The Mercanta Approach
While farmers across Colombia have been blocking roads and causing general disruption in a widespread protest over low prices, Mercanta are getting to know the growers in order to offer them a viable outlet for their specialty product.
After establishing a sourcing office in Medellin, Colombia in 2011, Mercanta has spent the past 18 months intensively visiting and cupping with local coffee producers.
Colombia currently produces roughly 8 million bags of largely excellent high grown Arabica beans per year. Although the lots hugely differ in quality, with a vast percentage of them lacking distinction, it is all being mixed together to produce good yet generic coffee. Our aim is to locate the best of the harvests before this occurs and purchase these lots at top prices to preserve their unique qualities.
This is where our long held belief comes into play: to pay sustainable prices for top quality beans.
Only a year ago prices were comparatively high at well over $2.5 / lb., over double what they are now. Although small farms rarely calculate their production costs accurately, a fair estimate would be $1.40 – 1.50 / lb., meaning the current market price falls well below this. Here at Mercanta however, we are still paying well above the general market price and at least 33% over producers’ costs.
The small lots we are sourcing and shipping offer a remedy to the low prices for coffee farmers in Colombia, however there is potential to do more. With new shipments currently on their way to the UK and North American warehouses and our teams of Cup of Excellence experienced staff cupping undiscovered gems everyday, we are keen for others to experience and embrace them too.
Consistent demand from our wonderful customers will allow us to continue sourcing exciting finds and provide a viable outlet for the cream of the Colombian crop.