Tree to cup: Mexican coffee in The Hague
From Mexico to the Prinsestraat in The Hague: an organic coffee supply chain that is traceable at every step via clients of Rabobank.
It’s a bright afternoon in The Hague. On a terrace in the city center a woman sips from a cup of delicious specialty coffee. Meanwhile in southern Mexico, the already hot morning sun is climbing in the sky. A coffee plantation owner takes a walk between his coffee plants and inspects the countless red cherries. They are almost ready to be harvested.
Both people are far apart, but they are connected by several steps in a distinct coffee supply chain whereby every link in the supply chain is a client of Rabobank. That is no coincidence.
The 1st link:
The coffee farmer in Siltepec, Mexico, produces organic coffee beans and is a member of the coffee cooperative Café Gourmet Sierra Azul. This organization is a client of Rabobank Foundation, that provides them with working capital during the harvest season and technical assistance through a local service provider. Sierra Azul is Organic and Fairtrade certified.
The 2nd link:
One of the clients of Sierra Azul is 32 Cup, a coffee importer that supplies unroasted specialty green coffee to more than 500 coffee roasters worldwide. This company aims to support and empower producers in origin countries. It also strives to ensure that all of their suppliers get recognition for their work. 32 Cup is a client of Rabo Trade and Commodity Finance. 32 Cup was introduced to the Sierra Azul cooperative by Rabobank Foundation.
The 3rd link:
Micro coffee roaster
In the heart of The Hague one can buy a specialty coffee at Koffiebranderij BOON, a micro coffee roaster in the Prinsestraat in The Hague. This small shop is owned and operated by Lianne Bertens. She buys her green coffee from 32 Cup and is a client of Rabobank. Lianne is able to tell her customers exactly where the coffee originates from and how it is produced organically.
What is the aim of Rabobank Foundation?
‘We support smallscale farmers in increasing their income by assisting them to organize themselves into cooperatives and providing access to finance’, says Isabel van Bemmelen, program manager Latin America at Rabobank Foundation. ‘An important ingredient of our support of coffee farmers is linking them with reliable offtakers and financing their contracts. We work closely with clients of Rabo Trade and Commodity Finance, like 32 Cup, with the aim of improving conditions for growers in developing countries. It’s a classic win-win: the coops gain reliable clients, while these businesses find sustainable sourcing.’
What is specialty coffee?
Jean Heylen, Managing Director at 32Cup explains: ‘Specialty coffee is made to taste better than the average coffee. It is produced with only ripe coffee cherries from higher altitudes. They are processed to perfection, dried in the sun and thoroughly cleaned to remove imperfections. The result is a better cup of coffee with a longer aftertaste. The most important feature is that specialty coffee can be traced back to the farm where it is produced. So that the roaster (typically a small or medium sized enterprise) can ensure customers that the coffee is produced with respect for social and environmental conditions.