Discovering the SourceMany of us chose careers in the coffee industry because of the link that it creates between us and with those who grow it, otherwise it’s just a hot drink. Being interested in and caring about the welfare of the farmers who grow the coffee we buy, and sell is the main point of interest for many of us as we go about the more mundane tasks of our professional lives.
2 Minutes Read
By Joanna Lawson
Europe Sales Director
- Traceability ensures that we know who produces the coffee we buy. More and more we choose to promote the work of farmers through photos and stories, not just to recognize their hard work but also to feel connected with our business partners in distant lands, as well as making our own work more meaningful and interesting.
In our business, traceability is not an added extra but rather an essential part of the business model. We are a vertically integrated company, meaning that the people who cup and buy the coffee at origin work for the same company as those who cup and sell the coffee in the destination markets. We receive coffee at our warehouses in all sorts of quantities and in some very remote locations. Each lot is analyzed using the same procedures across the whole company and is cupped and categorized from day one. To ensure the quality and consistency of our end-product we must meticulously record the details of the coffee quality, and the farm which produced every single lot, no matter the size, before assembling our larger community lots.
Traceability reports can be provided for any community lot, detailing exactly how much coffee was delivered by each farmer. Our internal traceability system means we can trace not only the original cupping score at the point of purchase in the warehouse, but also the cupping score given later on by the origin HQ, responsible for compiling the community blends. Our PECA farmer education program means that farmers are visited regularly by our team of agronomists, who keep track of the key farm data. This includes information about altitude, varietals and farm size, as well as areas for improvement on the farm. PECA works with over 4500 farms, so this is quite the job!
An example of an A-grade traceability report provided to a customer.
The vertically integrated model means that the information flows right the way through the system, from purchase to sale. And while we might not always have the most up-to-date high-resolution photos of every single farmer we work with, the system we use throughout the entire company means that information about the quality and size of lots purchased is always available and accurate.
One of the wonderful things about the specialty sector is that while a lot of the industry makes bulk purchases, with no connection to farmers, we rely on this connection. We know exactly who we are working with at any given moment and although we might never actually meet them, this understanding creates respect and care for the product from which we all make our living.
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