Seven Seeds Blog

2018: an aeropress odyessy

Too much fun was had at the Australian AeroPress Championship, and we have photo evidence to prove it. Some of our fav pictures are below, or you can click on the link for a whole google drive worth.

We saw a miraculous progression through the wildcard rounds from Isabella Willis, to overall winner. From near Wagga Wagga, Isabella drove down to sunny Fairfield, via Seven Seeds Carlton, by mistake. 

We hosted the event with the support of some stellar sponsors - La Marzoco & Modbar, Caravela Coffee, Paramount House Hotel, Coffee Tools & Moule Print. 

The wildcard ballot promoted gender diversity among competitors, and we're proud that we could facilitate this. 

Sangin Park (3rd), Isabella Willis (1st), David Sharp (2nd)

Roasting is subjective, but transparency is clear

Head Roaster Matt Leddingham in Jan 2108, with Zinabu Abamecha at the Yachi Kachise Co-operative in Jimma region, Ethiopia.

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It's been a long time coming. And, Mark's been quite vocal about this year about the state of the specialty coffee industry here. Sometimes too vocal, he'll admit! 

So, here we are, in a bid for clarity, publishing the price we pay to coffee producers. Not to an exporter, not the price after it's arrived at the roastery (ex. Warehouse), the price directly paid to the producer, or co-operative. It's called Farmgate. We'll explain how we arrived at this decision to publish, and the context of Farmgate in the coffee supply chain - cherry to cup, if you will. We're not saying our model is the only model, or that it is the right model. All we know is the majority of the coffee industry trades off the back of farmers being paid very low prices for the hard work they put in.

How is coffee traded?

The second highest traded commodity in world, coffee, is traded in $US per pound, determined by the global C Price. The greatest influence on this price is Brazil, the largest producer of coffee. If Brazilian producers all try to sell their coffee at the same time, the market deems the value to be less. If Brazil has a lean harvest, the price of coffee goes up. We recently saw the price of coffee dropped below US $1/lb. 

Seven Seeds, and many other coffee companies, do not regard the C Price as an accurate reflection of the worth of 'specialty grade coffee,' nor is Fairtrade. The term direct trade was spawned by American roasters like Intelligentsia, and Stumptown, reached out to coffee producers to offer them more money, directly, taking away the exporter, or importer as the go between. This only works when you have the volume to enable a more cost effect container full of coffee. Something which we can't always do, and something which many small roasters can't either.

How we purchase coffee

Our approach to buying high quality coffee is to find the most direct line to the producer, and build year-on-year relationships, ensuring consistency of supply, and a mutual understanding of what we deem as high quality. In some cases we go directly to the coffee producer - like Freddy Aurelias in Guatemala. We can fill a container with coffee, and take the risk that it will arrive in a timely way, hoping the quality is still the same as when we sampled it, and that it's not damaged, or lost in transit.
In other cases like Kenya, where we go through an auction, which is the norm for specialty grade there. We engage an exporter, Dormans, to purchase on our behalf. But, for us, it still means visiting Dormans in Nairobi to select the coffees, we want.
 

There are times when we need to purchase 'spot' that is, an importer (broker) here in Australia already has the coffee in their warehouse here. If we can't purchase a larger amount directly, a coffee we've purchased might run out quicker than we expected, or the quality hasn't meet our expectations, we need to make a spot purchase. In this process we continue to ask for transparency form the broker before we secure a lot. 

Now, let's look at a recent coffee, as an example to what farmgate means in context to other trading models. 

Farmgate

This is the price which a coffee producer, or cooperative directly receive for their coffee in parchment (coffee cherry that has been wet milled, but not yet dry-milled). Or, any agricultural product for that matter- it's a common term in trading which 'the market' deems as the value of the good. The product could be wool, grain, or beef. The value of that good will fluctuate based on demand, primarily. The deemed value of the good may be higher than cost of production, i.e. the producer would earn a profit. Or, the deemed market value of the good maybe lower than cost of production, meaning the producer will lose money. 

The price which Gilberto Rojas directly received $5.26 AU/kg for selling his parchment coffee to Azahar Coffee Company. The estimated cost of production for specialty coffee in the region is $4.34 AU/kg, so Gilberto made a profit. At the time of purchase the C-Price was $2.85. The Faritrade price farmgate changes based on country to country, producer to producer and is linked to the C-Price.

FOB - Freight On Board

After Azahar bought Gilberto's Parchment Coffee, they dry milled the coffee; removed the layer of parchment, sorted for further defects, polished (resulting in a 30% weight loss) and then packaged the coffee for export. They then transported the coffee from Huila to Cartagena Port, where it was then ready to be loaded on board a ship. This all costs Azahar $7.02 AU/kg, resulting in the final FOB price of $12.28 AU/kg - which we paid to Azahar. 
Plus shipping costs, roasting, labour and the rest! 
As stated on the source card, on top of the FOB price, we also pay to have the coffee shipped from Cartagena to Melbourne port, trucked to us in Fairfield, quality assessed, roasted (resulting in another 15% weight loss), packaged & then retail it. Clearing adding significant cost and risk along the way. 

So, why publish the farmgate price?

We're proud that the price we pay truly sustains coffee producers continue in the industry. A handful of coffee companies around the world are also publishing their farmgate prices, and encourage more to do the same, so consumers can make more informed choices.

We've explained the context of farmgate in coffee trading with one particular producer, we hope you have a little more information to make your own assessment of transparency. Every coffee you drink has been through this process and country to country, region to region, farmer to farmer, there are different approaches and payment structures that need to be navigated, all with their own complications. 

This industry is enthralling, fun, it keeps you on your toes, and dare we say it, nuanced.

CAFE TAKESI GIFT BOX

We have some exciting limited edition coffees that you won't find anywhere else in Australia, just in time for Christmas. 

In this limited edition gift box you will receive three 150g bags: one Typica, one Geisha and one Catuai, from one of the highest altitude coffee farms in the world. We have been a guest of Cafe Takesi two years running and are very proud to be able to present their coffees to you, exclusively in Australia. An ideal gift for that special coffee loving someone this Christmas.  

Cafe Takesi is between 1900 to 3200 meters, spread over 2,500 hectares of land, nestled on the steep slopes of the Royal Mountain ranges of the Andes. Producer Mariana Iturralde Costa has allocated 600 hectares to grow and develop four varietals under very specific growing conditions. Rich, acidic soil composed of layered organic matter that covers a volcanic surface, topography and cloud presence all contribute to make a unique ecosystem for growing. With the slower rate of cherry maturation found at these heights, Mariana and her team apply a particular pruning system to ensure they maximise the harvest, while maintaining the trees. 

With only a limited amount available, secure yours today! 



ON THE ROAD: FINCA ROSMA, GUATEMALA

We have been in partnership with Fredy Morales Merida of Finca Rosma for the last 6 years and they are our first point of call as soon as we land in Guatemala. Finca Rosma is a small farm near Michicoy town in San Pedro Necta area of Huehuetenango. When Fredy Morales inherited this farm 20 years ago from his father, he constructed a proper road to provide better access to him and for his neighbours, previously only accessible by horseback. Rosma estate has-been catalogued by ANACAFE as a sustainable coffee farm, providing homes, access to schools and medical assistance to employees of the farm. To preserve soil and biodiversity the plantation is shade grown. This is beneficial to the plantation, native forest and wildlife.

Fredy and his wife Yadi have recently moved into their own lab, an investment which has taken them many years to achieve, and we’re honoured to be a part of this proud moment. With a strong emphasis on environmental and social responsibility, it’s no wonder they consistently turn out delicious specialty grade coffee. This year at the Morales coffee lab, we selected five different lots from Finca Rosma. Currently available is Rosma Lot 10 for filter, tasting like red apple, toffee and raspberry. For espresso, we have Rosma Lot 13, with notes of praline, cherry and chocolate. These coffees are so good we couldn’t resist giving them the ‘top shelf’ stamp of approval.  They won’t be around for long, don’t miss out!