Hey coffee roaster! I didn’t like planning either…
To the people who know me best, I don’t necessarily excel at planning. It just never instinctively came naturally to me. I simply viewed it as a skill I’d never possess, or worse, something I’d have to work and toil over. As you get older and find yourself with more adult responsibilities, your choices begin to run out and for the benefit of yourself and those around you, you need to make some serious life changes. And so, I decided to level up and ‘learn’ how to plan. Before I worked at Caravela, I was a roaster and some of my personality traits definitely came out when it came to planning ahead of time for green. And yes, things got awkward.
Here at Caravela Australia we have loved on the term ‘supply agreement’.
It is a term which means so much more than just forward contracting and invoicing inventory under pre-arranged mutual agreement between exporter and roaster. The backend narrative of coming to forward supply decisions requires the effort of more than three or four groups of professional individuals working collectively and collaborating to reach common goals. The term itself doesn’t give justice to the tireless efforts involved in the procurement process of samples, cupping sessions, data logging, meticulous forecasting and back-and-forth to reach a repeatable final verdict. We believe the term encompasses a crucial objective Caravela aims to achieve with its customers: to partner alongside producers and roasters to deliver the best, most consistent high quality Latin American coffees worth getting excited about time and time again!
Caravela’s model allows for an undying unapologetic desire from our team to add value, to reveal that we are as passionate and driven about your roasting program and customers as you are. We want to see you adding value to your retail and or wholesale community and loving the process from start to finish. To see a producer group or a single-farmer lot showcased is a wonderful thing. The icing on the cake is seeing a purchase go beyond a one- off window shop retail therapy experience and evolve into a consistent, repeatable ongoing partnership where real exchanges make career highlight memories for all. For all the above to happen, we need to learn and embrace a ‘plan’. Typically, the Australian market depends on spot offerings, and for justifiable reasons – convenience, immediate availability, a sense of easy bridging volume gap purposes (call it inventory insurance). Throw in Australia’s location and proximity from the tropics and it’s understandable why most roasters have at one time, or another dipped into some spot supply.
We are not opposed to spot purchases, in fact we work hard to secure a relevant, seasonal, and diverse list of coffees all year round. However, a refreshing success story of late has been the roaster’s transformation in approach to securing high quality green coffee. These roasters who initially thought spot purchasing was the only way to go about securing coffee have learned that by planning ahead, forecasting quantities and committing, it opens the door to a range of benefits. Advantages such as partnering with countless exclusive producers and producer communities, aiding in the sustainability of specialty coffee and not to mention competitive pricing. Once we have laid down the foundation of forward booking, the process simplifies and there is a sense of ease and access.
We have observed over the years a consistent trend taking place. When roasters give themselves the time to pause, carefully consider, forecast, and communicate their volume needs efficiently, they all grow. It’s like my dad always says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.
It’s important to note that these established supply agreements directly benefit our beloved producers and producer groups at origin. The role that roasters can and do play is pivotal to producers’ progression, as it can dictate whether growers are able to improve processing methods, upgrade equipment, plant more trees and even in some cases purchase more land and expand their production capacity and quality.
Spot has a place. It will always perform a valuable function, but it can be unpredictable, risky, and less cost-efficient. Supply agreements are inerrant, safer in the long run and for all you Weet-Bix lovers, supply agreements are the breakfast of serious green coffee partnership champions because of the impact they have on all the hands in the global coffee supply chain.
If reading this today has convicted your inventory forecasting management planning skills and you’re wanting to understand a little more about the how’s, do’s and don’ts, ins and outs of forward booking (creating supply agreements) I encourage you to reach out to a member of our sales team for some sound advice which has the potential to transform not only your green coffee program but will give you the confidence boost that you deserve!
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