Afficionado Coffee Roasters believes that sustainability must be the core principle of every facet in our organization. We thrive by constantly nurturing several fundamental pillars — farm exclusivity; farming and fermentation techniques; additional revenue streams; craftsmanship; and self-funding — and ensuring these pillars are built on a model of sustainability. Peter Turso and I just returned from Bolivia and Peru where we are truly seeing our farmers reap the rewards of these pillars while producing the most impeccable products for our customers.
Our fundamental pillar starts with farm exclusivity. As with any relationship, time allows this relationship to blossom. We don’t do anything with a farmer for less than four years, the time it takes a tree to grow and blossom. All of our producers are exclusive to us, allowing us to form stronger partnerships where we call them our friends and extended family.
Through these relationships, we have been able to identify and unify to support outreach programs within each of the communities. For example, in Peru we purchased farming tools and alpacas, sponsored the construction of a new schoolhouse, and built a women’s center focused on adult education. We allocate a separate fund of money to these causes so we know where every penny is going.
Farming and Fermentation Techniques
Once we capture exclusivity, we understand farming and fermentation techniques and correlate them to other industries such as the wine industry. Our fermentation research is already producing rare and unique flavor combinations that can revolutionize the coffee experience.
We build a network among all the farmers to troubleshoot problems they may have on their farms. By connecting farmers and sharing their techniques, we can truly support sustainable, adaptive production. For example, sharing sorting techniques has allowed us to eliminate sour characteristics in certain batches.
No coffee company is more progressive in terms of talking to people and understanding their processing method than Afficionado Coffee Roasters. The knowledge we have gained from our research trips has helped us learn how we can utilize wine fermentation techniques to advance the coffee industry.
Additional Revenue Streams
We create additional revenue streams for our farms. For example, in Bolivia and Peru we develop coffee byproducts. This is especially beneficial in areas of Bolivia where coca production is an issue. Our efforts help get farmers away from producing coca because we make our coffee more profitable for them. We invest so that farms in Bolivia produce the most impeccable coffee; the quality of the coffee also helps make the industry more lucrative than coca production.
We have created several revenue streams from coffee byproducts such as blossom, cascara, and husk. From our efforts, a coffee tree went from producing one product to producing four products. When the cherry is about to bud we pick the flowers within a very short window. Blossom is the flower, and as it falls off we have a two-week window to gather it. We take the fruit, which is the cascara. We take the husk, a membrane around the coffee bean, and we utilize natural and honey processes.
These additional revenue streams have really allowed our relationships with our producers to blossom because no one else has ever come to them with this creativity. This past month we had the opportunity to bring the Cascara and Blossom back to Peru and Bolivia to show them the amazing products. It’s a real emotional experience to see their reaction.
When we get the coffee in our possession in the United States, we approach the roasting process as a true craftsman by utilizing the best of old-world machinery and new world technology. We believe less is sometimes more. We don’t believe in roasting on automated equipment. We roast on a steampunk Gothot roaster.
Every roast is crafted by Peter Turso, our Culinary Institute of America graduate. Every roast is crafted to perfection by hand. We carry that through the pipeline to when the coffee sits on our customer’s table.
We seek to unify and identify with clients that share our passion for the story we are trying to tell: the story of our producers. We are promoting their hard work.
What’s encapsulating this program is that since day one we are self-funded; We have no investors, venture capital, or private money. For any company to tell you that they are truly sustainable and have that outside investment is not realistic.
At the end of the day, we don’t have anyone telling us what we can or cannot do. Therefore, we can stay true to our core values and fundamental pillars. We never have to sacrifice our beliefs because of financial pressures or demands from investors who don’t understand our culinary approaches or sustainability model.