In 2008 I inherited a small coffee farm in Central America (Antigua, Guatemala). The farm (the land that is left; about three acres) has been in my family for four generations (the land was bought by my great-grandmother).
Since it came into my hands, I have been dealing with legal issues and getting the farm cleaned up and more coffee plants added (Arabica Typica, Arabica Bourbone and Arabica Caturra) along with learning about the farming process.
I am also looking into getting a organic certificate from AnaCafe and the Smithsonian bird friendly cert.
So! my question is this: I want to sell the coffee directly to Roasters in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have about 1200lbs of green beans that will be ready in Feb.of next year. My farm is processing the coffee which is all shade grown within the city of Antigua (so it is Estate Coffee).
What is the best way to contact roasters and what information should I have for them? Where do I find the going rate of coffee prices for my specific area?
I know that I don't have enough poundage to ship my beans in a single container so I am looking at other options for getting it to the Bay Area.
Since only 1200lb estimate (9ish bags) for your entire crop you'll probably only need one roaster to take it all. Pretty sure would have to work through an importer to bring it in, them adding their "cut" to the price. Logistics aside, as Joseph indicated no serious roaster would want it without samples. IF it's high quality proven in the cup, we'd be interested in the entire crop.
Casandra: If this helps, you would need to send at least 200 grams of green coffee (prepared according to SCAA protocols www.scaa.org). Your price should be based according to quality. One good help could be if you give a sample to the cupping lab at Anacafé. They would let you know what type of coffee it is. Depending on the type, the coffee receives a + or a - differential. Also, if it does have any certifications (which are extended by third parties, not Anacafé) then you can also add this to your final price.
You should know all your costs for producing it and milling it, plus your profit, cost for taking the coffee all the way to port (growers sell Free on board- FOB). When you estimate your price you should say: $X.XX per pound FOB. Roasters normally have an importer which they buy from normally. If they don´t, then you can talk to an exporter in Guatemala in order to see if any of their buyers are willing to consolidate. In this case, the importer charges the roaster a fee for doing the import process and delivering to the roasters´s door.
Thanks everyone. I currently have 495lbs that was processed in 2008 and that I have stored in Antigua ready to ship. I roasted 20 pounds of that coffee in Antigua a few months ago to see how it tasted and it tasted great to me.
But like Gabriela noted I am not the one that makes the call on taste or quality. I will be getting in contact with AnaCafe when I go back. In fact I am trying to get information here before I leave. And thanks Gabriela, I didn't know they don't extend certificates but I will get a hold of them to send them some beans of the Nov. crop.
I think it would be wiser to give samples of the coffee that will be harvested in Nov/Dec of this year. I will be going back to Antigua to be at the farm for part of the harvest in Dec. and will most likely bring back what was harvested and processed in Nov. So perhaps at that time I can meet with interested roasters and give them samples. It seems that from what Mike mentioned about "high quality proven in the cup" that the information that Anacafe gives would be important? Or do the Roasters make that call too?
As far as getting the approx. 1200lbs to the Bay Area. I have a cousin that has a shipping company in Guatemala City. He can do the paperwork for importation on his end and is getting me the contact for the San Francisco end (as far as paperwork). I was thinking of having it sent by air...comments? I have been told that it will be more expensive that way. And from other research I have done on the internet it is recommended to try to find another coffee importer that will allow me to add my small amount to their shipment. It sounds great but I am not sure how to get those contacts.
As you can see I am just getting started but I really appreciate the advice and links. I will check out the SCAA protocols Gabriela. And I do have a contact person at the Smithsonian for Bird Friendly Certification so I will follow that lead too.
Any other advice is greatly appreciated and I will keep the roasters that are interested and contact when I have the beans ready to go. I will try to post some pictures when I start the harvest so you can see my grand adventure.
Just as an aside, I have been encouraged by many to sell the land for development. Antigua is a very popular tourist site. But my hope is that I can get this farm to sustain itself and help out more people in the future than one housing development could ever do. Not to mention the green space that would be lost if I sold. I hope I can do this, wish me luck and thanks again.
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