The secret of outstanding coffee lies in professionalism

The secret of outstanding coffee lies in professionalism

in News
This news is part of the following focus area:
Natalia Palomino
Natalia Palomino
Comunicaciones | Latinoamérica

Imagine that you are a coffee trader. What would you take into account when selecting a farmers' cooperative to do business with? The quality of the coffee beans comes first. Also: is the cooperative capable to deliver on time? Are the agreed volumes available? Is the price acceptable? Farmer organisations need to become professional business partners in order to gain the trust of the coffee traders and roasters.

That’s why an increasing number of coffee cooperatives use improved quality protocols for their products and processes, while deploying professionals in key areas and devising strategies to communicate easily with the buyers. This is the starting point. But how to go further and generate added value on international markets? Let us tell you a story that has only just begun...

The farmer cooperative: a solid marketing partner

The Aprocassi cooperative is located in the Cajamarca region of Peru. Founded almost 20 years ago, today it counts 575 members dedicated to coffee harvesting and marketing. The cooperative offers pre-harvest and post-harvest funding services, supports to rehabilitate old plantations, and payments through a savings and credit cooperative within the coffee cooperative itself, and a benefits-based loyalty programme for members.

In 2017, the Aprocassi cooperative went through a difficult time, which pushed them to renew several processes. This included to go beyond their original vision of offering a fair price to the producers to supporting their members’ entrepreneurship by sustainably managing their farm, and introducing new farming technologies to obtain high quality and productivity.

Today, the cooperative’s motto ‘Family is the pillar of growth’ refers to the close ties between the members and their family, who bring together their knowledge and skills for an enhanced final product.

Since then, Rikolto and Cooperativa Aprocassi have shared a common goal: generating sustainable and inclusive business models for companies and coffee organisations, and helping to use market opportunities to promote quality coffees, with a particular emphasis on involving young people and women.

In the last three years, Rikolto has contributed to train 64 new leaders who help innovate the coffee business and add to its sustainability.

While Aprocassi continued to develop exclusive offers for international markets, Rikolto found a business partner who was interested in providing Peruvian coffee to the Australian market.

The co-creator: a high-quality roaster

Cassiopeia is a specialty coffee roasting company based in the Blue Mountains, NSW Australia. They sell seasonal coffee from Kenya, Colombia, Ethiopia and Nicaragua at their three coffee shops, with the stated aim of working hand in hand with producers.

Cassiopeia’s founder Zac Suito always wanted to return to his parents’ land, Peru. When he learned about Rikolto’s work in the country, his interest was renewed by the variety of organizations in the coffee industry who share a commitment to quality. So he decided to spend the month of July in San Ignacio, Cajamarca, during the coffee harvesting season. The goal was to work hand in hand with farmer families to create outstanding coffee.

I like the quality of coffee in Peru. We cupped in San Ignacio and I really liked the profiles, they are different than in other countries. I like that the producers process the coffee on their farms and want [to provide] a good product. I chose to work with Aprocassi because they are professionals

Zac Suito Founder of Cassiopeia

From the first visit, the Rikolto team accompanied the cooperative. First, we wanted to get a good insight in its main services and facilities for the farmers, the tasting laboratory and the demonstration plots; but we also wanted to find out more about the motivation and stories of its members. Cassiopeia visited the farms and, together with the staff and producers of Aprocassi, organized mobile cupping sessions with coffees from around the world. Suito enjoyed a week of authentic conviviality and exchange with the Aprocassi team, reaffirming his commitment to work with the organization. Meanwhile Lith Montés, Project Coordinator at Rikolto Perú, strenghtened the trade relations with the Australian company.

Connecting the company to the producer

Rikolto took part in the visits of the buyer at various times to make sure that the conditions of producers were understood, and that the coffee met market interests while resulting in a profitable business for both parties. This is how Cassiopeia and Aprocassi came up with the initiative ‘Transparency and quality in the coffee chain’, with Rikolto as a strategic partner.

The initiative will involve various professionals from the cooperative and the roasting company. Q-Graders form either side, a barman and the producers will work together to develop exclusive flavours to meet the demand coming from the Australian and New Zealand markets for specialty coffees. In turn, the families will diversify the coffee through a variety of post-harvesting processes. Most producers are small family businesses with one to three hectares of coffee plantations at over 1,500m above sea level.

We've developed an inclusive and profitable business model with smallholders. We did this with an exclusive brand and a coffee that has an 85 cupping score. The idea is for coffee farmer families to sell to specific roasters in the coming years, blending the experience of the older generation with the ideas of the younger.

Lith Montés Coffee Projects Coordinator for Rikolto in Peru

The next step will be for Peruvian coffee farmer families to spread their success stories to Australia and New Zealand. They do so, by attaching a letter to the coffee package that can be read by the Australian coffee lovers. ‘One of the most important pillars of this job is co-founding,’ explains Montés. The initiative will allow for the conservation of wild coffee varieties that are at risk of extinction.

At Rikolto we help companies and producers come together to build a business model that improves farmers’ lives. Meeting consumer demands and a solid business approach equip organisations with a competitive advantage on the international market.

For more information, feel free to contact :

Lith Montes
Lith Montes
Coordinadora de proyectos del programa Café | Perú