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Meet Your Coffee Grower

Imagine a social business that connects a co-operative of coffee farmers in Caldas (say 5-7 farmers) directly to the customers- coffee drinkers and retail stores: buy directly from the coffee growers and sell directly to the people who enjoy coffee.

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova
17 12

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Purpose of the "Meet Your Coffee Grower" business:

- Increase the income of the local farmers (LigaMasiva, a business that links directly coffee growers in the Dominican Republic to consumers in the US, says:The farmers we work with are making 168% what they earned last year and 238% what they made over the last ten years. “)

- Access to capital for the farmers via microfinancing

- Overcome the highly fragmented market- 500,000 coffee growing families in Colombia out of which, 60% have less than 1.5 hectares of coffee

- Cut out the many middlemen that currently exist in trade

- Guarantee a price to the farmers (as mentioned by Milo in the inspiration “The economy of Caldas”, “The coffee industry is cyclic in several ways, not only the coffee plant is grown and harvested during specific periods of the year, but its prices in the international markets rise and fall, making it unstable source of money for many local families.”)

- Establish a long term buying commitment with the co-operative

- Motivate farmers to return back to growing coffee. During most of the 1990's and the first years of this century prices were below the costs of production. This situation obliged a lot of growers to give up on coffee or to decrease their living standards.  Some coffee growers even resorted to grow illegal crops.

- “Add value to the coffee beans". Currently, often the coffee beans are collected and sent for roasting outside of Colombia.

- Encourage young people, who come from farmer's families to stay in the region and work in the family business.

- Consult and educate farmers on agriculture- i.e. how to fight some of the most popular insect infestations (i.e. broca – a borer worm that nestles in coffee plants infested up to 25% of the crop in 2009-2010 in a farm near the city of Manizales, Caldas.)

Demand:

- Local retail stores

- Colombians, who have migrated outside of Colombia. Those who have migrated and live in large Latino communities are often ignored in marketing and distribution by current players. The largest population of Colombians outside of Colombia is in Venezuela, followed by USA and Spain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colombian_diaspora

- Coffee lovers from around the world

- Subsciption model could be offered- i.e. 100 bags of coffee for the whole year with  delivery schedule every month or every two months. (credits for the idea to Johan Löfström)

Channels:

- Online store (Avi's concept "Caldas Direct Coffee Exchange could be integrated here)

- Retail stores in Colombia

- Retail stores in Latino neighborhoods in major cities in Venezuela, Florida and Spain (Madrid and Barcelona, with the highest Colombian population in Spain).

How could this work?

Create a cooperative of farmers who produce coffee. The “Meet Your Coffee Grower” business purchases all the harvested coffee from the farmers and gives it for roasting to a local roasting factory. For example, 3 different roasting options (to keep it simple) could be offered- dark, light, a combination of both. As suggested by Johan Löfström, a possibility could be to gather insights about people's favorite coffee roasting preferences. This means that the farmers will learn from the coffee lovers all over the world and adjust the roasting choices they offer.

Packaging is done locally as well (with pictures of the cooperative of local producers w/ their families on the package). The packaged coffee is sent to the retail stores locally and sold online.

It is best to enjoy fresh-roasted coffee within 2-4 weeks of roast, so it is important for the business to be able to

Promotion : via coffee communities, local campaigns; radio campaign similar to the one, mentioned by Angelica Gonzalez.

How do you envision this idea making money?

Selling the roasted and packaged coffee via the online store and to retail stores. Pricing: LigaMasiva, a company that employ the direct model, is selling at $14.99 per bag of coffee, 12 oz=340gr; Illy coffe, widely popular in Europe, is selling 100g @3,16 €

How does this idea create social impact, particularly around improving health?

- Increase the income of the local farmers through removing the middlemen in the supply chain and providing agricultural education - Encourage young people to stay in the region

What are the short term steps we could take to implement this idea tomorrow?

- Search for a group of farmers- say 5 farmers who are willing to build a co-operative and have their own farms. - Channels: Create an online presence- an online store to enable the purchases online and search for local retail store - Marketing: spread the word

17 comments

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Photo of Irune Gonzalez Cruz

Krassimira! Your concept made me think of IOU [IOWEYOU] http://iouproject.com/. It's a similar concept to the one that you are proposing, where a product (clothes) connect weavers, artisans and end users.

Telling the story of coffee, farmers, the context, the process... creates a meaningful experience, a lot more valuable than a simple product, not just for the consumer but for all the actors involved.

It is great that you mention that coffee would be packed along with pictures or information, because I think the story should be told not just on the online world but also on the off-line world.

Let me know what you think about it!

Photo of Juan Cajiao

Cool, it is similar to the Caldas Coffe Exchange, check it out.
You may also have a look of this website of a Costa Rica farmer selling online his coffee: http://www.donevelio.com/our-farm.html

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova

Irune, IOWEYOU has a very inspirational model! Thanks for sharing! @Juan: yes, this concept is similar to the Caldas Coffee Exchange!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I love your concept and what I wanted to propose was something really similar. There are few brands that have been successful in that region, one of them is the mother of some one I study with in school. They stared with a small farm and now they have a huge infrastructure around their coffee. Their brand is called Cafe Quindio (http://www.cafequindio.com/home.html) they all ready have small coffee shops, they are building a museum, etc. Another brand that is getting strong Cafe San Alberto (http://www.cafesanalberto.com/) I need to say that is one of my favorite places in the region, their coffee shop is at the top of the mountain and it has a view to the valley, is magical. Cafe DelParaisso (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_145028942212163), is a new brand that just stared, is an organic coffee made by young people. All of the above are people that have their coffee brand and they are commercializing themselves.

Their is also a really popular contest that takes place in el Quindio (the town next to Caldas) that is called "The Best Cup of Coffee" (http://www.revistalabarra.com.co/news/57/112/QUINDiO-CAFe-Y-SABOR-SE-PREPARA-PARA-SU-TERCERA-VERSIoN-EN-ARMENIA.htm). How it works is that they try the coffee from all the local brands, specially that ones that have small coffee farmers who are building their brand and coffee shop, then they will decide which one will be the best one. In my opinion, it had made a big impact for the participant. This put them out there and also in my experience being from that region we are all waiting to hear who is the winner to go and drink the best cup of coffee.

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova

Maria, thanks for the comment!
This is fabulous you're sharing your great coffee experiences:-). What do you think about the idea to target Colombians who live outside of Colombia? Do you think there is a potential?

Photo of Angelica Gonzalez

Great concept Krassimira! Following what Irune said, I think is great IOU philosophy. Connecting consumers with producers in a whole new and deeply level could help increase not only consumption but awareness on what’s going on with coffee producers and how we can help them. Following what Maria said, it’s awesome what Café Quindío and Café San Alberto are doing. There’s also a similar coffee project in a village near to Bogotá named San Francisco. Unfortunately they don’t have a website yet to show you, never the less the business is growing faster and they will have their first product soon -and certainly their website.

Now on, answering Krassimira question. I think there’s a huge potential targeting Colombians abroad. Not only because they definitely miss their coffee -which is a fact, but also –and primary because of the cause. Help their own people moves and gather Colombians around the globe most of the times. A good example was “El Salado” campaign. It was promoted by a famous radio station in Colombia (La W) and through the station and different websites people could afford a bracelet which money was used to re-build “El Salado” a small village which suffers a terrible massacre a year ago. Most of the bracelets were bought by Colombians abroad. So, even when the situation is completely different this campaign proved their commitment with their country and people; a fact that can help to this great concept.

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova

Angelica, thanks a lot for your comment and sharing the story of El Salado. This brings me to the idea that we can actually have the "Meet Your Coffee Grower" idea be promoted by a national radio station and websites taht could be accessed from outside Colombia as well. What do you think?

Photo of Johan Löfström

just like in my concept? or attached to it? Radio-Hotline : http://www.openideo.com/open/how-might-we-improve-health-care-through-social-business-in-low-income-communities/concepting/radio-hotline/

Photo of Angelica Gonzalez

Sorry for the late answer. I think it could work out great! Once you have the concept, national radio stations are eager to promote initiatives like this. They had adequate the “spaces” to do so, and people participates a lot and supports a lot. This radio station I told you about (La W) is listened by Colombians all around the globe because its credibility. If we summarized Johan concept of a local radio station, both concepts -while combined- can encourage people to not only meet the coffee grower and buy the coffee but to locally get together around the same cause. Education is the key. So the local radio station could not only teach people about healthy habits but empower them to support each other.

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