Eduin – Colombian Microlot: Our Newest Roast

Here at Achilles Coffee Roasters, we are constantly searching for the world’s best coffee beans. Often times that means working with independent farmers and co-ops in areas that are a little off the beaten path. It’s this dedication to quality that led us to find Eduin and his Microlot coffee beans.

What is a Microlot?

One of the best ways to describe a microlot is by using an analogy of an apple orchard. Imagine that you’re growing apples and most trees are producing great tasting apples, but one spot on your farm produces apples that taste even better. These apples are juicier, crispier, and it’s very easy to notice how much better these apples are from the others. So you fence off these apples and start giving them special attention to grow even tastier than before. Now these apples not only taste better, but they can also be sold at a premium to special buyers.

That is the basic idea of coffee microlots. A microlot is not just a small lot of coffee. The term also implies that there has been research and experimentation by the farmer or co-op into producing a coffee with exceptional characteristics.

About Eduin & His Farm

Eduin is an ambitious, modest coffee farmer native to the Herrera community, a very isolated area of southern Tolima. The area is one of the more impoverished of Colombia, due to its violent history of insurgent and criminal armed groups that continues even today.

Eduin on his farm in Colombia

Though his farm consists of 1.5 hectares, he is determined to make the small amount of coffee he produces as good as possible. Eduin has a young, growing family, and sees specialty coffee as the way to provide with only a tiny piece of land.

Coffee Growing on Eduin's Farm
Eduin’s Coffee Growing

For Eduin, the risky bet has paid off and allowed him to achieve specialty cup quality even with his limited on-farm infrastructure. Since December 2017, Eduin has been earning nearly twice the Colombian commodity price for his coffee by working with roasters like us.

About the Roast

For this coffee, we decided to do a roast that is between light and medium. This allows all of the bright flavors of a light roast to shine through while still maintaining a deeper base of a medium roast. The tasting notes are Strawberry Jam, Brown Sugar, and it has a Citrus Acidity.

Eduin’s roast is now available online and in-store so you can try the microlot difference for yourself.

Guatemalan Coffee Farms and Cultivation

Guatemalan Coffee Farms

Guatemala holds the title of 9th largest exporter of coffee in the world. Combined, Guatemalan coffee farms make up 2.7% of the world coffee market. Diverse regions throughout this small country contain varied soil, rainfall, humidity, altitude, and temperature. The result, seven distinct types of Arabica coffee.

Coffee Production in Guatemala

Traditionally, the Guatemalan people worked in the indigo dye industry which was a major component of the economy. During the 1700s, missionaries brought coffee trees for decorative uses. When synthetic dyes were invented sometime in the mid-1800s the Guatemalan economy crashed due to their reliance on natural indigo dyes. As a result, Guatemalans began to utilize the coffee tree as more than just an ornament.

Local government encouraged farmers to grow coffee to stimulate the economy by offering the first four farmers to successfully grow 20,000 pounds of coffee. By the end of the 1800s, coffee production was dominating the economy, making up about 90% of the country’s exports.

Guatemalan Coffee Farms and Anacafé

Guatemala is a relatively small country with a population of 16.9 million as of 2016. Within the country, about 125,000 coffee producers rely on the market. And even though the country is about the size of Ohio, it is still difficult to connect with farmers. In 1960, a group of farmers created their own union to focus on these issues, Asociación Nacional del Café (Anacafé).Guatemala Coffee Farms Achilles Coffee Roasters San Diego

” Anacafé as a trade association representing the national coffee growers, watches over the interests of the sector; is responsible for providing effective services to achieve a sustainable, competitive and quality coffee.” -Anacafé
The organization strives to strengthen the Guatemalan economy through the production of coffee. There are eight different growing regions within the country. Part of what Anacafé does, is help connect them and create quality standards.

Coffee Farms in Diverse Regions

Volcanic Regions

Guatemala’s most well-known coffee growing region is Antigua. The region sits between three volcanoes: Fuego, Acatenango, and Agua. Occasionally, mineral-rich volcanic ash is naturally added to the soil. The composition of the soil helps retain moisture to help with the little rainfall in the area. In this region coffee grows at 1500-1800 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.) and is harvested between December and April. Flavors of chocolate, caramel and citrus characterize Antiguan coffee.

Like Antigua, Acatenango resides in a valley next to the Fuego volcano. With volcanic soil full of minerals, coffee production thrives in this region. Acatenango is one of the newest growing regions within Guatemala. However, rich soil and shade create complex flavor profiles. Coffee from Acatenango gives fruity flavors of spices with notes of honey, melon and orange. Also, coffee grows at 1650m.a.s.l. and harvests between December and March.

Atitlán Guatemalan Coffee Farms in Atitlan by Achilles Coffee Roasters San Diego
Growing at a lower altitude of 1350m.a.s.l., coffee from Atitlán is harvested from December to March. Within Guatemala there are five growing regions that are considered volcanic. Out of the five, Atitlán’s soil is the richest. Therefore, Atitlán coffee receives the highest grade for quality within the country. Coffee from this region stays true to a Guatemalan coffee. Each cup gives deep body, balanced acidity and notes of cinnamon and chocolate.

Fraijanes Plateau
The growing region of Fraijanes creates the most intense flavor profile in Guatemala. For instance, cupping notes for this coffee are milk chocolate, toffee with sharp acidity. In addition, the terrain in the region varies so much that it can be further divided into four micro-climates. In Fraijanes coffee grows at an altitude of 1400-1800m.a.s.l. and is ready for harvest between December and March.

Nuevo Oriente
The coffee growing region of Nuevo Oriente is one of the oldest in Guatemala. Although the region doesn’t have any active volcanoes, metamorphic rock makes up the soil. Therefore creating a complex soil composition. In Nuevo Oriente, coffee is grown at 1100 to 1400m.a.s.l.

Non-Volcanic Regions

The region of Cobán is unique due to the heavy rainfall it receives. As a result, coffee growing in Cobán cannot be sun-dried. Farmers mechanically dry the coffee beans. Throughout the region farmers dedicate themselves to creating innovation in the industry. In Cobán, coffee grows at 1200 to 1450m.a.s.l. and harvested from January to April. The product creates a profile of blood orange, macadamia with a sweet finish.

The region of Huehuetenango cultivates coffee up to 2000m.a.s.l. Therefore, high altitudes and dry, hot winds create exceptional specialty coffee. The coffee beans create a cup profile of maple, floral, peach and chocolate. Furthermore, Achilles Coffee Roasters lightly roasts Guatemalan Gold beans to create our Mt. Soledad coffee.

San Marcos
The coffee growing region of San Marcos receives the most rainfall out of all eight regions. However, it also receives the highest temperatures. Here, coffee grows at altitudes between 1300 and 1800m.a.s.l. In addition, cup profiles consist of floral notes with distinctive acidity.

Maintaining Complex Quality

Guatemalan coffee farms are found in varying climates and landscapes that influence the flavor profile of the beans. Moreover, the country contains 8 distinct growing regions with over 125,000 producers. Accordingly, Anacafé uses two grading systems to maintain the quality of the coffee. For example, coffee beans fall into grades based on the altitude grown at. Farmers grade the highest quality coffees grown at the highest altitude with SHB(strictly hard bean). In addition, sometimes farmers can receive a higher profit if the coffee grows in a certain region. Therefore, Anacafé ensures that farmers cannot market their product wrongfully.

Supporting Guatemalan Coffee Farms

Because of the various growing regions in Guatemalan coffee farms enjoy a growing demand for their coffee. Guatemala produces some of the highest quality coffee in the world and is finding an increase in popularity in specialty coffee shops across the US and beyon. Although each region creates a distinct flavor profile, Guatemalan coffee is characteristically of light acidity, floral and full body. The organization of Anacafé continues to improve and maintain a high standard among Guatemalan coffee farms.

The Bean Belt Major Coffee Growing Regions of the World

The Bean Belt

Ever wonder where the coffee you had this morning came from? The Bean Belt is comprised of the major coffee growing regions of the World tucked between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. From Africa where it originated, the cultivation of coffee has expanded to the East and to the West to form what is known as The Bean Belt.

While Brazil dominates the market in quantity (nearly 3 million metric tons), coffee growing regions cover the subtropical and equatorial territories around the globe. In fact, coffee cultivation was reintroduced in the mid 1980s in Vietnam, the country is now the second largest exporter of coffee.

Coffee Growing Regions in the Americas

In North America, Mexico is the 9th exporter of coffee in the world. Production is mainly concentrated in the south central to southern regions of the country and grows particularly well in the coastal region of Soconusco, Chiapas, near the border of Guatemala.

In Central and South America, coffee growing regions like Guatemala and Colombia have the rugged landscapes and rich volcanic soil favorable to growing coffee. Colombia’s coffee, famous for the quality and flavor of its beans, is the 3rd largest exporter of coffee in the world behind Vietnam.

But the world’s largest supplier of coffee is Brazil – with plantations covering around 10,000 square miles, mostly located in the southeastern states – a title the country has held for the last 150 years.

The map would be incomplete without mentioning Peru, Honduras and Costa Rica. While the volume doesn’t even represent 4% of the production from Brazil, Costa Rica has earned a reputation for some of the best coffee in Central America. The majority of coffee production takes place on small farms, or fincas.

Coffee Cherries The Bean Belt Coffee Growing RegionsAfrican Coffee Growing Regions

Legend has it that Ethiopia is the mother land of the coffee plant. A Goatherder named Kaldi noticed a rush of energy in his flock after they nibbled on red berries. Intrigued, he tasted some himself and was quickly convinced he had found a valuable source of energy.

Ethiopia is Africa’s first coffee growing region (and first consumer as well). The production reaches up to 860 million pounds, still mostly cultivated and dried by hand and falls under the strict watch of The Coffee and Tea Authority, determined to avoid market concentration.

Interestingly, Ethiopia’s neighboring country, Kenya, was introduced to coffee-growing by the French Holy Ghost fathers, at the turn of the 19th century. While Kenyan production may be considered confidential, with only 51,000 tons per year, it is a major actor of the coffee scene and is much sought-after worldwide.

Coffee Growing Regions of Asia

Continuing our travels along the Bean Belt, let’s visit Asia and its two major coffee growing regions: Vietnam and Indonesia.

Vietnam was on the coffee cultivation map in the 19th century and had established its plantation system as an economic force. The Vietnam war interrupted the production which eventually resumed, though fairly low. In the mid 1980s, the permission to privately own coffee farms again gave a boost to the industry. Ever since, Vietnam production has been growing steadily, up to 3 billion pounds in 2014, right behind Brazil.

But the mention of coffee naturally evokes exotic names like Java and Sumatra, Indonesian Islands famous for the quality of their coffee. The production of coffee in Java started in the 17th century, initiated by the Dutch who began to export it to the rest of the world. The success was such that to this day, we all know and use the term a cup of java.
Indonesia coffee production amounts to roughly 6% of global exports, but provides the world with uncomparable “aged coffee”. Much like wine and cheese improve with age, coffee beans held for a while in the warm and damp climate bear a distinctive deep body and less acidic flavor.

Many countries produce coffee, even the United States (mainly on the Big Island, in Kona). More than half american adults drink coffee everyday. However, according to this article in The Atlantic, the U.S. doesn’t even make it in the top ten countries for consumption. The Netherlands tops that list at 2.4 cups a day. From major coffee growing regions like Brazil, Vietnam or Colombia, to smaller producers like Peru or Kenya, we are fortunate to enjoy a broad spectrum of flavors from coffee around the world.

Coffee Processing 101 From Cherry to Your Morning Cup

Green Bean Coffee Processing 101

Many factors influence coffee from the cherry to your morning cup. The green bean coffee processing method chosen is one of the most influential factors. This process takes the coffee cherry and turns it into dried green coffee beans. Traditionally, two methods of processing were used; washed or natural. Recently, a newer approach called honey, has also become a popular processing method.

Wet or Washed Method

The washed processing method results in consistent quality, hence it is a popular method among coffee producers. Once farmers harvest coffee cherries, they are sorted by a machine that separates ripe from unripened fruit. Using forceful water the machine takes the skin and some pulp from the beans. From this point, two approaches remove the remaining pulp from the coffee beans. The beans ferment in water and enzymes to help break down the pulp surrounding the bean. This is called the fermentation process which can last up to 36 hours. Another way to de-pulp the beans is through mechanical demucilage. This process just uses a machine with forceful water that breaks apart the remaining pulp around the bean. After the beans are free from pulp they dry in the sun on raised beds or large patios. Workers must dry the beans to a ten percent water content for them to be stable enough for roasting.

Using the washed processing method is a form of quality assurance. It creates less ability for unripe or bad fruit to process. Beans processed through the washed method rely on absorbing enough nutrients and sugars during the growing season. This makes the climate, soil and fermentation processes extremely important to the flavor of the finished product. To focus on brighter flavors and single origin profiles, the washed processing method is the best option.

Dry or Natural Methodgreen-coffee-processing-methods-achilles-coffee-roasters

The natural processing method is the original way coffee from Ethiopia was processed in the beginning of coffee cultivation. After harvesting, farmers sort out unripe or rotten beans along with soil and leaves. The cherries then sit out to dry in the sun. Farmhands turn and rake the beans occasionally to ensure even drying. This is extremely important to avoid fungi and bacteria growth from mildew. The drying process may take anywhere up to 4 weeks depending on the climate of the region. Within the natural process this step is extremely important. Beans can dry for too long, making them break apart and defective. On the other hand, too much moisture can promote bacteria growth. After drying, beans sit in silos until they are ready for the hulling process. Hulling removes the outer dried shell of the coffee cherry.

Many countries cannot utilize the natural processing method. This is because their wet, tropical climates make it too humid for the beans to dry out properly. For this reason, the natural processing method can produce a lower quality bean due to the unpredictability. However, when done properly, the dry method creates flavor profiles with heavy, sweet body and complex notes.

Honeyed Processing Method

The honeyed processing method combines techniques from both the wet and natural processing methods. Farmers harvest and mechanically separate the cherry from the bean. Processors then store the beans with pulp still remaining for up to a day. With the honeyed green bean coffee processing method bacteria can be a huge problem. Therefore, when set out to dry the beans must be raked every 2-3 hours to prevent growth.

Because this process is a mix of wet and dry, flavor profiles associated with both methods can be present in the finished product. Honey processed beans tend to be sweeter with mild, but preferable acidity.

Sustainability in Processing Methods

Each different green bean coffee processing method creates a favorable outcome. However, some methods are more environmentally friendly than others. The natural or dry processing method is the most eco-friendly due to fewer resources used in the process. Achilles Coffee Roasters own single origin Windansea roast from Ethiopia is processed using the natural method. Although, the natural process requires more physical labor to tend to the beans manually. Honey processed coffee beans also use less water than the traditional wet washed method.

Various factors influence the flavor of the coffee including climate, region and soil. This is why it is important to understand the flavor profile you are looking for when choosing a processing method.

Community Composting Through Local Coffee

Community Composting At Your Local Coffee Shop

The United States creates 30% of the waste in the entire world. However, the U.S. only holds about 4% of the world’s population. That means each American creates approximately 7 pounds of waste per day. And even more dismal, according to a report, landfills will reach capacity in a short 18 years. We live in a world where approximately 30% of the waste headed to landfills is compostable material. This problem has caught the attention of a number of people. Community composting at your local businesses seems to be an innovative way to combat this growing problem.

Community Composting Through Local CoffeeCoffee to Compost

Compost is a mixture of organic materials that naturally decomposes. This creates perfect conditions for bacteria and microorganisms. The process makes a nutrient rich humus which can be used as a fertilizer. At the same time composting cuts back waste that would normally go to landfills. By composting in your household as much as 30% of waste can be recycled into the Earth. Organic decomposing waste that mixes with normal trash creates problems. The material will not break down properly and release harmful gases such as methane. With landfills filling up and the amount of waste only increasing, it’s important to bring community composting into the picture.

Decomposing Coffee

Organisms that decompose the organic material need nitrogen, carbon, moisture and oxygen to survive. In order to create a compost pile that thrives, there should be about two thirds carbon material and one third of nitrogen. The compostable or “brown” carbon substances can be wood chips, straw, newspaper and leaves. The nitrogen or “green” substances act as materials for making enzymes to break down the matter. These include food scraps, lawn and gardening clippings and coffee grounds. However, there are a couple things that should never go into compost. Meat, dairy products, diseased plants or pet manure cannot decompose in the right way.

Composting Fit for You

There are a number of factors that must be considered with composting.Composting can be difficult because it requires   There are companies like Aerobin Composter who make composting bins that do all of the work or aerating and warming the scraps for you. You could make your own composting bin or one that sits directly on the ground. This gives access straight to the soil however makes it difficult to turn and aerate the mixture. An easy option for home composting is an enclosed tumbling bin which turns itself, so all you have to focus on is what you put in.

Community Composting: Food2Soil

Furthermore, in regards to community composting, Achilles acts as a drop off location for consumers who pay for a composting service in urban areas. This service is provided by Food2Soil, who provides customers with their own 5 lb buckets and connects them to participating businesses like Achilles. These businesses have bins for which you can drop your home compost off at and gets picked up weekly by Food2Soil. Ultimately, this helps to bridge the gap in the waste cycle and truly create a community in composting for urban areas.

Coffee Cultivators of Papua New Guinea

Coffee Cultivators

Papua New Guinea is a popular coffee cultivator in the specialty coffee world. Coffee from Papua New Guinea, PNG, as roasters refer to it, have a bright and delicate acidity. PNG’s typically have a less earthy profile than other Southwest Asian Archipelago coffees such as Sumatra and Sulawesi. The country predominately uses wet washing processing methods. Additionally, Papua New Guinea creates a standard for the fermentation process that follows washing. This makes for a highly unique flavor. With coffee production up to over 1 million 60-kg bags a year, Papua New Guinea has maintained itself as a high profile coffee cultivator.

Multi-influenced Coffee Culture

In the 1800s, the German administration introduced coffee to Papua New Guinea for experimental and botanical observation. However, Arabica coffee production for export in Papua New Guinea only began to emerge later in the 1930s. Seeds were imported from Jamaica’s Blue Mountain region for cultivation. Therefore, these seeds created the first plants for export production in Papua New Guinea. Geographically, Indonesia is within close proximity to the country. Indonesia and the island of Sulawesi, both coffee producers, have had great influence on the bean profile in coffee from Papua New Guinea. Moreover, nearly half of households in rural areas are involved in production of coffee. Therefore, making coffee a huge part of the country’s economy.

Profiles of PNG

Within Papua New Guinea’s 19 provinces, 15 of them cultivate coffee. The major growing regions of Papua New Guinea include Morobe, Eastern, Simbu and the Western highlands province. These few regions all cultivate at high altitudes and account for about 90% of production in Papua New Guinea. With the country being so small, the regions produce similar characteristics such as rich soils and ideal coffee-growing climate. Moreover, the size of the country is actually beneficial creating consistency in the beans. Traditionally, coffee from Papua New Guinea has moderate acidity with a smooth, but robust flavor. This comes from the mix of influence from Indonesian Sulawesi coffee and Jamaican beans.

Cultivating Sigri PlantationAchilles Coffee Roasters Coffee Cultivators of Papua New Guinea

Achilles Coffee Roasters uses green beans sourced from the Sigri plantation in Papua New Guinea. Located in the Wahgi Valley in the Western Highlands, Sigri is considered to produce high quality gourmet coffee. All coffee at Sigri plantation grows at an elevation of 5000 feet and undergoes an intensive wet factory processing method. Papua New Guinea maintains a standard for the fermentation process in all coffee. Producers allow the beans to ferment for three days following depulping. However, Sigri allows a full extra day of fermentation, making a highly distinctive cup of coffee. Sigri plantation is profound for their esteemed quality control concerning each, individual bag of beans.

Quality Control in Wet Processing Methods

Concerning coffee production, Papua New Guinea focuses on their processing methods. For this reason, they export 99.9% in green beans alone, with Germany and the United States being the largest buyers. After coffee cherries are hand selected, they are depulped using a wet processing method. Following the wet washing, the fermentation process takes three days. Within fermentation, cultivators wash the beans every 24 hours. Enhancing flavor, beans dry out in the sun for different periods of time. The green beans are then sifted through and graded with distinctions as AA, A, and X. All coffee within the country follows the specific standards for the wet washing and fermentation processes. This ensures quality control within all green beans throughout Papua New Guinea.

Coffee cultivators such as Papua New Guinea have perfected the perfect bean profile through quality control. Through high quality plantations such as Sigri plantation in Waghi Valley, Papua New Guinea will continue to hold a top spot in the world of coffee production.

Costa Rican Coffee – An Introduction for Coffee Lovers

Introduction to Costa Rican Coffee

Coffee drinkers worldwide recognize Costa Rican coffee for robust flavor profiles created from a mixture of favorable growing factors. Following natural gas, coffee is the second most traded good in the world. As of 2011, over 45 different countries export coffee. Surprisingly, Costa Rican coffee beans makes up only 1% of the global coffee trade.


Origins of Costa Rican Coffee

All coffee has origins stemming from Ethiopia where Arabica was born. Through trade in the 1700s, coffee began to make its way into Europe and then the rest of the world. As far as Costa Rican coffee, a naval officer in 1723 obtained a seedling from a coffee plant from King Louis XIV of France. Amazingly, this single seedling made the voyage to the Americas and has since parented every coffee tree in Central America.

Although now, there is a lot more variation due to different growing regions. Seeing how quickly the coffee industry was growing, The Costa Rican government gave farmers free seeds to help boost the economy. As well as seeds, the government also gave plots of land to anyone willing to cultivate the plants. Because of the government’s push in the industry, farmers throughout Costa Rica began to harvest coffee. Of the entire population of Costa Rica, 10% is involved in coffee production and coffee makes up 90% of produce from the country.

Major Coffee Growing Regions of Costa Rica

There are 8 different coffee growing regions throughout Costa Rica that comprise the small 1% of the global coffee trade. The regions include: Tarrazu, West Valley, Central Valley, Tres Rios, Brunca, Guanacaste, Orosi, and Turrialba. Growing in such diverse regions of the country, each coffee creates a very distinct flavor profile. These profiles are variable depending on factors like latitude, altitude, soil type, rainfall, temperature, and processing methods. Of the different regions, coffee from Tarrazu and West Valley account for approximately half of Costa Rica’s coffee production.

Achilles Coffee Roasters Costa Rican Coffee

Favorable factors

Grading all green coffee beans within the global trade is important to maintain high quality. In Costa Rica, green beans are primarily graded by altitude, which affects the hardness of the bean. Higher altitude regions produce harder coffee beans, which are viewed as more preferable. The Costa Rican grading system uses the classifications: Strictly High Grown(SHG), Good Hard Beans(GHB), and Medium Hard Beans(MHB). Strictly High Grown beans grow at an altitude higher than 1,200 meters above sea level. Good Hard Beans grow between 1,000 and 1,200 meters above sea level. Lastly, Medium Hard Beans grow at an altitude between 500 and 900 meters. The Tarrazu region produces 95% of its harvest graded as Strictly Hard Bean, the highest quality grade.

Costa Rica at the Forefront

Throughout Central America, coffee from Costa Rica is known to have some of the best flavor profiles due to the high altitudes. Another interesting reason why Costa Rican coffee beans maintain such a high standard of quality, because it is illegal to produce Robusta beans. Achilles Coffee Roasters sources Costa Rican coffee beans grown in the Central Valley region which has an altitude of about 900 to 1500 meters above sea level. In addition, the Central Valley is where coffee was first introduced to Central America, making the coffee plantations some of the oldest within Costa Rica. Beans grown in this region create a profile influenced by the soil’s tropical acidity creating a bright, citrusy flavor with nutty undertones. You can get some of our very own single origin Swami’s roast of Costa Rican coffee beans here.

Fair and Direct Trade Coffee – Cooperative Coffees

Coop Coffees is an interesting player in the 3rd wave coffee movement. What they do is simple: they import green coffee from smaller-scale farmers and their exporting cooperatives all around the world. That’s not so unique, is it? After all, the fair trade coffee movement has been around for quite some time. What makes Cooperative Coffees different?Buy-Green-Coffee-Beans-Online-Achilles-Coffee-Roasters-San-Diego-California


What Cooperative Coffees is doing differently is evolving the definition of “fair trade.” They already adhere to the “Nine Basic Principles” of fair trade:


  1. Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers
  2. Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships
  3. Build Capacity
  4. Promote Fair Trade
  5. Pay Promptly and Fairly
  6. Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions
  7. Ensure the Rights of Children
  8. Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
  9. Respect Cultural Identity


What they’ve done is take these nine principles and update them to the present day.


When the fair trade movement first started, the goal was to build a unified and transparent network between coffee growers, purchasers, and roasters. However, it has instead created a tangled web of different purchasing networks and companies. All of these players are operating by different sets of rules. This means that the definition of “fair trade” is much murkier than it once was.


In fact, this murkiness is part of the reason we’ve seen a push towards direct trade coffee, where roasters deal directly with a particular farm, often making site visits and building a person-to-person relationship with the farmer. Direct trade is often hailed as the gold standard of trade practices, but it’s a one-to-one relationship. What about smaller roasters that don’t have the capacity to directly visit farmers?


By updating the Nine Basic Principles and adding the cooperative aspect to their business, Coop Coffees is creating a more transparent and fair market between small-scale coffee growers and small-scale coffee roasters. By creating a collective of roasters that all commit to purchasing under these fair and direct trade coffee principles, they are giving farmers and their communities much more than just income. They’re giving them stability.


As if this wasn’t already enough, Coop Coffees is expanding all across the United States and Canada, with a new location coming to Los Angeles soon. They have dozens of exporting relationships with cooperatives in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. On the demand side, they have over 20 member roasters in the cooperative.


Will we see a Coop Coffees member roaster make an entrance in San Diego? Or perhaps another cooperative coffee shop will dip its toes in the water down here. Either way, this evolution of the fair trade movement is a good sign for artisanal roasters around the country.