It starts with a seed
Coffee producing countries are full to the brim with growers, exporters, roasters, cuppers, and other professionals with a depth of skill and knowledge that deserves serious respect. Yet, despite these abilities, one’s position in the Global South, in a community of colour, can be incredibly limiting.
Gate-keeping exists all across the specialty coffee world, and too often the burden of proof is on the same members in the value stream who take the most risk. Not only do we expect producers and exporters to understand our market and our needs, we also require that they provide impeccable quality in a timely fashion, and often, that they speak our language and meet our social customs.
Nowadays, one can purchase coffee by travelling to a producing country or simply by ordering samples from importers. In either case, the buyer is given the opportunity to choose the absolute best, and leave the rest behind. We can tell ourselves that paying a higher price for these coffees than they would receive on the commodity market is the good work we do. We can potentially buy again, if the quality stays up to snuff the next year. This, indeed, is Specialty Coffee Buying 101.
But what is the end game of this? Is our buying centred around the producer or the washing station manager? Or is it centred around our needs, defined by ourselves as coffee consuming members of the Global North? If it is the latter, what is the impact we’re making on coffee in each province, department, country we buy from? Are we improving anything?
As we say - Follow Truth, and ask yourself, "are you sure?"
Cafe Colis Resistencia
Work with a select groups who lack market access, or are working in under recognized areas, but have a quality product.
See producers forwarded from the periphery of the supply stream closer to the core
Encourage skill-building and knowledge sharing that supports smallholder autonomy and agency
Strive to match these groups - transparently and honestly - with a reliable client base they can grow with.
Believe in a future where our role won't be completely necessary, as client relationships develop.
Buy from people we care about, and will not turn our back on them because of a point score.
Real Support Requires Risk
Semilla wants to do things differently, not just say we are. For us, this means eschewing the commonly held belief that risk must be avoided. Instad, we recognize that true smallholder support is impossible, unless we're willing to stick our necks out..
Frequently asked questions
Can I choose to contribute to a specific initiative / project ?
Yes, you can choose whichever project you like when you make your donation. If there's a specific cause you want your donation applied to, simply mention it in the comments.
Will I get an official donation receipt ?
We are not a registered charity, so we cannot give you a tax receipt. We can offer proof of your donation, if required.
Can I send a message to the producers in the projects I donate to?
Of course! Either mention it in the comments, or drop us an email with your message.