The collaboration between SANCOFFEE and KALVE COFFEE and the cooperatives's significance in the region

With this last journal entry from Brazil, we want to highlight and tell you more about our collaboration partner - the "Sancoffee" cooperative. Brazilian coffee makes up the majority of KALVE's coffee portfolio. KALVE began its partnership with "Sancoffee" in late 2021, and currently, we import 57,600 kilograms of coffee from Brazil each year.

"Sancoffee" is a cooperative of coffee growers established in 2000, bringing together over 320 coffee farmers and nearly 1,000 families. Together, the "Sancoffee" cooperative oversees 6,752 hectares of coffee fields. "Sancoffee" CEO Fabrìcio Andrade says, "We cultivate not only coffee but also relationships. Our goal is to empower and support coffee growers, creating conditions where farmers can consistently produce higher-quality coffee in a responsible manner. Higher-quality coffee can be sold at higher prices, which in turn means greater income and an improved standard of living for farmers, their families, and communities!"

The KALVE team visited the main "Sancoffee" headquarters in San Antonio. It consists of a warehouse, a laboratory, and an office. In the warehouse, coffee usually arrives in processed form, where green coffee beans are sorted by density and color, foreign bodies are removed from the beans, and finally, the coffee is packaged in large 1.5-ton bags, where it is stored until sold. The coffee is then repackaged into smaller 60kg bags for distribution.

In the laboratory we meet Q graders or coffee quality assessment specialists. The laboratory and warehouse work closely together because a sample of each batch of coffee is sent to the laboratory for evaluation by Q graders to ensure there are no defective or substandard coffee beans. Q graders also assess, taste, and determine the flavor and aroma quality of each coffee following industry standards and protocols. Q graders assign a quality score to the coffee and create a flavor profile, which is essential information for communicating with coffee buyers.

"Sancoffee" exclusively deals with specialty coffee, which requires very controlled and nuanced quality control and sorting. Defective or underdeveloped coffee beans must not make it into specialty coffee, as they significantly impact the quality and price of the coffee. Sorting machines do a significant part of the work, but coffee bean samples also need to be reviewed by Q graders to ensure the highest quality.

The Significance of Cooperatives in the Region

Cooperatives in coffee-growing regions play a crucial role as associations and support institutions. Coffee farmers who join a cooperative gain access to various forms of support and growth mechanisms that help improve both coffee quality and farm development, as well as the personal and family quality of life. To better understand the importance of cooperatives in the region and in the lives of farmers, it's essential to understand the basic functions of cooperatives and the benefits they provide to those involved.

Economic support and access to foreign markets: For instance, smaller coffee farmers, by joining or forming cooperatives, can often collectively sell their coffee produce at a higher market price. The cooperative also serves as an intermediary or platform to find buyers for each coffee. "Sancoffee" has established strong relationships with various international buyers (importers and roasters). The "Sancoffee" team also provides assistance and takes care of logistics, domestic and international bureaucracy, and financial planning. As a result, farmers can fully focus on coffee cultivation and continuous quality improvement. "Sancoffee" Beyond the Borders initiative is a program that provides farmers with access to foreign markets and offers on-site technical support in the region. When a farmer joins Beyond the Borders program, they have the opportunity to export coffee abroad. This directly impacts their income because "Sancoffee" purchases coffee from the farmer at the local market price, but when it is exported, the farmer receives a premium of nearly 40% above the local market price. Last season "Sancoffee" exported over 300,000 kg of coffee within this program.

Access to resources and knowledge: Cooperatives provide training and knowledge exchange programs and events, offer technical equipment and inventory, and facilitate loans and creditworthiness for farmers. We also had the opportunity to meet several "Sancoffee" cooperative farmers for a shared discussion about the future of specialty coffee. Additionally, KALVE organized coffee brewing workshops for coffee growers, diving deep into aspects of coffee brewing and allowing farmers to brew their own coffee with Aeropress or Origami brewers. It was a unique experience, as the farmers themselves acknowledged that the workshop helped them better understand the work of baristas, which is a rare profession in their region.

Quality control of coffee and cultivation: To continue ensuring high-quality coffee, cooperatives often set and monitor coffee and work quality standards. "Sancoffee" Sustainability and Relationship Coordinator Ana Claudia Silva explains that at the beginning, many coffee farmers needed convincing to switch to specialty coffee cultivation because it initially required more work, attention, and energy. However, once farmers saw the financial benefits, it became self-evident, and more farmers shifted towards specialty coffee cultivation. They joined Beyond the Borders program and began listening to "Sancoffee" recommendations. Currently, "Sancoffee" supports and encourages coffee farmers to experiment and create various micro-lot coffees, focusing on coffee variety selection and providing special high-quality growth and processing conditions. Coffee from micro-lots is processed separately from the rest of the harvest, often involving a more complex and unique processing process, including more extended fermentation.

Environmental sustainability and initiatives: Many cooperatives prioritize sustainable agricultural practices and environmental preservation and improvement. "Sancoffee" is a carbon-neutral company, and its most ambitious environmental improvement and conservation project is the Bio Recovery project. "Sancoffee" has identified nearly 16,000 hectares of land affected by improper agriculture or extreme weather conditions, resulting in land erosion. "Sancoffee" has restored a little over 20 hectares by planting native plants such as bamboo, wild yam, and other local species. Interestingly, in less than three years, the land has transformed from completely barren to lush green jungles with their internal ecosystem and a small stream.

Community development: Cooperatives create and develop local infrastructure, such as investing and building schools and clinics for the local community. It's important to understand that farmers' involvement in the cooperative makes their lives more stable and secure. The Fagundes community has a close connection with the "Sancoffee" cooperative, and the Fagundes farm owner acknowledges that joining Beyond the Borders program stabilized his income, providing a sense of security and opportunities to invest in farm improvements.

Support in crisis situations: Cooperatives provide various protective mechanisms and initiatives that encourage farmers to diversify their income sources and help mitigate various crisis situations, such as extreme climate changes or price fluctuations. "Sancoffee" also assists farmers in dealing with insects and various coffee tree diseases. "Sancoffee" values innovation, and the team actively follows various industry developments.

Encouragement and general support for growth and development: Cooperatives involve farmers in decision-making regarding how the cooperative operates, where its profits are directed, and what the common goals and ambitions are. A remarkable and engaging "Sancoffee" project is Nascentes, a women-inclusive project. "Sancoffee" Impact Coordinator Ana Claudia Silva explains, "As we started the Beyond The Borders program, we noticed that very few women were getting involved. But Women are like invisible soldiers. Women often take care of coffee harvesting, its post-processing, and, of course, manage the household, prepare meals, and do laundry. However, the farm technically belongs to the father or husband, who will also make the final decisions and receive all the recognition and appreciation. We talked to women in the region and tried to understand women's views on farm management. The most common response was that women want recognition and to be noticed." The Nascentes project involves women in collective decision-making, offers training, and organizes various events and experiences to encourage women to get involved in the coffee industry and cultivate higher-quality coffee. Ana Claudia explains that the Nascentes project aims to create a society where women are not superior or better than men but equal. Currently, the project involves 100 women, and last year, within the project, nearly 50,000 kg of coffee, grown and nurtured by women, were exported.

KALVE is incredibly happy to work with "Sancoffee." We believe that such experienceexchange trips are crucial not only to see where and how the coffee we serve to our guests and partners grows but also to understand the impact of our choices in the region and the benefits they bring to local residents and the environment. Brazil is a land of contrasts, and people in Brazil live differently, so it's no surprise that living conditions can be challenging. However, during our visits to the farms, we did not encounter anyone who complained or did not strive to do everything with the utmost conscientiousness and the highest standards. The "Sancoffee" team and the farmers we met radiated professionalism and a genuine love for their work and coffee. They have a desire to do more and do better!

When we asked the farmers what we could do for their benefit, their response was simple: "Buy more coffee!" We are deeply moved by the professional relationships we have established with "Sancoffee," which are based on love and respect for coffee and the people involved!

Read the previous blog HERE.

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