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  • ECM - UK

From Origin to Port

To make sure that you, who are hundreds of kilometres away from the production areas, can enjoy the coffee harvested in Mexico, a long journey must be fulfilled involving the efforts of several actors. In this new chapter, we will share a bit more of the behind-the-scenes of how coffee is reaching its final destination.



From Warehouse to Home

Our entire operation begins at the origin. Most of our producers' partners farms are located in very remote and often neglected rural areas, with basic dirt roads. These conditions make access and coffee purchasing, difficult. To confront this situation, our field coordinators in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz, and Guerrero created the "From Warehouse to Home" program.



They travel themselves to the communities to collect the coffee or set a collection point where producers can gather and deliver their coffee. There, we checked the moisture content of the cherries, and each coffee grower is paid a base price, higher than what other local buyers offer. The parchment is then taken to our local warehouses, where our Quality Control team analyse the coffee both physically and sensorially. Once the lot quality is confirmed, the coordinators return to the communities to deliver a differential price to each coffee grower based on the cup score and yield of their lots.



Dangers and Odysseys

Purchasing at origin is not easy. Our coordinators face a series of challenges, such as traveling to sometimes insecure and often impassable areas, with little public transportation. Such is the case in Ejido Sibactel, in the municipality of Tenejapa (Altos de Chiapas), where there are only two options for access: taxi or private vehicle.



Several times, our field technician has had to make up to four transfers to reach his destination, raising transportation costs. Osiris, a coordinator in Oaxaca, has to manoeuvre her field trips to avoid falling victim to highway robberies. For example, when going to buy coffee at the farms, mainly in the municipality of San Lucas Zoquiápam, she prefers not to announce the arrival date. On other occasions, she uses two routes to enter and exit the origins (dirt roads and the federal highway) as a strategy to deceive potential thieves.



Additionally, the poor condition of the roads causes vehicle breakdowns. The field technician in Guerrero recalls that last year a truck with a capacity for three tons of coffee broke down mid-journey, causing several hours of delay while the engine was repaired.



From Milling to Port

After the coffee is collected at the origins, the operations and logistics area of Mexico, led by Andrea Santiago, coordinates the transfer of coffee volumes to our dry mill. In this phase, the coffee undergoes a transformation process during milling, where the bean is freed from its husk or parchment to become exportable green coffee known as “verde oro”.



This transformation leads to a series of stages that require the support of Quality Control; with lot approval, logistics subsequently oversees coffee packaging, preparation of export documents, management of maritime transport, negotiation of freight, insurance, and more (see infographic).



Logistics Encompasses All Areas

The logistics department is like the heart of Ensambles, as it is responsible for pumping blood to all parts of the company: origins, milling, quality control, and sales. It bears the responsibility of ensuring operations proceed as planned.



"Without planning, there are more chances for a project to fail than to succeed. Here, the idea is to be efficient and effective," says Andrea, Operations Coordinator in Mexico.


Challenges

However, for the coffee to reach our customers' hands, a series of challenges must be overcome, sometimes beyond the team's control. Some challenges are related to origins with very poor road infrastructure, representing a double problem for logistics: finding a suitable transport unit that does not entail excessive costs for the company. Time is another variable at play.


In the world of coffee, nothing is certain, considering it is a raw material from the field where adverse situations often occur, such as pests, climate change, and natural phenomena that can affect the constant and safe delivery of the product.



From the coffee's origin to its departure at the port, we face numerous challenges. However, throughout the process, we implement effective strategies and have a team endowed with patience and problem-solving skills. This allows us to overcome any obstacles and ensure that our coffee reaches your hands with its characteristic quality. Thank you for trusting our work!



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