Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S THE FINAL STEP: RELEASING COFFEE FROM THE WAREHOUSE COFFEE PASSES ALONG A COM- PLICATED chain of custody to travel from the farm to the cup. Parties involved at origin have gar- nered much-deserved attention for the extensive manual labor required to pick and process coffee by hand and transport it up, down, through, and around the mountains where it is grown. The last link of the logistics chain—moving coffee from a ware- house to the roastery—is, however, often described simply as "delivery." This fi nal transfer of custody, taking place in industrial parks from suburban New Jersey to the highways surrounding Compton, Calif., does not hold the allure of lush Central American mountain farms, but it is every bit as essential to en- suring that the right coffee ends up in the right hands at the right time, and completes the documented transfer of an imported product, particularly crucial for transparent and traceable direct trade. To demystify the process, as well as shine a spotlight on some of the hardworking folks whose efforts play a crucial, yet often overlooked, role in how roasters get their amazing cof- fees, we talked to experts in the criti- cal, sometimes misunderstood fi eld of third-party coffee-warehousing. Dan Shafer, director of operations with Crop to Cup Coffee Co. import- ers based in Brooklyn, N.Y., describes the importance of less-than-con- tainer load releases (known as LTL shipments) to the success of special- ty-coffee businesses. "Small special- ty-coffee roasters are the future of our industry," Dan says. "They are also the most constrained by cash fl ow, storage space, time, and labor—all of which result in frequent LTL shipments. Every LTL order of coffee has its own unique point on the graph charting the confl uence of price, speed, and quality. That point moves from order to order, from, 'I just ran out of coffee, please expedite,' to, 'I won't run out for weeks, please choose the cheapest option.' [LTL warehouse releases] often include special requests." These requests from roasters are communicated to importers, who then pass them through freight brokers, and on to the fi nal freight carriers. The carrier is the company that owns the truck, and the freight broker acts as an agent who has contracts with multiple trucking companies, affording better pricing through volume across all their customers. To get the best rate requires quoting multiple brokers and choosing the best price and delivery time from among all their carriers. "Beyond negotiating pricing, customer service in LTL shipping is about people," says Dan. "It's about those special asks—when you have a near-impossible timeline to move coffee across the U.S., when you need an order consolidated at the last minute, or when a driver needs to call a roaster's back-up cell phone, you make it happen." Negotiating the best freight is one way to economize LTL shipping costs, but another unavoidable expense is load-out charges, i.e. the At top, coff ee warehoused at Continental Terminals in Charleston, S.C. Below, fl oor-loaded coff ee from Guatemala is stuff ed in a container at the same warehouse. 24 barista magazine

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