The first thing we do is taste. We don’t even ask about pricing until after we decide whether or not we like a coffee. With our direct source coffees, we actually taste them three separate times: once at the very beginning of harvest; once before the coffee ships to the US; and a final time when the coffee arrives in the US.
Cartel is committed to paying producers their asking price
As soon as we decide we love a coffee, we find out how much it will cost and how much we can actually buy. There is no negotiation. We simply say yes or no. Our producers are business men and women who want to be able to keep doing what they love just like us. This cost to us directly determines the retail value that our customers see. If a coffee is being sold to us at an insanely reasonable price, we then sell it to our customers at an insanely reasonable price.
Cartel ignores the C (commodity) market
Commodity grade coffee is a completely different product with a completely different market. We do not buy commodity coffee. We buy and sell ‘specialty coffee’. The C market can be brutal as fluctuations in supply and demand will often force producers to sell coffee below the cost of production. Roasters who wish to carry commodity grade coffees but want to still be able to sleep at night might choose to source coffees that are ‘Fair Trade’ certified. Though we applaud this effort and believe this program does many great things, our solution is to simply not buy commodity grade coffees. This allows us to completely ignore the C market and let our producers set their own prices.
Cartel favors long term relationships with producers
We have been able to work with hundreds of different producers over the years. Some of the relationships stick while others don’t last for one reason or another. As a rule, we only agree to buy coffees we can actually taste. Each seasonal coffee harvest, even if it is from the same farm, must be treated as a new coffee. This means we can’t really guarantee that we will be buying any of the same coffees each year. In reality, there are many producers who nail it every harvest. We especially love working with them!