Coffee is health food: Myth or fact?

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We sourced coffees from nine countries: United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Burundi.

In addition to our ongoing, quality-focused work, we invested significantly in two projects:  La Pastora micro-mill in Costa Rica and the farmer Melvin Flores in El Salvador.

At La Pastora in Tarrazu, Costa Rica we gained full access to their entire production, cupping coffees from each day of the 2017 harvest. Cupping day lots gave us access to the very best of the harvest, enabling us to make noteworthy improvements to our Costa Rican coffees.

With Melvin Flores in Chalatenago, El Salvador we aimed to retain the quality we knew he was producing. This came down to drying the coffee at a slower rate, helping preserve and balance out the moisture content so that the coffee was cured and stable for export. We purchased shade cloth, wood, and wire to construct canopied raised beds to slow the drying time. We gave these materials as a gift, but also as an investment. This investment cost Olympia Coffee $2,000 but yielded the best harvest results we have ever seen from Melvin Flores. His Pacas varietal skyrocketed from a cupping score of 87 in past years, to a stellar 91 in 2017.

The table below documents our purchases for the 2017 year. Following are some terms to understand before you take a look at the table. Unless otherwise noted, all coffee is paid per lb in US dollars.

Producer Name: This is the farmer’s name, the cooperative, or a project name such as in the case of San Fermin.

Exporter: An Exporter is a company responsible for coffee’s export from its country of origin. Exporters provide service from the farm or collection point to the Port of Export. Prices include dry milling, preparation, bagging in Grain Pro, proper legal protocol, and the completion of related paperwork.

Importer: The Importer is a company responsible for bringing the exported green coffee into a US Port of Entry and through Customs. The Importer must provide documentation and transport from the Port of Entry to the end warehouse. Our coffees are most often brought into the Ports of Oakland or Seattle.

Producer Price: The Producer Price is the the take-home price for the coffee farmer, including farmers who are a part of a cooperative. For small farms where the farmer has no employees, this is also the Fair for All price.

Pickers Price: The Pickers Price represents the documented commitment our farmers made, for what they would pay farm laborers, including pickers and processors at per lb price. Olympia Coffee’s Fair for All standards require, farmers that hire labor, pay a fair and competitive wage within their community. A skilled picker can, on average, harvest about 100 lbs of coffee cherry per day. N/A indicates that the Producer picked and processed the coffee themselves.

FOB Price: FOB stands for Free on Board, a term that means a coffee is ready for export, such as being “onboard” a ship. It represents that price paid to the Producer and Exporter.

FOT Price: FOT stands for Free on Truck. Free on Truck is a coffee that has been exported, imported, and is sitting in a warehouse in the United States ready for shipment to the roaster. The vast majority of specialty coffee roasters start their sourcing from coffees already brought to the FOT stage by an Importer. The FOT Price includes the Producer Price, plus Exporter and Importer costs. It may also include financing charges.

C Price and Fair Trade Price: All coffee is traded as a commodity on the “C Market”. C Market trading determines a global base FOB price for green coffee and it fluctuates daily as it’s traded. In early 2017, the C Market set prices at $1.60/lb, but steadily declined throughout the year and ended at about $1.20. The Fair Trade price in 2017 was $1.40 with an additional $0.30 for Organic Certified coffees. Notably, all of our Organic Certified coffees in 2017 were also Certified Fair Trade, but as you will see in the table below, the coffee farmers we work with always earned more than double the Fair Trade price. Olympia Coffee paid higher prices to producers based on their coffee quality and our Fair for All standards.

Volumes: We base our volume projections on bags and/or boxes. However, bag/box sizes vary by origin. In Colombia, Costa Rica, and El Salvador a bag weighs 152 lbs. In Guatemala it’s an even 150 lbs. In Burundi, Kenya, and Ethiopia a bag weighs 132 lbs. Also in Colombia, vacuum-packed boxes weigh 77 lbs.

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