It's been a little while since we cast light on one of our partners and the ethical work they do. This time we’re taking a trip to Norway to talk sustainability in coffee with our friends at Coffea Circulor, one of Scandinavia's best.
Coffea Circulor is a coffee roasters well-known for constantly contributing to Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) events and conveying their story through competitions, fostering champions, coaching coffee professionals, judging and arranging national and international coffee events, as well as performing processing experiments - quite the knowledgable professionals. Coffea Circulor are also the current Swedish roasting champions with previous victories had in Norway. Founded upon the ambition to create a greater sense of harmony, Coffea Circulor was envisioned by Thore-Andre Thorsen and Ivica Cvetanovski, and the coffee brand enables the pair to tell stories that matter and generate opportunities around the world for people who are less fortunate.
The co-founder's journey started when they began working at the United Nations environmental branch, GRID, in Norway. With their free time, they would travel to Kenya to visit coffee farms and from interacting with the producers, they discovered they were only paid 0.7USD per kg of green coffee. Contrast this with coffee in the Western world where it is sold for approximately 10USD per kg of conventional / supermarket grade and they noticed that clearly something was amiss. It was then that they decided to establish an open trade platform with coffee farmers where customers are able to see the initial purchase price of the coffee. In doing so, they ensured it was openly and clearly declared - a concept known as 'transparency trade'. This was back in 2008. Today, the word 'transparency' is more widespread and is used in many other shapes and forms by others. Such an idea remains fundamental to Coffea Circulor's ideology and founding principles and is why they declare what they pay for the coffee in full.
The question does remain, however, as to whether it is right to say that a product is 'fair' when farmers are still receiving only a fraction of the profits generated from their crop. Whilst many would argue that it is the process of turning the crop into a usable product through roasting that ultimately commands the price, the sustainability of that crop is dependent on sufficient compensation. In Coffea Circulor's and GUSTATORY's opinion, there is clearly there is more to do on this element until it is considered truly fair.
Before beginning their roasting journey, Coffea Circulor set out to understand the coffee value chain and how it could be developed to become more open and better. After contacting a number of roasters in Nordic countries, only to find they weren’t interested in buying coffee directly from producers, they decided to buy a roaster to facilitate their mission – if you can't beat them, join them! Through starting a roastery, Coffea Circulor have managed to enlighten people in their local market of Norway, as well as further afield in the international market through their contacts from competitions at national and international levels. They’ve also expanded their operations to investigate processing in Colombia, Kenya, Uganda and Panama, all in a bid to further understand the end-to-end process. Having a thorough insight into the coffee value chain has enabled Coffea Circulor to set values, develop an ideology and build competence.
Great work guys, keep on truckin’ - you have GUSTATORY's full and true appreciation. Help support Coffea Circulor and their roasting journey by discovering Coffea Circulor coffees. Enjoy...
GUSTATORY (adjective): curating excellence in taste.