Direct Trade

Direct Trade is predicated on a few simple pillars: improving coffee quality, incentive based rewards to the farmer and transparency of the supply chain. Those pillars support the vision of Stumptown to provide the finest coffee experience possible, whether that means while enjoying a beverage served with great customer service at one of our cafes or wholesale accounts, while brewing a pot at home enhanced by our online brew guides, or simply savoring a sip with the assurance that our Direct Trade sourcing strategy made that cup possible.

Coffee quality

We visit each farm 2-3 times per year on average. Early in the harvest, we build a strategy with the producer. We return in the middle of the harvest to check in on that strategy and ensure all aspects of cherry selection and processing are top notch. Generally, we’ll return at the end of the harvest to taste coffees and discuss the outcome of that particular harvest and reward a job well done as well as discussing options for the next year. We take the time to help prepare the coffees for shipment to help keep the coffee as clean as possible during dry milling and assist in the packaging process and encourage timely arrival at port.

Day lot separation is one of the key components to cup quality. Ideally, the cherry reaped from each day of the harvest is separated into different lots, which are in turn separated by location on the farm and varietal (whenever possible). This ensures that the individual characteristics of each lot can be defined and improved upon by suggestions. Those suggestions are backed by each lot being individually compensated according to their quality on the Stumptown cupping scale.  We pay more for coffee that scores higher. Feedback on day lots is a consistent loop between our green coffee buyers and producers to know what they’re doing on the farm level: which varietals, which processing methods, which drying methods, and which weather they can expect and rely on. They know which methods will achieve a better price and a long term relationship with Stumptown.

Incentive based rewards

Price incentives are based on quality. We have a tiered pricing system which is geared to guarantee the farmer will get a larger premium than the farm gate price.  Producing great coffee is expensive, so the investment the farmer makes is taken into consideration for development strategies. We know that certain steps require different costs for our producers and we want to compensate them appropriately for better quality. Each country, and really, each farm differ so greatly that we adjust and develop our relationship with each producer on an individual basis with their specific goals in mind.

Transparency of supply chain

Rather than negotiating a price with a broker or an importer, we settle on the price directly with the producer. We understand the farmer’s cost of production, we understand their quality (and their potential for quality) and we negotiate a price directly with them. After that, the costs of moving the coffee, insuring the coffee and all of the less interesting things get added to the price which we negotiated directly with the producer.

Our Direct Trade is not just a way of saying that we negotiated the price directly with the producer, but it’s also our way of saying ‘this one is in it for the long run.’