What we mean by ‘ethically sourced’ coffee

What we mean by ‘ethically sourced’ coffee

What we mean by ‘ethically sourced’ coffee

For us here at Wood St Coffee, a few things are important when sourcing coffee. The quality (and therefore taste when roasted) of the green coffee, traceability, and a fair deal for farmers. Here’s an example of how these factors intermingle in our latest filter coffee, La Piramide. 

Colombia – La Piramide A

We first came across this coffee last year when we used it as our seasonal espresso. This year’s harvest has proven to work well as a filter coffee and is a great example of a classic Colombian washed coffee. We’re getting a lot of crisp green apple acidity with a juicy mouthfeel and caramel sweetness. 


Caravela is the importing partner that we work with to find many of our Colombian coffees. They work directly with producers at origin and help them achieve fairer pricing and quicker payment for their coffee. Because they are both an importer and exporter, Caravela have a traceable presence all along the supply chain, from the farm gate to their warehouse in Bury St Edmunds. 


This regional blend consists of 14 lots from 10 farmers, which were delivered to Caravela’s purchasing station in Cauca. A team of cuppers and quality analysts have scored and graded each lot individually and then determined the ratios of blending to create a consistent flavour profile for La Piramide. The “A” grade indicates the cup score of this lot, which should score between 84 and 85 points.

A fair deal for farmers

The ‘C Market’ price  (commodity market price) is seen as a benchmark for coffee pricing as a globally traded commodity.  It is a topic at the forefront of conversations around coffee in the industry at the moment. The C Market price has reached an all time high for the first time in 10 years and currently sits well above $2/lb (today’s price is $2.39/lb), which is significantly higher than the beginning of this year, where it was around $1.26/lb. 

Before delving into what was paid to the producers for La Piramide A and how this compares to the C-Market, it might be worth explaining a bit about the different types of pricing that occur in the coffee value chain. We’ll be looking at two types of coffee pricing:

  1. The farm gate price 

This is what is paid directly to the producers for coffee and excludes any export preparation costs.

2. Free on Board (FOB) price

This is one price that factors in both what is paid to the producer and the exporter to prepare the coffee up until the point it is loaded onto the boat for transport to the buyer.

The farm gate price for La Piramide A was $2.30/lb., which may seem less than what they could have been paid if they were to sell their coffee at the C-Market price. However, the C Market price isn’t a reflection of farm gate prices but rather the FOB price. 

The reality of C Market pricing is that the prices paid to producers are somewhat unknown and not easily traceable. Some estimate that the farm gate prices for C Market coffee are around 80% of the FOB price so to fairly compare prices we must look at both Farm Gate and FOB prices:

C Market FOB Price = $2.39/lb
FOB price for La Piramide A = $2.90/lb.

Estimated Farm Gate price for C Market coffee = $1.91/lb
Farm Gate price for La Piramide A = $2.30/lb

As you can see above, the producers that contributed to La Piramide A were paid better than the estimated C Market prices. Aside from the pricing paid to producers, the quality of the coffee is also significantly better than what we could source from an importer that trades commodity grade coffee from Colombia and the level of traceability is unrivalled.

Can you taste the difference? 

We will be holding cuppings to demonstrate the difference in quality between commodity and specialty grade coffees in the New Year, once it is safe to slurp together. In the meantime, we recommend that you try La Piramide A from the comfort of your own home.