While the vast majority of coffee professionals from traditional consumer markets may never see where green coffee is produced up close, the Brazilian coffee services company Wolthers & Associates is offering the world a unique glimpse of the farm.
In partnership with Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based importer Wolthers Douqué, the Santos-based brokerage, logistics and quality assurance services company has set up a network of HD cameras on towers at numerous Brazilian coffee plantations, allowing for virtual farm tours in real time.
The companies are hoping the initiative, called The Coffee Origin, will meet increased demand among green coffee traders, roasters and consumers alike for increased supply chain traceability and transparency, and a more personal connection to coffee.
“Knowing that coffee consumers are always eager to strengthen their connection with the producers, I knew this concept had potential to become a traceability and educational tool that many coffee lovers would be interested in,” Svenn Wolthers, a coffee trader at Wolthers & Associates, recently told Daily Coffee News. “Also, at the time, there were several research publications coming out and condemning many Brazilian producers for improper farm practices, so I saw this as an opportunity for certain producers to demonstrate transparency in the way they run their farms.”
Wolthers said he was inspired by how live IP cameras are used for surfers to check real-time surf conditions before heading out. He then reached out to friends who happen to run Brazilian coffee plantations, and cameras have since been installed on three farms in three main coffee-growing regions of Brazil: Fazenda Santa Hedwirges in Sul de Minas (live); Fazenda São Matheus in Cerrado (live); and Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama in Mogiana (coming soon). A fourth camera installation is expected to come online soon.
Wolthers said each of the farm owners was eager to participate and notified workers of the camera installations, through which anyone in the world with an internet connection can control live and recorded views of the farms. The panoramic cameras allow for any number of views, from coffee fields to warehouses to drying patios.
“Wolthers Associates is not commercializing these cameras, we are simply providing use of this stream as a bonus for our clients and the producers themselves,” Wolthers said, adding that Wolthers Douqué is in the process of importing a limited amount of specialty and microlot coffees from these farms into the United States, in part to gauge interest in this level of transparency as a selling point. He described the participating farms as partners in the marketing project.
A webpage for each of the farms includes the camera views, plus a range of updated statistics, such as bags produced, weather forecasts, varieties grown and information on individual farm managers. Users can control the live camera by pressing “Go Live.” Live views will change every 16 seconds.
Said Wolthers, “I see many ways these cameras can be appreciated by coffee lovers all around the world, whether they [are] simply an enthusiast watching the stream at their local coffee shop, or even a coffee professional looking for more information on a certain region, process or producer.”