By Martina Jensen, SRA Account Manager

What a wonderful way to spend a rainy day; the smell of freshly brewed coffee and an event put on by such an inspirational team. Food Made Good Approved Suppliers, Extract Coffee Roasters and Mercanta – The Coffee Hunters put on a great crop-to-cup experience, accompanied by a team of their growers from Santa Barbara Estate in Colombia; Pedro Echavarria and Leonardo Henao.

This was a room full of passion and interest surrounding this luxury import we all love so much. While floating around the room on the delightful aroma, meeting new people and reconnecting with some of our members, it became clear that so many had already met or knew each other. This was a tight knit community – inclusive of Bristolians, Colombians, Americans, Londoners and more who all had something in common and it wasn’t simply coffee – it was ethical trade and business exchanges. The framework and model this supply chain relies on seems more of a friendship than a business agreement. I could not keep count of how many guests had been to Colombia to meet the growers, see the estate, quality check and just get to the very heart of the origin and provenance of their beloved coffee beans.

We were treated to a coffee cupping presentation from the Mercanta team with a range of different beans and taught how to distinguish the uniqueness of each family and farm’s crop. The diversity was vast including both washed and unwashed beans, from a variety of different regions in Colombia.

Understanding the flavours was one thing. But appreciating the history of coffee production in Colombia and the long journey to a trading model that benefits growers, suppliers, roasters and the drinkers was probably more stimulating (if not in a caffeine sense). Pedro and Leo highlighted both the challenges and the opportunities they face. The original business model and trade framework they have implemented was created together with considerations and cooperation from every point across the supply chain. Transparency, trust, and trade are at the core of this system’s functionality. End consumers at coffee shops and restaurants are connected with individual farmers, and both consumer and farmer work together with suppliers and roasters – all with the goal of quality and satisfaction at the heart of the operation.

We have all heard the expression story telling when it comes to food, connecting people with the roots and origins of their food. This was no whimsical fairy tale, but a real life connection which spread an awareness of the different channels and opportunities for trading ethically. It also served to highlight the beauty behind human relationships with equal rights, trust and cooperation with the same final goal: sustainable coffee production with no bitter after taste.