projects. That’s how we built a network of farmers in Colombia and we continue to keep track of their journeys.
  1. Connecting with farmers: We connect with them by sending our buyers to their farms to collect samples. Or, we just spot them on social media to start the conversation and we ask them to ship samples of their coffees to our labs in Cali, Colombia.
    1. Sample evaluation: As a requirement, farmers should ship coffee in parchment form, so we can evaluate the yield factor. Then, in a micro milling machine, we process the parchment coffee to obtain green coffee. Once this process is performed, we roast the beans according to the Specialty Coffee Association rules, to perform the SCA cupping protocol that determines the score of the coffee. This provides a starting point to negotiate a price with the farmer.
    1. Milling, packaging and logistics: Once we have set a price and the coffee is paid for, the farmer should ship his pre-processed coffee (parchment) to the closest milling facility to process the parchment into green coffee. Then, it will be packaged according to the quality and bean size. Net size is related to the bean size, which goes from 10-12, 13-15, 15-18.
    1. Roasting, packaging or serving: Whether you get our whole bean or you get a brewed cup of coffee at our South Hills location, you will be able to taste and evaluate the differences of each coffee bean. BTW we encourage you to try our coffee black as it tastes better. (Please do not add sugar or milk, would you add water to a cup of wine?)

    Bottom line

    Direct trade relationships are changing the coffee industry and coffee farmers' operations for the better. Buy coffee and cacao online from roasters who directly trade with farmers to enjoy a real and unique coffee sensory experience.