Quick summary: Discover the importance of coffee traceability in ensuring transparency, sustainability, and quality throughout the supply chain. Explore how traceability systems empower coffee producers, exporters, and retailers to make a positive impact on the industry. Dive into the world of coffee traceability and join the movement towards a more ethical and sustainable coffee experience.
In the global coffee industry, traceability has become a fundamental aspect of sustainable sourcing and consumer demand. With increasing demand for ethically sourced and high-quality coffee, coffee traceability enables us to understand the journey of coffee beans from farm to cup.
According to ICO, World coffee production decreased by 1.4% to 168.5 million bags in coffee year 2021/22, while it is expected to bounce back by 1.7% to 171.3 million bags in 2022/23.
By tracing the origin, processing methods and supply chain of coffee, we can ensure fair trade practices, support farmer livelihoods, protect the environment and offer consumers the assurance of a sustainable and flavoured brew. Join us as we delve into the world of coffee traceability. Exploring its importance, benefits and positive impact it has on the industry.
Coffee, one of the world’s favorite beverages, has been around for centuries. Legend has it that around the 9th century A.D., a goat herder in the Ethiopian plateau discovered the coffee plant. He noticed that his goats were unusually energetic after consuming the red berries from a tree. From its humble beginnings in Africa, coffee has come a long, long way.
As the coffee bean traversed across the Arabian Peninsula, crossed over to Europe, overthrew tea in America, and then conquered Asia, it makes even the Crown’s vast conquests seem diminutive.
The journey to Indian soil was via Baba Budan, a Sufi saint from Yemen, in 1670. The initial records show that coffee was planted in Chikmagalur, Karnataka, at the time, and since then, it has spread across the South of India.
It is quite a paradox that while we can trace the origin of coffee hundreds of years ago, we are unsure of the source of the coffee in our cups each morning. Every bean has a story, and we owe it to our consumers to tell them the entire tale of the journey from the crop to their cups. This is easier said than done.
The Coffee Supply chain is a captivating journey that transforms a humble coffee bean into the beloved brew we savour each morning. It all starts at the coffee farms, the dedicated farmers nurture coffee plants with care and precision. These beans, often referred to as the green beans embark on a journey of transformation.
The coffees supply chain is a complex journey that coffee beans take from the farm to your cup.
It begins at the coffee farms where coffee beans are grown and these farms range from family owned plots to large commercial plantations. The choice of coffee variety, cultivation methods and the care provided significantly impact the final flavour and quality of coffee.
Coffee cherries, which contain the coffee beans are selectively harvested when they reach their peak ripeness. This is typically done manually.
After harvesting, coffee cherries undergo processing to extract the beans. This is either done by dry processing where the cherries are sun-dried and beans are removed or by wet processing where cherries are pulped, fermented , washed and dried.
Milling and Sorting
Once dried, the coffee beans are milled to remove any remaining parchment and sorted to remove defective beans. This step is crucial for quality control.
The processed coffee beans are then exported from the coffee-producing country to coffee-importing countries. This involves careful logistics and compliance with international trade regulations.
Upon arrival in the importing country, the green coffee beans are roasted. Roasting is a critical step that transforms the beans into aromatic and flavoured coffee. Different roast profiles can produce a wide range of coffee flavours.
Coffee beans are ground to the desired coarseness based on brewing method.
Coffee grounds are combined with hot water using different brewing methods which affects the flavour and strength of the coffee.
The brewed coffee is then packaged for distribution.
Coffee is distributed through a network of wholesalers, retailers and coffee shops to reach consumers.
Finally, coffee reaches the hands of consumers who prepare and enjoy it according to their preferences.
Each step in the coffee supply chain plays a crucial role in determining the quality, flavour and sustainability of the final product.
To truly visualize the coffee market, imagine an intricate web with multiple knotted ends. More often than not, this makes communication progress across the end-to-end value chain complicated to track and value hard to measure.
To answer the question posed earlier about the simplicity of tracing the coffee bean: with a Traceability solution, it CAN be easily done. Traceability allows companies to track and record the movement of produce through every production stage, from cultivation to the end consumer, through technology solutions.
In the agriculture industry, players across the value chain can identify and trace raw materials, processing related inputs, packaging, and the entire journey. The coffee industry faces many challenges due to its complexity and size of operations. Let us look at how Traceability can address these issues for each of the involved players.
With Coffee Traceability, farmers can access detailed information about their produce across the value chain. They are also privy to best practices, relevant market information, and opportunities that help improve the quality of produce. Communication of supply and demand also takes place in real-time, enabling them to plan their batches. Since Traceability enables sustainability, which brands can claim with pride and charge a premium, this, in turn, raises the prices the smallholder farmers get for their crops.
Coffee Traceability also creates recognition for farmers who produce top-quality seeds and can trace the end journey to consumers in different countries. The most significant outcome for farmers is that this transparency significantly improves their scope for fair compensation and strengthens their credit claims from cooperatives/commercial banks.
Coffee Traceability brings uniformity to a great extent since inputs like water, temperature; drying time are regulated. This drastically lowers the chances of wastage or the produce being rejected for sub-standard quality. It also enables roasters and distributors to provide comprehensive information to the next actor in the value chain about the coffee they are purchasing and provide proof of product quality. Processors can interact more efficiently with the rest of the value chain using comprehensive, real-time data access.
Data related to productivity and quality is captured and aggregated on a single application by field staff, allowing traders to control which farm batch is assigned to which customers. Coffee Traceability also will enable exporters to verify their sustainability and quality claims while ensuring compliance with existing regulations. Such verified data help expand export opportunities with even the most challenging markets.
In addition, traders can identify and recall targeted products that are damaged during shipment promptly, reducing losses that would have been incurred if all batches were destroyed.
Brands can use Traceability to have a real-time view of their coffee’s origin and end journey, ensuring compliance with regulations and sustainability assurances. Traceability also gives brands a competitive advantage since 50% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for products with a positive social and environmental impact on the supply chain. In comparison, 34% of consumers aged 16-24 would pay an extra 20% or more for an ethically sourced product.
Providing Traceability makes brands more appealing to global consumers and eases acquiring additional accreditations and labels.
Consumers across the world are increasingly interested in the origin and journey of the products they purchase. They are even willing to pay premium prices for ethically sourced, environmental-friendly, quality coffee. Traceability helps meet this demand by providing end-to-end transparency to end consumers since the entire voyage of the product is recorded and compliant with sustainability goals and regulations.
A traceability solution aids end-to-end transparency and efficiency. This can significantly help brands reduce their carbon footprint and take a step closer to sustainable operations. One way this is facilitated is by documenting and regulating the raw materials that are used during the cultivation and processing stages. That includes water, energy, and fertilizer consumption. Another route is recording the impact from the disposal of contaminated and damaged produce and product disposal by the consumer at the end of the product life cycle.
Coffee Traceability solutions will keep evolving with technology. There are solutions to trace the end-to-end journey of the bean that can solve many of the risks mentioned earlier. Above all, it helps businesses produce Sustainable Coffee. Aligning to many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is possible and more manageable by making the value chain as transparent as possible.
Adopting traceability technologies, directly and indirectly, improves resource efficiency by training farmers in sustainable agricultural practices. Climate action, Good Health, and Well-being, Responsible Production & Consumption are achievable goals because these systems create the foundation for reporting performance related to sustainable practices.
TraceX’s Blockchain Traceability Solutions
TraceX’s blockchain traceability solutions
revolutionize the coffee industry by offering unparalleled transparency in the journey from bean to cup. The technology enables every stakeholder to access a comprehensive and trustworthy account of the coffee’s origin, processing and distribution. Through blockchain, consumers, suppliers and producers can trace every step ensuring ethical practices, sustainability and authenticity.
Companies embracing TraceX have experienced substantial improvements in bolstering their sustainability profiles and appealing to conscientious consumers. By harnessing blockchain technology, this solution simplifies auditing and verification needs, guaranteeing adherence to regulatory standards.
Coffee traceability is more than just a buzzword in the industry. It is a vital aspect that promotes transparency, sustainability and quality throughout the coffee supply chain. By implementing robuts traceability systems from TraceX, coffee producers, exporters, roasters and retailers can gain valuable insights, build trust with consumers and contribute to more ethical and sustainable coffee industry.