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Demystifying the coffee supply chain

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Written by algrano
on March 12, 2015

We’d like to share on this blog some of the questions we are asking ourselves and the answers we found. Our startup journey started from the observation that coffee consumers and roasters want to be closer to coffee producers. When visiting specialty coffee roasters or importers’ websites these days, it is hard not to notice the importance that is given to the origin of coffee and the relationship developed with coffee producers.

It is so present in the industry’s communication that it inevitably raises several questions. We would like to start this blog by asking the following question:

What is direct trade? Which elements of direct trade are important to go beyond an opportunistic “feel good” marketing strategy?

In contrast with FairTrade and other labels, direct trade is not a standardized practice. Anybody can use the concept in the way he deems appropriate. Some talk about direct sourcing, others about direct relationship, farm to cup or farm direct. The general concept of direct trade therefore embraces very different approaches to coffee sourcing.

But in all these different approaches, what are the common elements that should characterize direct trade? Does the roaster need to actually buy directly from the producer and organize all the shipping himself? Or is the fact that the importer knows the producer enough for a roaster to claim “direct trade”? Or it is maybe just about price transparency?


At algrano we are convinced that the direct trade movement is the way forward for the specialty coffee industry. It represents a great potential to improve the coffee supply chain and to build a future where the new generations of coffee producers will continue because of the good perspectives specialty coffee offers. That is what drives our startup from day one!

So stay tuned on this blog, we’ll continue to share our opinions on coffee topics.

Christian, Fabio, Gilles & Raphael

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