With the same ownership and crossover with the Nordic Approach team in Oslo and abroad, Tropiq is essentially designed to deepen sourcing efforts in several coffee countries where existing relationships can be leveraged. The company is designed to give green coffee buyers a broader range of options at potentially larger volumes while also maintaining a year-round presence to maintain traceability and ensure quality control.
We asked Nordic Approach Founder Morten Wennersgaard more about Tropiq’s operations, what it might offer coffee buyers and the new company’s relationship with Nordic Approach’s quality-forward ethos.
(note: This interview has been shortened for space and clarity.)
What was the impetus behind Tropiq?
We generally want to increase and invest more in our activity at origin by establishing a more local presence… Nordic is also buying a limited range from the producers we work with and is mainly buying coffees for spot sales. Through Tropiq we can source and sell a broader product range and supply coffees directly to bigger roasters and other importers, as well as serve Nordic Approach with excellent coffees.
Organizationally, what is Tropiq’s association with Nordic Approach?
It’s the same ownership. Myself and Andreas Hertzberg (Nordic Approach managing director) are the majority owners of Nordic Approach, [and] together we own Tropiq. We also have partners in origin where we establish local entities, like Tropiq Ethiopia. Seife Tuloskorpi is the country manager for Ethiopia, and has a stake in our local office there… Marianela [Montero], who works for us in Costa Rica, is also hired by Tropiq, but we still work as one team.
What is Tropiq’s role in importing?
We are not really an importer, as we do not import and carry spot positions. That’s Nordic’s role, and technically Nordic is a client of Tropiq. Tropiq is more of a sourcing company and a service provider to roasters and importers buying coffees direct in bigger volumes from coffee producing countries. We build relationships and present coffees to the buyer (roaster). Tropiq buys the coffees from the producers and resells it to roasters more or less in parallel, making sure the coffees are followed up through the supply chain and are up to standard at arrival…
As an example in Ethiopia, Tropiq has an office and cupping lab. We work [with] different exporters and producers. We follow up with them through the year and access a big and varied product range. If you as a roaster are looking for some great Ethiopians, you can cup or access those samples through us, and we can also present you to producers if you’re traveling with us. If you decide to buy coffees through us, you can either import it yourself or announce another importer… but we follow up with the coffees and producers, make sure there is traceability and quality control, make sure everything gets milled and graded properly, organize all documents, etc.
Can buyers expect the same kind of quality-focused sourcing approach from Tropiq as they do with NA?
Absolutely. The idea is that you can buy exactly the same qualities — and we are maintaining the philosophy on quality, relationships, traceability and transparency — but we can also customize a different product range than what Nordic would normally buy for the general spot list. And, as you know, most producers have a range of qualities, so it makes a lot of sense for us to help them with a market for the medium qualities at medium price levels that many specialty roasters use… These are still really good coffees that deserve a premium, but maybe not the highest ones.
Outside of Ethiopia and Costa Rica, where might we see Tropiq operating?
We are selling about 30 containers [in Ethiopia] besides what Nordic is buying, establishing Costa Rica now, [and] hopefully including other Central American countries… We are currently doing some direct export from El Salvador and Brazil, too. Colombia will probably be the next country where we want to establish ourselves with staff and an organization. And, we have a few other plans.