Most of our coffee is bought through speciality coffee traders like Mercanta. We do do trade directly for our coffee from Indonesia and Brazil because we use so much of their coffee, but it’s quite a commitment to keep returning to visit the people that you buy from. That’s why it makes sense to buy through middle people who spend the time visiting estates and maintaining the relationships. Occasionally, it’s nice to pay a visit to the people whom you’ve been writing about in marketing blurbs.
Until you meet them, the people that you buy from are pretty much exotic names that are great for marketing. “The coffee that you’re drinking comes from a cooperative (which I’ve never visited) in Rwanda (where I’ve never been) and 80% of its members are women (so I’ve been told) and this coffee is symbolic of the economic growth that women in Rwanda have powered since the civil war (so I’ve read).
When the farmer’s name is Pedro and the guy we deal through at Mercanta is Juan the marketing fairytale seems a little far-fetch. ‘Pedro and Juan trade coffee’ sounds a bit like ‘Peter and Jane Go Shopping’ – a kind of Ladybird Reader for coffee.
I was very keen to meet Pedro because Artisan Roast UK and Artisan Roastery Malaysia have been buying his beans for years and they are remarkably good. Also, Joey and Jason from Malaysia had already travelled to visit him in 2017. In the WBC of the same year Jason Loo took this coffee to the WBC and came seventh. The best thing about this achievement, in my opinion, is that it’s not a geisha, a microlot, nor has it been through carbonic maceration. It’s a coffee that Joey roasts for general consumption in our cafes and for wholesale. It’s what I feel the competitions should be about: coffee that cafes routinely serve.
On 25 July, I had the opportunity to visit Pedro and finally take him out of the Colombian picture book. Pedro and Juan are seriously lovely guys and it was a delight to see and talk with them. Pedro is also quite the geek about all things coffee and natural guide. While we were driving and talking I jotted down a few notes and while at the mill and factory I took some video of Pedro explaining what they do there. I’ve put this together on Tour Builder where you can follow the tour and the videos on a Google Map, which you can find here: Tour of Café de Santa Bárbara.