In March of 2019, Everybody’s set out on a journey we’d been hoping to make since our origin (pun intended). Source coffee directly from farmers! One of our founders, Rich Troche, made a trip to Honduras, and began our first Direct Trade relationship with a coffee farmer named Adolfo! We enjoyed quoting Rich throughout this post.
Direct Trade means buying coffee directly from a farmer rather than through various in-between sources. But to us, it also means taking the time to build a relationship with tat farmer and coffee producers. It means buying and roasting quality coffee from farmers we want to partner with because we want to invest in their work. It also means paying a fair wage for Specialty coffee that is high-grown, hand-picked, has great flavor, and has been cared for in a sustainable way.
So, why was Honduras first? Through our friendships with Metric coffee here in Chicago we were introduced to a young farmer and mill-owner named Benjamin Paz.
“Benjamin is a rockstar in the coffee world. His family has worked hard to create an amazing mill and great relationships with farmers all over Santa Barbara!”
Benjamin connected Rich with farmers in Honduras who were hoping to make the move from selling their coffee as a commodity to Specialty coffee. This leap can be a big one. Commodity coffee is valued by the market price “aka: those dudes on Wall Street who may have never seen a coffee tree”, not by quality. Whereas, for us, Specialty coffee takes extra care and time to produce based on quality and flavor!
After tasting coffees from all over the region at the mill, Rich tasted coffee that “spoke to him” of great flavor and care. He asked about it, and was soon introduced to Adolfo, a farmer who has been farming coffee for over ten years, but always sold his coffee as a commodity “which was .90 cents a pound when I was there.”
The next day, Rich spent an afternoon with Adolfo, walking his farmland and hearing about the history and practices. “Like any new relationship, it was awkward at first.” There were some jokes and banter, but there’s a level of trust needed when a farmer is ready to sell to a new buyer. Building trust and this relationship takes time. “It struck me that one of the first questions Adolfo asked was when he would get paid.” Selling coffee in this new way is stressful for farmers, more of a gamble than they’ve experienced before. They worked to set a fair and sustainable price, making it easy for Adolfo’s family and workers to be paid well, and straightforward for Rich to get the coffee back here to Chicago!
Briefly, Adolfo introduced Rich to his family and showed off their beautiful home overlooking lake Yojoa on the edge of the picturesque Santa Barbara mountains. They finished their hike through the mountainous farmland, stopping to enjoy the beauty. “I joked that Adolfo’s coffee has some of the best views of the Honduran country side I’ve ever seen.” Adolfo’s coffee trees grow right on the sides of the mountain, between 4,000-6,000 feet above sea level. This strictly high-grown coffee takes extra care to maintain and pick, but it’s all worth it for the flavor it produces.
All in all, this adventure was to bring an amazing coffee for you to enjoy! “Investing with farmers at origin, roasting in Chicago, helping our neighbors in need” It’s all built upon relationships, which ties into our purpose. We want the coffee we source to be about relationships, too. The ones we have with our friends at Metric in Chicago, the one we have with Benjamin, and now a new one with Adolfo. As a whole, we are excited to see where this new journey in Direct Trade takes us. Our first origin trip was a success, filling us with awe and wonder at the work and time it takes to get coffee from the land into your hand. We hope you enjoy your first taste of Adolfo’s coffee, now being brewed and served at Everybody’s! Click here if you’d like to enjoy some at home!