Q&A: Green Coffee Importers Kamba

Q&A: Green Coffee Importers Kamba

Our latest seasonal espresso, Tangerina from Brazil, is imported by Kamba. We’ve been working with Bruna, Jack and Emma at Kamba for over a year now and are super proud of the relationships we have. We thought you’d enjoy finding out more about them so Head Roaster George asked them some questions…

What exactly does Kamba do?

Jack: We bring awesome coffees from Brazil and Ethiopia to specialty roasters across the world. From Brazil, most of these coffees are sourced by our general manager Bruna, who comes from the third generation of a producing and export family in Brazil. In Ethiopia, the coffees we import are produced and exported by one of our founders, Israel Degfa. 

This intimate knowledge of both origins allows us to showcase extraordinary quality from across these two incredible countries. And even more importantly, it provides routes to market and higher prices to many producers and smallholders that may otherwise have to settle for less. 

What brought you to work for Kamba?

Bruna: I have always been interested in having full control of sourcing and taking coffees from people I know directly to roasters I meet and/or already knew. Kamba gave me the opportunity to do that.

Emma: An interest to learn more about specialty coffee and the challenges of connecting the dots from producers to consumers.

Jack: The chance to work alongside people who know these incredible origins as intimately as almost anyone. Both Bruna and Israel are legends of the game!

We’ve heard about the C market price of coffee going through the roof, shipping crises, the ongoing impact of climate change…what are the challenges facing Kamba at the moment?

Jack: Ah, all of the above! Sourcing has become increasingly difficult in such a volatile market. High prices are a great thing, it is just a matter of navigating and communicating it effectively to make sure coffee pricing works for everyone. 

The shipping crisis makes getting the coffee that has been sourced to our warehouses in the UK and Europe even trickier. Luckily, Emma takes the brunt of these challenges on behalf of us all…! 

The climate change issue then supersedes all the above. A good example of these problems was the recent frost in Brazil. The impact of this was completely devastating to witness. 

Of course, these topics are way too complex to cover fully here. However, I urge you to dig out an article Bruna wrote in the latest Caffeine magazine that touches on all of these issues – ‘The Chill in Brazil’. It’s not all bad news though, we are fortunate to have an incredible team and network across Europe, Ethiopia and Brazil that has meant we have still been able to bring some incredible coffees and stories to our customers throughout 2021.

What’s your favourite part of your job? 

Emma: I enjoy seeing the final product roasters create on shelves, in cafes, and brewing in people’s homes. A huge amount of work around the world has gone into getting the coffee to that final point and I am proud of all the people who have contributed.

Bruna: Connecting the coffee community at origin with the final consumer in the UK and EU.

Jack: Learning from producers, colleagues, roasters and friends in the industry everyday. The role of an importer is extremely complex but also massively rewarding when you drink the coffee at the end of its awesome journey. 

How do you see your relationship with coffee roasters evolving over the next couple of years?

Jack: Since we are still quite young, relationships are growing and developing organically as we truly get to know the people behind the roasters. You’re the perfect example George 😉. 

This relationship driven approach is an incredible part of being a member of the Kamba family. Another big catalyst that will help these relationships develop even faster will be our planned origin trip to Brazil in 2022 (if travel regulations permit). Connecting producers with roasters is a powerful part of what we do and an exciting opportunity for everyone involved.

Stand out coffee of 2021?

Bruna: Ugandan coffees have been a pleasant surprise for me this year. But my Mum’s coffee was my favourite. This was the first time we imported a coffee from her at Kamba. It should be on people’s menus soon!

Emma: It is hard to pick a favourite as there are so many stand outs this year! I guess if forced, my favourite this year is Anasora farm in Ethiopia. It produces brilliant natural, washed and experimental lots.

Jack: Brazil Strawbs for me. An incredible example of the quality Brazil can produce. It was a real hit with roasters and customers alike. So jammy! 

You can find out more about Kamba on their website here.