Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Announcing Artisan's Warm Referral Program for Roasters!

Have you ever heard of a warm referral? It's a sales step that is 180 degrees different than a cold call. Instead of the seller attempting to guess who might want to hear from her, there is an invitation. The prospective buyer has already expressed interest through a trusted third party.

At Artisan Coffee Imports we seek to grow to become the preferred supplier of East African coffee to roasters with high ethical standards. If you are a current customer, first of all, thank you! We'll do our best to promote your business whenever we can. You're already helping to achieve our mission to:

Trade coffee in sustainable ways that improve the lives of farmers. We offer artisan roasters taste with consistency and transparent sourcing that supports the roaster's brand. Through consulting we offer supply chain management techniques to producer organizations at origin. Together we improve quality and grow the share of export price for the farmer.

Would you be willing to support Artisan's mission even more? If you know other roasters who you would describe as 

"open to new sources of ethically grown, traceable and sustainably traded East African coffee"

... we should talk! But better yet, why not connect Artisan's president, Ruth Ann, to your roaster friend with a friendly email? (Send to info@biz.artisancoffeeimports.com to reach Ruth Ann.) This saves your friend the time and effort of writing a 'cold call' email to Artisan, and instead makes all three of us feel like we've just shared a cup of coffee with people we trust. Your email to Roaster Y with Ruth Ann copied is a warm referral.

We understand your time is valuable, too. So for each email you write, we'll take $20 off your next green coffee order. That's correct! If you can introduce us to five qualified roasters, you can save $100 on your next invoice. 

Who is a qualified roaster? Start with the phrase above ("open to new sources..."), then speak to that roaster-friend and let them know you'd like to put them in touch with Artisan. If they agree to take a call from Ruth Ann, this is a qualified roaster. 

A warm referral email might look like this:

Subject: Introducing two great coffee people
Dear Roaster Y:
As discussed earlier, I’d like to introduce you to Ruth Ann at Artisan Coffee Imports. She does a great job connecting us with our Ejo Heza coffee from Rwanda. I think she might be able to help you with your sourcing, too.
Dear Ruth Ann:
Please meet Roaster Y. They said during our meeting the other day they’d be happy to take your call and explain why they’re considering some new sources for green coffee. Roaster Y’s number is: 734-123-4567.
Good luck to you both!

Together, we can create the world where coffee Artisans, even the producers, can live from their craft.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Getting Ready for Expo in Chicago!

The countdown is on! We're looking forward to having SCA Expo in the Midwest this year in the beautiful windy city of Chicago, Illinois! 

We'd like to share a few highlights and a couple maps to help you plan your time at the McCormick Place convention center on the magnificent Lake Michigan.

Fri., Apr. 12, 1:30 - 3pm, Artisan Cupping, Cupping Exchange, S404D

Sat, Apr. 13, 8:00 - 9:30am, IWCA breakfast, keynote speaker is the Exec. Director of World Coffee Research, tickets $150 available during Expo registration and at the door.

Sun, Apr. 14, 9:00 - 10:00am, S401D Panel/lecture: "Celebrate Women in Coffee", Ruth Ann is moderating this panel with expert panelists: 
Teopista Nakkungu, Regional Chapter Relations Africa for IWCA;
Grayson Caldwell, Director of Sustainability at Bellwether; 
Kyle Engelman, CEO at Grounds for Health; 
Sylvia Calfat, Senior Project Manager, COSA.

The Exhibit Hall will be in the Lakeside Center. The lectures and Cupping Exchange are on the fourth floor of the South Building. Plan time for the 10 -15 minute walk over the bridge and up some escalators!

Go to https://www.mccormickplace.com/facility-overview/floor-plans/ or  https://www.coffeeexpo.org/ for more info.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Tour of Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters New Facility in Ferndale, MI

 Feb. 5, 2024

We were thrilled last week to have the opportunity to share the Ejo Heza story at Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters' (DOCR) Ferndale retail store and HQ. It's the fourth location for them and just opened in April 2023. It's an amazing 9000 sq ft coffee roasters' dream! First, there's the large education and cupping room where we got to give the presentation. The space is separate from the bar and seating area, allowing any event to be private. This is a departure from the more open stage arrangement in other DOCR locations.

The event space doubles as a cupping lab because of the cool long, hardwood tables on wheels and the fully equipped espresso bar with a sink. Along one side of the event space is a huge conference room with a gorgeous long natural wood table with inlaid coffee beans! I've never seen anything like it!

Another unique feature of the DOCR space - the commercial kitchen for baking their famous, one-of-a-kind cheesecakes. Have you ever had baklava or raspberry, white chocolate cheesecake?! 

In the roastery, it was a treat to see the old, 10 kilo Mill City roaster that I knew from its prior location in Rochester, MI. It now sits next to its new 'big brother' Probat which is a 24 kilo roaster. 

Nate Hamood (right), owner/roaster/co-founder of Dessert Oasis talks with participants.

Amelie Haakenson, manager at Dessert Oasis, sets up the cupping table.

Ruth Ann presenting the Ethiopian coffees on the table.
The new space has room for two roasters! (Old, small one in the foreground, new larger Probat in the background.)

DOCR and Artisan make a great partnership!

Monday, December 4, 2023

Forward Contracting - Easy and Profitable!

Forward booking can be a practice that lets every member of the supply chain,
including the producer, be proactive rather than reactive, thus creating resiliency that is a core value at Artisan.  
Most of Artisan's coffee is sold via fixed price, forward contracts with roasters.This means the rosater signs a contract with Artisan before the coffee has shipped. 

Advantages to the roaster include: securing good coffee and being able to plan ahead for its physical arrival and the impact of the payment on the green coffee budget. But there are some disadvantages. Making a projection about needed volume can be difficult. We've created the following Pros and Cons table. What would you add to this?

Table: PROS and CONS of Forward Contacts

The contract has quality terms that must be achieved at the pre-ship sample stage and on arrival. Price and terms for payment are also defined. We typically start signing contracts for Ethiopoia in January and go through Mardh. For Rwandan coffee, we contract February - April for coffee that arrives October - November.

Our minimum is one bag or 132LBs.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Dehab's Ultra Sustainable Farm in Kaffa, Ethiopia

I was impressed with the emphasis on sustaining community and mother

Dehab on her farm.

 that Dehab has invested in her large coffee farm in the Kaffa zone of Ethiopia. In this blog, I'll share few things, as I suspect most readers share a love of our mother earth and things that are healthy and life-giving. 

The coffee trees on Dehab's farm are growing under giant, old-growth rainforest trees in way that can only be described as magical to foreigners like us arriving from urban, agro-chemical territories. Her land is in the buffer zone of the UNESCO protected Kaffa Biosphere. Walking through the farm you feel like you're in the movie Avatar, only all the low-growth is coffee! 
Coffee growing under old growth trees.
Dehab has developed a modern honey/ bee-keeping farm which has multiple objectives: bees help the organic growth of the coffee trees. Honey is a good second income-earner for Dehab's business. She uses the honey-farm to teach bee-keeping to men and women, because she knows that the women will be allowed to do the bee-keeping business by themselves, because it is something they can do close to the home. Earning money from honey will mean that the woman has to spend less time cutting down trees to make charcoal to sell for money, which will help save the forest. Regenerative agriculture at its best, I think!

While we were walking through the farm, one of Dehab's friends, Dr. Mitzi, who

is a remarkable, well-educated, well-traveled woman with long experience with the United Nations. Dr. Mitzi is also an herbologist, and she was showing us the herbs that are growing among the groundcover plants and telling us the medicinal properties. 

Then, when the entire group (about 30-35 people) was together in the center of the farm (approximately), Dr. Mitzi had us all be still for 2 minutes of silence to listen to the earth and the sounds of the forest. For those who wanted to join, she demonstrated some yoga poses. We were silent and hear the sounds of the forest.

Pause to hear the forest.

After that, we hiked to the top of a nearby hill and Dehab pointed out an area of about 30 ha. that she does not farm so that the animals and plants are all natural there. It's like a forest reserve within the reserve. You could hear the moisture dripping, see the moss hanging from ancient branches and we happened to be there on a beautiful sunny day. Magical!

To top it off, at the end of the hiking, we enjoyed the entire Ethiopian coffee ceremony, (starting with roasting the green beans), live and close-up, while we ate lunch at the offices of the farm.

In the midst of a rainforest.

Molesh Demisse lead the coffee ceremony.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Courier Delivers Coffee and Suprises in Portland Oregon

Courier Coffee in Portland, Oregon is one of those cafes that seems to be steeped in the culture of the city where it "lives". The cafe today is downtown at 923 SW Oak Street, just steps away from the famous Powell's Bookstore. The roastery is in a separate building in another famous Portland neighborhood: SE Hawthorne St. 

The cafe is ecletic, unpretentious and "granola" and at the same time surprisingly wholesome and classy. The sign for the cafe is a hand-painted board leaning against the sidewalk window, but the french pastries are baked fresh, in the cafe, every morning from scratch by the owner. He even makes his own condensed milk!

The cafe space is shared with a Japanese ex-patriot who is an expert in a sumptuous ice treat called Kagigori, known in English as Japanese shaved ice. She has the authentic machine for transforming the condensed, sweetened milk into a beautiful dish of cream, cold sweetness drizzled with fresh fruit and hand-made fruit sauce.

Joel Domreis, Couriers founder, owner, roaster and baker, rides his bike about 4 miles every day to bring fresh milk to the store. You often see his sturdy, blue cargo bike parked right outside. 

There is a record-player playing Ethiopian jazz music for the clients as they file in throughout the morning, many of them regulars. One gentleman with many piercings has a trusty bulldog in tow. A father with 6 year-old child enjoy the baked treats.

We can't forget to mention the great coffee! Courier is one of the loyal buyers of our Agasaro, women-grown coffee from Rusizi district, Rwanda. Joel roasts it to a perfect medium-light roast. 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Paying Women's Premiums - A Little Goes A Long Way

We'd like to share how Artisan’s women's premium program works in Rwanda. 

Basics of how the program operates

·        Cooperative agrees to pay $0.136/lb of the green coffee price to the women’s group. The president of the women’s group signs the green contract. We believe we may be the only importer where every contract at origin is signed by a woman representing the women’s group, (along with the signature of the president of the cooperative, who is typically male, but not always).

·        Artisan wires the women’s premium to the cooperative’s USD account separate from other coffee payments. The cooperative’s leader is required contractually to send Artisan a receipt showing the deposit to the local currency account of the women’s group.  

·        The leaders of the women’s group agree on the amount, timing and process for distribution of the cash to its members. This is approved at an assembly of all group members. If the amount is small (< $1,000) they may decide to use the funds for a community project instead of direct cash distribution to each member. Documentation of the distribution of funds is sent to Artisan and always available to roasters.

 2017 General Assembly Celebration: Click here to view the YouTube video

2018 General Assembly Celebration: Click here to view the YouTube video

Click here to read our 2018 blogpost about the day the premium is distributed.


Symbolic check given to Ejo Heza - $7,920 premium for the 2018 season.