Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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JUNIOR'S ROASTED COFFEE DELVES INTO COST OF PRODUCTION THE STUDY OF COFFEE HAS BEEN a longtime pursuit for Mike Nelson—both in the workplace for sev- eral coffee-roasting companies in the United States and abroad, and on the academic side. In 2015, Mike was in the midst of a graduate program at Florida State Univer- sity studying human environment geography. While his dissertation had him focusing on knowledge systems used to spread information on coffee-leaf rust, some conversa- tions with industry veteran Chad Trewick helped shift his interest to include a new topic: cost of production. Cost of production is typically discussed in the modern coffee industry as the amount of money it costs a coffee farmer to produce a pound of coffee. Most coffee pro- fessionals know that extremely low prices on the coffee commodities market—which at press time had recently dipped below $1 a pound for the fi rst time in over a decade—are one of the most daunting challenges coffee producers face. When Mike started reading more about cost of production, however, the grimness of the situation surprised him. "Commodity coffee prices are the same as they were in the 1970s," says Mike, "but farmers face modern costs—and labor is the most expensive one. Imagine trying to buy a car today with a salary from 1976; their situation is not much different." These learnings spurred Mike to dive deeper into the topic. In the months and years that followed, Mike fi nished his program and moved back to his hometown of Portland, Ore., to grow Junior's Roasted Coffee, which he founded with his spouse, Caryn, and to open their café, Guilder. One of Mike and Caryn's fi rst initiatives upon landing in Portland was to launch a project through Junior's exploring cost of production by teaming up with supply-chain partners to determine a farm's cost of production and ensure the price paid by Junior's ade- quately covers that cost. PHOTO COURTESY OF JUNIORÕS ROASTED COFFEE Mike and Caryn Nelson of Junior's Roasted Coff ee. 25 www.baristamagazine.com

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