SOURCING COFFEE AT SINGLE O
Here’s a condensed, or espresso-length version of the ‘how, who, when and where’ Single O sources its specialty coffee. The ‘why’ part is quite straight forward; We don’t grow coffee ourselves, so are completely in the hands of coffee producers around the world. Without them, we are just the hot air of our roaster!
DIRECT RELATIONSHIP SOURCING & LIKE-MINDED GO-BETWEENS
Single O has been sourcing directly for most of its coffees, travelling to origin, for over a decade. This has been fundamental to our goals around quality discovery and assurance. Being there allows us to eagle eye for ripe coffee cherries, clean washing stations, careful drying and hand sorting. It also lets us see, first hand, working conditions, and key environmental deal-makers like sound water management practices.
You can’t get everywhere, though, and we’re glad to have seen the rise of progressive and entrepreneurial exporters, as well as great green bean import businesses. This is providing more producers with access to the specialty market, as well as giving us more choices to supplement our direct sourcing program.
SUPPORTING PRODUCERS’ WHO MAKE SPECIALTY COFFEE
The producers we work with have made the decision to grow and process the highest quality product. This ‘specialty grade’ coffee may be all that they grow, or might be the cream of the crop from their farm where they also produce other grades.
The types of farms we’re talking about can vary greatly, often typical of country and region, but as is the case with coffee, there are always exceptions to the rules. Loosely speaking, we buy from Estates, Individual Farms, Co-operatives and Mill or Washing Station entities.
Quality can come from just a couple of hectares and as many sets of hands on a family-run farm in Central America. Or it can come from a cast of thousands from a co-op in East Africa. We strive to share information about the size and nature of the producer entity to help paint a picture of who is responsible for your cup. While it’s an increasingly small world, the realities of producing coffee can still seem far, far away.
SEARCHING FOR STELLAR PARTNERS & HONOURING RELATIONSHIPS
We seek out producers who uphold excellent standards, wages, environmental practices and investments in training and long-term sustainability. We look for businesses who are doing an outstanding job at delivering high worth coffee, at good value, and are great at what they do, from growing, and mill managing, through to being solid and reliable traders.
We look to support producers who bring job opportunities to more regions by working with organisations on the ground who provide access to growers in more remote areas.
True to our mission to Nudge Coffee Forward, we seek out initiatives that provide improved approaches for coffee producers and work in harmony with the natural environment.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PRODUCERS & PAYING WHAT A COFFEE’S WORTH
While we’re a long way from saints, we are a fiercely spirited bunch who aim to create more than our fair share of positive change for people and planet. We can’t move mountains overnight (and if we could, we’d move them even higher for cooler coffee climates in a warming world), but we are doing our bit against climate change, as a 1% for the Planet member and more, to support the long term viability of growing specialty coffee. And as we’ve done since inception, we continue to reward producers who have succeeded in value creation, paying higher prices for higher quality coffees.
Single origins that we buy can regularly be worth up to ten times the Commodity Price. And our blends over three times the C Market.
DISCOVERING NEW TALENT VIA CUP OF EXCELLENCE
Cup Of Excellence is the original online auction platform started over 20 years ago with the bold idea of creating a quality coffee competition and discovering market value through a global online action. This program has been so successful there are now several public and private online coffee auctions platforms held every month across the world in coffee-producing countries. These competitions lead the way in creating new specialty producer connections, rewarding quality, and broadly speaking, for sending positive messages to the coffee producing world; the 2020 inaugural Ethiopia Cup of Excellence competition, in which we were lucky enough to participate in by serving winning lot #2, broke record prices for producers worldwide.
We purchase Cup of Excellence and other auction coffees throughout year, and have no qualms about selling them for as much as a deserving $20 per cup. We’re one small voice in this choir, but our view is that cup prices across the board still do not reflect the rare and amazing qualities these coffees possess in the way fine wine has managed to capture.
CONTRIBUTING TO ORIGIN PROJECTS ALONG THE WAY
There’s a wide array of projects on the boil at origin, on producers’ farms, or within their local communities. Sometimes we get the chance to jump on board and support a particular project. These have ranged from buying cows for families in Huye Mountain, Rwanda, to funding a well led by the Rwenzori elders in Uganda, to building concrete drying patios for producers in Honduras.