Coffee transparency-reporting by roasters - comparing two roasters' green beans costs - Page 2

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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Almico
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#11: Post by Almico »

Jeff wrote:You're a commercial roaster, correct?

As a consumer, I prefer more information about my potential purchases, even if imperfect.
Information maybe. How much a vendor pays for their cost of goods sold? Really? Do you do that with tomatoes? Do you ask a restaurant how much they pay for their salmon?

With roasters it's almost meaningless because you have no idea what other costs go into their final pricing. Maybe they spend an hour or more culling quakers and other undesirables from a roast. Maybe they discard one out of every seven roasts because it does not meet QC. Maybe their rent is higher and/or they pay their employees more.

In my world, it's none of anyone's business what I pay for coffee or any of my other business practices. And believe it or not, no one has ever asked. It would be quite rude actually. My customers trust me because I'm trustworthy, and that's how it should be.

I know this is the internet age and people of a certain generation think they are entitled to everything and for free, but I assure you, that is just not true.

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luca
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#12: Post by luca »

It is 100% virtue signalling. Some consumers want to buy things from virtuous businesses. They have to signal it for us to know.

The information is confusing and not perfect. So what? It's better than nothing.

In the absence of any actual information, what do consumers have to go on to show that one roaster is any more virtuous than any other?

The difference when comparing some (but not all) businesses, is that coffee producers are generally from poorer countries and do not have the benefit of protection from the buy side market participants of all of the labour laws, etc, from the richer consuming countries. Coffee is also the single, central good in ... coffee; it's not like it's some minor input that is totally transformed to a greater whole by the business, like, say, screws are to a car. That's why some consumers care about what coffee producers are paid.

How much a producer is paid is totally different from issues like how much staff are paid, whether the coffee tastes good, and how much work goes into making the product.

It's for roasters to decide what information they want to put out there and for consumers to make a decision. There's a new micro roaster opening every week, and all of them market in almost identically the same way. Every roaster seems to have some vague assertion of quality and ethics, and most of them boil down to "trust me, bro." Personally, in this situation I probably actually go for the coffee that I think tastes best, but I'm more inclined to try from roasters that at least try to disclose some information.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes

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Sal
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#13: Post by Sal »

As much as I would like to support equitable distribution of wealth, I must say that I am not too interested in learning detailed numbers in the account book records many roasters are boasting to be "transparent". It may seem like modern coffee roasters are becoming more transparent, but money transactions are just as muddy as any commodities produced, exported/imported, transported, distributed, processed, and consumed.

As Amlico commented, I don't know how much was paid to the farmers for the bag of oranges I picked up at a local grocer. And I don't really care. I, however, would like to know where, who, and how they were produced if that information is available. As a consumer, the most important thing is the final price I have to pay out of my pocket. Yeah, if two alternative choices cost about the same, then I prefer products that are produced sustainably and that profits are distributed equitably, but I really don't want to learn the commodity trading economic jargon to find this information.

I recently ordered bags of coffee from a roaster Torque Coffee in San Diego. As stated, Torque uses proportional pricing in which "All of the coffee producers we work with receive the same 20% equity in the full retail price of their coffee. Whether it's in a blend or a single origin we determine the retail price based solely on what the producer was paid. The more the producer is paid the higher the retail price." I love the system like this. The system may not be adaptable for all roasters, but if they do, there will be no more vague, confusing, and often meaningless "transparency" statements to be displayed on roaster's web site.
I am a home-roaster, not a home-barista...

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Almico
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#14: Post by Almico »

Sal wrote: "All of the coffee producers we work with receive the same 20% equity in the full retail price of their coffee.
Website is pretty deceiving. It makes it sound like they buy directly from the farm. Looks like they buy from importers like Onyx.

Maybe they simply ask their importer how much they pay to the farm and simply multiply it by 5.


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Sal
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#15: Post by Sal replying to Almico »

Yeah, I don't know how they determine the "20% cut". Whether they buy directly from the farm or not, I get a feeling there has to be some logistics and handling in exporting/importing agricultural products. So, I am not surprised if they buy from a specific importer and use the number from them. In any case, I don't really care how they do it as long as the farms are really getting 20% cut as they say. After all, it is all based on consumer confidence to trust the roaster.
I am a home-roaster, not a home-barista...

Milligan
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#16: Post by Milligan »

I like how they make it sound like they are doing the farmers a favor by giving them "equity" in their retail coffee sales. Not that they are simply basing their retail bag price on the cost of materials... like every other business in existence. Once the farmer is paid I highly doubt they care what the cost of a bag of coffee sold 3000 miles away is.

Now if their mission was buying green coffee at market rate and then giving x% of their proceeds back to the farmers then that is a neat model but trying to turn how one marks up their final product price into an altruistic deed is quite suspect.

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baldheadracing
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#17: Post by baldheadracing »

FWIW, I remember Tom of Sweet Maria's once making the point that all coffee finds a home. I was on Jay of Ono Coffee's YouTube livestream last week and he made the same point.

The point is it costs the farmer the same to grow all of their coffee. If the farmer/washing station/mill pays for the sorting needed to get that lot of coffee to pass the specialty/etc. green coffee grading standard, then the coffee that was sorted out still cost the farmer the same to grow and harvest that rejected coffee as the higher-graded coffee. A full black and a perfect bean grow on the same branch of the same bush. That rejected coffee will get a lower price. Thus, the farmer is gambling (all farming is gambling) - will their 'good' lot coffee grade a point or two higher? Will that lot get into the 80's? If so, then the price for that sorted lot jumps way up, and the farmer is happy. If that lot cups over 85, then the farmer is ecstatic, and may arouse the interest of roasters looking to establish a direct trade relationship. Over 87 and buyers will seek the farm out. If not, then the cost of sorting just wasn't worth it, and the farmer may well have been better off selling all of their coffee at once. Remember that it costs the same to grow the 87 point coffee as the 85 point coffee as 83 ... as 79.

Tom's argument back then (ten years ago?) was that the fairest thing to do with "direct trade" with farmers would be to choose a farmer, but all or a fixed percentage of that farmer's coffee, and contract to buy the coffee from that farmer for a number of years. There are roasters that do this, and I buy from them - but I am assuming that the roaster is telling the truth (unlike organic where there is third-party verification, which also adds a cost). Until that utopia happens:
luca wrote:It is 100% virtue signalling. Some consumers want to buy things from virtuous businesses. They have to signal it for us to know.

The information is confusing and not perfect. So what? It's better than nothing.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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Almico
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#18: Post by Almico »

luca wrote:It is 100% virtue signalling. Some consumers want to buy things from virtuous businesses. They have to signal it for us to know.
For the record, the term "virtue signaling" is used to describe one that talks the talk, but does not walk the walk.

Personally, I couldn't care less what anyone says, it's only what they do that matters to me. People that "do", rarely need to say so.

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HB
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#19: Post by HB »

For those following this thread, Alan is the owner of SkyRoast Coffee, so the site rules regarding Vendor participation in the forums apply (i.e., "...[vendors] should avoid posting opinions, product/service offerings, or critiques of competitive products").
Almico wrote:Personally, I couldn't care less what anyone says, it's only what they do that matters to me. People that "do", rarely need to say so.
This includes criticizing your competitions' business practices, which I assume is the "they" in your statement above, i.e., the "virtuous businesses" that you evidently are accusing of hypocrisy. I realize this may not be your intent, but the effect is the same, so if you wish to continue participating in the forum, please review and follow the vendor rules above. Thanks.
Dan Kehn