Information about green bean wholesale for a cafe???

Jgibbons

New member
Oct 10, 2010
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Hello everyone,

I have spend a great deal of my time developing a business plan for a coffee house. I'm very excited to be progressing in my goal. I'm young and still in college, yet I spend most of my time (when not with friends) researching about coffee, new methods, I'm sure you get it...I have a specific vision of what I want to do and strive for the best possible product when it comes to coffee and espresso based drinks. But there are still a few things I don't know.

QUESTION: 1) How do I go about choosing what (green) beans to use, and where from? Not just at origin, but also from who?

2) I know only a little about coffee brokers and how they work, are they the main source for a cafe's coffee?

3) How on earth do I develop a direct relationship?? Who do I contact for that?

4) Can I get a list of places or sites I can check out that are examples of Fairly Traded ...whatevers...? I don't know what to call them because once again, I don't know what they are!!
 

topher

Super Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2003
3,735
13
Boca Raton
Are you planning on taking some classes on roasting coffee? Green brokers can be found pretty easily just ask people here and they will direct you to who they use. Once you contact them they will be able to help you find what you are looking for. Figure out how many bags you are looking to purchase and remember they run from 100 lbs a bag to over 150 lbs. First you are going to need to figure out what brand roaster you will be using. Then the fun of permits..it is not a short road. I would suggest reading as many posts on this forum on opening a roastery. Good luck! :wink:
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
991
0
Hartford and New Haven, CT
Jgibbons said:
1) How do I go about choosing what (green) beans to use, and where from? Not just at origin, but also from who?

2) I know only a little about coffee brokers and how they work, are they the main source for a cafe's coffee?
Go to broker's web site and take a look at their offering and see what are available. It's good to know seasonality and availability of beans from different regions. You can get green samples from brokers, you then roast them and sample them, you then choose what you think are best for you. If you can't sample roast, some broker will send you roasted samples. As far as from who, it all depends on your business model regarding quality, price and freight cost. Obviously, you want to work with someone who gives you good service and call you when really good beans are available, but you need to develop such relationship.

Jgibbons said:
3) How on earth do I develop a direct relationship?? Who do I contact for that?
You mean direct trade as buying from farmers directly à la Intelligentsia? You can't until you have large enough volume.

Jgibbons said:
4) Can I get a list of places or sites I can check out that are examples of Fairly Traded ...whatevers...? I don't know what to call them because once again, I don't know what they are!!
no capiche.
 
OP
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Jgibbons

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Oct 10, 2010
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I have some experience roasting, and I know there is an art to it that takes practice, perfection, and knowing a lot about the coffee. But The reason I ask this question is because I'm still in school. I'm 19, and I will be graduating between 1-2 years, so what's a better use of my time than figuring this all out. When I'm out of school (No debt), then I'll be able to get goin asap!

For the other reply, yes, á la intelligentsia, and like many of my favorite coffee houses. I don't understand what you mean by volume. Volume of what? Space, or ability to order 500+lbs?

I may get a chance to visit a farm in Honduras where my employment gets it's coffee from. So, I'm extremely excited about that, however, that's not an option for me this year. I'm also a spanish major, am studying abroad this winter, and will more than likely be fluent by next year. Will this help in a direct relationship? Who helps me find the farms with the best coffee/people who need the most help financially?

I have my vision set, i've created a business play, crunched the numbers, looked at locations, designed layouts (how do you do that when you don't even know where? haha), but what's left for me to find out is the legal work/regulation, and this last part...where am I getting the coffee.
Any suggestion on what to do next?

I will also be getting an Arabica plant soon :)

Thanks for all the help!!!
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
991
0
Hartford and New Haven, CT
Volume in term of how much beans you can buy. In order to have a direct trade program, someone has to travel to the growing region to visit farmers, your trip cost is as much as intelligentsia. You then have to arrange shipping and custom clearing. Let's say the total cost not including the cost of bean is $3000. Let's say intelligentsia buys 1000 bags, the direct trade cost averages $3 a bag, where as you are most likely starting out buying 10 bags. Your cost per bag is $300. These numbers are not exact, but you get what I am getting at. Other things to consider, when you are visiting farms and sourcing coffee, who is running your shop? Plus, if you and intelligentsia show up at the same farm, who do you think will get most of the farmer's attention not to mention their best offering? I am guessing until your business can hire a bean buyer or a roaster full time, it is not cost effective to look into a direct trade program.

Anyway, most coffee producing countries have coffee trade association, you can contact them and get a list of farmers and exporters and go from there. You can also go to cupofexcellence.org and look into winning farms from each country and contact them. There are also farms with present in the US, La Minita, La Tacita, Finca Vista Hermosa come in mind.
 
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Jgibbons

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Oct 10, 2010
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Alright thank you! That helps a lot. Even with a lot of internet research...I was pretty confused. That makes sense. Then is it safe to say that nearly all coffee bars develop a direct trade relationship after a few years of running?
 

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