For years, we have been able to access incredible coffees from Ethiopia. They truly are some of the best in the world and offer a cup clarity and consistency that is pretty unrivalled.
Website - https://bertu.coffee
Location - Ethiopia
However, it has been a constant struggle to build long term partnerships here thanks to the manner in which coffee has been traded and exported. Traditionally, exports have been centralised to offer a highly efficient and reliable service - the downside has been a lack of traceability to producer/washing station level and the focus on short term sales.
We wanted to explore opportunities to carve out relationships with one or two estates with whom we could access amazing coffee but also work with year on year to become a buying partner that adds value beyond the sale of the coffee. Our friends at Square Mile in London (with whom we share learnings/insight) told us about a newly established company called Bertu Coffee seeking to do things a little differently. Bertu means ‘keep up the good work, don’t give up, be strong’, acknowledging the challenges that have faced producers in the past.
They seek to: establish strong buyer relationships, budget and maintain a predictable cost structure with producers who have control and understanding of their costs of production, achieve operational excellence and work towards a zero carbon footprint from farm to port through mixing traditional forestry practices with newer regenerative farming principles. They commit to prioritising producers and ensuring they are paid first, having an open book policy where their fee structure is fully transparent and ensuring no shortcuts are taken nor rules bent. Our purchases come with full financial transparency not only detailing the FOB price (export price) paid but also the harvest wage and an indication of what the internal market price was set at the time. The producer receives the agreed outright price at the time of shipment and we then commit to a second payment above and beyond the agreed price for the coffee which is linked to quality and is paid following receipt of the coffee in the UK.
“By creating long-term relationships between producers and buyers, we see potential to fund project investments back at origin, to introduce additional bonus payments for exceptional cupping coffees, and to help both producers and buyers better manage price-risk.”
Not only is this coffee a best in class example of a natural processed Ethiopian, it also supports the amazing Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) through its purchase. This amazing non-profit organisation works to try and keep girls in education in Ethiopia by fundraising for running scholarships designed to ensure the girls stay in school and avoid early marriage and pregnancy.