At the core of CCS’ way of sourcing coffee is the principle of establishing long-term relationships between producers and roasters. We believe that everyone benefits when true partnerships are at work amongst the actors in a coffee’s life cycle. And sourcing partnerships are based upon commitments. For the producer: to deliver coffee at a certain quality, within a certain time frame, at a mutually determined price; for the buyer: committing to a certain volume of a specified quality and agreed upon price.
Practically, what does this mean and how does this benefit everyone?
For producers, forward purchasing means security and a means to better plan for future harvests. When you’re not wondering who your buyer(s) will be and how much coffee you’ll sell at what price, you can focus on actual coffee producing activities.
Forward contracting means more than economic security, however, it also represents trust and service. For Lauren at Long Miles Coffee in Burundi, that trust and service is afforded to Melanie who has managed the purchasing of Long Miles Coffee for CCS for many years. Lauren had this to say:
“Our whole team takes extra care when preparing and exporting ‘Melanie’s coffee.’ For the team, your advance commitments [mean that] CCS isn’t just an exporter. There is a real person called Melanie, who represents a company called CCS, to whom we are committed to in real relational terms to produce a final product. We expect to produce ‘Melanie’s coffee’ each year and look forward to hosting Melanie when she comes to check in on her coffee.”
Forward purchasing also means security for roasters: knowing in advance what will be on your menus so you can work in ahead of time on marketing and other preparations for new arrivals. It also means access to more interesting and higher quality coffees, as you become the first-in-line to access the top lots of the harvest. Pricing too becomes more flexible with forward purchasing, once certain volumes are reached.
Emily from Tandem Coffee in ME had this to say about their experience forward contracting with us:
“It forces us to think very hard about realistic projections which can be quite helpful. I also think that it is more efficient: For example, we spend a few days out of the year focusing on prepping our run of Guats and then we don’t have to spend more of our time (and importers’ time!) requesting samples, sample roasting, cupping, etc.”
She also points out one potential downside:
Obviously you could be limited in your selection if you haven’t left yourself any flexibility…
While forward planning does need to be considered carefully against the unpredictability of business needs, we believe that what one sacrifices in flexibility is made up for in exclusivity and a tailored purchasing experience. One of the things CCS is best known for is providing in-depth personalized buying. For example, Belleville in Paris buy most of Neptaly Bautista’s production year-after-year and have therefore been able to create great anticipation within their market for “fresh crop Neptaly.” So not only does Belleville exclusively offer Neptaly’s coffee in their market, their market is also given an opportunity to receive invaluable education about the coffee life cycle, an otherwise nebulous concept if one sells different coffees menu after menu.
How it Works
Bjørnar, Nicolas, Sal or Colleen will meet with you, either in person or over the phone. The ideal time is January, but anytime is a good start time, it just needs to be in advance of the origin visit.
Step 1: Together you’ll work out the following:
- Total annual projection from each origin. Preferably right down to the cup profile:
e.g. 20 Bags of pulped natural Brazilian coffee with milk chocolate profile, 84-85 points at, $4.25/lb, target delivery month: May
Step 2: Contracts signed. We suggest “SAS Replace” terms, meaning if you don’t approve the initial sample, you receive another at a similar market level.
Step 3: Samples are sent to you for approval.
Step 4: Coffee arrives to your warehouse for delivery or pick up.
Interested in forward contracting? Get in touch!
North America East: firstname.lastname@example.org
North America West: email@example.com