We are building an advanced community wet mill and processing hub in Calarcá, Colombia, in order to connect more farmers in the region to the speciality coffee market. This project will provide our neighbours with much greater control over their coffee quality, much needed control of their income, while also providing some of you with access to be very involved in this progress!
Worldwide, one of the clearest self-identified issues facing producers of coffee is the low and unpredictable price they can sell raw coffee for. The normal market price changes daily, and falls below the cost of production at times with dire results.
Coffee mills are where farmers process their harvested coffee cherries. They remove the pulp, ferment, wash, and dry them over some weeks to become "parchment" coffee. After dry milling and sorting we have green beans that are bought by importers and roasted up for you to enjoy. If this process is handled carefully and done with the correct equipment, the coffee can be rated so highly it enters the specialty coffee market, where prices can be fixed, predictable, and sustainable.
Not everyone has access to this market though. To control all the variables in processing and own all the equipment is expensive. Because of this, many farmers in Colombia cannot process their coffee at a high standard and live not being sure if they’ll profit from their crop. On top of this, a lot of great coffee is never seeing its potential.
The community mill at El Fénix is our solution to this problem: to raise quality, and open the door to the specialty market. It will provide predictable cash flow throughout the season, and the ability for farmers to be part of the negotiation when it is time for sale. We are aiming to be part of a thriving farming community, and this is one way that has been shown to work in many other producing countries.
Better pay for hard working people, and more delicious coffee for the world to enjoy. We think it’s a great idea and we’re excited to have so many experts on board who agree.
There’s a wide range of coffee rewards for backing this project. Please read through the full details (or keep scrolling) before pledging! We hope you’ll enjoy these, and we can't wait to partner with you on this endeavor!
- Miguel, Matt, & the whole team
WANNA GEEK OUT ON THE DETAILS WITH US?
We’d love to share! We thought it might be a little overwhelming to list all of the details here but they're certainly worth reading and even come with nifty hand-drawn diagrams.
Questions? Please read the detail through this link, and then ask away!
Here is an interview with Matt for Sprudge that elaborates in many different ways, including discussion of the riots. Enjoy, and see you back here.
Matt Perger l St Ali, Sensory Lab, Barista Hustle (Australia)
World Barista Championship 3rd 2011, World Brewers Cup Champion 2012, World Barista Championship 2nd 2013, World Coffee and Good Spirits Champion 2014.
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR REWARDS
Lotsa cool details go into each of these rewards. Check out exactly what to expect when you pledge.
Amy Ball l World Coffee Events full-time baller (USA)
We have set our Kickstarter goal at NZD 100,000, a very modest amount for our grand goals, BUT enough to build a nice wet mill and get us started.
IF WE REACH 150K
The micro dry mill & cupping lab can be built in the first year. Here’s where we will decide which are our best coffees, bring buyers to taste samples, meet farmers, and monitor ways to increase the quality over time. This is necessary kit, and would be great to have upfront.
IF WE REACH 200K
We can build facilities to host both visiting buyers from overseas, farmers from the region, and you lot too! At this funding level we can build spaces for negotiating second payments with all parties in the room (or video call) for the kind of transparency of information that actually changes a farmer's position from the historically disempowered to the deserved one of ownership.
*Through this link you'll find many more words from our worldwide QC team (AKA The International Palate), opinions and elaboration from well-known industry professionals, and statements from people who have known us forever. Homies, if you can't find your endorsement through this link, don't worry, it is just being processed. Thank you all for your kind words!
Risks and challenges
Risk 1: The community doesn't get involved.
Solution: They already are involved. We already buy for fixed prices and sell their coffee to the specialty market where possible. We've asked, and this project is desired and happening.
Risk 2: The demand isn't there.
Solution: It already is. We have demand, as we've been working as specialty coffee traders for years.
Risk 3: The quality isn't high enough to satisfy the market.
Solution: This is why we have a large team of advisors to provide continual feedback; professional cuppers, agronomists, coffee competition judges and previous champions, roastery owners, importers, the Coffee Quality Institute. Some of them have endorsed this project above. This is our job. We help transition producers to specialty coffee and sell to roasters all around the world as a full-time gig.
Risk 4: Leaf rust or and epidemic wipes out the region's harvest at a key moment.
Solution: Ok this is a tough one. In the main video up there we mentioned one step we are taking to mitigate this risk; planting a wide range of varieties with differing genetics and strengths/susceptibilities. We will continue to encourage crop diversity with all our neighbours also.
Climate change has meant diseases previously confined to lower altitudes are now found up higher and higher, now encroaching on where more classic and susceptible varieties are grown historically. We are planting more resilient varieties at the lower warmer altitudes and promoting farm-wide biodiversity to prevent outbreaks.
If a shock natural event eliminates the crop next season (May-June 2017), we'll need to fulfill some of the rewards using coffee grown just outside of the affected area. You won't miss out, things will still be timely rewards-wise, but the coffee will understandably be a bit different, and life in the region will be tough for a while.
Risk 5: What if the government changes the law and only Colombian citizens can be owning land and doing projects like this?
Solution: Miguel will become the one person on deeds, and as a partner in Raw Material this will be just fine. Chur.
Risk 6: What if this blows the absolute flip up, to the point of you not being able to supply the rewards?
Solution: Very astute observation and forward thinking young padawan.
> With the tree naming, no problem, have at it.
> With the green coffee, it is very very unlikely...
> It is the brown coffee where things get interesting. Please see THE REWARDS IN DETAIL section to see our thoughts this. In general, our ability to supply is proportionally related to the amount pledged, so apart from some possible delays if this explodes, things will be better if backed further. We already grow, buy, export, import, and sell coffee as our profession so dealing with literal tons and sudden problem solving on this front is not new to us.
> Competition Prep with John is limited, but I'm sure he'll extend if he sells out. Aye John ;)
> With the trip, places are limited.
> With the 1000 tree varietal lots, they are limited already to the exact land we have. We've worked it all out based on the different plant spacings and altitudes etc.
> With regards to people visiting, that could be tricky, and so we've not given our exact address. This way we can continue to systematically field requests to visit as we have done over the past year.
Risk 7: I can't think of any other reasonable risks.
Solution: Fair enough. Let's get to building a community!
Thank you very much for getting involved and supporting this project,
Have fun, have impact,
Miguel, Matt, & and the whole team.
Anímate! Kia Kaha!
- (28 days)