A Great Company to work with...
We are very happy with the coffee we get from Batdorf and Bronson, and our customers seem to be also. I just wanted to share this note we got from Scott Merle, green coffee buyer and roastmaster for Batdorf and Bronson.
I just returned from a trip to Antigua Guatemala and a visit with Cristina Gonzalez, the producer of our magnificent Finca El Valle Guatemalan coffee.
Finca El Valle lies on the even grade between Volcan Fuego and Ciudad Vieja, where the Gonzalez home and beneficio are located, and is one of the most densely forested coffee farms I've seen. On the grounds you'll see typica trees Cristina's grandmother planted that still produce coffee, massive gravilea trees for shade and bird habitat, and wonderful refuges for the squirrel population that grows by steady numbers every year.
El Valle escaped last year's excessively rainy season without any damage. Unlike some of these other farms around Antigua, Cristina is thrilled with the amount of exportable coffee she will have for us this year. Even so, the crop came in one big burst and was completely harvested between January 3rd and February 23rd. This was about two full weeks shorter than harvests in previous years, and there is the disquieting fear that changes in global weather patterns will make this more of the norm than an exception.
So what to do? Cristina had laid excellent groundwork last year with her labor force; paying them high wages, feeding them and housing them better than most in Antigua. But even with the necessary labor to get everything picked in time, they still had a bottleneck of coffee at the beneficio. I saw more coffee drying on the patios at one time than I've ever seen at El Valle.
In total, we will receive about forty extra bags of El Valle coffee for 2008 because of the bump in yields. Cristina was happy to know that we would take this coffee from her at our committed price. And this brings up an interesting point: Coffee prices had been escalating on the commodity market since early January, and people in my position were scrambling to buy coffee before the prices got too high. Because Cristina and I had already worked out new pricing for 2008 back in the fall of last year that took into account her cost of production, projected yields, and necessary profit margin, and because the price I had promised her was over one dollar above the fair trade minimum price and still well above the rapidly rising commodity price, we were completely at ease with accepting the additional bags at our fairly negotiated price.
This illustrates the power of the partnership we have with Cristina Gonzalez and her family. It also demonstrates the importance of good relationships between producers and roasters. We have been buying coffee from Christina Gonzalez and her family for 12 years and we continue to build rapport. And we have never been let down by the quality of her coffee. Year after year, it is an exceptional single origin coffee.