A 43-year top broker professional

Do you want to know a great coffee industry secret? Coffee brokers! Coffee brokers are essential to the success of the coffee industry. They ensure quality control, provide a lifeline to farms, and facilitate the exchange of information between growers and dealers. To put it another way, the coffee grower and dealer are like artists sharpening their craft, and the broker is like a museum curator who must be an expert in their field and have refined taste buds.

Long-term stability for growers and dealers

Coffee brokers provide long-term stability to both growers and dealers by obtaining multi-year coffee contracts (i.e., committing to purchase coffee that is not yet grown). These multi-year contracts provide growers with assurance that they will be able to sell their coffee, as well as dealers with assurance that they will be able to purchase their coffee within a certain price range. Brokers essentially keep the supply chain stable. Brokers also share information in both directions, allowing the roaster to request specific processing methods and growers to share new techniques.

Facilitation and quality control

Once the coffee is purchased coffee brokers are responsible for ensuring that the export, import, and delivery process are seamless and quality controlled. While this may sound like a simple task, it is not.In addition to customs paperwork and transport logistics, brokers are also responsible for ensuring the veracity of all coffee contracts as well as the quality of the beans delivered to dealers. Quality taste testing pre-release may sound trivial but it is very critical! If a broker sends stale or subpar coffee to a dealer, the dealer will be out of coffee and the grower’s reputation will take a serious hit. Brokers must essentially ensure that the grower’s work is preserved through delivery — which sounds easy but coffee is a food product and there are so many opportunities for things to go wrong between export and final delivery that’s why a good broker is considered a must-have on this business.

Matchmaking, diversity, and communication

Now, my favorite reason to love a great coffee broker — they are great matchmakers between dealers and beans. Coffee brokers know their dealer requirements, dealer values, and their dealer’s customer’s tastes. This means that a good broker only sends dealer coffees that meet their quality criteria. In addition to scaling down the coffee options from innumerable to only those which are likely to be a good match, brokers, who have the ability to purchase large quantities of a single coffee at one time, also give smaller dealers access to coffees they are unable to purchase directly, either because of country export restrictions or minimum quantity contracts. Finally, a good broker keeps the dealers and growers connected by sharing information, not only about the coffee but also about important initiatives on farms, which the roaster can then further share with their customers. While there is much more to a coffee broker’s job than mentioned here, we felt it was important to share this information given the sometimes fixation on direct trade. Direct trade can be wonderful for a grower as can using a great broker. The bottom line, when the parties involved respect and value the work of the others (growers, dealers, and brokers), it creates a win-win-win situation.