Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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costs to get coffee from within the warehouse to the loading dock where it is ready for pickup by the freight carrier. The costs differ between warehouses, but there is a charge for each pallet and for spe- cial instructions like wrapping. The minimum order might be $25 per pallet, for one or 10 bags on the pallet. For larger orders fl oor-loaded into a truck without pallets, the cost might be $1 per 100 pounds with the use of hooks, and $1.50 per 100 pounds to accommodate special packing like GrainPro and other bag liners. Fetching bags for small releases requires more collaboration than the release of a full container, which is why specialty coffee is such a team sport. Employees moving coffee in a United States or European warehouse must pay as much attention to detail as pickers practicing selective harvest or processors monitoring moisture levels. Keeping small lots of coffee separate demands unfl inching vigilance. Take the example of the third-party facility outside of Los Ange- les: East Bay Logistics in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., referred to as EBL LA. Account manager Brian Behrand with Ally Coffee shares obser- vations from a recent visit to EBL LA to pick up four bags of green coffee: "Preparing a partial pallet of coffee is probably about an hour's worth of work. On the delivery order there is a description of the coffee that says what aisle it's in. A forklift driver fi nds the coffee—it could be behind a couple other pallets, or it could be other pallets are on top of it. It's a little bit like gridlock, trying to get one thing out by moving a bunch of other things around." Edgar Reyes is an EBL LA employee who runs a van service making expedited deliveries of between one and 35 bags. "When third-party truckers can't get an order to roasters on time, we try to accommodate same-day or next-day releases—with a smile!" Edgar says. "There are a lot of variables. Roasters know me, and they are always happy when I can deliver coffee with a timely turnaround." "The way we get everything delivered by Amazon these days, we don't really think about the fulfi llment aspect of each pallet," adds Bri- an. "It's not just walking up to a shelf and grabbing [what you need]. Sometimes the coffee is stacked 40 feet high. You're hoping your one bag isn't all the way at the bottom." Samuel Demisse of Keffa Coffee in Baltimore notes that import- ers absorb many freight and load-out charges to provide roast- ers with the level of personalized service necessary to run small specialty roasteries. "There is a lot of teamwork involved to make LTL pickups before cut-off time, and we are always appreciative if the warehouse can make an exception," says Samuel. "Staff at the Annex in Oakland, Calif. came back to receive a truck because if the driver had missed pickup, he would have had to spend the night in a hotel." At origin, coffee absorbs terroir and captures the culture, geog- raphy, climate, politics, and economics of a place. In order to make that fi nal sprint to our doorsteps, however, green coffee is part of the fl ow of local freight, waiting at red lights and misplaced if paperwork accidentally gets swapped. Forklift operators, freight brokers, and delivery drivers are as essential to the coffee-supply web as all other stakeholders, and specialty coffee would not be as special without the patience and care of warehouse and freight companies right in our backyards. —Rachel Northrop 25 www.baristamagazine.com

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