We are proud to maintain close working relationships with two Direct Trade Coffee partners. Direct Trade Coffee can take a few different forms, but it basically means that coffee roasters and their customers have a more direct connection to the growers and processors of coffees we buy. The coffees we offer from Nicaragua and Papua New Guinea come from companies (Gold Mountain Coffee Growers & Benchmark Coffee Traders, respectively) that import their own coffees to the US and sell them direct to roasters like us. These companies either own coffee farms and/or processing facilities in the growing countries, and do the work of exporting those coffees from origin and importing them to (for us) the United States. Our Direct Trade purchases are showcased above and in our Single Origin Coffees category, but the majority of coffees used in our Gourmet Coffee Blends also come through our Direct Trade partners.
The benefits of Direct Trade Coffee extend to the consumer through a higher level of food traceability, giving you greater knowledge about where your coffee comes from. The benefits of Direct Trade Coffee also extend back to the producers, farm laborers, and their families & communities - because high-scoring Specialty Coffee fetches higher prices than lower-grade commodity coffees, and with fewer stakeholders in the supply chain more of those higher premiums make it back to people who need it the most.
Gold Mountain and Benchmark are both “social enterprises,” meaning that they are businesses with a strong social mission to improve the lives of the people and land that produce these fine coffees - through social projects and improving the sustainable agriculture practices used in their operations. So your money is put to good use when supporting our Direct Trade partners. At Ross Street Roasting Co., we’ve also been able to go above and beyond by coordinating targeted fundraising projects that do additional good in the communities that produce our Direct Trade coffees. Given all this, it’s easy to see why this model is also sometimes called “relationship coffee.”
We have been fortunate to visit our partners in Nicaragua - Gold Mountain Coffee Growers - during and after coffee harvest. This has allowed us to not only see with our own eyes the level of care they put into their farming, harvesting, and processing practices - but it’s also given us the opportunity to taste incoming lots before most other roasters do, and identify exceptional coffees that we want to bring in months down the road. This worked out well for us in 2018 when we tasted a Pacamara Natural Process micro-lot from the three farms in the Jinotega region in early March, put our name on one sack (about 150 lbs), received it in the US in July, and entered it into the national Golden Bean North America roasters competition in September, where we won two medals in the categories of Single Origin Espresso and Single Origin Pour Over with that coffee we’d tasted back in March.