[U]sually when a roaster wants to try samples of different green coffees offered by various importers, she’d have to contact each of them individually, find out what they had, and make her requests. A new online platform is cutting down the leg work of finding coffees. Beanstock.ag, which just launched, allows roasters to explore the green coffee offerings from multiple importers. Roasters can search by specific criteria (a la “I need a Washed El Salvador Pacamara, stat!”) or browse casually (a la “What are the newest African coffees on the West Coast?”).
Roasters can use Beanstock to request samples of the coffees listed or to contact importers directly. Each coffee’s profile shows as much information as importers choose to provide, including certifications, varietals, processing, farm, and tasting notes. For example, you could find a particular coffee by scrolling through that country’s offerings, searching for the producer by name, or by querying coffees with a certain process.
“Our goal is to tell the most comprehensive stories about coffees out there,” says Nick Spilger, one of Beanstock’s founders. “The more complete story roasters are able to share with end users translates to increased value.”
The more specialty coffee zooms in on small lots and single farms, the more options become available to roasters, who then have to dedicate more time to selection and sourcing. “Beanstock aims to make this selection process as effortless as possible,” says Spilger.
David Perreira, COO at Yellow Brick Coffee in Tucson, looks for coffee that fits the company’s traceability model. “One of our customers is looking for an organic single-origin that they can use as cold-brew,” he says. “I can do specific searches for organic coffee with flavor profiles that I think might work well. In order to hit price points for our customers, I can contact importers directly with specific pricing and sourcing questions.”
The core concept driving the platform is to open dialogues between participants in the green coffee supply chain.
Nate Van Dusen, owner, green buyer and roaster at Brio Coffeeworks in Burlington, Vermont, thinks Beanstock will help promote accountability. “One of the first pieces of information I look for is crop year. If some importers list it and not others, then maybe those who don’t will be motivated to list it as well. Seeing that information up front saves me having to make a phone call and the importer having to take one.”
Both Perreira and Van Dusen have used the platform to communicate with importers they already source from and to explore new partnerships. The internet has already transformed coffee by digitizing commodity trading at one end of the spectrum and making it possible for smallholder farmers to be Facebook friends with small roasters at the other. Beanstock sits somewhere in the middle, working to streamline green coffee offerings information most relevant to specialty roasters.
—Rachel Northrop is a sales rep with Ally Coffee‘s specialty importing division.