How We Buy Our Coffees
At Café Blá we believe in being as transparent as possible about the way we source our coffee.
Seeing as we're (right now) a pretty small operation, having direct trade partner is, in our opinion, not a sustainable buying practise. It doesn't help farmers to have direct partners who are only able to contract a couple of sacks per year.
Instead we have built relationships with a few importers, whose trading philosophies we respect. A big part of what we look for in our green coffee partners is importers who are involved in social initiatives at source and are committed to making sure the farmers are getting fair prices for their beans. They are, after all, the most important people in the whole of the coffee supply chain.
This is one of the reasons for our motto of "no big statements, just really delicious coffee." Too often, small roasteries make big promises that they cannot uphold, saying that they always pay fair prices through direct trade relationships etc. No form of coffee importation is perfect, we just have to try and navigate it in the ways we believe bring the most change.
Importers who we buy from and respect hugely:
Raw Material are a Community Interest Company based in the UK, meaning that 100% of profits are put to work to create economic freedom for those coffee producers who are most marginalised. Driven by social objectives, the guys at Raw Material are set on bringing real change to the people who matter most! All of our coffees from Rwanda, Burundi, Timor-Leste, Colombia and Mexico are bought through Raw Material because they don't just do great social work, they also have some of the most delicious coffees out there!!!
Trabocca are an import company based in Amsterdam, who have been working in Ethiopia for 20+ years. In that time, they have helped to rejuvenate a number of defunct washing stations, led social initiatives and built modern schools, community centres and amenities to improve living conditions for coffee growing communities. They then used this experience to branch out to other origins, including Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Kenya and Indonesia. We love the amount of information that's available at every stage of the supply chain from Trabocca and the brilliant resources that they have available to roasters too. All of our Ethiopian and some of our Kenyan coffees are bought through Trabocca.
Kedovo is a volunteering organisation in Kenya that have multiple projects in Kenya, ranging from coffee production to education. We started buying coffees from them in 2021 and intend on buying all of our Kenyan lots from them in the future. Coffee production and export in Kenya is incredibly tricky and very unfair for the smallholders growing the cherry. One of the main objectives of the coffee projects Kedovo run is helping smallholder farmers to create societies, like the Othaya Society our first ever natural processed Kenyan coffee came from. Through these societies, the farmers are able to obtain more market power, therefore driving the prices they can charge for their cherries up.
Nico from Planting Costa Rica actually used to be a barista at Café Blá! Now he's importing amazing coffees from his native Costa Rica. Through his successful 2017 crowdfunding campaign, he was able to start addressing the socio-economic gap, helping small producers wanting to move into speciality growing and processing practises modernise and improve quality. We have been following the progress from the beginning, buying lots from El Bueyerito every year. The progress made in terms of quality has been amazing! Now with a wide and exciting range of partner farms, we are really excited to continue buying our Costa Rican lots from Nico.
The largest importer we work with. Café Imports' mission is to bring high quality speciality coffees to the wider global market, whilst striving to improve conditions for coffee growers through better prices paid, traceability and long-term relationships.