As a new roasting company, we really want to learn how we can move towards sourcing our own coffee.

What are resources we could look at to learn how we can do this? Where do I start, on a personal level, to learn more about sourcing? 

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The latest issue of Roast has a good article by Andi Trindle on what importers do.

People think of them as "middlemen," and that's often viewed as a dirty word, but the benefits they offer are huge. And their role doesn't preclude relationships. They can actually offer you opportunities to meet producers they work with.

As a small roaster, you need to know what you're going to do if the five or ten bags of quality Salvador or Sumatra you purchased FOB arrives skunky, or even just not that great. Can you take the hit? Lots of stuff can go wrong between the mill, port and your own warehouse.

I've spoken with importers who get pre-ship samples from Ethiopian co-ops, refuse them, and then a week later get the same pre-ship sample with a different mark, lol.
I think that the key is to Network. SCAA is in Texas this year. Go. Also, group origin trips are a great way to meet the specialty coffee people in the region you visit.

As a small roaster, your best bet, in my opinion, is to talk to other roasters in your area that are sourcing coffee themselves and find out about their projects. If you like the coffees that they're receiving, ask if you can get in on board for next year. I may be wrong about this, but we like to work with roasters in our area to get our volumes up and improve everyone's access to direct trade coffees-- importing coffee is a pain in small quantities, and things become less complicated (and more controllable) if you don't have to consolidate your shipping. I think that another small roaster who wasn't too... proprietary, would be psyched to have you on board.

I would say that as a new roasting company, though, you should probably wait a little while to branch out on your own until you are more established and more connected in the countries in which you would like to work. Sourcing your own coffee in the volumes that you are likely looking for is likely not profitable -- and while you are just starting out I think its best to focus on making your margins with the structure that you have. Sourcing trips, logistics, packaging -- none of this is easy or cheap -- are you sure that this is something you'd like to be sinking a lot of your available capital into?
Rosetta Stone and a Skymiles credit card.

We direct trade with a grower from china. Pesonally, our relationship with the grower was already developed once we even open our doors.

I met these guys at an event in Denver.  They have a pretty extensive sourcing process. I usually hate single serve coffee, but wow! their's is amazing because they control the beans all the way from the tree.  I'd check them out, maybe they have some advice.

As someone who has travelled latin america alot ...........and speaks the language. That area of the world is fraught with problems. Mostly with transparency. The coffee associations will help you but English may be limited. Bringing less than 1/2 a container is uneconomical IMO. then again, you would have to be able to use or sell that amount of coffee

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