In Part I of this blogpost and our latest webinar we talked about the general concept of T+T and how it creates context for a company and can help take decisions for producers, exporters and roasters alike. We explored why is important for a company and how having this information can widen the understanding of the internal dynamics of a country, exporter, importing partner and producing partner, from the macro to the micro. Now, we want to focus on the HOW – how can we implement it in our company, are there any examples?
This are simple things to consider in order to start implementing or building these principles in your company
- Do you have T+T principles or guidelines in your company? If not, it is time to start setting it up. Simple principles can give context to the whole team and facilitate decision making
- Do your partners at origin practice similar principles?
- Choosing partners can be tricky but the detail is: are the actually practicing what they said they were going to do
- Receive information from origin. Start creating your data folder and analyzing it with a thoughtful, critical eye. Nurturing this data base is crucial as it will help you understand more, observe trends, find similarities, different aspects and comparing from country to country
- Start finding patterns in your data, then start asking questions
- Always remember that this information is not just for you. Assure that all parties are sharing this data and fulfilling their obligations
- Understand how the coffee industry itself exists inside of the country you’re purchasing from and how that context shapes the specialty coffee industry in that country.
With all this information at hand, you can start planning together with your partners, be it finely tuning certain things or embarking together on big changes. This will take some harvests to be implemented and evaluated, but if implemented correctly it will create value for all parties.
Most roasters around the world rely exclusively on exporters and importers to obtain this information. Therefore, make sure they are adding value to you and the producers you work with.
An Example of Caravela’s Approach
Transparency and traceability have been fundamental principles since our inception; from the start we have created systems where we can track and analyze purchase and export data for analysis, providing our roaster and grower partners with reports on transparency and traceability for almost two decades. Initially the system was simple Excel spreadsheets; then we moved to Google Sheets and since 2012 we have utilized a proprietary cloud-based ERP system, allowing us to log all the information necessary wherever we purchase coffee to provide full traceability, from the farm to the coffee roaster. Among the information collected from all lots purchased is:
- Producer details, including farm name, location, altitude, GPS coordinates, as well as demographic and family info, and applicable certifications.
- Volumes (kg) purchased, along with physical and cup quality and yields
- Market data, such as C-Price and exchange rates of the date the lot was purchased
- Pricing information (i.e., how much the producer and/or coop was paid)
- Production information: when it was dry-milled, yields, as well as if the lot was part of a community blend or sold as a single producer lot.
- Sampling data, such as when an offer or PSS was sent and to whom, as well as cupping feedback from customers
- Contractual data, including FOB and EXW price, as well as the roaster who bought it, even for SPOT lots
- Shipping data, including port of export, export date and in which vessel it sailed and what port it arrived to and when
- Warehousing data
- Final sale data, including invoice number and date
As you can see above, our system has extensive information available from every single producer lot we purchase, which can approach 30,000 individual lots each year from the seven countries where we have origin operations. The whole system exists to collect and track information so that we and our partner growers can improve, learn, innovate and share. It is precisely this amount of information that has helped us to continually improve our purchasing practices and methods, improving the coffee we source, as well as to measure our impact. Without a system to properly and systematically collect information, we would be flying blind.
In the end, most of this information is utilized to create T+T reports that we share with our roaster partners like the ones you can see below, but also many other documents that improve our internal operations in order to stay true to our guiding principles. Information can be used in many ways and, if treated properly, it can be a game changer for a company.
If transparency and traceability are guiding principles for your company, consider how to best implement them, and choose partnerships based on the same principles and guidelines.
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