Expanding the Role of the Exporter in the Direct Trade Model

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by Francisco A. Mena, Exclusive Coffees S.A.

Many of the other participants in this issue are green buyers who work for roasters or importing companies. In this feature, we shine a spotlight on the role of an exporter, which is someone who consolidates crops from producers for processing and sale to out-of-country businesses. Francisco Mena, standard-bearer of the “micromill revolution” and principal of Costa Rica’s Exclusive Coffees, has shifted this definition and is doing things a bit differently than traditional exporting practices. His company works within the paradigm known as “direct trade” and is aimed at helping growers become their own processors (or “micromillers”) and therefore gain more direct control over the cup quality of their harvests. He shares his thoughts about what he’s learned with us below.

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