90+ Profiles: Getting to Know Norbert Niederhauser

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Who are you and what do you do in coffee?

My name is Norbert Niederhauser and I am the co-founder of Cropster, an information management service for coffee roasters, traders and producers.

How and when did you get started in the coffee business?

I got into the coffee business about 11 years ago. I was living in Colombia, and working on research projects trying to link smallholder coffee farmers into specialty markets. Through those projects, I made a lot of contacts in the industry, and learned a whole lot about different aspects of coffee production, trading, and roasting.

What jobs have you held in the industry?

I’ve never had a classic “coffee job.” My first interaction with the coffee industry was during a research position at CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) in Colombia. After some really exciting projects and meeting a lot of coffee people, I co-founded Cropster. In the beginning, I was working out of Colombia with our Latin American team, and then moved to California where the focus is now on North America and overseas markets.

What people and/or things inspire you, coffee-wise?

It’s inspiring to see coffee entrepreneurs—especially in origin countries—trying to change how coffee is produced, traded, roasted, and prepared. I love the openness of the industry—there is hardly ever a dull moment when talking to “coffee people.” The coffee family includes great personalities with interesting approaches, and a strong spirit of collaboration and sharing.

What would you like to see change in the coffee industry?

There are several things that come to mind. I would like to see more small farmers getting the opportunity to access specialty markets. I would also like to see coffee prices being more related to actual production costs and efforts, and less to C-market prices. And I would like to see more consumers get the chance to understand processes and efforts involved in producing a perfect cup of coffee.

What is your favorite coffee beverage and/or brewing method?

I enjoy fresh, in-season drip coffee. At home, I use either a V-60 or a Chemex.

What do you consider to be your greatest contribution to coffee?

Helping coffee farmers and roasters to capture relevant information and being able to interpret it to make good decisions as well as share information with trade partners. For farmers, this brings new income opportunities, and for roasters it helps run an efficient operation while focusing on consistently creating and producing awesome coffees.

What do you think others would say is your greatest contribution to coffee?

I hope this aligns much with the previous question. I think it may be the way Cropster as a team cares for our clients and constantly brings new topics to the table.

What’s next for you?

Further developing and expanding Cropster’s service for coffee roasters and traders, but also working even more with coffee producers.

Who’s the person you’d most like to see us interview next?  

Charles Babinski from G&B. He’s a barista with great experience and an interesting work-path and projects. I hope to learn more about him and his visions for the coffee world.

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