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I have been interested in specialty coffee for a few years. I love deep diving on different subject matters and this is just an extension of my personal desire to understand. Instead of doing this work on my own, I am building it out in public.
In the past, I have seen transparency reports being posted to certain roasters websites. Usually this is a yearly report, but from my perspective not every roasters has done this.
I recently came across Metric Coffee's podcast Source Code. I was inspired by the passion by Metric Coffee and the folks they interviewed. Below I have posted their 2020 Transparency Report which I hope becomes a benchmark for revealing information to consumers about coffee. Here is a list of transparency reports or details into the roaster's purchasing I have found:
After reading through the first issue of Source Code, I realized that this may or may not translate over to a normal every day consumer. It is all such important information, but how do people start to trust roasters when they say they are sourcing sustainably or ethically? How does a roaster build a brand that people can trust?
What this isn't
I am no way trying to say one place is better than the other, but me trying to analyze information in bulk to understand what standards exist. Consumers should have a better insight into what they are buying. How can we better understand what the full coffee process is from production, transportation, importing, to roasting? Consumers can hold roasters accountable to their word. Accountability will help encourage roasters to source coffee with sustainability in mind.
Why I care
From what I understand so far about coffee, as a consumer, is it's very easy to find a great cup of coffee. In my city alone there are at least 6+ coffee roasters roasting decent coffee. But where did they get it from? The quality isn't the issue in most cases.
Most roasters have some sort of default statement around the environment and sustainability. It is almost like it is copy and pasted from site to site. They use the stories of farmers who are hard at work making such an amazing product, to just build "empathy" with consumers. The more you dig into it the blurrier it gets.
As a designer, a key part of solving a problem is understanding the problem in the first place. This is me trying to understand the problem. Where is my coffee really coming from?
If there are any questions, concerns, or corrections. Please reach out below.