Need GREEN WHOLESALE distributer with cheaper fair trade/organic coffees

My name is Ty Paluska,  I used to be manager of Copper River Coffee & Tea in Peoria, IL.  Recently I've embarked on starting my own shop here in downtown Peoria
with a couple other partners and are looking for a distributor that has a decent price some fair trade organic coffees.  Most of our coffee for in house we don't mind spending more money on, however,  One of our first large wholesale accounts is a non-for profit business that donates all of their proceeds
to orphaned children and the couple that runs the company is located
near us and they'd like to use a more local roaster than they currently
use.  They want all of their coffee to be fair trade and organic. 
However, they also have a budget that's pretty small.  I don't know who
their roaster is now but apparently he is able to find something for
them in their price range that's fair trade and organic and still
somehow make some money. 

We need a Columbian, Columbian Decaf, Ethiopian, and Guatemalan. And they have to have the Fair Trade and Organic label


We really want this account because they are doing cool stuff but they also move a lot of coffee and it would help us considerably.

Thanks for your time!

-Ty Paluska
Thirty-Thirty Coffee Co.

Views: 193

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It's a bit ironic: charitably raising money for kids by sourcing the cheapest possible organic and "fair trade" coffee (i.e. on the backs of kids).

 

That said, here's your problem, as I see it: the coffee market has jumped 80% in the last six months. Couple that with the fact that the origins you mention, generally speaking, command premium prices (and I'm not even aware of an FTO decaf Colombia), and you might have difficulty finding a price point that works for all parties involved. Peru and Sumatra--and maybe Mexico--have traditionally been the origins that you look to for workhorse, inexpensive FTOs, but even these origins are commanding astronomical prices in the current market. (Sumatra is having some production issues this season, too.)

 

I'd also be wary of a potential account that is bargain shopping--especially if you're counting heavily on their volume to make your own business work. If they are dumping someone simply for a cheaper product, you can bet they will do the same thing with you if and when they find what they perceive to be a better deal.

 

I know this isn't what you were looking for, but your potential account probably needs to adjust their expectations about pricing. Just be honest with the green importers you call, and tell them what you're looking for. They'll direct you to the value coffees they have on their spot sheet.

 

 

Ty as a roaster I think it's extremely important to focus on the first thing that Matt has said here.  Fair Trade is only so "fair" and the level that they can make sure that a 12 year old isn't the one hauling those 200+lb bags of cherries around only runs so deep.

 

You can be sure the cheaper and cheaper you go for green coffee the crappier and crappier it's going to taste and also the more horribly the farmers will have been treated, even if it is "Fair Trade."  I would focus on why your coffee is worth more money, not get confused with trying to be cheaper than someone else.  

 

A bigger company that has been around longer, has longer standing partnerships and orders more than you will always have cheaper prices than you if you are both focusing on prices alone.  Focus instead on setting yourself apart with quality product delivered in a unique way and above and beyond customer service.

 

I know for a fact (being originally from MI) that there is a company in your area (that I used to work for) that you will never be able to beat on pricing AND they are willing to deliver into your area, even though they are based in Michigan.

 

Again, this isn't what you wanted to hear, but what you want to hear is probably only going to come from a salesman.

 

Reliable green coffee importers here in the US are:

-Royal

-Zephyr

-Cafe Imports (right in your backyard to boot!)

-Atlas

-Coffee Shrub

-Mercanta

 

These guys immediately come to mind because I have worked with them in the past or that I work with them now.  There are undoubtedly other great importers around.  Do your research and get talking with as many people as you can.  Go to these other roasters and ask them who they use.  It's not as tight-lipped around the roasting world as you might think.

 

...but again, I'll finish by saying, don't focus on price... you lose.

 

-bry

We use an Excel spreadsheet for customers with cost concerns - simply enter price per pound (roasted) and there's a cost breakdown by the serving, whether it's a brewed cup or an espresso drink.  When you break it down to this level, we're talking about a difference of a few cents per cup when a client is looking to drop you over a couple of dollars per pound.  Breaking it down to this level of usage also encourages folks to focus on their waste, which can drastically affect the bottom line.  On average, about 20% of a cafe's espresso is being wasted on the counter (see: huge pile o' grounds) due to poor preparation practice and barista training.  This waste alone can buy the operator a new doserless, timed grinder in under a year.  Or, it can make the issue of more expensive whole bean coffee a negligible concern.

 

Quality-based decisions will lead to a good reputation in the long-run, while cost-oriented decisions will only help you temporarily (until the next price increase... which is inevitable, with specialty coffee prices being held artificially low for too long, and as production issues at origin continuing to be a challenge, not to mention the always-controversial climate change discussion).

Being in So.CA, here's my vote for a group that might meet your vision of a good supplier:

Thanks for the feedback.  Everyone involved in our start-up completely understands this and that's why we are posting this to get some feedback. We have the same concerns.  We are not relying on them by any means but we still want to find good info and opinions so that when we do begin to talk to them about understanding quality and what "fair" really is then we have some base for our discussions.  Personally, I find it hard to believe myself that whomever is getting them their roasted coffee now is not really providing them with certified fair trade organic.  I myself haven't been able to find anything myself of a decaf columbian that's fair trade and organic. 

 

I didn't want to start making any accusations until I had a better understanding of the situation and I'm very grateful for your feedback.  At this point we are trying to get them to understand that higher quality coffee is worth the extra money because it could in fact increase their sales down the road.  I have met the owners and from what I can gather they are very honest, well intentioned individuals and may just be being taken advantage of by some other roaster. 

 

I've been in contact with Cafe Imports already as that's whom I helped set up an account with at my previous coffee shop that I managed for exclusive green buying.  They have helped me out and have been very honest as well and from what I can gather most "FTO"'s are going to be in the 4-5 dollar price range and at only $6.50/lb  there is no way to make it worth our while. 

 

Hopefully in time they will work with us but until then we are trying to figure out how to approach the situation.

 

Thanks again!

-Ty

thirty-thirty coffee co.

Matt B said:

It's a bit ironic: charitably raising money for kids by sourcing the cheapest possible organic and "fair trade" coffee (i.e. on the backs of kids).

 

That said, here's your problem, as I see it: the coffee market has jumped 80% in the last six months. Couple that with the fact that the origins you mention, generally speaking, command premium prices (and I'm not even aware of an FTO decaf Colombia), and you might have difficulty finding a price point that works for all parties involved. Peru and Sumatra--and maybe Mexico--have traditionally been the origins that you look to for workhorse, inexpensive FTOs, but even these origins are commanding astronomical prices in the current market. (Sumatra is having some production issues this season, too.)

 

I'd also be wary of a potential account that is bargain shopping--especially if you're counting heavily on their volume to make your own business work. If they are dumping someone simply for a cheaper product, you can bet they will do the same thing with you if and when they find what they perceive to be a better deal.

 

I know this isn't what you were looking for, but your potential account probably needs to adjust their expectations about pricing. Just be honest with the green importers you call, and tell them what you're looking for. They'll direct you to the value coffees they have on their spot sheet.

 

 

There are currently about zero decent coffees you could wholesale at $6.50LB roasted even close to profitably. If you find a source that's importing quality coffees and under cutting the C-Market let us all know!

Here's a thought for you, though it may not make any sense for your business.

 

If this non-profit is an organization that you feel strongly about supporting, what about doing a discount for them as a charitable contribution?  Figure out a price for them which is less than market price, but covers most of your costs.  The difference between their price and market value would be a substantial tax deduction next year.  Heck, if it is enough volume perhaps your greens broker would be interested too?

 

Again, not sure if this makes any sense for your business.  Talk with your accountant and work the numbers to see if it does.

 

Its a little different situation, but I ended up doing this for a non-profit client of mine earlier this year.  Their espresso machine needed a major repair but they were on a tight budget.  I ended up donating most of my labor and a portion of my parts markup.  I made enough to cover costs, supported a great organization, and had a nice little deduction for the year.  Worked out great for everyone.

Excellent idea, will definitely remember it.

Brady said:

Here's a thought for you, though it may not make any sense for your business.

 

If this non-profit is an organization that you feel strongly about supporting, what about doing a discount for them as a charitable contribution?  Figure out a price for them which is less than market price, but covers most of your costs.  The difference between their price and market value would be a substantial tax deduction next year.  Heck, if it is enough volume perhaps your greens broker would be interested too?

 

Again, not sure if this makes any sense for your business.  Talk with your accountant and work the numbers to see if it does.

 

Its a little different situation, but I ended up doing this for a non-profit client of mine earlier this year.  Their espresso machine needed a major repair but they were on a tight budget.  I ended up donating most of my labor and a portion of my parts markup.  I made enough to cover costs, supported a great organization, and had a nice little deduction for the year.  Worked out great for everyone.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Barista Exchange Partners

Barista Exchange Friends

Keep Barista Exchange Free

Are you enjoying Barista Exchange? Is it helping you promote your business and helping you network in this great industry? Donate today to keep it free to all members. Supporters can join the "Supporters Group" with a donation. Thanks!

Clicky Web Analytics

© 2021   Created by Matt Milletto.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service