We are quite the adventurous bunch and it didn’t take long till we decided that we must start embarking on importing our own coffee, rather than relying solely on local brokers. So in 2011 we started doing research into the different channels that coffee travels along to get from crop to cup.
In our search we came across a fantastic bunch of folks in the USA who import coffee from all over the world. Their offerings list was what attracted us most. They travel all year round to source the world’s best coffees, building relationships with farmers and organizations and also discovering and purchasing Microlot* coffee too. We are very interested in knowing where our coffee comes from, and their offerings afforded us this privilege.
So, around June of this year we got a batch of samples from these guys. We sample-roasted the coffees (we have a small roaster, a Hot Top, which roasts batches of around 200 grams), cupped them all (with a little help from our friends), and determined which coffees we wanted. It was an exciting process and we learnt a lot on the fly. So we sent through our order. Then we started learning that importing ‘is nie vir sissies nie’ (meaning: is not for sisters…). There were plenty of channels to set up and processes to go through, but ALAS! We were victorious! And with the help of plenty of folks along the way, our coffees arrived safely at our roastery 2 months later.
It is important that I emphasise that we have only bought South & Central American coffees from these guys, as we are keen to pursue a direct model of trade in sourcing our African coffees.
*A microlot is a limited edition coffee from an exceptional harvest. The beans are carefully selected from a small plot of land that is producing coffee of exceptional flavour (determined by cupping a variety of hand-selected lots). The plot is then harvested and processed separately from the rest of the farm, which increases its cost, but gives us something truly special.