I want to start my coffee brand
Hi everybody, I'm new here and I want to start selling coffee via internet (Ecommerce). This seems to be a good forum to discuss everything about coffee, so I figured I would ask some questions. I want to import coffee from Ethiopia to Canada and start my own coffee brand. I made some research and the ethiopian coffee seems to be one of the best coffee out there. I know nothing about import/export so I would really appreciate your help.
My questions :
1. How to I find producers/growers?
2. Once I contact the producers, do I need to represent them in the country?
3. Is there any taxes related to coffee buying and importation?
Any book recommendations, websites would be great too. Thanks in advance.
09-02-2012 11:50 AM
Hello Omerta and welcome;
1) go to the source... trip is the best
2) depends if you want to do that
3)most important question is how much money do you have. In order to import coffee beans you will probably have to buy larger amounts of coffee (container full) to cut down on shipping costs and prices so you will also need storage facilities unless you are doing small amounts then you will have to source out your potential buyers that are willing to pay a premium for smaller amounts. Unless you have large amounts of capital you would be better off starting with a local importer and seeing if you can make any sales after buying from them wholesale.
I agree with Brian. Sounds like you want to run before you can walk.
Do you plan on roasting your own beans? Thats really the only way to start your own brand, imo. If you are importing roasted beans from Africa, you'll be paying a premium for beans that will be stale before they arrive at your door.
I'm sure there are canadian forum members who can steer you toward reputable importers.
Thanks guys, hum, I can roast it myself, though my main problem is finding reputable growers mainly from Ethiopia.
Originally Posted by eldub
Sorry. I wasn't sure of the answer you just gave above from the original post.
Maybe this is another dumb question, but do you have the facilities and roasting capacity to handle an entire shipping container of beans at a time? If you have money for the purchasing/roasting/warehousing required for such a venture, I'm guessing the best way to proceed would be to travel to that country and sample offerings while developing relationships with the farmers.
Or maybe you know other roasters who are willing to put an order together with you to make it feasible? If not, I'm wondering if its economical to consider forming direct relationships with farmers in Ethiopia once you take the relative cost of shipping small quantities of beans from Africa to Canada into consideration?
Anyway, we are also in the process of developing our own brand of coffee. However our initial bean order was only 1,100 Lbs. Of that amount, 260 lbs. were from Ethiopia. We plan on building our brand locally first, with a wholesale and retail focus along with an internet presence.
Last edited by eldub; 09-02-2012 at 09:49 PM.
Maybe this will help...
How to Import Green Coffee From Origin Countries
By Steve Josephs
Importing starts with green coffee that is completely processed and ready for export from the origin country. Typically, shipped in 20 foot containers of 275 to 320 bags (70kb or 60kg) or less. It could also be loaded bulk, therefore enabling more beans to be shipped, lowering the shipping costs on a per pound/kilo basis.
From the USA, specialty coffees are most often purchased by importers or individual roasters via an FOB Contract. FOB (Free On Board) means that the price paid by the buyer includes all of the costs in the exporting country, including processing, inland transport, warehousing, dock fees, export fees and loading the container onto the ship. Ownership passes from the seller to the buyer once the container passes over the rail of the ship. The ships captain prepares the Bill of Lading that you will present to your bank to prove the coffee is now on the ship.
The exporter will need a bank that can handle international interbank transactions. Preferably one that is experienced in export document requirements. If not well established at this type of transaction, the exporter will not want to extend credit to any buyer, but will require payment terms: CAD (Cash Against Documents).
A CAD transaction enables the exporter to have payment deposited into his bank account after presenting to the bank the required documents proving that the coffee purchased by the importer (buyer) meets the specifications in the coffee purchase contract/agreement. The exporter's bank will determine exactly what documents are required.
These documents may include:
- Ocean Bill of Lading (from the freight liner after the coffee is loaded on the ship)
- Weight Notes to identify the exact content and weight of that content
- Certificate of Origin (issued by the government Customs authority in India)
- Certificate of Fumigation (if required by importing country)
- ICO Certificate of Origin (Approved by the ICO: International Coffee Organization)
- Invoice sent to buyer identify the details of the purchase and $Value.
- Packing List from seller as evidence of the product shipped.
- Other agricultural certificates as dictated in your country
Typically, the exporter will use an Export Broker in the origin country who is expert in these matters and can arrange all of the issues involved in preparing the coffee and the documents for export. If a broker is the seller/exporter, then he will handle all of the required export documentation. The buyer/importer arranges for payment, ocean freight and transport insurance. It's also the importer's responsibility for acquiring all import documentation and arrangement in his country.
Of course, finding buyers is the key when importing for resell. For information to identify coffee importers, office coffee service providers and specialty gourmet coffee roasters in the United States, you can purchase a membership list from the Specialty Coffee Association of America or from InfoUSA.com. You can use networking sites like, TradeKey as well.
Note: there are always risks associated with importing. Although the importer may have received samples representing the coffee purchased, in most cases the actual coffee received will match the quality grade, type and source, every coffee lot is different, even from the same region and farm.
There are a few ways to lower this risk. One is to be sure you have a "green coffee contract" modeled after the Green Coffee Association Contract Terms & Conditions. Second, be sure to get an export sample taken directly from the contain prior to its being loaded onto the ship, since once the container is on the ship ownership transfers to the importer (FOB contract terms). Finally, when you purchase is large enough, personally knowing who your buying from and even visiting the country to physically select and monitor the export process is an option.
Author, Steve Josephs is CEO of Intellidon Marketing LLC, www.IntellidonMarketing.com, whose family office coffee service business, the Great American Coffee Company, www.GourmetOfficeCoffee.com, is a premier Specialty coffee roaster and office coffee service provider in the Denver, Colorado metropolitan business community.
Copyright 2009 Intellidon Marketing LLC. All rights reserved. Reprints are permissible when this Copyright statement and website links are included.
Article Source: Steve Josephs - EzineArticles.com Expert Author
Last edited by eldub; 09-02-2012 at 10:06 PM.
Good question. No I can't handle the roasting of one full container, and I don't have the money to travel either. Thank you I really appreciate your help.
Originally Posted by eldub
The easiest and quickest way to start your own brand, is to start small, and form partnerships;
You will have access to these facilities without the huge initial cash outlay, which is a big advantage.
- Contact an importer.
- Importers bring in their coffee by the container, allowing you to purchase it by the 100 - 130 pound bag.
- Contact local roasters, and see if any of them would be interested in starting a relationship. The benefits are;
- They will allow you to warehouse your green coffee.
- they will roast and bag your coffee for you. This is called toll-roasting
- They may ship it out for you too.
You'd be surprised how many roasters would be willing to work with you. Afterall, unless they are running at full capacity all the time, then they have facilities that are being wasted, as long as they're sitting idle. Will they charge you? Sure they will. But you can negotiate the price per pound roasted, bagged and shipped, which will leave you free to figure out the really hard part - how to market your new venture online, and set yourself apart.
Omerta you state that you can roast the coffee beans yourself. What size of roaster do you have? What amount of production do you expect each week/month? This will give you a better idea of where to go to source green beans.
If you do not have the money to travel to Ethiopia, then how are you going to import coffee beans from destination ? I mean, you need to bring in 1/2 container or about 20,000 lbs to make it economical. Then there is that e commerce thing.
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