Our part of the industry has always been challenged by the customers, to explain what sets us apart from commodity coffee. Certifications such as Fairtrade, “Organic” etc started out in order to make a difference for the people at the producer end, but eventually has becoma hijacked by corporate behemoths as marketing tools in order for end consumers to feel a little better by adding a few nickles to a product.
When I was still working for Da Matteo, we initiated a work to find a way to monitor ourselves when purchasing green beans. What was important was to marry the facts that we buy coffee on taste, but that our trading model also is ethical and sustainable. Back then, it was vaguely connected to our slogan around our roaster: clean roast, clean taste. We realized that this would be a lot broader than that, but we didn’t yet realize the amount of work involved. After years of hard work, we still had no idea on how it should work, and we put it on ice. Later, I came across a roasters webpage that simply stated Ecological, and it hurt me deeply that something we had worked so hard to make possible to make a difference in the world of coffee, simply was ignored by others by just doing what the larger companies do, without even have to back it up with documentation. And we could not guarantee that we could do the right thing, so we rather threw all that work away. It felt terrible, that the industry could be so cynical.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the work had continued without my knowledge, involving a student of Global Studies from Gothenburg University, and in time for Da Matteos celebrating ten years as a roastery, they now launched a model called Truly Special. It is a self scanning program that builds on a sustainable relationship with specific farmers, that deepens the relation and sure fire progress at producer level and still gives a story and warranty to end consumer to understand what is the difference in what the company does with the product they are selling. It was well recieved by the industry representatives present, and could possibly introduce a turning point for Speciality Coffee to set itself apart from other, third party certifications.
Curating is a word in fashion, but this is not about curating coffee. That’s what could be done in a coffee bar with coffees selected from a market place where coffees are already roasted and packaged. This is about ensuring that these coffees continues to reach that market place and keep on pushing the envelope for good quality. Truly Special thus becomes a coffee truly special to its buyer through relations, taste and quality on all levels.
Pictures below from the celebrations, with specially invited friends holding seminars and brewing coffee. Happy Birthday dear friends!
NP: Agnostic Front For My Family